Thursday, January 31, 2008

Voting in Absentia

I excitedly rushed to the mailbox across the street this morning in order to make the 9:30AM pickup. The primary election in New York is on Super Tuesday, February 5th, and I definitely wanted to play my part as a responsible citizen. Luckily, I am still considered to be a New York resident and I can vote in the primary elections, as well as the presidential elections in November. On the other hand, Puerto Rico does not possess the right to vote for the U.S president. This is quite an irony, as those who are born in the Island of Enchantment are automatically U.S citizens.

Since I am eligible to vote in the U.S elections, I wanted to take full advantage of my rights. The last time I sent an absentee ballot was when I was away for college, and it also marked the first time I was able to vote. I consider it to be a privilege to be able to take part in the electoral process. Unfortunately, I know too many people who have lost faith, or can care less about politics, and simply don't vote. Such people don't believe their vote will result in any change. Voter participation has always been low in the U.S, and I think this is a tragedy. Now more than ever, we need to do our part and fulfill our duties. Given the current economic challenges facing the U.S, the war in Iraq, and the disastrous outcome of the Bush administration (in general), I think there should be a financial penalty given to those who are eligible to vote but choose not to.

(Please note: the image above was obtained from

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Adios to Public Transportation....

This time of the year, if I were still living in Manhattan, I would probably be shivering in my boots waiting for the bus or dashing to the subway station to avoid the bitter cold. I definitely don't miss the winter, but I do miss public transportation. Ironically, when I lived in the big city, I longed for a car, as it was the quickest and most convenient way to get out of the city. Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Nowadays, besides going out for my morning runs, I rarely go anywhere without my car. This island has been refered to as the "L.A of the Caribbean" with good reason. Every family has at least two cars. As a result, there is always traffic, especially in densely-populated regions such as the San Juan metro-area. In fact, many of our out-of-town visitors are always surprised to see bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour. As I can best put it, life is nearly impossible here without a car. It's a shame how the government has failed to provide an adequate public transportation system. There are public buses, but the service is (at best) unreliable. The train system, el tren urbano, does not go to the most frequented places, such as Plaza Las Americas (the biggest mall in the Caribbean), the airport, and Old San Juan.

For me, the most frustrating thing about being stuck in traffic is the feeling of being unproductive. I'm wasting my time, and so are thousands of others. We're also adding to global warming. Since moving down here, my carbon footprint certainly has not improved one bit.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Move over Brangelina!

(Source: El Nuevo Dia, January 16th, 2008, p. 67)

He may have lost the constitutional vote to rule his country for the next 60 years or so, but the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is doing quite well with the high oil prices and... his new lady love. So, forget Brangelina. They were just sooooo yesterday. The hottest couple of the moment is Chavez and Naomi Campbell. Perhaps, it was the meeting of two hot-tempered people that sent sparks flying. When I saw the the pictorial above, I just couldn't stop laughing out loud. On the blurb, it says: "I never knew he could be dominated." On the bottom, where it says "El Toro Domesticado," it means "domesticated bull." Well, I guess that's just a sign of love, isn't? Don't we just live in such a crazy world these days?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tiny Decisions can Lead to Huge Differences...

I recently came across an interesting article with the following title: "The Power to Live Consciously." It included a list of decisions each one of us makes. Take a look and ask yourself: do the decisions I make help me reach my goals and my utmost potential?

1. What time you get out of bed

2. To whom you dedicate most of your time

3. Which books you read

4. How many hours of TV you watch, and which programs you watch

5. Which calls you return

6. What time you go to bed

7. How you use your credit card

8. What and how much you eat

9. Your willingness to take risks

10. How much exercise you get
The reason why I liked the article so much is because it made so much sense to me. It's a new year, and we often start it off with new year's resolutions. Instead, why don't we just start off slowly by examining the decisions we make? Most importantly, by living in the present.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Three Kings Day

( Tonito Zayas/El Nuevo Día)

Three Kings Day ("El Día de Reyes"), which is celebrated on January 6th, is a significant cultural and religious holiday in Puerto Rico, as well as in many other Roman Catholic countries. It marks the day in which baby Jesus was visited by the three wise men, who came bearing with gifts and adoration. It also marks the end of the Christmas season. When my brother and I were kids, we loved the Kings as much as we loved Santa, because we received presents on both days.

In Puerto Rico, el día de Reyes is indeed celebrated with many festivities. It has been a long-standing tradition for the governor to pass out toys for the children who waited patiently in line at his official residence, La Fortaleza. In some of the smaller towns, there were parades and other special activities commemorating this special day. Compared to the U.S, Puerto Rico starts the year off in a much slower and relaxed manner. Besides restaurants, pharmacies, theaters and gasoline stations, everything was closed yesterday.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Image obtained from

Happy 2008! It's a new year, a new beginning filled with many possibilities. I wish everyone a healthy and wonderful year filled with love, and everything beautiful. One should hope for bigger and better things to come. Just be positive and have a good attitude, and you'll be surprised at what a difference that will make. Every Monday, the local paper publishes a column called "Para Commenzar el Día" (translation: "To Begin the Day"), it emphasizes on one word in which the author uses to motivate and inspire his readers. This week, the author chose the word"Limpieza" (translation: "cleaning or cleansing"). He writes about the need for all of us to begin the new year with a clean white canvas, which symbolizes life, where each one of us is considered to be an artist.

Before we can be master painters, however, we must have a strong desire and willingness to take part in having our very own clean canvas. We must have the strength to shut the door on those that bring so much unnecessary drama into our lives, people who seem to use up so much of our energy. Instead, we should "cleanse" those relationships that deserve our time and devotion. Furthermore, those of whom we have wronged, we should ask for their forgiveness.

Effort is of utmost importance. So, just throw out all that was making your life unhappy in order to make room for some wonderful possibilities.