Tuesday 27 January 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Celebrating Chinese New Year

(photo source: google)

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Kung Hey Fat Choi!

Cross-posting an entry here to mark this especial event
which started on January 26...Chinese new year.
The year of the Ox.

Some snippets of information about Chinese New Year. It might interest you.

The 15-Day Celebration of Chinese New Year

The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth."Many people abstain from meat on the first day of the new year because it is believed that this will ensure long and happy lives for them.
On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.
The third and fourth days are for the sons-in-laws to pay respect to their parents-in-law.
The fifth day is called Po Woo. On that day people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. No one visits families and friends on the fifth day because it will bring both parties bad luck.
On the sixth to the 10th day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health.

The seventh day of the New Year is the day for farmers to display their produce. These farmers make a drink from seven types of vegetables to celebrate the occasion. The seventh day is also considered the birthday of human beings. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success.
On the eighth day the Fujian people have another family reunion dinner, and at midnight they pray to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven.

The ninth day is to make offerings to the Jade Emperor.
The 10th through the 12th are days that friends and relatives should be invited for dinner. After so much rich food, on the 13th day you should have simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) to cleanse the system.
The 14th day should be for preparations to celebrate the Lantern Festival which is to be held on the 15th night.
(Source: www.educ.uvic.ca)

Chinese New Year
Gong xi fa cai !
Kung hsi fa tsai !
Best wishes and congratulations!
Best wishes for health and prosperity!
Have a good year!"
For thousands of years, the Chinese have celebrated a new year as a spring celebration. Chinese New Year is still sometimes called Spring Festival. It is held after the fall harvest and before the start of the spring planting season and brings hopes for a good harvest in the year to come.
The Chinese use a calendar based on the phases of the moon. A new moon is the beginning of a month. A full moon is the middle of a month. This is called a lunar calendar, and it is calculated by the time it takes the moon to travel around the earth. (By comparison, the Gregorian calendar which we use is based on the time it takes the earth to circle the sun). Chinese New Year is the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. Each year the holiday falls sometime between January 21st and February 19th.
The Chinese name their years using 12 different animals to stand for each year. After 12 years, the cycle of animals begins again.
Calendar Date Zodiac Animal Chinese Year
February 9, 2005 Rooster 4703
January 29, 2006 Dog 4704
February 18, 2007 Boar 4705
February 7, 2008 Rat 4706
January 26, 2009 Ox 4707
February 10, 2010 Tiger 4708
Long ago there was a Chinese legend that said that a terrible monster or giant lived in the mountains and would come down at the end of the year and terrorize people and animals or even kill them all. It was discovered that the monster was frightened by loud noises, bright lights, and the color red. This is one of the reasons that the Chinese New Year has many loud firecrackers, bright fireworks and lanterns, and the color red is seen everywhere.
The Chinese New Year is sometimes just celebrated on the actual new year's day--or preparations for the holiday might be made for weeks before and the celebration might extend for many days after the actual new year's day. It ends with the Golden Dragon Parade.
Top of page
To prepare for the Chinese New Year, many families:
• Clean their places of business a week before the holiday. Families also clean their homes. This symbolizes sweeping out the old and welcoming in the new. Once the New Year celebration begins, it is thought to be bad luck to clean until the celebration is over because good luck arrives with the new year. If houses are cleaned, the good luck might get swept out or scrubbed away.
• Put away all their scissors and knives because they might cut their newly arrived luck.
• Decorate homes with fresh flowers and small trees for the new year celebration. Different trees and flowers have special meanings that bring good luck.
• Hang special pictures called Nian hua. These are banners that say "Good Luck".
• Hang paper scrolls on the wall that have special good luck poems written on them. These poems are always hung in pairs and are also on red paper. They are called spring couplets and offer good wishes for happiness, wealth, longevity, etc.
• Put a plate of oranges in the center of their table because this is considered to be good luck. The oranges are stacked in the shape of a pyramid. Red apples are also a symbol of good luck.
• Remember the tradition of the kitchen god because it is an important part of Chinese New Year. It is an old belief that the kitchen god is a spirit that lives in homes. The job of the kitchen god is to give a report back to the Jade Emperor (the king of the gods) about how the family has behaved for the past year. The kitchen god leaves the house on the 23rd day of the last month of the year. On this night, the family leaves a special meal for the kitchen god. They may have a small altar or picture of the kitchen god in their kitchen. Families place sweet treats near the altar so the kitchen god will say only sweet things about them. Sometimes they leave sticky foods for him to "stick" his mouth shut so he cannot tell the Jade Emperor anything bad. They offer a prayer and then burn the picture of the kitchen god to symbolize his departure and then set off firecrackers. The noise of the firecrackers makes the kitchen god leave. He returns on the first day of the new year.
• Buy new clothes for the new year.
• Get a haircut during this time because it is believed that this will bring good luck for the next 12 months.
• Hang different kinds of red decorations everywhere because red is a color of good luck.
• Make sure that all their debts are paid.
Top of page
On New Year's Eve, many families:
• Gather together with extended relatives.
• Have a big, special meal with special foods.
• Seal their windows to seal in good luck.
• Take a long bath because they do not wash on New Year's Day.
• Stay up all night.
• Let the children stay up as late as they can because it is believed that the longer the children stay up, the longer their parents will live.
• Set off fireworks to scare away evil spirits. The door guardians, Chi'in Ch'iung and Yu-chih Kung, make sure that the evil spirits leave and only good spirits enter.
• Welcome the kitchen god back into their home at midnight by setting off fireworks.
• Give gifts of good luck money in special red envelopes called Ya Sui Quain. This is called "suppressing age" money and is supposed to stop children from getting older.
• Visit temples to pray for their ancestors and to pray for good fortune.
• Send special New Year's cards to friends and relatives.
Top of page
On New Year's Day, many families:
• Break the seals around their doors and windows.
• Are careful about what they say and do and have the best of manners. This is because it is believed that what happens on New Year's Day will decide what the family's luck will be for the rest of the year.
• Wear new clothes.
• Do not wash or take baths so that good luck won't be washed away.
• Visit relatives and friends and bring gifts of plants, flowers, or food.
• Gamble because this is the only time that this is acceptable.
• Try not to break anything because this will bring bad luck.
• Eat special foods like candied lotus seed which stand for good luck to bring many children (especially sons) into the family, candied coconut which stands for togetherness, and candied melon which stands for good growth and good health. A food called Eight Precious Rice or Laba is often eaten. It is made up of sticky rice containing eight different things that represent jewels. Most of the foods eaten for this celebration have special meanings and stand for new year's wishes.
• Eat sweet dumplings that are shaped like shoes. Sometimes coins are hidden in the dumplings.
Top of page
On the days following New Year's Day, many families:
• Continue visiting relatives and friends.
• Attend Chinese opera.
• Visit temples to pray for peace and success.
• Light joss sticks for good luck.
• Burn incense for the birthday of the Jade Emperor who is the king of all the gods.
• Use fortune sticks to predict their future.
• Watch lion dancers which go up and down streets and scare away evil spirits.
• Participate in or watch the Golden Dragon Parade which is about 2 weeks after New Year's Day. During and after the parade, thousands of fireworks are set off. The parade has marching bands, people carrying banners with pictures of the animal which represents the new year, acrobats, and dancers. The dancers wear paper heads of lions, cats, roosters, monkeys, and clowns. There are many people walking on stilts. At the end of the parade is the dragon. The dragon is a symbol of strength and goodness. The appearance of the dragon is a way of wishing everyone peace, good fortune, and good luck for the coming year.
• Participate in or watch the Lantern Festival which takes place on the first full moon of the month. Many different kinds of lanterns shaped like animals are carried along the streets in long processions to scare away evil spirits.

(Source: www.uen.org/utahlink/activities/view_activity.cgi?activity_id=5279)

I found one entry which says one should wear new slippers or shoes so one could step on the toes of the people who are spreading 'Chismiss' rumours about you. This is cute! Hey, boot up!

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Jan. 20, 2009, My Best Wishes to You Dear Mr. President Obama

(Photo Source: www.cbc.ca)

My best wishes to you, Mr. President!

Monday Night: Film Night "Australia"

Grey and rainy days followed the beautiful snowy weather
in our village and instead of our usual Thursday film
day (tickets are cheaper on Thursday), we went to Cologne
to see the original film version of Australia, an epic
film which lasts for about 170 minutes without
intermission. I could not recall if we had seen
a preview of the film but I remembered posters where
hanging in many German cinemas announcing film showing
starting on Christmas day on 2008.
I was imagining the film to be a story of the Aborigines,
British settlers and how thousand of British prisoners were
banished to this island. None of the latter would be
mentioned in this epic film though which enticed me
to "google" about the history of Australia after the film and
not just associate that beautiful country with penal colonies,
drinking men in the outback, Aborigines and Koalas.
About the penal colonies in Australia...here is a short
historical background taken from wikepedia:

During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government.[1] One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their overburdened correctional facilities. Over the 80 years more than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia.[2] The last convicts to be transported to Australia arrived in Western Australia in 1868.

I enjoyed the film, the epic visuals a term I got from
another review and the glimpses on the beliefs and rites
of the Aborigines. Magical moments inside this small cinema
looking at the huge screen feeling yourself to be right in
the film and in some scenes...ehem wishing yourself to be
in the place of Nicole Kidman as Sarah being trained by

a drover played by Hugh Jackmann. So what is a drover?
A drover in Australia is a person, typically an experienced stockman, who moves livestock, usually sheep or cattle, "on the hoof" over long distances. Reasons for droving may include: delivering animals to a new owner's property, taking animals to market, or moving animals during a drought in search of better feed and/or water. Moving a small mob of quiet cattle is relatively easy, but moving several hundred head of wild station cattle over long distances is a completely different matter. (taken from wikepedia)

(photo source: www.squidoo.com)
As I was saying before, the viewers were given glimpses
into the beliefs of the Aborigines and I wanted to know more on this word walkabout
and I found one short info on this:

When Aboriginal Australians Go on Walkabout, they undertake a spiritual journey to a Belonging Place to renew their relationship with their Dreaming and the Landscape. The land is their life, their mother, their way, their nourishment, and their spiritual connectedness.
During the Dreamtime the Ancestral Spirits gave form to the land and established community relationships. Afterwards, in order to enliven the landscape with their powers, these Ancestral Spirits changed from humans into animals, stars, hills, trees, and other aspects of the landscape, empowering the Natural World with their numinous presence in forms that are most commonly referred to nowadays as Devas, Nature Spirits, and Elementals.
For the Aboriginals of Australia, their spirituality and the Sacred is deeply rooted in the Landscape and in their relationship to the environment which sustains them. There are many different Aboriginal Australia tribes who have their own Dreamtime folklore, customs, languages, and totems; but, there are also many commonalities they share such as: Animal Totems, strong kinship, and family structures.
Dreaming Tracks or Songlines distinguish all features of the land created by their Spirit Ancestors as they Journeyed and travelled across it. The story of the Aboriginals is in the land; the law is imprinted upon their Sacred Spaces. These Songlines are the footprints of their Spirit Ancestors as they sang Beingness into the landscape, setting the law.
(More on it, please see:

See the film and learn more about this beautiful
country later.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Eto na naman......English as Medium of Instruction

(Source of Photo: Copied from The History of the Burgis)

Taken from the Editorial of Daily Inquirer
on the debate about re-introducing English as medium
of instruction in Philippine schools.

King’s English

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:15:00 01/11/2009

Filed Under: Education, Language, Government, Laws
WHEN Congress resumes on Jan. 19, the House of Representatives is expected to be engulfed in a war of words—or languages—over the passage of House Bill 5619, the proposed Act Strengthening and Enhancing the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction. Authored by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, the bill seeks to junk the bilingual policy adopted by the old education department in 1974, during the Marcos era. The policy sought to make the “nation competent in the use of English and Filipino.” Gullas’ measure seeks “the reinstatement of English as medium of instruction” in Philippine basic education.
It is easy to sympathize with Gullas; apparently, there are many who are ruing the Filipinos’ loss of English proficiency and they blame this on the bilingual policy. But it is one thing to lament the loss of our English proficiency, and another to dictate that it be made the medium of instruction in our schools.
To be sure, the state should be in the business of looking for the best way to effectively transmit knowledge in its education system. But studies across the board show that the mother tongue is the best conveyor of instruction.
To some extent, the Gullas bill recognizes the above. It gives schools the option to use English, Filipino or the regional language as the teaching language from pre-school up to Grade 3. But from the intermediate grades up to high school, English will be the teaching language, except in Filipino as a course.
Just the same, the bill’s “English myopia” is hegemonic, and overlooks scientific evidence showing the mother tongue to be the best medium of instruction. For example, a study showed that non-native American children who were schooled for six years in their first language, before they were taught completely in English, scored in their Science and Mathematics—as well as English—tests higher than the average native English pupil. In contrast, non-native English students who began education completely in English learned the least English and scored lowest in their academic subjects.
All these findings should show that no science or reason propels the campaign for the reinstitution of English as instruction language in our schools—except for that uniquely Filipino science-—hiya or loss of face, the reverse of which is another uniquely Filipino science—yabang or conceit. Perhaps confronted by Melanie Marquez and other Philippine beauty queens and pretenders who, during question-and-answer portions, add to the rich vocabulary of English by their unwitting and very hilarious answers; and perhaps feeling guilty and embarrassed because their children speak their yaya’s “Barok” English, some lawmakers now like to efface the atrocious English around them, including their own, by mandating that everyone speak the King’s English. But this gesture is at best aristocratic pretension.
At the least, Gullas et al. are driven by other considerations in seeking to restore English, but these considerations hardly have anything to do with hastening learning or the absorption of lessons by our students. They may have more to do with their distaste of the Tagalog-based Filipino and their resistance to Manila imperialism. (Filipino promoters may protest that Filipino is democratic and is drawn from all the major regional languages, not just Tagalog, but they should recognize that the suspicion against it by the provinces remains widespread. In any case, even Filipino promoters quarrel among themselves on which word or coinage to incorporate in the new vocabulary, and their Babel-like quarrel may take another eon to resolve.)
Gullas et al. also want English proficiency because of the global scheme of things, such as the decided advantage of Filipino manpower abroad due to their English know-how and the relative prestige accorded to nations that speak English. But since Filipinos get the lower end of skills in global manpower, what level of English proficiency should they really have? To be sure, many Filipina maids abroad can speak English even better than their masters.
In the end, even if Filipinos had indeed reached the nadir of English proficiency, it has nothing to do with the bilingual policy or the rise of the regional languages. It has more to do with the poor system of instruction: defective textbooks, poor language instructionals, poor (or total lack of) facilities, incompetent teachers and education planners, corruption and mismanagement. We may have English as the sole medium of instruction at all levels of education, but the Filipinos will continue to speak and write the most dreadful English as long as the system of instruction keeps submitting a hideous report card.
(Source:philippine daily inquirer)

Learning a new language is always an enrichment for and not
selling one's soul.

Maging mayaman sa pag-iisip, mag-aral ng salitang banyaga at
huwag kalimutan ang wikang kinagisnan, and wikang kinalakihan at
ginagamit sa pagkakaunawaan natin mga Pilipina o Pilipino kahit
saan ka man tubo sa bansang Pilipinas. Ang pinakamahalaga ay
nagkakaunawaan tayo sa ating mga sariling wika at pananalita.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Something Different

While doing a mid-week clearing of old files
(actually I am telling myself that I should keep
my new year resolution, at least one of the few
listings I did...that is to sort out papers
as soon as I am up, even before the morning coffee
and discard stuffs I don't need), I found an
old email from Bing dating a more than a decade
away. I did not find courage to tear it and my
instant resolution keeping day turned into
a photo shoot with copies of old emails, letters
and press cuttings as model. Data compressing
deleting and re-saving could be done later...
another set of resolutions to keep.
Here's a copy of that Something Different...
and perhaps you have received it, too from
precious friends...
remember, Keep your old love letters.
Throw away your old bank statements.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Winter Wonderland Germany

Posting some photos to share with my blog visitors how
beautiful some areas under zero degree. Brrrrrrrrrrrrh!

Tuesday 6 January 2009

If it had been three wise women instead of three wise men...

(Photo: ML)

I found this email which was sent to me by another
dear friend exactly ten years ago entitled:
Three Wise Women
Do you know what would have happened if it had
been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men?

They would have asked for direction,
arrived on time,
helped deliver the baby,
cleaned the stable,
made a casserole
and brought practical gifts!

Happy Three Queens!

Thursday 1 January 2009

A Prosperous, Lucky, Love-Filled 2009!

To my dear friends and readers,
Thanks for the forwarded wishes and greetings.
My best wishes for you in 2009.

Pinay von Alemanya