Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Yesterday my son and I drove to Charlotte, North Carolina. We went to the history museum a few miles from the city of Charlotte. It was a nice museum with well preserved colonial houses at the back. But we were not able to arrive on time to take the tour. After looking at the museum exhibits, we went out back and looked at the preserved houses but could not go in. The houses where situated in hill with lots of trees and you had to walk a trail to get to it. The set-up gives a good feeling of the way of life in colonial times, about 1770's. The museums here are good, with actual re-creation of houses, videos, computer simulations, dioramas and artifacts that greatly simplify the story. It's a very effective way to help visitors understand history in about 1-2 hours.

Afterwards, we drove to the city and went to Freedom park. We drove through elegant tree-lined streets with colonial houses before finding the park. The park had a lake and we walked around the lake before going to the city center. The main street was closed off for the memorial day celebration. There where a lot of people walking around. We found a parking lot and paid $ 8 for parking. There were food stands lining both sides of the streets, beer and margarita stalls, some commercial stalls selling cable TV services, car racing tickets and other stuff. There where also play centers where kids could come and jump around. There was a band playing at the center of the street. It was a nice city and we learned that Charlotte is the 2nd largest financial center in the country.

We drove back at past 7 pm and reached our home past 9pm. We went to the grocery store to shop. It was a nice day that started with my going to the gym and exercising. I like these weekend trips to the nearby cities and going to museums to learn about the history of the place. I think the American South is a much more interesting place than any other region in the country. I plan to visit the interesting places like Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta and New Orleans. These places is right in the center of American history especially on the Civil War and the fight for racial equality. It also has episodes in the American fight for Independence as well as the clashes with the Indian nation.  So it's a great place to be in order to learn about the history of the country.

I am reading Ambeth Ocampo's history books on Andres Bonifacio and his lectures on Jose Rizal. He is a great writer in that he can capture the past and express it in a way that people can easily understand. I always like to read about Philippine history every time I go to a new place. When I went to New Delhi, India, I read the biography of Antonio Luna. Now that I am here in the US, I am re-reading about Jose Rizal. Maybe it's my way to stay grounded in that I can learn about my past while learning a new culture.  I do not like to neglect my heritage every time time I am studying a new culture. I guess it's also a time for me to catch up on my reading while I wait from my application to the local library.

I also spend some time looking at the videos in the Internet. I find Anthony Robbin's videos in You Tube inspiring. These days it's the best way to learn by looking at videos rather than buying or borrowing books. I am glad that the past months in Singapore were spent listening to audio books to keep me updated and sharpen my hearing cognition. It helps me listen more and understand that nuances in speech and culture here in the South. I always hear that people have a certain way of speaking here in the South and I agree so one has to listen closely to the conversation. This morning I watched a good movie staring Tommy Lee Jones called 'In the Electric Mist.'  It's from a book by James Lee Burke.

The movie is a story about a series of murders in Louisiana and the sheriff trying to solve the case. I think I will try to borrow more movies about the South so I can learn more about the local culture. The area is full of history and I will waste a good opportunity if I do not learn about it while here. I started thinking about a series of novels that links the people and events here in the South with the Philippine revolution. I think there are parallels in that both these places where occupied by a conquering army. Both places also had combatants fighting for there own vision of independence. In both situations, the dream ended in defeat and subjugation. But in the end, both places have risen above this tragedy and live anew. I think there is an opportunity to write a series of novels on this theme.

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