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For Denver Broncos’ Von Miller, It’s Miller Time

Written By: Rex Solano - Feb• 13•16

One week to this day, football fans are still talking about the recent concluded Super Bowl 50 won by the Denver Broncos. My bowling buddy who just came back from Las Vegas was raving and ranting that it was one of the boring Super Bowl game he ever watched in so far as he can remember. Well, I told him that so long as the game is dictated with a stingy defense, offensive struggles and the scoring emanated from turnovers, fumbles, and interceptions, we can always expect a less exciting game especially if one’s heart is cheering for the Carolina Panthers. Then he added that as a gambler betting on the game, the point spread installing the Denver Broncos as a five-point underdog, was a trapped. Yeah, it was a set-up.

I would always sympathize with gamblers who lost a ton of money. But that was how the game is played. Football fans that followed the Carolina Panthers with their remarkable and impressive records of 15-1 during the course of the regular season would never leave any doubts as to weigh in, which teams between Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos had a chance to win it all. But as a gambler betting on the game, we are not a fool to be riding on emotions and to be duped how impressive was a team’s previous performances like what Carolina Panthers had done to Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinal.Well anytime a seasoned quarterback like Peyton Manning is on the field, bettors had to expect a much closer contested game. Bettors had underestimated the drives, resilient, and the desires what Peyton Manning had duly contributed to the art of football as it was proven in his remarkable years of playing football way back from the time he was a quarterback for Indianapolis Colts. In that Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning did not perform an outstanding game but he was poised, steady and never frazzled in an aberration of panic, which time and time again that we had known him for years was always in his self of competitive spirit. Yet he had his defense to be thankful for especially to Von Miller who was everywhere on the field as it appeared to have shortened the length of a football field by smothering and then befuddle the once confident and proud Panthers QB Cam Newton. The Carolina Panthers offensive lines were so enigmatic and discombobulated that they were so overpowered in all aspects of the game. As any sports headlines would suggest, the defense delivers for Denver Broncos. But as a football fan, I would say that the Carolina Panthers were so complacent, so arrogant and overconfidence that before the Super Bowl game, the Panthers were so hyped up that without the game not being played yet, they already had circled in the calendar that Super Bowl 50 would indeed be won and belongs to them. But the Denver Broncos had another idea. The Broncos had Trojan horses in Von Miller and linebacker DeMarcus Ware who would have stymied Cam Newton with a swarming like bees onerous and aggressive defense.

The Super Bowl 50 will always be remembered as a boring game as my friend would suggest in his sound like sour grape statement. But for football fans, we all knew that offensive displays of high scoring game invariably dictated the excitement and exhilarating moments regardless of which teams win or lose. Nothing could ever bring back the tense scintillating moment of Super Bowl 49 between New England and Seattle Seahawks when with 26 seconds left in the game, the football fans were put at the edges of their seats; nervous, restless and of wandering minds trying to guess the type of play the Seahawks coach will employ. Whether to run or throw the ball? It was a cruel moment, painful to bear if you are a Seahawk fan. And that is what my friend was telling me all about, what defines between a boring and exciting game.

But boring as it was claimed by my friend, I will not dismiss the notion that Super Bowl 50 was peremptorily stems and spear-headed with the emergence of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware‘s ever presence pressured packed defense. They were everywhere on the field and one wonders why the offensive coach of Carolina Panthers never made any adjustments to counteract with any reasonable set of play to protect Cam Newton from the onrushing linebackers of the Denver Broncos. But for the most valuable performance of Von Miller, indeed, it was Miller time as he makes Cam Newton’s job as a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers a living nightmare and lost in the darkness of his stupor performance and pondering to ask dejectedly, where his offensive lines went? For Cam Newton, it will be a lingering memory to remember, like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who threw that interception to Malcolm Butler, it is always a painful memory to reminisce especially when going forward, both Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will still feel the pain of disappointment and the harrowing experiences of the past if ever there are any chances for them to play in a Super Bowl game again. Sometimes to be playing in Super Bowl happens once in a lifetime but for Von Miller, named MVP of Super Bowl 50, it was Miller Time.

Mom & Q FoodVentures: Cafe Grace

Written By: Quincy - Jan• 05•16

Today for our FoodVentures, we went to the Imperial Plaza where a new take on bagels is born at Cafe Grace by LOX of Bagels.

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(Image courtesy of Cafegracehi.com)  

Cafe Grace is a nice delight that surprises you almost immediately by not serving the conventional sandwich bread for melts, sandwiches, and pastries.

What do they use?  You guessed it – the bagel.

They pay particular attention to detail on the freshness of their ingredients and although I’ve been here quite a few times, it was the first time for Mom and me to discover a new FoodVenture!

Mom and I started off with our usual order of drinks, shared our main dish AND (who could forget) dessert.  Let’s see how the play-by-play for Cafe Grace went down.

Mom’s Drink: Plantation Ice Tea (The tea was met with a, “I had better!”)

My Drink:  Mocha Thai with 5 shots of espresso…I know poor body. LOL

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Food

Tuna Avo Melt: Tuna Melt with Avocado, Tomato, and Cheddar

Asian Duck Sandwich: Asian Duck Breast served with house made peanut satay dip and a side of quinoa (remember quinoa from our last FoodVenture?)

