Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Rekindling the Filipino in Me!

Monday, May 13, 2013

OLA: Rekindling the Filipino in Me!

@ the Pinoy Pride Celebratioin in Las Vegas
Nine years ago, I migrated to the US from the Philippines. Although I have been immersed into the American way of life, especially in the RVing community, It is no secret that I miss many things that I enjoyed back home. As a matter of fact, the tourism slogan of my home country is ‘…it’s more fun in the Philippines’.  Las Vegas, like San Diego, proved to be another place where I can rekindle the Filipino in me through tasting near-forgotten favorite traditional Filipino food, talking in Tagalog during visits with Filipino family and friends, and revisiting much-missed Filipino traditions.

Ate Tesing and Kuya Ute at their Las Vegas home!
tulingan and pinakber, an all=time favorite of mine!
First to visit us in our RV were retired septuagenarians, my dear Ate Tesing and her husband Kuya Ute.  Ate Tesing is my first cousin whose mom, Tia Juana, the last living sibling of my mom, passed away last month. I fixed fresh lumpia, chicken inasal, and buko pandan for them. Last Saturday, they returned the favor when we visited them at their apartment in Henderson, Nevada, just 15 minutes away from Las Vegas. She had ‘tulingan’ (flattened Bonita fish and poached to perfection with dried kamias and salt) so I brought pinakbet to pair it with. Bill could not believe how much I ate! He kept to the roast chicken.

Chef Bill checking in on the girls, Bernie and Carol
after dnner, wine @ the RV
Next to visit were Tony and Bernie Nievera. Bill grilled New York strip steak (his favorite) while I made potatoes au gratin and a spinach salad. Everyone enjoyed the beer before and the wine during dinner. Bernie brought a triple chocolate cake and matched it with the French vanilla ice cream and fudge we had in our refrigerator for the after dinner dessert! Although it was more of an American dinner, it was a night of reminiscing our old days when Tony was a mentor and the Country Manager of IBM Philippines. We were supposed to return the favor and visit them at their house in North Las Vegas last Sunday but alas, Tony had a nasty accident while gardening which required several stitches on his face and a splint for his arm.

part of the Santacruzan @ the Pinoy Pride Celebration
Filipino dancers on stage @ the Pinoy Pride Celebration
We found out from Tony that there would be a Santacruzan at the Boulevard Mall that Saturday evening. Flores de Mayo is a Philippine Catholic festival held during the whole month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary. On the last day of the festivities, a Santacruzan is held in honor of Helena (known as Reyna Elena) and Constantine who found the True Cross in Jerusalem. It turned out that the event was a full-blown Filipino fiesta, Pinoy Pride Celebration, complete with rides, kiosks, and dancers and singers on stage, carved out of the Mall’s parking lot one weekend in May every year.  Reliving the tradition with a cupful of rice, menudo and sauteed ground pork, was a great way to cap the day!

the Mother's Day Brunch Buffet @ the Boulder Station Casino: Angie and Wendell and Carol and Bill
beaming mothers: Carol and Angie
On Mother’s Day, we met Angie Manchester, a friend from my Toastmaster days, and her husband Wendell, at the Brunch Buffet of the Boulder Station Casino. We feasted on the rows and rows of offerings: breakfast, Asian, Italian, Mexican, and carving (prime rib, roast pork crown, and roast turkey) stations and the salad and dessert bars. The three hour feast was interrupted only by the guy who felt that the waitress who was taking our group photo leaned too far back and was too close to his mother. He ranted boisterously at the ‘great offense’. Obviously, he does not know about Asian tourists!  He was talked to by managers, eventually led out by the security guards, and blacklisted from the casino. 

Although an unfortunate incident that could have marred our day, we just decided that it was some unique free entertainment. Thus the week ended happy, with me bringing home four more tulingans for my freezer, reviewing my Tagalog with three great Filipino couples, and chancing upon my first ever Santacruzan in America…in Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World! Although not just a Filipino traditiion, let me add a very pleasant Mother's Day with another Filipino friend. I may have missed many things from Manila but there are places in the US that are almost like home! Perhaps this is the kind of city we should settle in!