Monday, September 15, 2014

Rica's artsy stuff

According to the latest studies, children are better at using smartphones than swimming or tying their shoelaces nowadays. I have no doubt Rica knows how play games on iPad much better than I do. Recently she has also started to take pictures. I found some on my phone and some on "our-former-and-now-her" iPad. Here is some of her "art work". 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Jičín to see Rumcajs, Mango and Písek (Sand)

The town of Jičín August 17 - 20, 2014

Four days of adventure in a town full of fairy tale creatures, Jewish architecture and writers, green pastures, horses and small hills that seemed like mountains when climbing them with kids on our backs. My friend Nora, her daughter Mia, Rica and I. All-the-girls' party. We stayed in a motel called nobly Charlie in a small village outside of town but everybody else in the village called the place U Karla.

Jičín is the town of a famous fairy tale about Rumcajs, his wife Manka and their son Cipísek, which all kids of my generation - that is those who partly grew up during the communist times - know all too well. Rica nicknamed them Lumcajs, Mango or Manga (probably from the fruit she used to know well in the Philippines - mango) and Písek (Sand in CZ).

Today the cartoons of Radek Pilař seems to be a bit outdated but we ignored the fact that as small kids as ours prefer tablets and iPads nowadays and took them to a gallery dedicated to this fairy tale. The displayed objects could be moved from one side to the other. It naturally meant kids got into fight over trying to move one "scene" at the same time. Rica was the leader, of course.

Jičín is one of the most touristically attractive cities in CZ these days. The local city council plus probably investors did an excellent job with renovating and revitalizing it. The city is lucky for having this famous fairy tale I mentioned as well as Albrecht von Wallenstein who upgraded the place on a great scale and Karl Kraus, an Austrian writer and journalist who was born in Jičín. Not that the house of Karl Kraus would attract hords of day trippers but those who like books and literature from the beginning of the 20th century will probably know this witty, progressively thinking writer.

We topped our trip by climbing the Zebín Hill one day and Prachovské skály the next day. It was a lunch time and our girls were sleepy and intermittently whined and misbehaved. As if they could not do it at the same time and then gave us a little break. But Nora and I, the patient mothers, held on, particularly onto the baby stroller handles, since the terrain was not exactly stroller-friendly, as we were told by one of the park employees.

It was sunny, the air was as fresh as it could get in late summer (which reminded us more of the beginning of the fall anyway) and the green color surrounding us pacified our minds, so no nerve lost in the woods of the Czech Paradise (Český ráj). Rica, the true Filipina, insisted on walking in the mountains barefoot. A habit no New Zealander would find strange. Many Czechs around us did.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

EDSA 4EVER: a few notes on February 25th and its conflicting meaning to Czechs and Filipinos

February 25th is a historical date full of significance for Czechs and Filipinos alike. Yet, its meaning to each of these two nations could not differ more. While Czechs on this date commemorate the 1948 communist takeover that ushered in four decades of dictatorship of a single political party that was getting its orders from Moscow, Filipinos celebrate the exact opposite – finally getting rid of a dictator who was in power for more than two decades, and restoring democracy in 1986.
February 1948 in Prague

It’s one of those historical ironies that in a way tie our two nations together. The experience of having lived in what was effectively a one-party system (KSČ – or Communist Party of Czechoslovakia – behaved much like KBL – or Kilusang Bagong Lipunan/New Society Movement) should make one truly appreciate political and civic freedoms that other, more fortunate nations (like Americans or Brits) tend to take for granted. That it is not necessarily so - judged by the continuing support for the unreformed communist party in the Czech Republic and equally unrepentant Marcos clan in the Philippines – is certainly a source of frustration to the more historically conscious among us.

However, that is not what I want to say on this memorable day. As a Czech by birth and Filipino by choice (no, I don’t have the passport, but my daughter does and sometimes I think I envy her) I play a sort of a double-game each February 25th. Today, I again started it on a somber note, sparing some thought for the victims of the communist dictatorship who perished in its jails and died on its borders trying to escape to freedom, but I choose to end it on a happy note, celebrating the continuing legacy of the EDSA People Power Revolution that reached its glorious victory on February 25th, 1986.

February 1986 in Manila
I know many Filipinos are convinced it was their example that ended up powering many similar undertakings that followed – both in Asia (1988 pro-democracy uprising in Burma and 1989 student-led protests in Beijing that were both brutally crushed by the military) and in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of 1989. And while it is true that our very own Velvet Revolution bears uncanny similarity to EDSA Revolution, I know for a fact that the events in far away Manila played hardly any part in inspiring what was in effect a reaction to the fall of Berlin Wall. 

Having said that, I do believe there is a genuine connection between those two events, even if only a philosophical one: rising up with bare hands to face the injustice armed to the teeth and ended up victorious, proving that the might is not always right (in fact, it hardly ever is).
February 2014 in Kiev

And if there’s one thing that makes this year’s EDSA commemoration special, it is the knowledge that Ukrainians have just accomplished their own version of people power revolution (or are about to, as the process of forming the national unity government is not yet over), thus proving that the EDSA blueprint is still viable (sadly, the EuroMaidan protest in Kiev turned out to be far from being bloodless, which is why things will take longer to calm down). 

So let me conclude by saying this: long live the spirit of EDSA, the spirit of people power, and may all the nations that are still being denied their freedom soon be able to enjoy it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

(He)art in the right place: Pilsen welcomes Philippine diplomats

No doubt most Filipinos have only one thing in mind when they hear of Pilsen, but make no mistake – what follows has nothing to do with both the Czech and the Filipino nation’s favorite beer.

PILSEN, Czech Republic - When the super-typhoon Haiyan (AKA Yolanda) unleashed its destructive power over the Philippine archipelago last November and thrust the country – once again in an all too predictable fashion - into global spotlight, many Czechs were genuinely touched by the tragedy, expressing their sympathy with Filipinos en masse and donating money for the victims through various local and international charities.

One of the most original ways to express solidarity with the Filipino nation in these trying times was conceived by a group of teachers, students and alumni of the private school of applied arts in the city of Pilsen, administrative center of the West Bohemian region, located about one hundred kilometers west of Prague.

Helping those who help

The school, known simply as Zámeček (i.e. small castle, in Czech), has educated hundreds of artists and specialists in the field of applied painting, sculpture, photography, conservation/restoration, 3D design and graphic design over the last two decades. And while their primary focus might be on giving their graduates necessary skills for their future careers (and understandably so, given it is a private school that has to provide value for money), the teachers are clearly not neglecting the other aspect of education – forming their students into well rounded citizens.
Café Kačaba - where the world comes together

Because that is precisely who these teenagers proved to be by actively taking part in a group exhibition of charity posters that are now being sold to raise funds for the victims of the above mentioned deadly typhoon. The idea, first floated by Jiří Světlík and Pavel Botka, two teachers of graphic design at Zámeček (and hugely successful graphic designers in their own right), met with overwhelming enthusiasm of their students. The results of this creative synergy can still be seen (until the February 3rd) in downtown Pilsen’s Café Kačaba where some two dozen posters grace the walls and can be “adopted” for the price of 500 Czech crowns (CZK) - roughly one thousand pesos - or 30 CZK for a smaller print of the same in the form of a postcard.

The proceeds of the charity exhibition will go to the Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren that describes itself as “a Christian non-profit organization offering help and support for living a dignified and valuable life despite age, illness, disability, isolation, difficult social situations and other life crisis“. It should be emphasized that Diaconia was among the first Czech organizations that provided aid to the victims of the typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan last November through its partner organizations (Philippine Citizens‘ Disaster Response Center and German Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe).

Diaconia’s West Bohemian center, based in Pilsen, also happens to be behind the idea of setting up Café Kačaba in 2005 as a „sheltered worskshop“ for people with disabilities, a concept that proved to be as worthy as successful. Thus it seemed only natural to mount the charity posters exhibition for the benefit of the typhoon victims in this place which has been giving hope and dignity to dozens of disadvantaged people.

It all came perfectly together last January 23rd when the delegation from the Philippine Embassy in Prague paid a visit to Pilsen to express gratitude of the Philippine nation for this latest act of Czech people‘s sympathy with the victims of Yolanda (there were many more). The visit started in the ateliers of Zámeček in the Pilsen suburb of Křimice where Mr. Juan "Jed" Dayang Jr., Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Prague and Mr. Ramon "Bong" Gaspar, its cultural attaché, were welcomed by the director of the school Mrs. Renata Šindelářová and some of the institution’s teachers including Mr. Botka and Mr. Světlík.

Blue-blooded intermission
The magical chiaroscuro of the Křimice castle's chapel
After the brief tour of the school’s ateliers and an informal chat over coffee and cakes the delegation was given a rare honor of visiting the neighboring princely mansion of the Křimice branch of the House of Lobkowicz, one of the most prominent Czech noble families that traces its roots to the 14th century. They have been always fond of art, commissioning many masterpieces over the centuries, and they continue the family tradition by supporting the Zámeček school, which uses some of their buildings for its purposes.

The head of the family, 71-year old Prince (however, the title is not officially used in the Czech Republic ever since the newly independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 abolished nobility and did away with their traditional prerogatives) Jaroslav Lobkowicz - who also happens to be a sitting member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament - and his first-born son Vladimir, who takes care of the business interests of the family, were at hand to show the foreign guests an their entourage around.

In the courtyard of the Křimice castle
The story of the mansion – its sequestration by the state after the communist takeover in 1948 and its eventual restitution to the rightful owners after the communist regime’s downfall in 1989 (though the actual turnover was not completed until 2007) – mirrors the dramatic turns of the modern Czech history and to hear it directly from the owner was a truly enlightening experience. It should be stressed that Lobkowicz family counts among the most traditional Catholic nobility of this country and it was through an act of generosity of one of its own -namely Polyxena of Lobkowicz (1566-1642) – that a small statue of Child Jesus, today widely known and venerated (also in the Philippines, of course) as Infant Jesus of Prague, became an object of public worship in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague. Therefore it is little surprising that one finds a gem of a chapel decked with masterpieces of Baroque art in the family’s Křimice mansion, restored with a great care to its former glory after several decades of neglect by the atheism preaching communist state.

There’s always a rainbow after the rain

But the time was scarce and it was time to move from Pilsen’s serene suburb of Křimice to its buzzing downtown where Café Kačaba is located for the place was packed with students of Zámeček, all waiting for the rare chance to meet and greet the visiting Filipino diplomats. Mr. Dayang and Mr. Gaspar were each given a copy of a collective poster (consisting of postcard-size views of all the individual posters created for the exhibition) together with several rolls of an original Christmas wrapping paper consisting of suns and stars that appear on the Philippine national flag. In addition Mr. Petr Neumann, Director of the West Bohemian Center of Diaconia, presented the diplomats with a pillow and a throw-rug, hand-made by clients of their sheltered workshop, the symbolic meaning of the gift being the hope that the multitudes of Filipinos made homeless by the deadly typhoon will soon be able to enjoy a sound sleep in a cozy comfort of their restored houses.  
Sweet dreams are made of this (Philippine Embassy's cultural attaché Bong Gaspar gets a pillow from Diaconia's Petr Neumann)

What followed was a mutually enriching conversation about the life in the Philippines, a country that is visited by twenty tropical storms a year on average – something that most inhabitants of the Czech Republic, a landlocked country with a mild climate, can hardly imagine, but also about the deeper meaning of art and creative process and how individual talents can be pooled to create a group exhibition with a sense of caring and sharing (rather than just showing off or creating art for art’s sake) at its core. The positive feedback that students got from the visiting diplomats was the most gratifying part of the entire undertaking, according to Mr. Světlík who had started the ball rolling in November by coming up with the “Merry Christmas for Everyone?” motto for the class exercise that eventually grew into a full-fledged group show, thus setting up its tone (one of alarm and sympathy for those who were denied the joy of festive season which most of us tend to take for granted).
It's more fun in the Philippines and we all know it.