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Mom usually doesn’t like the spiciness of certain foods but the duck comes with a real nice flavor-full peanut sauce that fits the dish perfectly.  Mom took a chance and spread the peanut sauce like mayonnaise on the bagel breaded sandwich.  Actually, it was the first time I saw that done.  Maybe it’ll become a thing!

The Asian Duck sandwich is probably one of the freshest duck sandwiches you’ll ever find.  Guaranteed.  I’m not even lying.  Mom and I joked that we thought that they killed the duck in the back and made it right then and there.  Sorry Donald!  However the freshness is there and they trimmed away a lot of the unwanted fat (since duck can be quite a fatty meat).

Enough duck! Let’s move on. As you can see by the picture of the Tuna Avo Melt words cannot even describe this delectable one-of-a-kind sandwich.  It has fresh avocados, nicely warmed up tuna, melted cheddar cheese all on a toasted bagel bun.  If your mouth is watering right now, you don’t have to hide it.  Believe me, my mouth is watering just typing this sentence!

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When it comes to freshness and quality, by far, Cafe Grace hits the spot!  This is a Mom and Q FOODVENTURE THUMBS UP AND OFFICIAL APPROVAL (well, aside from the plantation ice tea).

Oh wait, did I forget…dessert!?  So, they have an incredible Guara Strawberry Bagel Puff (image to the bottom right) that is talked about at Cafe Grace and even unseen in most bakeries.  It is a strawberry pink bagel shaped into a puff-like pastry filled with creamy guava strawberry filling.  Yummy? It truly is.

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Today was a great impromptu adventure for Mom and I.  It reall wasn’t planned but as luck would have it, we had a chance to enjoy the time we spent at Cafe Grace (not like last time where we attempted to go but the cafe was closed at 4 pm).  So, be sure to get there early!  Hope you enjoyed reading about the delicious flavors of Cafe Grace!

Till next FoodVenture!

Dreaming Of Christmas That Is Not ‘ White’

Written By: Rex Solano - Dec• 25•15

Today being Sunday, December 25, the entire world will pause for a moment and reflect on this significant day to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, Son of God, as we remember, His birth, His life, and His death. Christmas season is not about the tradition of giving, sharing and exchanging Christmas gifts, but the reality that we also are bound to nurture the love, family bonding and to harmonize together the union of friendship and relationship with our loved ones. It is not that we really have to prepare for the abundance of foods and enjoy with a lot of fanfare, those karaoke music and drinks but instead our ultimate desire of our sincere intentions, to rid ourselves of hatred, anger and animosities toward humanities. This is what it whisper in my heart, and gladly so, I hope will continue for years to come. And as my heart is being replenished and relished with kindness and the goodness of the Christmas spirit, I vow in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of our sins, that I would seek the divine intervention of our Lord to give me strength to erase the sadness, the loneliness, the disappointment that had stricken with rigor, the difficulty and the hardship that once consummated my life. I would also like to negate those unwelcome thoughts of my adolescent age, which has subsequently incapacitates the true vision of my future, but instead with God’s help will meets with triumphant joy and to believe therefore that not all the misfortunes and discomfort of living we sustained in our lives are essentially the same. I looked with pride and so proud in my life, sometimes beaming with smiles, that my children and grandchildren never had undergone the dispirited and inconveniences of such melancholy Christmas that I had thus far experienced. When I was at my youthful age of 14, I kept on searching for the real meaning of Christmas. So many stories were told right in our own young and innocent minds that Santa Claus is really filling our stockings with goodies when we sleep so soundly at night. That we are always ask to believe that dreaming of a White Christmas will come to fruition of reality, although what it really mean is to see the presence of the snow. I heard all the following songs, such as “O Holy Night, Joy to the World, Jingle Bell, The First Noel, Silent Night and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but all those spiritual songs did not matter as I was caught in between reality and perplexity, trying to find the essence and the substance of its truthfulness. I knew for one fact that if we do not have any money, it’s hard to move around and disguise to feel well about ourselves. I had that experienced, and I had that moment. It may look so sad as we reminisced those moments, but that is the fact and reality in life that every humanity has to face and deal with. Always the rich people enjoy the comfort of living, and the poor though devoid of wealth are satiated with love. All too well I realized, that it is the Christmas songs that really dictated our moods, tempered with the desires of wanting and the improbability of wishing to the result of disappointment. Whenever I heard the Christmas songs, my mind drifted to the waves of my past. It had a picture of a somber mood, sadness and loneliness that wishes I am not the only unfortunate person on earth to celebrate Christmas that is void in spirit and for having an empty vision of hope. A recollection of not having a White Christmas likes what happened to me during my younger years, is just so hard to deviate and depart from the past. Time and time again as the cycle of the years keeps on reminding us about the coming of Christmas, we ought not to look back and subject ourselves of the lessons we learn from the past errors, but memories are worth remembering especially if we are determine to repeat not the histories from ever happening again. For Christmas season is something we look forward to, giving us forthright wisdom and knowledge that during this holiday, it has also given us a greater meaning and a different outlook, as we humbly seek to follow the example and the words of Jesus Christ. And above all, Christmas is a time to find peace in our hearts and hope for tomorrow.

From the Solanostories and Staffs ( Rex, Hyla, Troy, Quincy and Jessica) we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The Cacophonous In Our Troubled World

Written By: Rex Solano - Dec• 20•15

What will become of our world? Our lives are driven into a lunacy of a deranged inharmonious dissonance of world leaders who are no longer acting normal as we read and heard of other nations with unquestionable beliefs and convictions by fomenting vicious and random killing of innocent kids and civilians. The world we live in looks in turmoil right now; thus far assailing our democratic lives with terrors and fears. We are losing the visions of all the hopes and dreams for all mankind trying keenly to shelter and defend our rights to live. We could never get a clearer picture behind the reasoning and attitudes of ISIS towards life. I am so confused about ISIS ideology; their faith and how their religion comes into play, that instead of fostering peace and goodwill among people with different creeds, the ISIS somehow inflames fears and terrors to the innocent victims in which a God given-gift of life are so valuable and are worth to live for. With so many random killings happening in the forays of our midst, I try to grapple a definitive answered as to what are the purposes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, with their sinister evil acts trying to decapitate and violently kill the lives of innocent victims whose primary reasons to exist on earth are nothing but to live peacefully in accordance with the democracy and freedom being provided? Right now, we are afraid to confront and challenge the faiths and beliefs of other nations, whereby their advocacy and principle of normal living are so different from ours.

This is not how we like to see the world. These are not what we expected from leaders of other nations behaving and acting with their atrocious scheming plans to eradicate the lives of innocent people whose visions for their futures are a stellar grandiose of moving forward to a progressive society. I have no qualms if the ISIS have their own religion to follow and what their manifestation of ideology towards life. But give us a reason why ISIS has to involve innocent people especially the young kids whose futures, they have not been able to explore and appreciate the wonders of the beautiful world.

Living in America for so long, I wasn’t educated as to how the acronym ISIS comes into existence. I did not even heed to care until the Paris massacres and the San Bernardino shooting comes into my attention. In social medium, the word ISIS became the trending stories and so I asked? Who is the ISIS? According to what I read, ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS is ruthless, cruel, evil and powerful dictator in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Also come to mind are tyrant leaders who were evil like Assad, Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein whose name I will not forget when I was sent to Subic Bay, Philippines during the Desert Storm/ Shield deployment to help support the Kuwait province from being invaded by the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein.

But what really is ISIS motive? Why kill innocent victims? What did those people who died in that Paris carnage and San Bernardino shooting do to ISIS? We are good citizens of a great nation. What harm did we do to them? Those people who died in the Paris carnage and San Bernardino shooting would never know the answers and neither would we. But it is the spirit called Jihaad, one of the most important pillar of religion Islam and the main motivation for ISIS that has driven them to inflict bodily harm to innocent victims because of their attitude towards life and believing in it that to strap a detonated explosive devices to themselves, taking along so many human lives at their discretionary will, had given them dimly a false sense of worship and belief that to commit suicide will take them straight to heaven full of virgin wives. I will not sell myself to that kind of theory for I know that it is a crooked principle to follow. But who are we to argue if these so called terrorists are being brain-washed for possessing a very weak mind by tyrant leaders who like to control the world? However, I will not go as far as condemning the religion of Islam and the Muslims because not all Muslims are ruthless and evil. Some Muslims citizens have also contributed greatly to the betterment of America. It is in the ISIS ideology and beliefs that we have to counter and focus our strength and to be more vigilant in their evil acts as they will not stop short of promulgating their vicious and immoral intentions of eradicating innocent people.

I have these unsolicited views and feelings that the ISIS like to control the world but other nations will not tolerate it and allow them to thrive in their tyrannous and nefarious evil activities. We all heard about the random and senseless killing of innocent victims. Is this the world that God had created for us? Is this how ISIS treats human beings because our ideology and outlooks in life are not in line with their faith and their tyrannical obsession of controlling a territorial presence throughout the world? So far we are all living in fear, running away from the trembles of the cruel and wicked evil ISIS who had been posturing in their vicious minds by inflaming fears and the spreading of terror towards mankind.

With the advent of year 2016, I fervently hope that people of different races, cultures and attitudes towards fellow human beings will ultimately embrace love, peace and freedom, for even if the world change, we will not accomplish positive results unless we ourselves change. Let us stop harboring ill-feeling and hatred toward one another for we all like to share the goodness and camaraderie around the world in the same breath like the ISIS, like you and me.

From the Solanostories.com, Happy Holidays everybody!!!!

Mom & Q FoodVentures: Forty Carrots

Written By: Quincy - Dec• 12•15

For our FoodVentures today, Mom and I took a stroll down the newly opened Ewa Wing Expansion at Ala Moana Center.

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Ewa Wing Expansion

The Ewa Wing Expansion includes the opening of a 167,000 square-foot Bloomingdale’s department store, large format retailers, dining, entertainment, 200,000 square feet of inline retailers and an additional 1,000 parking spaces in the Mauka Ewa Parking Structure. The project will also include the opening of a 186,000 square-foot Nordstrom department store and a 47,000 square-foot Foodland Farms in 2016.

Source: http://www.alamoanacenter.com/Construction-Updates/Ewa-Wing-Expansion.aspx

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The (already) largest outdoor mall in Hawaii extended their shops out further to make room for Bloomingdale’s, the first for the department store in Hawaii.

We made our way through the mall and to the restaurant Forty Carrots.  The decor was modern and the open space made it inviting for patrons to dine in.

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With the usual outing for Mom and Q FoodVenutres we get/share a drink, a main dish and, if available, a dessert. A part of the dinner that stood out the most for me was opening the menu. The names of the dishes weren’t what you would find at a typical fancy restaurant!

Mom’s Drink: Chee-hoo – Spinach, Carrot, Beet, Cucumber, Parsley

My Drink: Purple Haze – Frozen Yogurt, Honey, Skim Milk, Raspberries (I just realized the name after I left the restaurant LOL)

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Food:

Grilled Chicken and Green Papaya Wrap – Hirabara Farms Romaine, Pecorino, Kale, Sea Asparagus, Chervil Ranch

Momchong – Quinoa Salad Tzatziki Yogurt Dressing Cucumber and Tomato Micro-Cilantro

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I enjoyed my drink (I even got two of them). Mom didn’t particularly like hers, “tasted like grass” both of us said!

The price point was high but that’s probably because it was inside Bloomingdale’s.

The waiter was pretty funny. Very local Hawaiian sounding. He also referenced, “Jimmy Hendricks” when I got my drink, but I obviously didn’t get the hint. It really hit me when I was checking ingredients to write this blog and then I realized what Purple Haze!!! meant.

The hostess in the front were went on to say, “we added Cannabis to your drink!” WTF! Haha

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Anyway, the decor was nice. It was very fitting of the name “Forty Carrots”… definitely a place to try out (but I’ll say that for every place we go too ;))

Until next FoodVentures!

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Vacation in Carribean

Written By: Rex Solano - Nov• 18•15

This blog is written by Jessica Solano.

I Swear this Life is like the Sweetest thing I’ve ever known: Vacation in the Caribbean

*** Note: This one is a long one…

As always, I preface this story with how it all came about! The first girl I ever met in North Carolina was Tiffany. After she showed me my current apartment, introduced me to her friends, and showed me around Raleigh, we instantly realized that I was just the Asian version of her! Tiffany always does things over the top on her birthday, so when she invited me with her to go see St.Barths, St.Martin, and Anguilla, I jumped at the dream opportunity.

Tiffany is a researcher and a planner. If you go on vacation with her, she is like a walking Trip Advisor, you would’ve almost mistaken her knowledge as a local! She knows where all the top restaurants are, top sights we need to see and what people have said and how long it may take, etc.

St. Martin — We took a flight from Raleigh to St. Martin because taking a flight from Raleigh to St.Barths is an entire savings worth, which is why going to St. Barths is a travel destination for a lot of celebrities or those with a private jet or entourage. St. Martin is interestingly split between the French and the Dutch, which is why the same island is referred to as St. Martin or St. Maarten. We didn’t stay here long, since we basically used this island to jump on a boat to St. Barths, but we had Caribbean food the first night, which was the start of my foodie adventure! I ended up having a shrimp salad, baked chicken, and a whole bunch of Caribbean sides! I was surprised that I was going to like it as much as I did. Every restaurant down this tiny road was packed! The first thing I noticed about the French is they love their wine and alcohol, but they also love to dress! Even though we were near the coast of the island where everything was dirty, murky, wet, and smelled like the sea, everyone was still dressed in their heels and fine jewelry, ready to eat!

Due to bad weather, the Catamaran we were supposed to take to Anguilla was cancelled, so instead we woke up early to catch the ferry to St.Barths and when I talk about this part of our trip, trust me, that I am not exaggerating. Tiffany warned me about this ferry ride and knowing me who has a history of motion sickness whether from a car or a crazy ride, I knew I had to brace myself. Well… When you first all get seated on the boat, the man starts passing out plastic bags and a piece of paper towel to every single passenger as the boat starts moving, that’s when I knew… I have not been on a ferry ride like this before. It starts off like any other boat, and then maybe about halfway through your stomach is going up and down, side to side, in knots, leaps, holes in the sky, everywhere else but where it should be and you almost wonder if you will survive the rough seas. An entire family got sick and you can imagine the chain reaction on this boat. There is no air circulation unless you went to the top of the boat, you’re sitting in warm close quarters with other people, and then you hear that sound and start to smell someone’s breakfast, who could handle it? I told Tiffany I can’t talk, I need to focus on not getting sick, well, I got sick. Thankfully, I got sick towards the end and all I had was ginger ale. Just Imagine trying to keep it together for an hour and a half.

Tiffany had read that it’s something to do with that specific location on your way to St.Barths where you approach a change in oceans. I guess it’s the price you pay to get to a pretty island since I heard the flights aren’t so calm either. It’s not called Ferry St. Barf or The Vomit Comet for nothing.

St. Barths — We have arrived! OMG! It’s beautiful! It reminds me of the movies with yachts everywhere on arrival! Rich people drinking and smoking cigars on their yachts, laughing and partying in the sun as if they just closed billion dollar deals! It’s still very much a small island, definitely smaller than Oahu.

We stayed at Tom Beach Hotel, a beautiful hotel right on the beach! They had first class service everywhere in St. Barths, not sure if they just assume everyone has money, but we were clearly the youngest of the majority of vacationers! As you check-in, they offer you a welcome cocktail. You get a handwritten note addressed with your names to enjoy your stay. There are only 12 rooms at this hotel. But after a few days, Tiffany and I realized from the minute you walk into the door they were taking notes because as the concierge changed shifts, they knew exactly who we were, what we requested, what we needed without us telling them our name or room number. Anything you need, they will do everything in their power to make sure they can fulfill it.

We decided to rent a car since most of the places we were planning on going would be all around the island and well because it’s an island, taxi prices are ridiculous and no uber! After we mentioned the rent a car to the hotel, they had the rental car right there in the parking lot the next morning for us to take. I was the driver of the island since Tiffany was a little too scared about the way they drive there. There were a lot of steep hills and you begin to question whether your car can make it up that far, many sharp blind turns, and on top of that, narrow roads overlooking steep cliffs that felt like they could only account for one-way traffic. I don’t mind driving, but I knew I had to drive like a Grandma to ensure our safety.

Each morning, there was complimentary breakfast, which just included coffee and a bread basket. It was a choice between American coffee or French coffee, American coffee was just regular coffee and we didn’t quite ask, but all the French would order these small cups of coffee with foam on top not sure if it was a cappuccino in a shot size or espresso shots with foam? Oh, and the French love their coffee. Every cafe or restaurant had one of those huge espresso machines. Nespresso is the American Keurig there. The hotels had Nespresso machines just like mine in the hotel rooms. Even though it was only bread, it was by far the best bread I’ve ever had and they would put six different types in there to try.

DAY 1. We stayed at our hotel for drinks and food. We ate at a beautiful sushi restaurant on the harbor. A live band was playing, the singer sounded like Louis Armstrong and he was from Greensboro, NC, about an hour from where we live. He looked happy to see us! They put our sushi in a big sushi boat!

DAY 2. Where to start.. This was a loaded day. I could start with the views, the food, or the beaches. We started on this 15 to 20 min hike down to Beach Colombier. It was a short hike, but it was a workout when you’re stepping on steep steps in the hot sun. Our calves would let us know the next day! OMG! The view is like you would never believe!!! Islands and water in the distance and yes, yachts everywhere. We took a few panoramas to take in the entire view.

We ate lunch at Tamarin, the #1 restaurant on the island. We had the hardest time finding this place. The signage around the island isn’t always the best, but at the same time you also couldn’t really get lost on such a small island. You walk in and it’s very tropical, so green it almost looks fake with ponds, lily pads, palm trees, with I think a caged toucan, and a random roaming black cat. It was majestic! The seared tuna salad was on point with presentation. We learned really fast at restaurants that water is not free, we either had to drink wine, a cocktail, sparkling water, or bottled Evian! I think at one restaurant we asked can we just have iced tap water and they couldn’t really understand us, but eventually gave it to us.
Our French Sparkling Water at Tamarind

We then went to check out Saline Beach, at all the beaches we went to, the French women are always topless. I assume it’s because of tan lines, but I also think it’s just their culture just like Brazilians and their bathing suits. Either way, they all had fit bodies. I don’t think we saw a single person that wasn’t fit.

We headed towards Nikki Beach for their day club. They have very little night life, but they do have this day club on Sundays from 3–7pm. This was where all the young people supposedly hang out and as we walked in, our bartender from our hotel flagged us down! He had already had a lot to drink, but I guess because the island is so small every bartender knows each other, so he was pretty much exempt from paying for any drinks. He would flag his bartender friend and say get these ladies drinks, they are my friends. Apparently, the bartender at Nikki Beach was the best bartender in St. Barths, he had award plagues on the wall for some contest. He truly was a mixologist. When you watched him make you your drink, he would smell it, pour a drop of something, stir it, sprinkle stuff in it, and when he put the lemon garnish he would grate it and coat the rim of the cup. It was like watching a magician. On average, he may have spent a couple minutes on each drink and he was fast to create those kind of drinks in a busy atmosphere. OoooH.. the one thing I liked, he was creating shots for this guy and with all the leftover alcohol he told the guy to open his mouth and he just poured the rest in. I wish America didn’t waste alcohol, but I think on this island they have a lot of alcohol to give!

They still do the same thing in American clubs where if someone orders something crazy they make a huge fanfare, except here it’s like a $10K champagne bottle probably half my size.

Since the sun had already set after we left Nikki Beach, we walked back to our hotel on the beach and as we were heading back we noticed our hotel was having Sunday BBQ nights on the beach and it was starting in 10 minutes. They grill your food right there on the grill. I expected BBQ to be like any other BBQ, but whatever sauce or seasoning they chose, the beef just melted in your mouth! Tiffany and I split shrimp and beef and he grilled them on kabobs.

At our hotel, they did housecleaning twice a day. In the morning, they tidy up the room and replenish your daily bottle of Evian and in the evening they send you more towels and give you two little brownie desserts.

DAY 3. Today was Tiffany’s birthday, so she had all of the hot spots she wanted to go to on this day. First, we worked out on the beach! We did some light jogging and some strength exercises.

