The Real Brazil

"I want to go to the real Brazil!"

That's what my niece exclaimed when we landed in Foz do Iguaçu, a city in the state of Paraná.  In the 5-year-old's mind, Brazil pertains to Rio de Janeiro.  And we pretty much predicted that she wouldn't stop looking for the "real Brazil" until she sees the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) up close lol.

And for most, that is their vision of the largest country in South America.

But what is the real Brazil?

For some people, you haven't really been to Brazil unless you've watched a football match.  For some, it's all about the carnaval, the samba, the parties.  Some think getting the full experience is about filling your stomach with churrasco (barbecued meat) flushed down with the perfect caipirinha, their national cocktail. Then there are those who believe that it's equally important to experience the favelas (slums) as it is to bask under the scorching Ipanema sun.

For me?  It's all of those and more.

I'm yet to finish sorting my three thousand plus photos from the trip.  But here's a glimpse of "the real Brazil" as captured through my lens and ever-so-curious eyes :)

The view at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a lagoon and district in the Lagoa, Zona Sul (South Zone) of Rio de Janeiro.
Praia de Ipanema (Ipanema beach).

Thank you, world

Here in the Philippines, we have an age old tradition called bayanihan which embodies the spirit of communal unity or effort in achieving a particular goal.  In the olden days, when a family needs to relocate, the townsfolk would usually volunteer to help them move their home.  This involves literally carrying the family's house to its new location.

Bayanihan in action.  (Photo credit:

Over the centuries, this tradition eventually ceased but the the term bayanihan (derived from the word bayan which means town, community, or nation) continues to live through the Filipinos all over the archipelago.  We are a nation often struck by calamities.  And through these calamities, stories of heroism often surface inspiring even the most cynical person.  You hear stories of devastation which is often followed by stories of people working together to help their distressed fellowmen.

Recently, though, the Filipino's strength was again put to the test.  Supertyphoon Haiyan (local name:  Yolanda) struck the country with an impact so great that more than a week after its devastation, the whole nations is still reeling.

I was in South America when the calamity happened.  I was only able to monitor it through international and local newscasts.  But while I could barely understand Portuguese, the images spoke enough.

With the devastation so massive, one of the first questions that would come to mind is:  How do we rise from this?

But like that waves that surged through the different cities in Visayas region, aid, in all forms, came pouring in from different countries.  Up to now, the support and prayers coming from the different parts of the world is still overwhelming.

We are not even halfway in rising through the rubbles that Yolanda left.  But this time, we are not alone in carrying this burden.  The rest of the world has joined our bayanihan.

And with that, we give you our most heartfelt thank you, World.

NOTE:  This photo has been circulating on the various social networking sites.   Credits to whoever created this. And while more help from other countries poured in after this, the image pretty much embodies our nation's gratitude.

Other stories you might be interested in: