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:



Burmese monk slams "shameful" neighbors and UN

Prague - One has to look further than to the inner clique of Burmese generals when trying to apportionate blame for the existence of what must be the longest ruling military regime in today's world.
Burmese monk Ashin Sopaka believes that the neighboring countries are only too happy to see the incompetent junta drive his motherland to the ground, and he does not hesitate for a second to call this behavior shameful.
The Burmese exile who recently came to Prague as a guest of the human rights film festival One World also has some harsh words for the United Nations and its secretary general, who, he believes, "should use his brain" when choosing his special envoys.

Much like in the first part of his extensive interview for Aktuálně.cz which we had published earlier, Ashin Sopaka strenghtens his arguments with personal experience and bits of the Buddhist teaching which provides for a refreshing look at the issues under debate.

Q: You have been living in Germany for the last six years. But as many Burmese who flee their motherland you started your life of an exile in Thailand which hosts the biggest Burmese expatriate community. Just recently there have been some reports about alleged preparations for a crackdown against the exile groups on Thai-Burmese border. What do you make of this and what do you expect from the new(ish) Thai government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva when it comes to support for the Burmese pro-democracy movement?
Ashin Sopaka:
We are still trying to find out what kind of person he really is. I had a lot of expectations from him since he is the Democratic Party leader and his predecessor (and former mentor) Chuan Leekpai was a big supporter of Burmese democratic movement. I thought he would follow in his footsteps but I am not so sure any more. Nevertheless, I do believe that we need fully democratic Thailand, because it is very important for the freedom of Burma as it may greatly help the cause we are espousing.

Sadly, it is not happening. If you were to count the number of Thai people who are actively involved in the fight for the restoration of democracy in Burma, you will find they are only a few, maybe a hundred. And Thailand is a big country, but the government is controlling the people, making them hate rather than help the Burmese, by bringing up the issue again and again of Burmese kings invading and destroying (the capital of Siamese kingdom) Ayutthaya in the 18th century. They are really playing with the people and it is a bad behavior, because history is history - those things are long gone and we should be thinking of how to live together.
Besides, it is also thoroughly anti-Buddhist to do this, because whenever they bring up these old animosities, they tell people to hate others, not to love them, which is really bad in a country that is predominantly Buddhist like we are.

More here.