We got ready to go to the best breakfast buffet on the island at Eden Rock Hotel. It overlooks the beach. I loved the fresh pressed juices they had and I wanted to try every one of them, so I got the green juice (kale,apples,) and the red juice (beets, carrots). They were so good, I could just drink that every morning. Of course at a buffet it’s your one time to make room to try everything. We got an omelette, bread of course, and the fruits were marinated and sweetened with other flavors like vanilla apples, cinnamon peaches.. so delicious.

We laid on the beach for a little bit, where our favorite bartender was working so he got us both a free drink for her birthday. I politely declined since there was too much alcohol and not enough water for my body.

We ate lunch at Do Brazil, known for their views of Saline Beach. This was where we received free vanilla rum shots, three shots each I believe for Tiffany’s birthday.

We ate dinner at Bonitos, one of the top restaurants. Perfect restaurant for the evening, it’s up on top of a mountain and overlooks all of the island. The interior is so cute. I can’t quite describe it. Again, they’re all about presentation, the bartender spends about an average of a few minutes on each drink with all of the garnishes he puts together, you can see the extravagant smoky Moscow mule I got and it really tasted smoky, it was an exciting taste twist! This is where Tiffany got a sparkler put in her dessert for her birthday.

Day 4. I had to have my last minute complimentary bread basket fix and one more cappuccino the way the French make it. I am still craving it now. We were supposed to meet up with a friend I used to go to college with, but it didn’t work out when you don’t have full communication. She’s always there all the time because her boyfriend is finishing medical school in the Caribbean. It would’ve been the perfect opportunity to see each other! Unfortunately, it was so hard to get in touch without wifi to message her back, so it got really difficult. All in all, everyone has to go see St. Barths once and eat there at least two or three times, or as the French say, Bon Appetit!
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The Willing And Unwilling Airline Passengers

Written By: Rex Solano - Nov• 15•15

If we have to build an analytical and theoretical argument on why this “ laglag bala” scam is diffusely happening at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), it can be deviously attributed to the “willing and unwilling” airline passengers; the willing passengers who caved in to the demand of the perpetrators and the unwilling passengers who refused to give in to any extortion scheme based on truth and honesty.

I have been a frequent traveler to Philippines and I know full well that once I arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, porters will already harass me by pretending profoundly to help. I am used to their old style of assisting arriving passengers with an idea in mind that after helping me, they expect a tip in return for their services. In so many years of traveling from Hawaii to Philippines, I did not encounter any problems with the security personnel or airport X-ray operators. Perhaps or maybe because as a traveler I am a willing passenger who generously hands out dollars just to make a transition of catching my connecting flight to Kalibo (Aklan) as smooth and convenient as possible. I always thought that with a small amount given to the porters and X-ray operators compared to all the hassles and delays of my flight; which the worst that could happen may be to book a hotel for an overnight stay, would put me cursively at ease and to free myself from any worries and problems.

I always deal myself with the virtual meaning in life that confronting a stumbling block in the airport is a challenge to my own mental toughness. To me this “ Laglag-Bala” scam has been going on for so long that some travelers especially foreigners were not aware of. As I said, this “laglag bala “scam would never come to light nor it would be known had we always had the willing airline passenger who was inclined in their hearts and compassionate enough to dole out a small amount to the joys of the majority of the security screeners who are doing their jobs arduously despite the hectic and tremendous pressures being asked of them. I don’t believe that a syndicate is neither behind this “tanim bala” (planting bullets) scam nor to discredit the Philippine Administration for political reasons. This is the work of a lone group of porters and security screeners who plotted this scheme to get a chance of collecting, not extorting money from those willing airline passengers who does not want any trouble, inconvenience or delays with their traveling schedule especially if they have to take a domestic connecting flight.

I for myself have been bothered with a guilty conscience. Maybe I was one of the few who spoiled them by giving tips, and thus became a rampant practice that they have always had hand-outs from all airline passengers to do the same, expecting all tourists, OFW’s and balikbayans (returning Filipino) to give them tips for the job they were doing. Sadly though, some are not so generous tippers than others. Gee! Even waiters and waitresses, shuttle bus driver, hotel bellboys, and other personal help expect tips for their services, so why not the security screeners who are doing an important job to protect by scanning and screening potential dangerous items so that passengers will have a safe flight. It just so happened that the security and x-ray operators had finally met their match from the unwilling passengers who does not believe in giving tips, much more the extortion’s based on their own principle of being honest and fear of God, by morally believing that the scheme of having bullets planted and found in their luggage are so incomprehensible to admit.

By these recent incidents happening in the well- loved country tourists like to visit, we found solace and comforting thoughts from the victims themselves like American missionary Lane Michael White, Rhed Austria De Guzman and other airlines passengers who boldly come to expose these anomalous “ laglag bala “scams by unscrupulous porters and airport X-ray operators; maybe for now this bullet planting scandal will come to a closure and put a stop to this atrocious and despicable method by extorting money at the expense of travelers who are supposedly helping to boost the Philippine Tourism Industry in the confine of their own country.

Why We Lie And Why We Have To.

