Friendships as Big as Texas

There was an opportunity to visit two friends in Austin, Texas last November 9 and 10 after the National Association of REALTORS Convention in New Orleans (see my previous blogpost for the New Orleans story).

From that visit, I’ve learned a few things:

Colorado River at the Background

1. Friendship trancends time and space; you become friends because you decide to become friends – Mauro is a friend from 1st grade who I haven’t seen for a long time. Over the years we’ve only heard about each other through other friends. Lately though, we had contacted one another through our batch’s egroup. It was from that communication that the plan to meet was hatched.

2. You don’t need to be friends for a long time to become friends for life – From the egroup, I learned about Rigel, who joined the batch when they were in High School. The visit in Texas was the first time we’ve met. However we found out that we have a lot in common: swimming, biking, ham radio, computers, table tennis, keeping fit, our faith, family, and our friends.

The beautiful skyline of downtown Austin, Texas

The Texas Capitol Building

3. Time is valuable for friendship to blossom – We only had a short time but we spend a good deal of it in meaningful activities. We have deep conversation over pancakes and salad at IHOP. We had pictorials at the Texas Capitol building and elsewhere. Mauro recorded an interview and taught me how to make videos (he gave me a flip videocam). Rigel explained to me how to blog. How wonderful and amazing.

Indeed, there is nothing bigger than the friendship I have with Mauro and Rigel. After that visit, I have seen the truth to the saying: “everything is big in Texas”.

To my dear friends, thank you.

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The Ghosts in New Orleans

The Philippine Association of REALTORS Board (PAREB) members who attended the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) convention in New Orleans’ Morial Convention Center from November 5 to 8, 2010 experienced a lot of adventures. The group was headed by PAREB 2010 President Manny Bocaling and was joined by ten other REALTORS namely: Melinda Lit, Nympha Bocaling, Hubert Claveria, Paz Bentulan, Daniel dela Cruz, Mae Ponce de Leon, Abet Cuevas, Cherry Chrisostomo, Anton Bocaling, and myself, Nick Pongos.

Among my most memorable were:

Click to see video

1. Dining at Antoine’s Restaurant – this was suggested by Paz Bentulan, whose American husband Scott listed the must-visit places in New Orleans. Antoine’s is one of its oldest (1840) and most famous restaurant. I enjoyed tremendously the company, the charm, the history, and the splendid French-Creole cuisine.

2. Staying at an old haunted hostel – since I booked late, the only available accomodation near the convention site was a former children’s orphanage built in 1861, the St. Vincent’s Guesthouse. On my second night,  Hubert Claveria joined me and occupied the extra double bed. The next day, he claims somebody joined us too. Scary.

In front of St. Vincent Guest House

Eating hotdogs along Bourbon St.

3. Going to Bourbon Street at night – you have not been to New Orleans if you have not experienced the revelry in the famous French Quarter. This is the place where the annual Mardigras celebration is held and the street is regularly blocked off on weekend nights. There is a rule that bottles or glasses are prohibited on the street (you have to use open plastic cups). With all the drinking, there is usually a lot of things that happens into the night. You may have to invite any of us in facebook if you want to see more of our photos.

The Earth, Wind , and Fire

4. Listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire  – one of my favourite bands. The delegates enjoyed watching them live in concert on the last night of the convention. It was fun seeing many local and international REALTORS sing and dance together.

On our last day, we went to see District 9, the place severely affected from the floods spawned by hurricane Katrina. After seeing the damaged and abandoned houses, I conclude that there were indeed ghosts in New Orleans (there are a lot of ghost tours available).

I don’t know if you would ever believe me, but it is highly recommended that you join in the next NAR annual convention in Anaheim to experience a different kind of adventure.

Have a fun-filled new year!