While expressing genuine gratitude for such show of empathy, not expected from usually self-absorbed teenagers, the Filipino envoys tried to pump some optimism into the evening by putting the tragedy of Yolanda into perspective - explaining how resilient the Filipinos are, how famously indomitable their spirit, and also how the year 2013 did not just bring misery to the nation but moments of pure joy and collective pride through multiple Pinay triumphs at world’s top beauty contests or through first boxing victory in more than two years by the People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao. Reviving the DOT campaign’s central motto - “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, which was temporarily suspended in the wake of typhoon’s taking unprecedented toll on human lives, they encouraged everyone present to visit the country and see for themselves that the slogan rings truer than ever.

Sunday, January 5, 2014



Issue II, October-December 2013, Prague, Czech Republic

My dearest kababayans,

I am too little now to understand what has happened to my native city. I have to wait until I grow into an age when I am ready to grasp the tragedy of Tacloban. I will certainly be saddened by the loss of life and disappearance of most of the city, in which I was born two and a half years ago. I will thank God for sparing you and I will thank the Reception and Study Center for Children's staff for evacuating you in time to a safe place. 

I will most likely not see you again. At least not in the RSCC where I spent over a year of my life. 

You are said to have been moved to Manila. No one knows at this point when you will be back in Tacloban. Maybe never. Maybe you will be soon matched with adoptive families and leave your homeland for good. Like I did more than six months ago. 

Meanwhile, my life in my not-so-new homeland has been going on typhoon-free and in a less turbulent way than yours have. 

However, I have gone through some stormier times myself. Some time ago, coincidentally when the typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, I had big sleeping problems. Not only during the day but at night too. It had terrible effects on me and my moods and naturally on the whole family. More in my report below.

My dearest kababayans, wherever you are, I wish you all the best, happy times free of natural disasters and last but not least, happy parents who will love you dearly and unconditionally like my parents love me.

Yours ever,

Rica Vondrova

On sleeping
As mentioned in my editorial, some time ago I had troubles with falling asleep. Despite being very tired, I failed to fall asleep. I would jump all over my mom who would patiently try to calm me down. I would try to talk to her but she would keep singing lullabies and pet me over my head. So I would talk to myself, my fingers or my toys. Sometimes my mom would fall asleep before I would, so I would have to wake her up to remind her I am not sleeping yet.  

Well, you see, life is so interesting, why should I sleep it over, di ba? And yet, I do have to take a lunch nap, mom says, because I would get unbearably restless in the afternoon and would not enjoy life as much. 

During the day mom (or sometimes dad) would put me in a stroller and go for a walk outside. Only then I fell asleep. In the evening it was somewhat impossible.Besides, who wants to stroll late at night when it is dark and cold. Especially now when the temperatures dropped below zero, right?

Luckily, the big troubles with sleeping are gone. I wouldn’t call myself a sleeping enthusiast but I am more easily convinced now to go to bed and actually lie down and try to close my eyes and sleep. Watching a good night story on TV sometimes helps (see the picture - together with my grandma). Sometimes it doesn't. It is still very unpredictable with me, I must admit. 

Sit down, mámo, sit down táto
As for learning Czech, I am extending my vocabulary day by day. As said in my last report – it is a very difficult language and I don’t envy any foreigner who attempts to learn it.  

Some things confuse me, like the word stolička (at first I learned it means a stool/little chair and now I found out it also means a jaw tooth).

Then some words are extremely long. Compare socks in English and ponožky in Czech. Or sun and sluníčko. Or red and červená. Etcetera.

But I enjoy learning new long words. It is fun and it seems mom and dad enjoy it too. They almost always laugh when I try to use them. For example, the word konvalinka (lily of the valley). I can hardly pronounce it but I won’t get discouraged. I keep coming to mom and tell her proudly – kodadinka! She compliments me for trying hard. Sometimes she laughs and I laugh with her.

Despite learning new words almost every day, I retain some of the English or Tagalog/Waray words or my own mix:

Mainom – to drink
Baboy – pig
Ulan - rain
Init - hot
Sit down (my favorite phrase is Sit down, mámo, sit down, táto. I use it so often, mom and dad often sing it as a made-up song in the James Brown fashion.)
Up - much easier to say up than Stoupni si, don't you think?
Deida - meaning lie down

On visiting zoo and riding a fox’s tail
Among the highlights in the fall was visiting the Prague zoo. I was amazed by the size of some animals. Knowing them from books doesn’t give you the proper proportion or size they actually happen to have. I am talking about elephants, giraffes or even zebras. There were also penguins, seals, turtles and flamingoes.

I was most amazed by gorillas, though. I stood there fascinated by the mama gorilla and papa gorilla and their babies, cuddling and hugging just like me and mom and dad do. I didn’t want to leave the place, I tell you.

Apart from animals, I still like food and music. A true Filipina, my parents say. There are karaokes all over the Philippines, you see and the first question you are often asked in my homeland is not How are you? but Have you eaten? In other words, food is always on Filipinos' mind and so is on mine.

As for my passion for music, I have discovered another song by my favorite duo Svěrák – Uhlíř (something like Lennon – McCartney in the world of Czech kids' music) – a mini-opera called Budulínek. I can hardly pronounce the word (try it for yourself boo-doo-lee-neck) but I just cannot get enough of it. Well, just ask my parents. They will tell you how many times I can listen to this piece during the day. I cannot even count that high.

At one point a fox is carrying Budulínek, a little naughty boy, on its tail. I guess that is the best thing about the whole piece – I would like to take a ride on the fox’s tail myself! Or I would like to become the fox and haunt little boys. Mom makes me a little tail out of my scarf and I pretend to be the fox and mom or dad are Budulínek running away from me pretending to be scared.

St. Nicolas Day and my first Christmas
Czechs have this funny tradition called Mikuláš, which translates as St. Nicolas Day. A group of mostly three persons - devil, angel and St. Nicolas roam around the town or households and ask kids if they behaved in the past year.
Those who have are rewarded with sweets and candy; those who have not are put in the devil’s sack and taken to hell or given only a sack of potatoes or coal.

I got plenty of chocolate and candy, so I must have been good. But boy, I was scared to death, I must tell you, not really of the devil but of the angels who mostly had strange (blue) hair and St. Nicolas who had big white beard and a huge cap. 

I could hardly have a look at them when they tried to talk to me (see the picture on the left). I was holding onto my mom and dad so tightly, they could hardly breathe. The chocolate tasted good, though.

On that day I learned a new word - dárek (gift). When Ježíšek (something like Santa) came weeks later and gave me dárek, I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t chocolate. I thought up until then all dáreks are always chocolate. 

Well, they aren’t. I don’t fully get the concept of gift giving yet but I like all the toys and books I got. The best thing about Christmas, though, is the decorated tree – it almost always has chocolates on! 

On singing Christmas carols and meeting Santa and Pinoys
A group of Filipinos living in the Czech Republic organized a Christmas kiddies’ party for all those who love the Philippines. There were many Filipino-Czech kids, plenty of gifts and food and music and of course, there was Santa. 

I was a bit scared of this big guy dressed in red having a strange white beard. My grandma had to hold me in her arms the whole time when we approached him to get a present. Slowly, I warmed up. I was pleased to get more chocolate and eat great Filipino food the Pinoy expats prepared themselves. I was so energized by all the pancit and adobo, I didn’t want to leave the dance floor later on. (See the video here.)

A day before the Christmas Day mom and dad took me to the Charles Bridge where a choir and musicians played a famous Czech Christmas mass by Jakub Jan Ryba. It is commonly known as Rybovka. I sat on my dad’s shoulders and listened fascinated by all the singing and instrument playing.

On the last day of the year 2013 mom took me to a small church nearby our house. There was the New Year’s Eve mass. At one point the priest came up to us to give me blessings but I screamed right into his face: I don't want any angel! I amused everyone present at the mass. He did look like an angel, though, dressed in a long white robe. A wingless angel, though. 

