Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (The South Rim): That grand hole in the ground

Meditate on that

Ever since The Husband and I have hit the road towards the West Coast, we’ve wanted to hit that great hole in the ground – The Grand Canyon.

The first attempt, we failed miserably. We underestimated the distance of the canyon from Show Low, AZ. Remember that quaint mountain town where life was unbelievably slow? It was a 3-hour one way trip and the sun was already setting. We settled for a smaller (definitely not lesser) National Park, the Petrified Forest, which was an hour away from Show Low.

The second time we tried, we were just too pressed for time. There was a 10-hour road trip ahead back to Texas and no more time to enjoy the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. We decided to pass it up and drive on.

The third time was the charm, as they’ve said. It really was. The Husband and I planned well and made it!

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Central BBQ in Memphis, TN

BBQ mural

When I talk about American barbeque / bbq places, I always talk about the star of the show: the low and slow, smoked meats that you can tear with your fingers, that melts like butter in your mouth. Rightfully so, because it wouldn’t be called a barbecue place without it.

But with Central BBQ in Memphis, TN, I will not talk about their bbq. Their brisket is average. Their sausage meh. It looked more like an overcooked, shrivelled hotdog than sausage to me. Their pork ribs were good – moist, savory and sweet. Just the way I like my ribs.

Though tasty, I do not remember those ribs as much as I do their bbq beans. Good Lord. Those bbq beans were the best that I’ve ever had.

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A Conversation on the LGBT Trailing Spouse Life in NYC with Shakira Sison

Shakira Sison and her wife after their triumphant marriage in NYC

Welcome to April 2015’s #TrailingSpouseStories!  This month, we played with April Fools and asked each other “What got you “fooled” into being a trailing spouse?  What myths did you start out with and what did you discover in the process?”  Here is my take on the matter.

I’ve been reading Palanca award winner Shakira Sison‘s weekly column on Rappler for quite some time now. She is a brilliant writer, often (if not always), nailing on the head insights about experiences on the plight of Filipinos abroad, life in the US and, of course, issues on LGBT. We are very proud to have her with us this month as she is our very 1st LGBT trailing spouse to join us in the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl.

Shakira, like most of us fools for love, actually left her life the Philippines to trail her then partner, now wife, to NYC. She and I had a great conversation about her decision to leave the home country and life in the US, hence, this will be a long read. But I do promise you that it is worth every second of your time :-)

This is her story on love, life, legends and lores as a LGBT Filipino trailing spouse in the Big Apple.

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#TrailingSpouseStories: Falling Fool’s Gold?

The glamourous expat life (Photo by Choo Yut Shing)

Welcome to April 2015’s #TrailingSpouseStories!  This month, we played with April Fools and asked each other “What got you “fooled” into being a trailing spouse?  What myths did you start out with and what did you discover in the process?”  Here is my take on the matter.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

– J.R.R Toklien, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

This quote from a book of biblical proportions properly captures the trailing spouse-expat life.

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Obi vs. the Starbucks muffin

I am sure you’ve read about how Obi devoured our treasured, gently handled lechon baon en route from New Jersey to Texas.

Last night, we arrived in our hotel room from a short, two hour absence to scout for some good deals at the nearby outlet mall (I scored an awesome waterproof, 2-in-1 Columbia winter coat for less than $100. Hurrah!) and a Shakey’s Pizza fried chicken and potato mojos dinner (Walang Shakey’s in Texas!), to discover a quiet Obi. I greeted him as usual: pet his head, kneel down so he can place his head on my thighs and snuggle with his hooman momma.

“Good boy Obi!” I gushed, kissing the top of his head.

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OFW, immigrant or expat?

Traveler (Art by Joan M. Mas)

Sometimes I ponder on my official label as a Filipino living abroad, the existential question of: “Ano nga ba talaga ako DITO?

With emphasis on the word “dito” (i.e. Filipino, /dee-to/, meaning “here”) because since I’ve left the country, my global citizenship, a Filipino of the world, is highly subject to my current place of residence.

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That doggone lechon!

Longing for lechon

Whenever to travel to the bigger cities like New York City or Los Angeles, we hunt down authentic Filipino eats that we’ve been deprived of for months or even years. Those dishes that are always cooked in bulk and are too labor intensive to replicate at home in a household of two. One of those dishes is the lechon, a whole pig, stuffed with lemongrass and other aromatics, skewered with a bamboo pole and roasted over hot coals, usually served as the piece de resistance in big celebrations like a fiesta, a birthday or a wedding.

So when we came across a great tasting boneless lechon in New Jersey, we just had to take some home.

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#TrailingSpouseStories: The definition of being a modern Filipino woman

Traditional vs modern (Photo by Eole Wind)

Since we are celebrating women’s month this March, us, trailing spouses will share our take on what it means to be a woman given our unique experiences. Has being a trailing spouse raised questions about womanhood? Has it made us better, stronger women? How has it shaped our perspectives about being a woman, citizen of the world? Or, for the boys, how has their trailing journey affected their women partners?

I’ve never seriously thought about my womanhood until I left the Philippines

In the Philippines, I enjoyed a pretty smooth sailing life as a modern woman. I shared the same privileges and opportunities men did. I was educated, finished with a Masters degree. I had a career in a women dominated industry with more than decent salary and employee benefits. I was mostly financially independent. I could earn my keep, be who I wanted to be with hard work and more as a woman.

Of course, there still were the traditional expectations of getting married, being able to manage a home – know how to cook and clean – and bring forth life to this earth. I got married, so that was tick off the list. The managing the home was easy too. I could just have somebody else do it for me; its just part of the perks of living in the Philippines. Bring forth life to this earth? Well, that is debatable, not the be all and end all of being a woman.

To me, this was the definition of being THE modern Filipino woman: having to take advantage of opportunities available and juggling multiple roles because I am expected to fulfill traditional roles as a wife and possibly a mother as an educated professional. I thought I had to be and have it all, and I think I almost got all the bases I wanted covered.

Then Dubai happened.

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The buildings of New York City: A photo diary

“The concrete jungle where dreams are made of”

Last weekend, The Husband, Obi and I were in New York City. The sun was out and it was a good day to be out meeting and catching up with friends.

But unfortunately, with all that snow that accumulated on the ground and the sun shining all day meant puddles of melted snow mixed with the city dirt and garbage. It was not a pretty sight nor a fuzzy feeling when your shoed and socked feet dive into one. So with the onslaught of rushing New Yorkers, confused tourists and an excited probinsyano (i.e. country bumpkin) dog, it was a challenge to keep up the pace and conversation and revel in the sights around.

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The Flatiron building in NYC

Majestic building

Obi and I are pretty much stuck within the confines of the hotel room due to the limitations brought about by the winter storm looming over the northeast now and the fact that Obi is not human. America is not as pet friendly as I imagined and expected, but understandably so and more on that later.

Almost the same time last year, The Husband and I were here. The weather was indeed better (albeit still cold) and we did not have Obi yet. I was free to explore NYC as The Husband worked hard in NJ.

One of the NYC icons I stumbled upon (it was close to a friend’s office) was the Flatiron building.

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