One of the best jdoramas I enjoyed watching was Attention Please (2006, FujiTV).  It stars the talented Ueto Aya, as Misaki Yoko, a tomboyish happy go lucky girl who at first did not know what to really do with her life.  Out on a whim, she decided to become a cabin attendant.  And much to her (and everyone else’s) surprise, she was accepted.  Yoko later finds out that being a cabin attendant is more than just traveling, serving food, and pointing for passengers where the emergency doors are; she learns valuable life lessons along the way that ultimately changes her flighty ways (pun intended), giving her a new and better outlook on life.

From turbulence to stable skies: Ueto Aya as Yoko whose training as a flight attendant changes her from a flighty, head-in-the-clouds punk girl to a happier and level-headed young woman

Working for the service and comfort of other people can be fulfilling and taxing at the same time. Somehow, it can feel like a thankless job, and so we lose passion for it and get burned out. Shows like Attention Please can help remind you the value of hard work, of what you’re supposed to do, and get you back on track. Here are some of my favorite “work quotes” from the show:

On guaranteeing quality for the service you offer: “Sending someone who is not fully qualified in the sky is the cruelest thing one can do to a person.”

On doing your part for the sake of the team: “Please don’t take flying lightly. If you can’t control the cabin, we can’t sit in the cockpit and be at ease.  We all help to fly the plane.”

On learning from your mistakes: “There are a lot of different problems waiting for us which the textbook doesn’t address.  The key to solving these problems is always in front of us.”

And on this note, I would like to say that I chose Attention Please as my next jdorama inspiration for my FooDorama Challenge #7… click here.

Btw, Attention Please is also close to my heart because my niece Pch is also a Flight Attendant.

She had worked for the same airline company as Yoko’s (so i do have confirmation that all those sempai-sempai stuff in the drama? They’re all true!).  I talked about her days as an FA trainee in an earlier post.  She has learned a lot since then, and enjoyed the times she had spent as an FA for one year. That chapter of her life has somewhat prematurely closed but now… another new chapter is about to begin.

My pretty Flight Attendant niece, Pch: the working girl at work (Left)

This post is dedicated to Pch, who will be soaring the skies again soon.  Since she doesn’t have a blog, I will just post pix from some of her memorable Asian trips and travels made possible by her adventures as a glamorous FA, proving that just like what Yoko had experienced, hard work and dedication do pay off…:

Wherever you are, Pch, always soar high, live life to the fullest and keep your feet on the ground… Ganbare and Godspeed. ~~Love from Tita S.

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I’m ashamedly late when it comes to being a fan of Naruto.  It was only during the holiday break that I was able to watch dvd episodes of the said anime series (I’m still in Season 6).  I knew about the craze but I just glazed over this series on the channels where it was being shown and never had the time to really stop and watch it.  And also every time I heard Naruto’s original dubber’s voice, it had always made me wince and ask, “Is it necessary that he always have to scream like that?”

Well, yeah, as I found out–Naruto cannot be Naruto without the screaming th_kakashivoice, the lovable face, and the never-say-die chutzpah.  I love the characters (even the villains), the neat, clean-crisp drawings, and Masashi Kishimoto‘s long-running story that promises to reveal so much more as the seasons pile up after another-without ever running out of steam (which I can’t say much with some American TV shows like Prison Break, Lost, etc.).  I love and appreciate its cheesy dramatic score; all the cool jounin/senseis/hokages especially Kakashi (absolutely adore him!); and their friendships, strength and love that are often being put to the test in every mission and in every crisis.