I was fascinated by the music again - organ and male choir. I refused to leave, shouting No bye bye, mom! No going home! The priest seemed to be pleased with me again.

Then there was the last night of the year of 2013. Mom and dad stayed home and had a quiet evening. I slept like a baby, a real baby and no fireworks could wake me up. I was all joyful and full of laughs the next day. I hope the whole year of 2014 will be like that. 

That is what I wish to you all too – joy and lots of laughing moments.Until next time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

RICA´S TIMES /in her new homeland/

/in her new homeland/

Vol. 1, September 2013, Prague, Czech Republic


Hello my dear kababayans,

It has been over three months that I have left my native Tacloban and that I have left you. I travelled across the world to find my new home and I must say I have enjoyed myself like never before.

As soon as I arrived I was very impressed by Prague playgrounds. There are so many around the city, with all kinds of attractions you can hardly imagine. I also like local swimming pools. Mind you, when I met my parents, I was afraid of water so much, I could not stand a drop on my skin. Literally.

My next favorite activity is flipping through kids’ books, especially if they have pictures of animals, and I have recently discovered iPad. 

If you remember, I have always liked eating. Well, the Czech food is o.k. but nothing special. My parents prefer Asian food anyway, so I didn’t have to adjust too much in this.

Of course, there are things I am enjoying a bit less, like lunch naps or eating carrots or broccoli. I am going to tell you all about this in the following reports.


Rica Cortez Suarez, soon to be Vondra

Jedééém (Let’s Go)
On travelling

My first overseas flight isn’t something I would like to remember in the future if I can remember things like that when I grow up.

I just couldn’t understand why we were sitting in one place for so long! I got restless and was crawling all over my mom the whole time. She patiently tried to entertain me but choices were limited. Poor mom, she had to sit on the floor during the night hours, so I could sleep comfortably in her seat.

And yet, it wasn’t comfortable for me at all! I kept waking up and crying and sometimes even shouting. Mom and dad felt sorry for me, they petted me and consoled me endlessly. However, there was nothing they could do about my restlessness. I was so tired when we landed in Dubai on our stopover, I crashed on the floor and fell asleep on mom's sleeping bag (see the picture). 

I survived the flight, so did they and we all happily made it to Prague.

Travelling is something I have been enjoying less in my new home country. But I am learning fast – at first I hardly stood an hour of a drive in a car or any tram ride. I wanted to get off at every stop. Now I can go for a several hours long drive (mostly sleeping) and be o.k. Even trams are quite fun - they have doors that open and there is constantly someone getting on and off.

Paradoxically, one of the first phrases I learned in Czech is Jedém ("Let´s go"). I have my own motorbike now (see the picture), so it comes very handy to know this phrase. Jedéém!

Slides and swings are fun
On Prague playgrounds

The first place where my parents took me after we arrived was a playground

I was a bit scared because I didn’t know how to use any of the things. There was a slide, a swing, a sand pit, various climbing frames and plenty of other things I have never seen before.

My daddy helped me to use the slide. He was there backing me up and encouraging me to go on. My mom was catching me on the other side. I don’t need their help and back-up any more. I go and slide or swing on my own! It is so much fun, sometimes I just cannot stop laughing like in this video!

At first, I didn’t know how to play in a sand pit but now you can hardly get me home. I got so many bucket sets from my grandmas and I learned a nursery song to make the best moulds. I also try to cook with my bucket sets and yes, I have tasted the sand. But it is nothing special, really...

Swans and ducks, dogs and cats
On loving animals and singing

We live near the Vltava River, which cuts the city almost in half. There is an embankment along the river on which you can take a stroll any time of the day. In the summertime there is a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings and live music almost every evening. I don’t really go to listen to the music; all I am interested in are swans, ducks, pigeons and dogs. These were actually my first words in Czech (labuť, kachna, holub, pes). These animals are so characteristic of Prague like Charles Bridge or the Franz Kafka is.

I really enjoy watching and feeding the swans and ducks. And there is always someone nearby walking a dog. Czechs are lovers of dogs. I learned not to be afraid of them – that is not to cry when I see one approaching. On top of that, I learned how to pet them!

