Savana’s Gift Registry of Chicago, Illinois opened its showroom in Tacloban City last December 11, 2010 showcasing all-imported exquisite crystals and glassware from Italy and other countries, bags, perfumes and not-so-common special gifts items.

The showroom is located right across Robinson’s in Marasbaras, Tacloban City.

View slideshow of showroom’s blessing and opening: http://gerryruiz.callezaragosa.com/p78426632/slideshow

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So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

From “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon

It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmastime in Tacloban City with its 54-foot tall Christmas Tree all lit up at the Balyuan Complex and promenaders and BMX bike riders all taking it in.

The scene last night, 

December 15, 2010 with local BMX enthusiasts strutting their stuff on a very humid, early evening by the bay of Cancabato.

Standing 53 feet tall at the Balyuan Complex facing the Cancabato Bay is this year’s “European–Moroccan-inspired” huge Christmas tree erected by the Tacloban City government.

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The gerryruiz photoblog was accorded the 2010 Best Photoblog Award (National Level) by the Philippine Blog Awards in awarding ceremonies held last night, December 12, 2010 at the RCBC Plaza in Makati, Philippines.

Coming close to the heels of being bestowed Best Photoblog Award for the Visayas region last November 27, 2010 in Iloilo City, I cannot help but feel humbled by such additional recognition granted by peers most of whom I have never met in my entire life!

Allow me then to express my utmost gratitude to the Philippine Blog Awards and to my co-bloggers for this wonderful gift of recognition.  Thank you all for the likes and the kind comments (mostly at Facebook and elsewhere).

The gerryruiz photoblog has always subscribed to the notion that, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal!” Unselfish and noble actions are, after all,  the most radiant pages one can aspire for in the biography of souls. We may not be able to singularly do great things for the Earth, but we can certainly do small things with love and passion!

The award really goes to the photoblog’s readers as well without whom the author would be devoid of the inspiration that fuels it all. :)

I raise my glass to you all! Cheers!!!

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It’s not everyday that one gets to meet and be friends on a first-name basis with a genuine VIP from another country.

A real, genuine one.

And it’s certainly a rare one when you get to travel with His Excellency and a small group of friends for 6 consecutive days (yes, sir six – count ‘em!) – enjoying a full load of fun and banter the whole stretch, having meals, drinks and cigarettes together, and enjoying  a not-so-common recreational activity under heavy rain and scorching sun on unholy hours in some of the most remote areas of the country!

How many times in a man’s lifetime can one experience something like that?

Unless, of course, you were born to royalty. Or your job entailed socializing with the high and almighty.

And so when I was invited by a cousin, Nestor Dolina to join a small group of bird watchers for a birding tour he was organizing – a small group which included a  VIP (a fact which was mentioned as an aside before the trip) – it would have been crazy to turn down such an invite.

His Excellency, Ambassador Robert Brinks, the Ambassador from Netherlands, however, had to emphasize time and again that, no, he was traveling not on official business, not as a diplomat representing his country; he was here as a private individual.

A private citizen.

Here to enjoy one recreational activity, which became apparent as the days wore one as high in the list of his personal pastimes he truly enjoys doing most – bird watching.

Private citizen Robert Brinks’ last assignment was just a stint in Baghdad (no mean feat!), where he confessed he felt more like a virtual prisoner amidst the constant bombings left and right.

And coming to the Philippines, he must have felt what being “free as a bird” truly meant!

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