1:09 am...

(Pls pause the MP3 player on the bottom left before playing this video!)

It's 1:09 in the morning. A year ago today at this exact time was when my Papa passed away. I'll never forget that time. My siblings and I found it so ironic that 109 is also the number of the apartment we've called home for most of my life.

Has it really been a year? It's so hard to believe. I still remember everything so vividly. He went into hospital immediately after my brother's 50th birthday party in July and was there for just under 2 months. I was by his side, every day...a lot of times for 12 hours at a time. Honestly, since this passed July, my mind has been replaying that time every day. While I know this may not be a good thing, it also happened leading up to my mama's 1 year so I find it comforting somewhat and label it as part of the process of grief.

I thought the year mama passed (2009) was the hardest year of my life but 2015 definitely proved me wrong. My boss, who I had worked with for 20 years, retired and I was unemployed for about 6 months. It was a bit of a blessing in disguise really because it allowed me to be there for papa as much as I could. As difficult and emotional as that time was, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Instead of dwelling on the days leading to his passing, I thought I'd share one of my most cherished memories of my papa...

All throughout school, I was took music. I was either in a band, choir or various musicals. In Grade 6, I took up trumpet in the school band. I was scheduled to have my first solo and was very proud. Growing up, my papa worked nights and was hardly ever available to see me perform because of work. When I found out we were to have 2 performances, one during the day and one at night and parents were welcome to come to either show…I jumped at the chance and told papa. He agreed to come and I was so happy! The day finally came and we were backstage getting ready to go on. I always took the chance to peek into the gym to see if he arrived and I spotted him just as one of the teachers was giving him a seat. I didn’t find out until years later, papa was the only parent there! The teachers were so caught off guard he showed up, they rushed to grab him a seat and even offered him coffee. He was a little embarrassed about it because he sat alone in a chair, surrounded by kids sitting on the gym floor. Regardless of all that, I didn’t know a thing! When I stepped out for my performance, all I remember is being so happy and proud he was there. I was waving at him constantly. When all was done, he gave me a kiss and big hug. He told me how proud he was of me then left to go home and sleep before going to work.

I used to be embarrassed of this story, especially when my parents used to tell it at every family gathering or to their friends but not anymore. I’m proud papa did that for me because I remember how much it meant to me. Both my parents always encouraged me especially when it came to my creativity. I realize not everyone can say that. Even though I miss them so much and sometimes my heart aches so much it unbearable, I will be forever thankful that I had them in my life for as long as I did. My only hope is that I make them feel as proud as I felt that day back in Grade 6.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal...
I love you and miss you so much, Papa

Oliver Vistal Ongpauco
Dec 10, 1931 - Aug 25, 2015


Time Sure Flies...

Wow...*gives you a big hug* it's been a long while since I showed myself around these parts. The last time was Nov '14. Thanks for checking in on me...

In the last few days, I had been lurking, reading a lot of what I had posted and wondered if anyone would come around if I started to write again. Had it been too long? Would anyone even care? Then I realized I lost sight of why I started this in the first place. I started it for ME. It was a place to let my feelings out, to share things I love and talk about experiences. I forgot people started to come around because they valued what I had to say even though at times, I didn't think that myself. Now, over a year has passed and I'm sitting here writing this, hoping I have the guts to post this on my birthday. If you're seeing this, I got the courage to come out of my hermit cave and yes, today (May27th) marks my 40th year of existence!

This may seem like a bunch of excuses for why I haven't talked to you in a long time but I went through some huge/tough changes. The office I worked for closed down in early 2015 after 20 years of working there and I was unemployed for a while. Kind of a bummer, right? Well, it was a little blessing in disguise because my Papa took ill in the summer and was in the hospital for nearly 2 months. I was able to be there with him every day, most days almost 12 hours a day. It was an extremely tough time for all of us and unfortunately on Aug 25th, papa left to join mama in heaven. He passed just days before their 53rd wedding anniversary on Sept 8. His heart ached so much ever since she passed in 2009 that my siblings and I take comfort saying he wanted to be with her so they can celebrate their anniversary together.

It's been tough. I've struggled with grief, depression and anxiety. I've lost friends in the process as well but I've managed okay, I think. Leaning on the friends and family I do have has definitely helped but I work on trying to get better and motivate myself. Losing my mama took a lot out of me and I've written about that many times here. It was a long process and just when I started to feel more like myself, like all the pieces of me that fell apart when she left were coming back together, they were shattered again when my papa passed. I may not have shown it outwardly but inside, I was a mess and still am at times. Why am I sharing so much of myself here? Two reasons:

  1. I don't want it to take as long as it did to put myself back together again. This is me vowing to uplift myself somehow, even if it's a small thing, every day. It could be something as simple as being there for someone in need or changing negative thoughts to positive.
  2. An underlying thing about writing here is my hope someone will see what I've been going through and learn something from it. Maybe you'll learn something new about me or you start to understand you aren't alone when it comes grief, depression and anxiety and that if you are currently dealing with all or any of those things, there is nothing to be ashamed of!

Phew! That was getting pretty emotional for a bit there. Sorry, just wanted to get you up to speed! I promise not all things posted here will be as heavy! I've got lots of fun stuff planned for my birthday so I'm thinking my next post will be about that! Until then, thanks for visiting and thanks for sticking by me all these years! Chat soon! xo
I will end this with a note Papa wrote on Facebook for my birthday in 2014. I rediscovered it not long after I wrote this post and I cried my eyes out. He had this thing that he did...he'd pounce on me at the stroke of midnight on my birthday and give me a huge bear hug. This is the first year I'm without that, without him. I miss him terribly but reading this made my heart so full.


Lima, Cinco, Cinq...Five

Five years...has it really been five years?? it's funny how it feels like I've been missing you for way more than that but yet it feels like you left yesterday.

I think this is the first year that I didn't have anything prepared to post for today. Usually, I would at least have an idea in mind but...nothing. I've been staring at this blank blog page off and on since midnight...looking at the pictures above, crying a little and listening to music, of course. It's now almost 2:30am. Maybe year 5 should be a marker for me to stop posting on the anniversary of your passing. Instead of rehashing all the memories of some of the toughest times together, I will only post on your birthday in celebration of you. My mind relives those tough times enough as it is.

With that being said, I will keep this post short and sweet. I miss you so much. You are forever in my heart. See you in my dreams. I love you...forever always.



Not long ago I went on probably one of my most anticipated vacations EVER! Instead of writing to you about it, I thought I'd TELL you about it instead. Be sure to pause the music player on the bottom left of this page so you can hear me as I tell you about my adventures in New York, meeting new friends and going on a cruise! I also added pictures and a few videos! I'm excited to share this with you and hope you enjoy it!!



May 2nd, 2014 - You Remind Me…. © Mary J. Blige

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder

Today marks what would have been my Mama’s 77th birthday.

I’ve have been dealing with a really bad case of writer’s block…almost to the point where I think all my creativity has gone somewhere. Hopefully, I’ll find it soon!

Not one day has gone by where I don’t think of her or miss her and I didn’t want a birthday to pass without paying tribute to her. I thought I’d do something a bit different this year and post songs that remind me of her…in no particular order, here I go:


Lady's Faves...Short But Sweet Edition!

Just a few things I’m listening to that I think y’all should check out…

Marsha Ambrosius ~ Stronger Than Pride
Wow wow wow! Marsha KILLED this cover of Sade’s Stronger Than Pride. I’ve always been a fan of her voice and it sound like liquid gold here. I’m loving the hip hop spin she put on it as well. Any hip hop head would recognize the use of Jeru The Damaja’s Come Clean on this one. I’m so looking forward to her sophomore album Friends & Lovers which is slated to come out in April. Marsha released the video for Stronger Than Pride just before Valentine’s Day and hopefully will sustain us till then!

Best of 2013…The Late Edition

Wow, time is flying by! We’re going into March now and I haven’t posted in a bit. Let’s just say I waited a while so everyone else could get their year end/New Year posts out. ;-)  Let me reminisce a bit, will you? 2013 was a pretty decent year for me! Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Partying With Jill Scott, Young Guru & ATCQ’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad! – Yep, you read right! I started to year off right! I headed down to North Carolina for some relaxation and to attend my friend, 9th Wonder’s birthday party. What a great time that was! Most significantly, I got to meet Ali Shaheed Muhammad who is a member of my favorite hip hop group of all time, A Tribe Called Quest! I just about died! To see the full post with pics, click here.
  • Jamla Army Colonel – Many of you know about my affiliation with Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder, his label Jamla Records and his online marketing and promo team, The Jamla Army. I was promoted from Lieutenant to Colonel in February and very proud of it. It’s amazing to know such a great group of people and be a part of an amazing movement!
  • I Met My Childhood Crush! – Growing up, I was a HUGE New Kids On The Block fan. This fandom was re-ignited in 2013 when they came twice to Toronto while on tour with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men. The 1st time I had a ‘hallway moment’ with my longtime fave, Donnie Wahlberg, got a pic with Joey McIntyre and had amazing seats! You can read all about it and see the pics/vids I took here. The 2nd time around, my cousin, Jojo and I had pretty decent seats. We went to their after party where Jonathan Knight remembered me from the first time (more on that later) and I managed to have enough guts to ask Nate Morris of Boyz II Men for a pic! You can find that post here! Also in September, Donnie was in Toronto to announce that they were opening a Wahlburgers here. I finally got a pic with him then and gave him a gift! More on this here.


Lady's Faves: Who Or What Influences Your Musical Palette? An Ode To Regalo...

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." - Bob Marley

Recently, I came to the realization that my musical palette/knowledge is vast and varied because of my family. Their influence sparked my love/interest in music that led me to respect and enjoy different genres while developing my personal preferences.

A few nights ago, I went through a bunch of songs that I transferred from my brother's phone to my sister's new iPod. A song called Knife by a Scottish group named Aztec Camera started to play. I didn't recognize it by the title but as the song played, I realized I did know it. It hit me in such a big way, it stirred such emotion and excitement in me that I immediately started to write this post! When explaining this to my brother, I couldn't even tell him when I heard this song and he was surprised I even knew it. All I could say was it was a long lost song I had buried in my memory somehow and didn't know the title nor artist until that very moment. It was a feeling I can't explain but it was amazing. It was the moment I realized how big of an influence my big brother Ed or as I call him, "Kuya Ed" (Kuya is a Filipino term of endearment meaning older brother) is on me especially with music.

I have fond memories of watching him playing records and DJing while growing up. It's how I gained my knowledge of music from the 70s and 80s. I'm sure that's why my love for DJs and art of DJing is so deep.  


Ear Candy: Sean Armstrong – The Marble Cake Diaries

"Heart of a B-boy, soul of an emcee...thoughts vivid like graffiti landscaped with a MP-C…I knew it was inside of me....I said I knew it was inside of me." – Sean Armstrong, Long Time Coming

On November 19th, DMV based rapper Sean Armstrong released his debut album, The Marble Cake Diaries and just like the title of one of my fave tracks, this was a ‘Long Time Coming’.

Sean is no stranger to this blog as I have posted about him and his music several times. The Marble Cake Diaries includes features from the likes of Tajai of Souls of Mischief and another LV Lair fave, pHoenix Pagliacci. Backed by the head nod worthy work of producers like !llmind, Da Beatminerz and members of the Jamla Records production team, The Soul Council: E. Jones, AMP and Khrysis, Sean Armstrong delivers a solid debut album.

Before I get into my faves on the album, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to get you more familiar with Sean


Musical Weekend (Part Deux): King & Laura Mvula (Catch Up Post #6)

Part 2 of my musical weekend with Kris and Ann Marie was equally amazing! Seeing Mayer Hawthorne the night before was full of fun and dancing. Our second night out was full of artistry and food for the soul…

I was on a natural high from my Wahlburgers experience and a good dinner with my cousin Jojo when we went to The Mod Club to meet Kris and Ann Marie. That night we were all in for a treat seeing King and Laura Mvula live. This show was one of the main reasons why Kris made the trip up from Detroit. He is a huge fan of King and the ladies did not disappoint!

King consists of Anita Bias and twins, Paris and Amber Strother. I first heard of these ladies from a tweet that Phonte of The Foreign Exchange posted about their music. I purchased their EP, The Story in which all songs were written by all 3 members and fully produced by Paris. I fell in love with their sound. Despite some sound and lighting issues, King put on a great performance! They sound even better live.

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