Saturday, July 30, 2016

HOPE

Recently I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade. What’s his story? He is an Associate Professor of Raza Studies and Education Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies at SFSU. Dr. Duncan-Andrade is in frequent demand on the lecture circuit as he speaks bluntly, passionately and unconventionally about serving poor and working-class children. He also founded a school, K-8 Roses in Concrete Community School, located in Oakland, CA  named after late rapper, Tupac Shakur.  He sees his students as the flowers in Shakur's poem "A Rose That Grows in Concrete", students who live traumatic experiences every day in a hyperbolic "concrete", a stark environment devoid of nutrients, yet they grow into beautiful roses but oftentimes with damaged petals.
His message was multi-layered and rebellious at times. Some of it I heard before.  For instance, he talked about how first and foremost, in order for students to self-actualize, their basic physical and emotional needs to be met, followed by love, encouragement and awareness of self-worth. I knew this already.  But Dr. Duncan-Andrade also presented topics that were deeply provocative.   For example, he talked about the idea that school shouldn't be about common core and test scores.  He is convinced that we are missing the boat in how and what we are teaching our kids. He believes that textbook publishers are lying to our students, that our nation continues to cover up the genocides it has committed, and most of all, although he didn't say it outright, that the current state of education perpetuates "white privilege".
The synapses in my brain couldn't digest fast enough all of the data mixed in with the profanity that this renegade professor threw at us.  It was a lot to process. The more I listened , the more I contemplated what it meant to educate, to connect with, to guide our kids to bettering themselves and their communities. Dr. Duncan-Andrade left us with a challenge to re-think what we're teaching and most of all inspire HOPE in our students as we do this hard work.  The talk today was a timely ending to a week full of heavy discussion. 
You see on that past Monday, I listened to our Superintendent, Dr. Janney, spell out targets for this year at our annual Management Academy. Key concepts that will live at our schools will be: quality instruction, equity, policy coherence, and a commitment to putting students first, basically the LCAP goals. Then on Wednesday and Thursday of that week, I was at Dr. Illingworth's two-day Assistant Principal Mentor training.  Our group discussion about how we apply the coaching lens of equity to view situations had me questioning just how equipped (or ill-equipped) we are as educators in our “cultural competence” regarding  the students we serve.  How well do we know our students'  stories?  To what extent do we relate our curriculum to our students’ culture, traditions, practices and customs?  How do we develop their understanding of self-worth?  These discussions all made me journey back to my own experience as a student of color in this very same district. Throughout grades 7 - 12, I didn't see the story of my ancestors anywhere in books or lessons at the schools I attended and sadly, no one ever asked.

As I reflect on that week's events, I am thankful that the story of the students who look like me has appeared via the faces of the Filipino teachers, counselors, and administrators, through the Filipino language classes in our district and through the activities that are planned for the community by our group of dedicated SUHSD educators. (Shout out to Magkaisa and Karangalan committee members!) But we still have a ways to go.  Still, I am grateful that we have a Superintendent who has the foresight to create a position in our district that will center on Equity, Culture, and Support Services. I am excited to see where Assistant  Superintendent  Dr. Joe Fulcher will bring us and look forward to witnessing the results of well-intentioned, well-planned actions.  We are on the cusp of these important, critical conversations. I am starting this 16-17 school year with a renewed sense of HOPE and a commitment to acknowledge and integrate our students'  stories. I HOPE it starts a movement.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Goldilocks celebrates its Golden Anniversary-50 Years of Feeding Families!


Goldilocks is celebrating their golden anniversary, fifty years of feeding families in the Philippines, and 40 years here in the USA. Their locations are expanding rapidly in the U.S., with its most recent location opening in Daly City, CA.

My fellow San Diego Filipino Blogger Network member, Deborah, and I enjoyed a tasting at the National City, CA location! We ordered a little bit of everything, saving room of course for dessert!

I first ordered a Fresh Melon with Gulaman drink that had loads of cantaloupe strings, gelatin and evaporated milk on top of the crushed ice! This was especially delicious since it was a really hot day!
We started with the Fresh Lumpia!  This is one of my absolute favorite Filipino dishes. The meticulous prepping of the julienne vegetables and the care needed to create the delicate crepe wrapper intimidates me from making this at home! So when I can order it at a restaurant, I do! 
Look at all the fresh veggies inside: carrots, celery, chick peas, grean beans, and jicama, mixed in with diced pork, chicken, shrimp and tofu! The crepe along with the slightly sweet peanut sauce with crushed peanut toppings created an amazing blend of textures! I could eat these all day, every day!
We also had another one of my favorites - Kare Kare!