I have even grown to be patient and productive with the constant, ridiculously-long flashbacks (of what I already know about) that each character undergoes every episode–by making use of that time to go to the bathroom, make myself a cup of coffee, and text a friend–all done before coming back to the show– without even missing a beat (in Naruto--even their flashbacks have flashbacks!).

naruto-23Themes like trust, faith, betrayal and revenge, teacher-student sagas, level-up fighting competitions and fierce-opponent-turned-respectful-friend story angles (and don’t forget the bloody violence and the occasional minor cursing) have been the main staple among Japanese anime and martial arts movies, and Naruto is no exemption to these formulas.  But like a million others, I am still hooked on the series for many reasons.  What inspires me as I watch Naruto battle it out every episode is his drive to be the best, even if he’s all bloodied up and beaten to a pulp. Also, even to the point of sounding absurdly naive, I perceive that the unconditional love the people of Konoha have for their simple village and comrades in arms as well as in peace and to protect those who are precious to them are the values that I hope are being understood and learned by Naruto fans who are mostly the kids of today.  So that they’ll realize that this love is something that they could bestow upon their own homeland and countrymen as well; and that they would grow up to be the best; to fight for what is right; and if it is their time to take over and rule the country, they’ll do so with the same fierce commitment, an unquestionable integrity, and a wisdom that is as pure as a hokage’s.

And don’t forget the value of and victories earned from hard work–and all that literal back-breaking training and practice that Naruto, Lee, etc. had to endure in order to reach their goals!  Which leads me to the real world — particularly about the oldest of all my nieces and nephews–Pchie.  It was like yesterday when she was just a small toddler playing with dolls and wanting to be carried around.  Now she’s all grown up and getting ready to level up and be a part of the working-and-tax-paying force. She has left for the Land of Smiles and Tom Yum soup to undergo more training for her work as an aspiring flight attendant for a certain airline company (can’t say the name–they’re not allowed to talk about it dsc035611online… which is a shame because it could be full of real-life juicy drama and suspense that are deemed worthy to document and blog about).

Trying out her new uniform (right) and showing off her FA pose.

stuff-219She has to master a new language and learn a new culture (Hint: It’s where Naruto comes from… No, not Konoha…) and memorize other professional airline data and jargon in a short span of time.

Posting the characters on the wall helps her study at home (Left).

I’ve watched her lose sleep, lug her textbooks as thick as encyclopedias to and from training school, and study (and sometimes cry) her eyes out for dsc00462the past two months during the first leg of the intense training in Manila.  Like a genin doing chuunin exams, she has passed the ‘preliminaries’ and have to go through more arduous training abroad before she gets to finally ‘graduate.’

Pchie studying hard in their training room (right)

With bated breath and fingers crossed, we are all hopeful, happy and excited for her.  We’ll be praying for your success and safety, Pchie-chan! And as they say in those anime shows, “GANBARE! (Do your best!)”

Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):


Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

We stayed in Tita Dolly’s beautiful home in Alaminos.  And for the rest of the Holy Week, we spent it in various ways to amuse ourselves:

zzz…sleeping and snoringHUY, GISING NA!

Mani, ang daming mani…shelling and eating toasted peanuts by the bushel…

and rocking and swaying in a hammock…What can I say? I love lying in hammocks!

Tita Dolly lovingly took time in designing and constructing this Filipino zen-styled garden in front of her home (photos below). We love spending time here…a real refreshing and peaceful place that every home should have…

However, when Typhoon Cosme wreaked havoc all over Central and Northern Luzon, her beloved garden was badly damaged.  But no worries, my artistic and creative tita will rebuild it in no time.

…I also practiced my henna tattooing skills:

Is this “Pangasinan Ink?” Naaah! –its just toy henna that didn’t stain much–not the real thing. But it was fun though. At left is my version of a Scorpion henna.

At right, Levic proudly showcased his Fire Dragon…

Pchie’s Cross of Hearts…in honor of the Holy Week (left).

Doc’s Ethnic Dragon…versus Sis’ Fluttering Butterfly…(below):

…More revisiting in the next post…Part 3: Revisiting Beloved Pangasinan…

During the sembreak of 2007 (last week of October), I joined Sis, Doc Drew and family on a trip to The Doc’s place of his roots, Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani. We had been planning this for ages, and I’ve heard of the place being talked about with so much awe for a long time that I had to see it myself. Taking advantage of Cebu Pacific’s promo discounted fares, we immediately booked the available seats months in advance for the sembreak period without second thoughts.

And it was without regrets…

Drew’s parents fetched us from the Gensan Airport. After a long trip, we arrived on a dark stormy afternoon with the waves crashing on the seashore. It felt like nature was telling us, “Welcome! You’ll enjoy your stay just as long as you don’t mess with me, alright?” As the waves calmed down, we walked along the beach at night and I immediately got fascinated by the soft, powdery sands underneath my feet. The next morning…well, the pictures below tell the story:

…..I lazed around, lying on the hammock under the shade of the manzanillo tree. The strong waves from the previous night had cleaned up the shore–making the sand stand out with its fine ecru-white hues. Sarangani Bay looked inviting and calm in its turquoise-blue state of serenity.

Other snapshots from the beach…

….Wow, Philippines! Pchie scanning the blue, blue horizon ala baywatch babe.

Hello, Gumasa beach boy! Levic showing off a shell he had found along the shore…

….Aah..sarraap! a local dog cavorting (more like getting a self-massage) on the sand

Ang bahay sa gulod…this privately-owned, charming, little pink house fronting the beach was where we stayed. Sis enjoys her respite on the porch, listening to the waves (top right). There is a series of simple beach resorts along the 3 kilometer stretch of the shoreline. Don’t expect anything fancy though. People who live around this area are simple folks who frown on loud, raucous drunks and ear-splitting karaoke singing…

It was a time to slow down and recharge, to breathe deep and throw away your cellphones (don’t gasp–it’s just for a while)…

More snapshots in the next post

We celebrated Father’s Day on June 15, plus it was my birthday the following day. We had seafood fiesta at home to celebrate these special double occasions!
A birthday wish come true…Home-cooked Paella Marinera with mussels, crabs, jumbo shrimps, squid, chicken, olive oil, jasponica rice, saffron mix.

It had been a dream of mine to serve Paella Marinera at home for the longest time. The ingredients were expensive (cost me more than a thousand pesos but I got two big “kawali-ful” of paella which if you get in Mingoy’s will definitely cost you so much more), and to cook it for the first time will not be easy. But what the heck, let’s get it over with! I already gave it a lot of thought (more like year) before pushing through with the idea and besides… we deserve it!

The previous night, I was trying to decipher the recipe I got from the pack of the saffron mix I bought from the grocery. Decipher–meaning it was written in Spanish. I had to call and ask someone what sofreir, cigalas, and hirviendo meant. The next morning, we started early. We thought we would end by lunch time but we were done past 1 pm! It was harder than I thought…I was never good in math so i was trying to figure out whether I’m putting enough amount of this and that for a group of eight; worrying if I placed too much olive oil and that it could turn into a super sebo-ish paella; and was on the verge of tears, thinking that I poured too much water and that I may end up with rice porridge instead…

Levic checking out the paella…Muy bien? Si! Si!

Paw helping out with the paella. She made it better actually. Gracias, Paulina!!! Buen trabaho, mi sobrina!

Good thing Sis, Doc Drew, and the kids arrived late. They all helped out as well. Paula took over one kawali while Donna and Pchie manned the other one…and Sis was barking out orders ala Gordon Ramsey. I relaxed and let them do the work. They brought along with them deliciously grilled boneless bangus (or milkfish) from Fixies, QC. And Mango Torte from Dulcelin. Wow, more food!

My Birthday Cake slash Torte from Dulcelin Gourmet (below right)with yummy cashew-based nougats and mango.

Happy Father’s Day! Dad, the seafood lover enjoyed the feast…

The kawali or thick iron cooking pan that we used was not exactly my type of paellera but it did the job. There was no time to prepare the toppings (e.g. sliced boiled eggs, green peas) to make it presentable. Oh, well, maybe next time!

The paella tasted heavenly (or baka gutom lang kami?)…Good thing we still had sparkling white wine from last Christmas to go along with it. Wine, paella and good company…it was like living out one of those Travel and Living shows that i can only dream about. After a few minutes, we were talking in Spanish…Muy delicioso…Gracias, gracias..or at least trying to rack our brains for phrases we learned from our long-forgotten, short-lived Spanish language courses in college. Of course, we can only remember the curse words though…hehehe.

We were not able to finish one kawali of paella. Mabigat pala sa tyan. At least, we had more of it to last for one more day.

Ah, yes…I deserve something like this…at least once in while…we all do.