I also know other words in Czech. For example an elephant, lion, frog, fish, bear, bird, monkey (although I still use the English word and I pronounce it my own way - punkey). 

Mom and dad are planning to take me to the zoo soon, so I wonder if I recognize some of the animals I already know from the books. When I saw a horse the other day, I was quite surprised how big it is.

Our flat is near a botanical garden in which mom and I often spend our mornings. I have seen a little frog there and there are fish of many colors, some looking like the Filipino fish lapu lapu. 

There are also lotuses, which I know how to say in Czech but my pronounciation of the Czech word always makes mom and dad laugh. Instead of leknín I say něknín. It is a bloody difficult word and I can hardly pronounce it. I laugh with them, then we all laugh together. 

There is a Czech song about animals and the sounds they make that I love so much, I can listen to it endlessly. I mean really endlessly, so dad and mom sometimes go to the other room. I already know how to sing it a bit and when I am at a playground, I play with my buckets and hum this song (my own way, of course).

The weather was extremely hot this summer, they say (sometimes hotter than in Manila, mind you), so I spent most of the time playing in a pool. As noted above, when my parents got me, I was so afraid of water, I hated bathrooms and seasides. 

Now, they can hardly get me out of the bathtub in the evening. 

Boring food and lovely cream cheese
On food, not only the Czech one

As for eating Czech food, I cannot say much. Mom and dad don’t really cook Czech meals. Actually almost never. They say it is heavy, unhealthy, complicated to prepare and boring. They prefer Asian food or Italian pasta. But I have already tried Russian vareniki – a kind of dumplings stuffed with meat, or potatoes, or mushrooms. There is a Russian store near our house and my mom buys vareniki for kids for me.

Czechs love dairy products – cheese, yoghurts, milk. I detested them all at the beginning but now I eat a package of fruit-flavored cream cheese every day (it is called Termix and I usually shout Termix the first thing in the morning or when shopping in a supermarket). Sometimes I have two per day! 

Cheese as such is not really my favorite but when I spend the whole afternoon by a swimming pool or playing at a playground, I get really hungry and eat anything, including the kids’ cheese mom buys for me.

Mom says I could eat more fruit to digest better but I prefer meat or rice. We went to a wedding of mom's and dad's friends and they had lechon (=roasted pig with a very crispy skin that even semi-vegetarians like my mom enjoy eating) there. It wasn't roasted the Filipino style but it was nice and it was baboy (=pig)! I had the whole plate!

As for eating fruit, I ocassionally eat blueberries and apples. I haven’t stopped loving bananas, though. I also like strawberry ice cream but mom says it doesn’t count for fruit.

iPad and Potty
On my favorite gadgets

I have plenty of favorite toys from my grandmas and my parents’ friends. But my latest favorite ones are an iPad and a potty (see the pic). They aren’t really toys but I like to use them as much as possible. 

Yes, a potty, you are reading it correctly. I learnt to use it not long ago and I always clap my hands when I succeed, as my mom and dad did when I used it for the first time. I like it so much, sometimes I call I need to pee, even though I don’t really.
I also play some games on our iPad but not for too long, because I still prefer to play with my mom and dad. Books and toys are still more fun for me than an iPad.

Well, the best fun is when I can sit on my potty, play my favorite songs on our iPad and have a book and mom or dad, or preferably both, by my side. Then I am so happy, I make my parents laugh and I laugh along with them. 

That is about it for now. I will write more soon, hopefully time will allow. I am very busy, you see, learning all the new things including using a potty and the Czech language.But from time to time my parents show me pictures of the Philippines and I will be back one day, I promise.

As a bonus I am adding my Czech vocabulary I am using actively as of today, that is the end of September). I am adding new words every day, so it is hard to keep track now, mom says but the beginning stage of learnig Czech was easy to monitor. The first words I learned just show we live down by the river.

1.      labuť (swan)
2.      pes (dog)
3.      holub (pigeon)
4.      loď (boat)
5.      pojď (come)
6.      kachna (duck)
7.      leknín (lotus)
8.      vlak (train)
9.      ukaž (show me)
10.  auto (car)
11.  tramvaj (tram)
12.  papají (they are eating)
13. kachna (duck)
14.  želva; more like "šoula" (turtle)
15.  pít (drink)
16.  kolo (bike)
17.  voda (water)
18.  motorka (motorbike)
19.  pozor (watch out!)
20.  letí (it is flying)
21. pere (it is washing; i.e. washing machine is on)
22.  žába (frog)
23.  bus (autobus)
24.  pán (Mister)
25.  paní (Mrs.)
26.  svítí (the light is on) 
27.  lampa (lamp) 
28.  strom (tree) 
29.  dveře (door) 
30.  Mámo prosím (mom please)
31.  Táto prosím (dad please)
32.  beruška  (ladybird)
33.  slunce (sun)
34.  uklízí; more like "ušídí" (he/she is cleaning)
35.  houká (sound of police/ambulance car horn)
36.  točí (spinning) 
37.  tepláky; more like "pláky" (sports pants)  
38.  kalhoty (pants)  
39.  párek (sausage)  
40.  mokrý (wet)  
41.  dům (house)  
42.  schody (stairs)  
43.  pracuje (he/she is working)  
44.  zeď (wall)  
45.  fotbal; more like "houba" (football)  
46.  kočár (stroller)  
47.  písek (sand)  
48.  horký (hot)  
49.  doma (at home)
50.  výtah (elevator)  
51.  ruka (hand)

52.  noha (leg)
53.  žirafa (giraffe)  
54.  díra (hole)  
55.  tady (here)  
56.  tam (there)  
57.  klobouk (hat)  
58.  bolí (it hurts)
59.  gauč (sofa)  
60.  spadlo (it fell down)  
61.  voda stříká (the water is springing)  
62.  polštář (pillow)  
63.  lux (vacuum cleaner)  
64.  umyjeme (we are going to wash)  
65.  Karkulka (Little Red Riding Hood)
66.  nakoupíme; more like "pipinama" = 
      we are going to buy)  
67.  sama (alone; meaning I can do it myself)
68.  Pozor! (Watch out)
69.  breakdance
70.  spadlo (it fell down)
71.  bubák (a wooden demon-like figure on our wall)  
72.  papoušek (parrot)
73.  vaří (cooking)  
74.  záchod (toilet)  
75.  fouká vítr (the wind is blowing)
76.  Já přídu (I am coming)
77.  smrdí (it smells bad)  
78.  ručník (towel)  
79.  sýr (cheese)
80.  Termix (cottage cheese)
81.  lechtá (it is tickling)
82.  záda (back)
83.  slintá (drools)
84.  Kde je ...? (Where is ... ?)
85.  takhle (this way)  
86.  prasknul (burst)  
87.  tevizi (teletubbies)  
88.  pije (drinking)
89.  pěna (foam)
90.  ananas  (pineapple)
91.  zhasne (switches off)  
92.  hřeben (comb)  
93.  koště (broom)
94.  zvoní (rings)  
95.  kytara; more like "kikilawa" (guitar)  
96.  běžíme (we are running)
97.  maluje (painting)  
98.  slintá (drooling)
99.  vousy (beard)
100.  hruška (pear)  
101. hezká (pretty, nice)  
102. sýr (cheese)  
103.  bačkory (slippers)  
104.  stojí (standing)  
105.   sundat (take off)
106.   zvoní (ringing)  
107.   gól (score)  
108.    korále (necklace)
109.   stojí (standing)
110.   veliká (big)  
111.  směje (laughing)  
112.   rukavice (gloves)  
113.   koloběžka (scooter)
114.  vezme (take)
115. tirák (big lorry) 
116. topení (central heating)
117. cvičí (exercising)
118. mikina (sweat shirt)
119. bambus (bamboo)
120. krk (burp)
121. pyžamo (pyjamas)
122. Rice čte (Rica is reading)
123. Rica píše (Rica is writing)

There are more videos of me in action at this site: