Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Cumparsita (Tango’s Most Popular Music) – Is it Uruguay’s or Argentina’s?

Unbeknownst to many, tango is not just a form of dance. Tango is also a type of music, music that accompanies the soulful dance. The most popular among all tango songs is La Cumparsita, written by Uruguayan Gerardo Hernan Matos Rodriquez.

Who was Rodriquez?

Rodríguez was born in Uruguay on March 28, 1897, in the city of Montevideo. To people close to him, Rodríguez went by the nickname Becho. He was not only an Uruguayan musician and composer, Rodriquez was also a journalist.

Rodríguez’ father, Emilio Matos, was the owner of the local cabaret, the popular Moulin Rouge. In college, he took up architecture but was not able to finish his course. At a young age, some sources said he was 17 while others said he was 20, he began composing music. His exposure to the music in his father’s cabaret must have had an influence in the young Becho. Rodríguez’ first recognized work is said to have been his best, a piece he called La Cumparsita. He wrote this piano piece while at Uruguay’s Federación de Estudiantes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Of Pilgrims, Turkeys, Parades, Football and Black Friday – Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Tradition dictates that Thanksgiving Day in America be celebrated every fourth Thursday of November. This is why this year Thanksgiving Day falls on November 24. This holiday is a perfect time to be with family and friends, to share a meal, watch some football and participate in all kinds of family traditions associated with the Thanksgiving. Each family has their own Thanksgiving customs and traditions. There is really no wrong way or right way to celebrate this holiday for as long as everyone remembers the original intent of Thanksgiving Day.

What do people give thanks for? Many non-Americans are not aware why there is such a holiday in the U.S. They probably have greeted their American friends, co-workers and acquaintances a “Happy Thanksgiving” without really knowing what the holiday is all about. If you yourself have no idea about Thanksgiving and the brouhaha surrounding it, here is what you should know.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Have You Heard of the New 7 Wonders of Nature?

11-11-11 was a significant day for those who have been eagerly awaiting the initial results of the voting for the New 7 Wonders campaign: The New 7 Wonders of Nature. The founder and president of the New7Wonders Foundation Bernard Weber announced the provisional list of winners on this day. At the organization’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Weber, read the list in alphabetical order. Although the list if not yet final, much jubilation and pride has passed since Weber’s announcement. Before you find out who made the cut, it is important find out more about this campaign and about other 7 wonders lists.

Weber, the man behind the campaign

An author, aviator, explorer, filmmaker and museum curator all rolled into one, that’s Bernard Weber, founding president of the New7Wonders Foundation. Weber, a Swiss-born Canadian who speaks 5 languages, has had his share of adventures all over the world. He has seen what many men and women can only dream of. And, he has met and interacted with peoples of different cultures from across the globe.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Touring North Korea – an experience you will never forget

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK. Given that North Korea is under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il, the official name may be misleading. The country is a mystery to the outside world and its people are reclusive.

Visiting North Korea is nowhere like visiting other Asian countries like its sister South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Tokyo. It’s a place not for the typical tourist who expects first class amenities, lots of places to explore on their own and freedom to just click or snap away with their digital cameras. To become a tourist in North Korea means to give up one’s notion of a grand vacation and all around good time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

APEC: Bring Back the Silly Shirts!

People who follow the yearly Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of leaders were in for a rude awakening last weekend. President Barrack Obama, host of the 2012 APEC Summit, did away with the traditional silly shirts for the “APEC leaders family photo.” Yes, people call it the silly shirts. Instead, the world leaders donned suits in Honolulu, Hawaii and stood beneath towering coconut trees for the photograph last November 13, 2011. Many were shocked, others were surprised and probably some were relieved. A number of journalists, commentators and followers of this annual tradition are clamoring for the return of the silly shirts.


21 countries from the Pacific Rim make up the member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC. Each year, they meet to discuss economic cooperation, free trade, and other matters along that line. The location for the yearly meeting rotates among the different member economies. The very first APEC Leader’s Meeting was held in 1993 in Seattle when leadership of the U.S. belonged to President Bill Clinton. APEC chic was born the same year as President Clinton gifted each APEC leader with a leather bomber (bombardier) jacket to be worn for the photo call. Previous to 1993, only foreign trade ministers held meetings.

Today, the 21 member nations are:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Two Eids of Islam

Different countries commemorate different types of holidays. One type of holiday is the religious holiday. In countries where different religions are practiced, it is not uncommon for the governments of these countries to declare as a holiday celebrations or festivities specific to a particular religion.

Just recently, in the predominantly Catholic country of the Philippines, many of its citizens were wondering why November 7, 2011 was declared a regular holiday by the Philippine government. Schools were closed and offices (both public and private) had no work. Those who were required by their companies or business to work received double pay.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Paella is not Spain's National Dish

Contrary to what many people believe, Paella is not the national dish of Spain. Some say it is the Cocido. Others argue that there is no one overwhelming national dish to speak of. Who’s to say which is the true national dish of Spain? And does it really matter if there is none?

The Spanish people are very proud of the particular region they belong to not only in terms of their language but also in their food. In Spain, their cuisine, much like their dialects, change along with the climate and the geography. As expected, in colder areas of Spain where you have mountain ranges, the dishes tend to be heartier. In areas of Spain that lie where the temperatures are hotter the dishes tend to be lighter. You will know where you are in Spain by the cuisine that is laid in front of you at the dining table. Dining in Spain is serious business so if you are travelling there anytime soon, it is best for you to get to know a little about the Spanish regional cuisine.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hallyu – the Korean Wave

The term, “Korean wave” was coined by journalists in Beijing just before the millennium. Actually the more common term used is “Hallyu.” It was meant to describe how quickly entertainment and culture influences from Korea built a niche in the hearts and minds of the Chinese. The Chinese felt they were hit by a wave, specifically, a Korean wave. Through its entertainment and cultural exports, South Korea made (and are continuing to make) billions of dollars each year.

From South Korean dramas, South Korean pop music, actors and actresses of Korean heritage, Korean food and even the Korean martial art of Taekwondo, South Korea is letting the world know that they are a force to reckon with when it comes to entertainment and culture.

South Korean Drama
Basically, South Korean dramas are like soap operas or Mexican telenovelas. They are mini-series that are 16 to over a hundred episodes long, with Korean themes acted out by native South Korean actors and actresses and filmed not only in South Korea but also abroad. Some dramas deal with every day life, romance, comedy, tragedy while some are based or partially based on historical annals. These historical dramas are called “sageuk” in Korean. Best examples of this genre include Jumong, Dae Jang Geum or Jewel in the Palace, Damo, Chuno, Painter in the Wind or the more current King Gwanggaeto The Great and Tree with Deep Roots, which is about King Sejong, who invented the Korean alphabet, Hangul. Since the late 90’s, South Korean dramas have been occupying the boob tubes across China, Japan, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia, and have made its stars popular outside South Korea. This genre of South Korean shows has also been showing up in North America and Europe. Although Mexican telenovelas still reign supreme, the South Korean dramas are not far behind. These South Korean dramas are dubbed in the local language of the country they are shown.

Some of the most popular South Korean dramas that were shown and are continuing to be shown in countries around the world are: