***Note from The Listserve: We made an error in today's email. Here is the correct message from Jowel Balcita. Our apologies!***
I don't want to rub it in too much but I WON! I'm thrilled to be writing to you all today and considering the amount of people on Listserve, I never dreamed to win. Consequently, I don't have anything prepared so off the top of my head here we go!
I consider myself lucky, I was born in the US whereas my parents emigrated here from the Philippines and have all the luxuries they dreamed of having as children. I appreciate their hard work and their tenacity to provide a better future for their children. On a visit I recently had, I saw where they grew up, a family of ten in each side of my family growing up in houses smaller than the one I live in now, poorly paved roads where they walked miles to school to educate themselves and the general poverty of the area; it was humbling. One thing however they weren't lacking in was their spirit. Everywhere I went, I saw happy faces and laughter teems of children running around having a blast. I happily joined in and it was one of the best times of my life, I can see why, despite growing up in that state, they remain so happy and communal. On random trips, to various places, my mom will somehow find the one Filipino person besides us and they get along like they've known each other all their lives. It encouraged me to reach out and make friends of my own in a similar manner in the college club I'm in, Circle K.
Circle K, (also a gas station/convenience store here in the US. No affiliation) is a volunteer/social club that's very active here in the US and other countries worldwide. Its a great place to meet people and as a college student, a way to help out your community in your free time. I helped out on various projects county wide from Habitat for Humanity, CicLaVia (A great bike day if you're ever in LA, they take major streets and close them down except for bike traffic, it's awesome but I digress) Make a Wish foundation, and other charities. I met wonderful people, lifelong friends and I got to participate in once in a lifetime events. I held the rope for the hand for a giant inflatable Elmo during the Hollywood Christmas parade, I got to meet future Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti at a Hollywood fundraiser event we volunteered at, and we seem to turn up in places that other people normally can't get into. It is a blast and I do encourage the college bound of you and the college...umm...already in college people to join Circle K or some form of community service. It's all sorts of awesome.
Living in LA is also awesome, in the aforementioned paragraphs, (wow this is actually getting quite long) I get to go to places and experience great things. LA has a somewhat bad reputation of smog, crime and traffic, but you get past that, then you have a plethora of things to do, Chantry Falls is a great hiking trip with a natural rock slide, Downtown Pasadena a foodies delight. Hollywood and Highland for the shopping, Hollywood Walk of Fame and Graumans Chinese Theater. You also have miles upon miles of beaches to visit, each one with it's own culture and ambiance. If any of you ever visit LA, contact me and I'll set you up with a personalized list of places to visit. (I'm a massive foodie, I've gone to tons of food places here)
As is with Listserve tradition, I'll leave with a quote,
"Beauty that dies the soonest has the longest life. Because it cannot keep itself for a day we keep it in our hearts. Because it can have existence only in memory, we give it immortality there"
I hope this all finds you well and if you Google my name, you kinda just find me. So feel free to drop me a line.
Jowel G. Balcita
Los Angeles CA