I was in the metro the other day and I couldn’t help but overhear the discussion of two teenage students standing next to me. Both were looking at the CD one of them was holding. I could make out the words “Aloha”, “Elvis,” and “Spring Fever” as the rail squeal of the speeding train made it tricky to get the whole context. Were they talking about Elvis Presley?, I wondered. I furtively glanced at the CD that was the subject of their eager scrutiny. And there he was, on the front cover, the King of Rock and Roll.
The train stopped at the next station and suddenly, their conversation became much clearer.The one holding the CD turned out to be a huge fan of Elvis and he knew his songs by heart. He told his friend to watch Elvis´ Aloha concert on Youtube to which the latter enthusiastically nodded his head in agreement.
And there I was, three decades older than that kid and he knew more about Elvis than me. I suddenly felt a pang of envy and I got curious. I fished out my phone and went to Google. Scrolling through, I bumped into Elvis´ famous lines. And one caught my attention. “We’re trapped in a world that’s troubled with pain. As long as a man has the strength to dream, he can redeem his soul and fly.”
It is as if Elvis was referring to the sad state of the world right now, I told myself. Two years into the pandemic, we are still in pain. It seems that the end is still uncertain. And as the gray winter skies give way to the new season, we eagerly await the coming of a new chapter ahead.
On our Cover is Giovanni Hidalgo with his wife Chriza Pichay Rafanan. Giovanni´s bumpy first years in Barcelona led him to a life of misery and mortification. Drug abuse and family troubles knocked him down, contemptuously and ruthlessly. Either to rise up or lay trampled, he chose the former, changing the course of his life before it was too late. With Chriza on his side, he found the secure grip on life he had been looking for.
Speaking about courage, we have a handful of brave kababayans with their brave stories. Elmer Presa takes us to the dangerous streets of Kabul while Marlene Francia shares her close encounter with Somalian bandits. June Serrano recalls his turbulent past. Community leader Lito Gomez braves all odds to help and protect our undocumented kababayans in Paris. Plus, a touching essay from our London-based columnist MZ Akil on surviving the unknown in order to live.
Sometimes life throws us a curveball and it is up to us to either dodge or hit it head on. Curveballs are un-hittable but career mom Rose Jilliane Casia and single mom Leslie Dula, by choosing their battles, show us how they let the good ones go, and swing at the bad one.
Experience expat living as Elisha Gay Hidalgo takes us to rustic Bologna, Italy, and Louise Baterna gives us a glimpse of her adventures in her own garden. Travel with us to Dubai and experience the magic of the city of gold. Learn and be motivated by our successful Filipino entrepreneurs as they share the secrets of their blossoming businesses.
That night, before going to bed, I followed the kid´s advice. I searched for Elvis´songs on Youtube. Although I was already familiar with his more popular songs, it was the first time I heard Spring Fever. The 1966 song, with its quirky melody, is apt for the season of bloom.
So dear readers, we hope you enjoy our Spring Issue and just like how Elvis ends his song, we want to be the first to announce that… “Spring is everywhere. Spring is everywhere!”
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Nats Sisma Villaluna has been serving the Filipino community in Spain for more than 13 years. His volunteer works include teaching Spanish to Filipinos, and as artistic director of the Coro Kudyapi, a group of musically inclined young Filipinos in Barcelona. His passion to serve the Filipino community now extends to other countries in his role as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the new The Filipino Expat Magazine.