I appreciated that the oxtail and tripe were soft and tender. Traditional cooking methods could entail hours to stew the meat and tripe. This dish also contained beef cheek, eggplant, green beans, and I want to say, bok choy.  I must like peanuts since this dish is also peanut based!

Next, we tried the sizzling pork sisig, minced pork cheeks marinated with calamansi juice. The cracked egg on top was cooking in the heat of the meat when this was brought to the table. Smoke and sizzle made for a dramatic entrance when our server, Leo placed the sisig in front of us.  (Smoke and Sizzle, possibly a contender for the name of the next SD restaurant, what do you think?!)
Our last savory dish was the Adobo Rice Medley. Rice topped with diced mangoes, tomatoes, lechon kawali, fried eggs and drizzled with sriracha. We chose to have the sriracha on the side.  Oh my, it was sooo pretty, I didn't want to disturb the dish by digging in!  Who would have thought of mango paired with rice? Well, I guess they serve pineapple with rice in Thai cuisine.  This serving was huge! Just this dish alone could have fed 4 - 6 people easily. This also comes with the option of Bagoong Rice instead of Adobo.
I joked that they must have experts back in the kitchen dedicated to dicing up the fruit, meat, and veggies! Most of the dishes we ordered contained finely cut items. Here's an up-close view of the Adobo Rice Medley.
We originally came to Goldilocks on a hunt for the best halo-halo in San Diego, so we had to remember to leave room for dessert! Here is the piece de resistance.
I love the colors of this dessert! Layers of milk, crushed ice, creamy ice cream, crispy rice, melt in your mouth gelatin and leche flan, thick ube, chewy red beans,...this was another explosion of textures in your mouth! After you mix it up and eat the bits with a spoon, you could drink the rest of the dessert with a straw! Again, the number of ingredients for this colorful dessert made me come to the conclusion that Filipinos apply the "mix-mix" idea of halo-halo to almost all the dishes we tasted today. 

Area Manager, Imelda "Mel" Tan, also recommended we try a new dessert item on the menu, Coco Jelly Float. If you are a coconut lover, this one's for you! This dessert has coconut four ways: Nata de Coco, Young Coconut meat, Coconut Jelly and Macapuno ice cream on top! Wow!
See the Coconut Jelly below? I REALLY enjoyed this, and dare I say it? I liked it better than the halo-halo! I am bringing my family back so they can try this dessert!
Again, you could enjoy every last yummy drop!
I noticed the table next to us was receiving order after order from our same server, Leo. I had to ask if I could take a picture of the banquet in front of them! 

I asked them if they were celebrating a special occasion. It turned out it was a reunion between classmates and they chose Goldilocks as the place to meet each other! Thank you to the Maglalangs (SD locals) and Torres' (all the way from Texas!) for allowing me to capture their reunion! 
I want to thank Mel for hosting Deborah and I for the tasting. We had an excellent time trying different menu items and it really felt like being a guest in her home called Goldilocks. I asked her what the most popular dish is for the restaurant and she said it was the Crispy Binagoongan. I will definitely order it next time!
Goldilocks is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a great place even for a light merienda! In addition, Goldilocks offers full party tray catering and bakery items. The cake displays fill three to four cabinets! Goldilocks also has a wide variety of in-store items ready to enjoy and frozen items for purchase to take home! 


Experience the goodness that has made Goldilocks a favorite restaurant in the Philippines and U.S.! Let them feed your family and friends as they have been doing for 50 successful years! The National City location can be found at 1420 E. Plaza Boulevard. Let Manager Mel know that Lora sent you! Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

The New Del Taco!

Now available in all locations, The Del Taco, a bigger, fresher and better-tasting crunchy beef taco, worthy of the brand’s name. The Del Taco is loaded with more seasoned beef, more freshly grated cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce and fresh, chopped tomatoes, all supported by a bigger, crunchier corn shell. Full of the fresh ingredients guests love, The Del Taco is everything a delicious taco should be. Loaded with more seasoned beef and more hand grated cheddar cheese, guests will be surprised by The Del Taco size and portion for only $1.39. (Prices may vary according to location). Del Taco also offers the option to substitute seasoned turkey, with 33% less fat than the traditional seasoned beef, in The Del Taco at no additional charge. What other taco restaurant offers that? Del Taco may be the only one. 
Actually, Del Taco has a long history of doing things differently such as fresh grilling chicken and carne asada in every restaurant’s working kitchen, but offering these freshly prepared items at the price and convenience of a drive-thru. The brand continues to deliver guests the unexpected for an unbeatable value, like preparing food with fresh sliced avocado and hand grated cheddar cheese because it just tastes better. In addition, Del Taco’s menu variety is unmatched in the industry, having always served Mexican favorites and American classics to be enjoyed side by side. Del Taco’s new number one spot on the combo menu, featuring two Del Tacos alongside Small Fries and a Small Drink, is yet another extension of that unique offering. They even offer hamburgers on their menu too!
We recently tried the new Del Tacos and being a foodie family, my hubby actually said that he prefers these tacos over the "other place". I challenge you to go to Del Taco today and try them! I say "them" because for sure you'll want more than one! 
For more information, follow Del Taco on TwitterFacebook and Instagram or visit www.deltaco.com.
Disclosure: I was given complimentary food in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Youthspark Microsoft Camp for your Gamer!

My 10-year old son is a gamer. Last year during summer he attended a 3-day Apple Camp and was able to integrate his love of Minecraft into his project. (Read more about that here.)  This year I signed him up for a 4-day Youthspark Microsoft camp. What's really cool is that both of these camps are totally free!

The camp was two hours a day and took place in the back of the Microsoft store in the Fashion Valley Mall.  Julia was the employee in charge of the camp. She informed me that the camp had been running since the store opened, so for six years now.  I could tell right away she had experience in working with kids.
On the first day, she explained the camp rules, i.e. stay in the store, respect the employees, etc...and most of all have FUN!  Each camper received a t-shirt, a set of earphones, and their own booklet. There were about 12 kids in this session.



This was a beginner-level camp aimed at kids ages 8 to 11.  They explored three main Kodu games: Boku's Amazing Race, Flashy Fishbots and Air Delivery.  Each session they analyzed the games, created new edits, and then wrote the code to change the game action. I believe Julia mentioned that these Kodu games could be downloaded at home and there are tutorials to learn how to edit the games.

The campers answered questions in their workbooks to record their ideas and make a plan for the changes to their chosen game. The camp was very structured.  Like any good activity, time was built in for individual work, pair work, team work and breaks! During breaks students could explore the store and demo Microsoft products.


The camp even allotted time for the campers to give and receive feedback from their peers, not once, but multiple times during the four days.I was impressed to see the kids practice the soft skills of critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

My son, who is extremely shy, warmed up to his partners by the second day and even willingly participated in his team's presentation. I was pleasantly surprised!


Microsoft's Youthspark Camp was a very positive experience for my son.  I hope to take advantage of another camp soon! Check out your local Microsoft store for more opportunities like this!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Family Adventures in Yosemite!

My husband and I dreamt years ago of doing a road trip in a RV with the family and this past Spring Break in 2016, we actually did it!  We planned a trip with five other families and had a great adventure in Yosemite!

Day 1 – March 21, 2016
The drive was breathtaking, lots of farmland, rolling hills, mountainsides and the mesmerizing Merced River on the side of the road guiding you to Yosemite. I had never been so close to these scenes that looked like they were straight out of a movie!




The families all arrived within hours of each other and the kids spent the afternoon exploring the area- picking up sticks, jumping in the water, climbing on rocks and riding bikes.   Unfortunately it ended up raining most of the day, which put a damper on our outside activity plans. So we hung out in one of our friend’s RVs for a bit. The kids played games and I caught up on the latest social media hashtags with the older kids. That was an interesting conversation! 



By 7 pm we were ready to all turn into our separate RVs. It was so cold! Temperatures were around 30 degrees outside.I wondered how these people tenting it nearby were going to survive the night!  We were comfy cozy in our small but heated RV.  However, the constant drip drop of the rain hindered me from falling asleep. It lasted all night.