Written By: Rex Solano - Oct• 26•15

As one of the Ten Commandments of God, “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” I was so entrenched in the virtuosity of human nature, that to lie and deny the right of the truth has become a spectacle for so many to practice this wayward act of distorting the facts. To tell a lie is a concealment of the truth. It serves as an impediment to the veracity of knowing what one has to learn of the aftermath of the story that ever took place. And so I ask why we lie and why we have to?

Lie, I was told is a condition of life. According to Robert Griffith’s assessment, “to lie is to protect ourselves from unjust condemnation.” We lie because we are afraid to face the consequence and to avert the painful injurious punishment that would be imposed or inflicted upon us. We also lie because we like to beat the truth, a swift escape from guilt, fear and embarrassment. Morbidly, the cruelest one is putting a person in a state of doubt and confusion, wondering if there ever is an end to all the tales being told.

I have never been so comfortable in all my life anytime I told a lie. There is that guilty feeling imperviously castigating and arresting my mind, that to tell a lie would put me in a very unpleasant situation conspicuously diminishing my dignity and reputation thus calling me by my peers as a prevaricator. Obviously I hate that. No one likes to be called a habitual liar. But in the mysterious world of leading our lives with deceits and intolerant human behaviors, lying becomes a triumphant drum that beats the decadence of the truth. Oh yes, we will not have these Benghazi hearing, the tragedy of the 9/11 , or the past Watergate scandals investigations if people are not so fixated, fascinated or even so obsessed to know the truth. But when a lie is arrogantly disguised, boasting to its prideful demeanor by not telling the truth, we are at our mercy of finding the veracity of the truth ourselves. And chances are, we would never know.

I always thought that to lie is not a sin until my mother recited to me the 9th Commandment of God. I was amused and at the same time so fearful of all the lies I had made. Then I asked my Mom again, if I reform myself, repent for all the lies I had done in the past, will God forgive me? Then my mom said, “God will always forgive those whose fervent desires are to follow and obey His Commandments.” Yet despite my mom’s words of encouragement and consoling my thoughts, it has not really given me the efficacy to withstand and resist the vulnerability of my own strength, the proverbial saying “never tell a lie and always be truthful to oneself.” For me it is a hypocrite to admit that we don’t lie. Even a simple subjective fact is still being distorted because for whatever reason, we are just too afraid to tell the truth. We cover our own wrongdoings strictly for one purpose in mind, to keep on lying until the discovery of being a liar had already made a dent of irreparable damage to a man’s character. If a person keeps on telling a lie and then denies it, he will never arrive at the crucial moment of knowing the truth because the truth itself resides in a person himself.

So many lies are being peddled around, coming in different ways and forms. We lie when we apply for jobs with our resume. We lie when we meet an accident on the job, causing a company an enormous amount of money and then deny it, that it’s not your fault. And so what happened to our social world if all of us would just try to suppress the truth? I know for sure it does not cure our healthy minds or even build a moral duty to our own personal character but rather it creates doubts, confusion and distrust. Lying is a habit that we all must learn to cure and heal; relatively, we mold ourselves like a hiker who is bent on trying to climb a steep mountain with an arduous effort and ultimate goal to get to the top. It’s just a commitment and a promise not to lie ever again; because for all we know, truth is a way of life.

A Bullet With No Gun

Written By: Rex Solano - Sep• 29•15

Aside from fear of flying, wary about potential terrorist hijacking the plane, now comes the most egregious threat that will obviate and alter the traveling plans of passengers going to the Philippines coming from other countries. If the so called ” laglag-bala” scams that went viral on social media about the planting of bullets on the luggage of travelers are proven to be true, then the NAIA managements have a big responsibility to tackle and solve these type of pernicious problems happening on their watch. This is so frightful, just to think about it. Imagine a vacationer trying to get a glimpse of how beautiful Philippines is, that instead of having a lot of fun enjoying the wonderful places to visit like the Boracay Island, Palawan and other scenic and picturesque spots in the Philippines, they are now pressured to worry about the devastating effect of being framed, landing in jail or delayed their flight back home by virtue of being suspected of having bullets found in their luggage?

This is not only an isolated case but a common practice that proves to be a real threat to all travelers. If not of the courage and temerity of tourist Lane Michael White and a balikbayan Rhed Austria De Guzman, who came bold in public to expose these scams, we would never know the deepening problems existing in Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The irony about this case is the admission of OTS Spokesman Jonathan Maliwat that the bullet is not planted. Mr. Maliwat defended the action of his security personnel that the bullets indeed belongs to 20 year old Lane Michael White. But who are they trying to fool or who is crying wolf when evidences were pointing to a significant factor that Mr. White was absolutely being framed? Any person who has common sense will adhere to the fact that it is indeed a scam, a vituperative manner of extorting money from passengers selectively at their own discretion. We may be short of our own knowledge and not knowing how long has the scam been operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport but for now I know for sure that nobody has just got the guts to tell the proper authority of abuses by their own employees except those two passengers who were victimized.

Santa Purisima, to me this “laglag-Bala” scam is like a robbery happening during broad daylight. One official claimed this is as an isolated case. But if we have to analyze this case, one has to wonder, why and how a tourist in the person of Lane Michael White was able to carry that bullet in his luggage, when in fact he came all the way from Florida with their TSA screening security so strictly enforced, and again we are being aided with another incredible theory, how many connecting flights did Mr. White made before he was able to arrive in the Philippines? At domestic airport he book a flight bound to the province of Palawan but unfortunately his flight was cancelled. During the time he was awaiting another flight that would take him this time to his destination, Lane Michael White must have had negligently left his luggage unattended, the reason a person who maybe an accomplice of this “laglag-bala gang, “was able to sneaked-in, then planted the bullets in his luggage? Of course as honest and innocent as this so called missionary from Florida denied the accusation that he carried the bullet in his luggage and for a forced measures of the truth disclaimed it vehemently. I can only sympathize with Mr. White but that is how the scheme or scams operates especially when employees manning the security screening systems are so desperate to have at least a ” pasalubong” or gift from passengers coming from other country, which sadly stated that Mr. White is unaware of the Philippine cultural tradition. Despite of the prescribing law to state in part that any violation of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act under section 38 of Republic Act 10591 or the firearms law, does not resonates well to the NAIA security employees. As it would have been, any violators will be punished so severely, at the most will be imprisoned for life. Yet, despite of the consequential punishment of imprisonment for life, NAIA personnel involved in the scam, does not seems to be alarmed nor terrified of what they were doing because no one, again no one ever has the courage to squeal on them.

I commended Senator Ralph Recto for his quick action to fix this problem, much more the remedial to file a resolution seeking investigation of abuses allegedly committed by the NAIA personnel involved in this ” laglag-Bala ” scams.

The despicable actions of these security employees involved in the scams, if it is true, has disgracefully brought forth a black eye and tarnish the images of the Philippine Tourism Industry; thus far portraying as a hypocrite by displaying on all billboards advertisements inviting to come and visit the beautiful Philippine country, only to be ridiculed, mocked and put to shame by their own unscrupulous employees who supposed to protect passengers from any unfair treatment.

It’s sad, bitter and painful to come to our own senses to describe how we can cope to defend, patronize and even convince foreigners to come to Philippines and promote how beautiful, admirable and wonderful the Philippine is; if our own agencies which are supposed to safeguard and protect Airline passengers are the very one who will put a burden, instill fears and cruelty of being thrown in jail, then anytime we travel to Philippines, we must always seek the intercession of the Lord for all we know God is the only true reliant where we rest assures of our freedom are not being abused and victimized by those who has no consciences and regards towards the feeling of others

Parting words from Missionary Lane Michael White, “they can lie to people but not to God.”

The Conscience Of Many Fools

Written By: Rex Solano - Aug• 30•15

According to Karl Barth “Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life.” It creates a vacuum of theoretical reasoning and fallacies that influences and betrays our minds. It is an insuperable catastrophic character in a person that impels and undermines the probity of his or her actions that if not remedied will devastate other people’s lives.

We have come across so many people, whose deeds and actions have leaded us into thinking, asking ourselves; don’t they have any conscience of their own? When we heard of politicians, though not all, I repeat not all, corrupting and divesting their own constituents of the money or funds supposedly intended to better and improve the livelihood of those they promised to serve, I considered those politicians a fool and those without conscience and heartless. Why impose a burden to the hapless and merciless people whose desires and aspirations are nothing but to put those politicians in office so that in return they may be able to care, cater and improve their impoverish living conditions? We are sickened to the stomach to hear the cries of citizens complaining about the insensitivity and the unconscionable fools of government officials who failed miserably to serve and protect the welfare of its own people.

But for a moment let us spare some government officials of some unkindly words and leaves much to be desired a benefit of the doubt, for even an ordinary person has culpably bear our brunt of being a fool himself. Take for example a driver who got involved in an accident by hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk will conjures little in our own small imagination to perfunctorily adjudge his action as cruel and despicable that instead of helping and assisting an injured person, he would rather speed away leaving a helpless man to die. What becomes of his moral conscience or a guilty conscience if he has one, to accept the responsibility of his action? Gee! Even Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ had the forthright temerity to own up to his wrongdoings, so bothered with a conscience of guilt that he hanged himself.

If Karl Barth is true to his saying that conscience is the perfect interpreter of our life, then we must not saddle our conduct or motives insignificantly, much so to the detrimental ruination of other people’s lives. Conscience as it is defined as that of human psyche that induce mental anguish and feeling of guilt when we violate it, and feeling of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value system. Yet we fail to perpetuate and understand this because we are afraid of the consequence and we fear to acknowledge the truth. Not being upright and truthful would never give us any satisfaction to achieve a clear conscience in life. Some people discreetly or knowingly commit unlawful acts to the detriments of their own, hoping that it will not be discovered, but the voice of conscience, dictated upon by a guilty mind would succumbed to the real truth itself.

Lies, deceits and being dishonest to ourselves are one of the culprits that define the embodiment of our personalities and characters. When we do immoral acts, it is not that easy to admit the veracity of its truthfulness. Perhaps the desires to achieve the penultimate success in life is to enrich themselves at the expense of others have no consequential effect or have no bearing of sympathy to them as long as they live a lavish life, driving a nice car or displaying a mansion for others to envy? But we are not a fool like them who ravages and devalues the equality of others people lives.

Well as Mark Twain said, “let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

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