Day 2- March 22, 2016
Even though I didn't sleep much, I woke up excited to begin our first full day here immersed in nature's playground! After breakfast, we decided to hike to Mirror Lake. We took some pictures by the running water near our campsite as we headed out.

The hike on the trail was a bit rough for me with the muddy ground and having to step over rocks, twigs, etc…my weak ankle wasn't cooperating! My family and I decided to walk the path of least resistance and took the trail on the pavement.  We could see our travelling counterparts across the way on the original trail and thought we would meet up with them at some point, but the lake was too big! We already hiked for about an hour and a half. It would take maybe another hour of hiking to meet up with them! We just waved to each other and enjoyed the lake from our different viewpoints!  There were many families that packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it here. I may a mental note of this!



I took this picture of "Mirror Lake"!
We made it back to the campground ravenous after those hours of exercise.  We were extremely thankful that Grandpa Ernie stayed back and had lunch ready.  Good thing too as he reported he had to shoo off squirrels trying to take off with our hamburger buns! After lunch, it was relaxation time! We had scant cell service which forced us just to enjoy our surroundings.

Each family sponsored a meal throughout the trip. Dinner on this night consisted of lots of yummy items like siopao, pizza rolls, kielbasa and potatoes. But we all gravitated to the mami soup which warmed our bellies! 

Dessert was a takeoff on s’mores - ice cream cones filled up with all sorts of goodies, wrapped with foil and roasted over the campfire.


We all slept well on this night, tired from a full day and no raindrops pelting our rooftops to keep us up!

Day 3-March 23, 2016:
We decided to visit two places today.  After breakfast, we drove our RV about 20 minutes to see Bridalveil Falls. From the parking lot it is literally five minutes or less to the waterfall.  It was very misty and the pavement was slippery. We had to be careful with our steps or else we could easily slide and fall down!  This was the closest I’ve ever been to a waterfall! The mist from the waterfall got us wet rather quickly! 




From Bridalveil, it was another ten minute drive to Lower Yosemite Falls.  This is a trail that is easily accessible for all ages, even people in scooters or wheelchairs. This trail had some snow from the rainfall two days ago!



I got silly with the waterfall!

We got back to camp and just like the day before, Grandpa Ernie had lunch ready- bbq and pancit! Twice, park rangers stopped by in their trucks and commented how the aroma of the bbq drew them to our campsite! Of course we offered for them to join us, but they professionally and politely declined.


The afternoon consisted of more exploring.  We saw some deer! We also saw a little black bear crossing the brook, but he was too fast for me to snap a picture.

My family prepared dinner on this day. It was my loving husband Eric's birthday so he wanted to host dinner! We made chicken adobo, skirt steak and grilled veggies. The group played games while waiting for the food to be done!







Tres leches cake was the dessert for our birthday celebrant.
After dinner we enjoyed time around the campfire again. 
My nephew Vincent used his camera to take this night shot! Check out more of his work on Instagram @vincent.sunico.
Day 4 – March 24, 2016:
Today was our godson Cris' 13th birthday and our family's last day at Yosemite.  
I woke up early today to do some hiking with Alli and Isa on the John Muir Trail! 

It was an easy walk to the start of the trail, but little did I know what I was in for!
Those inclines were steep!  It was like being on a stair master machine at the highest possible level! Every step made me huff and puff and my legs were on fire after about 20 minutes!  I would say I made it up 80% of the way, then had to call it quits as I was getting a bit lightheaded and my face was as red as my vest! I managed to take some selfies though they're not that great! I just wanted a souvenir of me being in these spots with the awesome views! I rested for a bit before deciding to head back and told the girls to go on without me. Alli and Isa made it to the top!

Check out was at 1:00 pm on this day, so we ate some lunch when we got back to camp, packed up and headed out. We made one more stop so I could walk this trail. I absolutely loved every moment being in nature. Not caring about the time of day, or answering the phone, checking email or sitting in front of a laptop, all my day to day worries were gone while we were here.
Listening to the running brooks, the sound of fallen leaves and pine needles crunching under every step, the aroma of burning wood, the presence of the majestic trees, the picture perfect skyline of the mountains, enjoying laughter with the people I love, seeing my kids smile and play, my senses were awaken by all of it! I was especially refreshed by the cool, fresh air and scenery.  It was a great trip! I will carry these memories of our time at Yosemite forever.


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