King of the Kings


Family picture during my birthday party. My father preoccupied with eating.

Reynaldo De Los Reyes, it translates to King of the Kings. What’s in a name—what’s in his name? He was a champion swimmer in his high school and university years. He competed in numerous swim meets and always topped. He paid all of his university tuition from his swimming scholarships and some odd jobs here and there. He knew my grandparents couldn’t afford to pay and shouldered all the debt to himself. He was for all intents and purposes a King in his own right.

I’m Erian Amor De Los Reyes, translates to Erian Love of the Kings. What’s in my name? I was fourth in my entire school in kindergarten and elementary. I competed in piano and came second for all of my competitions. At 23 I have yet to receive my diploma.

I wasn’t competing with my father—not consciously at least. I looked up to him as any child looked up to their parents. In my rose coloured glasses I saw him as the strongest man in the world.

Our first baseball game together as a family. My father trying to hide the Corona he had purchased for the heat.

Back in Philippines he was the most fit from his four brothers and looking at old faded pictures further proved what I faintly remember now. However, time could care less of names and old records. Much like the old medals, trophies and certificates on our wall back home, he too started to show his age.

We moved to Brampton some few months ago. Though the house looks more lived in now, it wasn’t always a couple months back. My mother was living the American—well Canadian dream—of owning a new house and my father was living the dream of making a life in a new country, far from the problems of home.

For a whole month my mother was hell bent on purchasing new furniture for the house—the old furniture would simply not do, she would say. Me and my father would humour her and help build the sometimes heavy pieces for the home.

Putting furniture together always gave me a unique bond with my father. As I have said, we have never competed against one another. But there’s something about building IKEA furniture together that almost put both of us in an equal playing field. For if I swam with him, the very moment the water uncomfortably touches my neck meant I could no longer follow him. Furthermore, if he played piano with me he would grow frustrated at how the keys started to look the same.

We were equals when we built something as mundane as a coffee table or a book shelf. We were equals when my mother requested we move the couch as it didn’t fit her aesthetics anymore. We were equals when we needed to fix something that according to my mother deemed “not working.”

Some wedding I can’t remember. As a side note, he looks really young here.

He saw me as not as fragile as just the love of the kings but his equal as king.

For the months that I wasn’t preoccupied with school or internships I would be happy to build, fix and move along side him. When my schedule became more full my absence became more and more present.

He understood. After all, he had done the same when he was in university and much like him, I always returned home—late, but I always came home.

One night my mother had bought a new accent chair for the house. The delivery was set on a date I was away from home busy at school. My father assured my mom he can do it himself; move the chair to its rightful place and install the legs. I ended up staying later in school than I planned and came home to a quiet house with parents soundly asleep. I glanced at the new chair and mentally made a note to tell my mother about her excellent choice in upholstery.

The next day my father couldn’t go to work. My mother called in sick with him to stay by his side. That morning I looked at my dad who stayed in bed, broken and defeated. My mom told me he cried that night—one of the few times she’s ever seen him do since my grandpa passed.

My father was never the best at just smiling in photos.

I asked her why?

She said he had hurt his back moving the chair. He wasn’t able to get up in the morning from the pain he felt and, honestly, he was scared he was never going to be able to.

I told her they could have waited for me to come home.

She simply said he didn’t want to interrupt.

I didn’t go to school that day as well. I stayed by his side, bringing the TV up a flight of stairs so he can watch. We never talked about him crying. We busied ourselves with day time TV—The Price is Right was always our favourite.

Despite the medals and trophies that must have rusted over and all the certificates that have been lost and faded, I still see my dad as the strongest man in the world. But sometimes, as we become so busy growing up, we forget that they are also growing old.


When do we become adults?

In general I like to believe that if we ask hard enough we often will get an answer at some point in our journey one day.

When do we become adults?

A question I’ve decided to throw to the universe in hopes to receive a straight forward answer– or anything for that matter.

Though a master of procrastination, I often talk myself out of looking for an answer. At borderline 23– practically an adult in certain countries. I’m still not quite sure when the whole transformation begins. Perhaps I missed it or maybe it’ll never happen.

This isn’t so much a matter of which is better and which is the worst fate. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Who wouldn’t want to stay forever young? Some.

The answer is always some.

Wouldn’t we all want to be at the top of our game, commuting– NO, driving to the career of our choosing, living in the heart of the city in some upscale condo right across the lake, watching the sun chase the moon everyday for the rest of our lives? Some.

Growing up my parents only wanted the best for me. As an adult all my mother wanted was for me to be successful and be happy, and my father wanted nothing more than for me to understand hard work meant success.

Between going to school, working and looking for internships that doesn’t require the “internship course ” (a story for another time– I like to think I’m this rebel that will totally play the system and get an awesome Reporter position without the internship… or I’m just reckless) I’ve still yet to feel this change.

A part of me feels frightened that I haven’t quite felt this sudden epiphany that I imagine happens when we become adults. I was sure by now I’d know how to do my own taxes, make my own budget and look for my own apartment by now.

Instead, I forgot to pay my tuition deposit, I still have yet to get my license knowing it’s of utmost importance I learn to drive immediately and I have yet to make a truly proper contribution to my family.

Perhaps it’s that fear that has hindered me to really try. What if I’m scared to be an adult? Eventually we grow out of it right? Who wouldn’t grow up? Some.

Back to my original question?

When do we become adults?

I was hoping you could tell me.

When a student becomes a teacher

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Without sounding like a broken record I will keep this short and simple:

  1. I lost about 50 lbs in the past year.
  2. I’ve managed to slip in to a size 4-6 (size small for those more familiar with the lettering system with clothes) when previously I was a size 12.
  3. I am now able to dead lift 135 lbs and squat 85 lbs.
  4. I have never felt so fit in my life.
  5. Most importantly– I have never felt more confident in my own body than I do now.

I have repeated this to those who care to ask for what seemed like an insurmountable amount. For several months, I was happy to speak to people about the journey. How it felt like hell, how many times I wanted to quit and how much commitment it took to look at myself in the mirror and cheer myself on.

However, I am far from being ungrateful. I am proud. Prouder than I ever could be. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight and I also knew this would be a long and tedious affair to drop several dress sizes.

I did everything from running and doing cardio to counting calories– though what’s between me and Myfitnesspal stays between me and Myfitnesspal.

Eventually the mindset changed and soon I felt incomplete going through a week without at least doing something that broke a sweat. All the hard work was paying off– though all the clothes I’m no longer able to wear still grinds me up.

People were starting to notice and it felt amazing. But nothing could prepare me for when my friend asked me to teach her how to do what I have done.

They don’t teach you this, and since I did this journey on my own– I had no idea how to tell others how exactly I did it.

I agreed to help her, but all the fears started to dawn upon me:

  • Will I able to do it?
  • What if I can’t motivate her?
  • What if I can’t make her understand this will take time?
  • What if I fail her?

The last of which is what scares me the most.

I’m by no means trained professionally to be someone’s fitness trainer– I’m a journalist for goodness sakes.

But the most important idea I wanted to instill in her is that it can be done in the right amount of time it needs to be done.

I want to make sure– not just to her but to everyone trying to achieve a goal– she knows to be grateful of where she’s at and at the same time be motivated to continue to level up.

There were plenty of times I’ve doubted myself before, but something my lolo (grandfather) used to tell me makes me fearless:

Know what you bring to the table and don’t ever be afraid to eat alone.

I’ve repeated this wherever I go and with whatever goal I wish to embark. I hope I will be able to teach her as well.

Failure is necessary

I will share with you some harsh truths in my brief existence:

  1. Failure is necessary
  2. You won’t always get closure
  3. The truth can hurt
  4. Don’t do the cinnamon challenge

and those are just a brief summary of what I’ve come to know is true.

The first is astounding, something I’ve kept close to my heart ever since failing my first year University. Failure is necessary. Say it with me: failure is necessary.

I come from an only child background, in a middle class family that originally came from Philippines. My parents always instilled in me that success above all else is all that mattered– and that mom would disown me I   even consider putting her in a nursing home.

Now why would you listen to me, I’m 22 years young: no diploma, no career and sometimes no real direction where I’m heading in life.

But the truth is, I’ve failed several times. It’s in these failures that have led me to believe I can succeed.

As I mentioned earlier, I failed my first year of University. I studied in University of Toronto Mississauga, for Studies in Sociology. Truth be told, the only reason I took it was because all my friends were going to university– naturally I didn’t want to be left behind.

Without any real interest in sociology, I flunked my first year.

My parents coaxed me in to doing a year in Accounting (something near and dear to there hearts as they are both accountants). I flunked that as well. I blamed my disinterest in working in an office setting with my own cubicle as my downfall. But the truth was I didn’t want to be an accountant.

For a year I refused to go to school and chose to work my retail job. I’ve made some mistakes and was later forced to leave the job for reasons I rather not say.

I felt like a failure: as a daughter, as a student and as a young adult.

Eventually I realized throughout all this something miraculous happened– also something cliche happened.

I decided I don’t want to do nothing anymore. I failed but I needed it to get back up.

Got back on my feet and applied myself to Journalism– I’m not gonna fail.

What does it take to be a paramedic?

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From left to right, Kathleen Bozzo and Natalia Bourdages

First year paramedic students training for their physically demanding program are already seeing progress in three months of work.

Natalia Bourdages, a first-year paramedic student who recently left her field in biology at University of Guelph, invests hours in the gym to prepare for her fitness exam.

Her fitness exams focus on cardio, by means of a beep test, and some strength training to prepare her for the long haul in second year.

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Bourdages and Bozzo stretch before starting their training.

Bourdages said her midterm fitness exam, along with her written midterm test, were all very intense.

Lynne Urszenyi, the program coordinator for the paramedics program at Humber, said the paramedic profession is a very physically demanding program that not only needs personal strength but longevity as well.

“Emphasizing the commitment to lifelong physical fitness, what we’re trying to do is encourage the student to stay strong and to be able to have a healthy long career in the field,” said Urszenyi.

Bourdages, who recently finished her practical midterm exams said she focuses on cardio and strength training when she’s at the gym “because one portion of our exam is a shuttle run—sort of like a suicide back and forth across the gym.”

Urszneyi said as a former paramedic she always found time to exercise and go to the gym—sometimes after working a full shift.

“It doesn’t matter how smart you are,how clever you are as a paramedic, if you can’t carry the person– if you can’t lift them, you are of no use to the person. We do emphasize that physical component above all else in our program,” said Urszenyi.

Bourdages remembers the effort of walking to the fourth level of campus to get to her class disappear after putting three months of intense workout routine.

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Bourdages focuses on doing 50 crunches for her final.

“I see changes just in my general health,” said Bourdages.

Kathleen Bozzo, also a first year paramedic student, said the program is very helpful when it comes to preparing students for practical work.

It was the idea of caring and helping others that really drew her to the paramedics course, said Bozzo.

Urzenyi emphasized the importance of continuing the training after the program is completed and committing to becoming strong in short time is essential to succeed in the paramedic profession.

Bourdages and Bozzo both agreed it would be hard, considering the physical demands and shift work required for the job, but think it’s possible to carry on training after finishing their paramedic program.

What a knockout really means

In the sport of boxing, fighters not only have to be precise but they also have to be fast—sort of like journalist. Alright that’s a bit of a stretch.

Professional boxers train their bodies to take several blows from an opponent and give blows of their own to win 12 rounds in the ring. Arguably a violent sport, boxing pits two fighters in a battle of who can remain standing.

However, it’s what happens during and after the ring that could lead to several boxers with shorter lifespans.

Those who watch the sport, cheer in delight when one boxer lands a devastating blow or blinding right hook. We are assured of the thought that boxing is a sport and those in the ring are trained professionals who know what they’re doing. If a fighter wins through a knockout—you’re pretty much hearing me go crazy half a neighbourhood away.

Looking through the boxing world in this filter often leaves us to think boxing doesn’t lead to life threatening consequences, this is far from the truth.

Restaurant opening boom

©2015 Getty Images. All rights reserved.
©2015 Getty Images. All rights reserved.

Toronto’s restaurant openings went through the roof this summer. The summer of openings gave Torontonians a cornucopia of places for cheap eats and new places to “hang”. From September to November alone, BlogTO reported Toronto saw at least 24 different restaurant openings from new mac and cheese joints to a Harry Potter themed restaurant and bar.

The downtown core garnered 11 new restaurant openings—the most concentrated of the bunch. This included the brainchild of celebrated rapper Drake along with the help of renowned chef Susur Lee’s Frings now call the downtown core home.

Five new restaurants have opened in the west end, among them are the Commodore and the Tuckshop Kitchen. Three restaurants opened on the east end near Scarborough and two opened in midtown Toronto. North York, not left out of the race also opened a new pastry shop, Bake Code, which mixes Japanese and French style pastries and dessert under one roof.

Dance for fitness

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NOISE dance crew rehearsal

Mark Gomez used to be scared to stand in front of a crowd.

But when he started dancing in his first hip-hop debut on 2009, the fear vanished.

He’s now a principle dancer with Humber’s New Original Identity Seeking Emphasis (NOISE), a hip-hop troupe planning to beat up the competition at Urban Rumble 2015 on Nov. 28 at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School.

Although the era of sharp clings and clangs of weights dropped on the floor by buffed out muscle men and women continue to paint the traditional picture of an everyday gym and there being a machine for everything—arms, legs and shoulders.

Dance has found its own spin by adding its own groove in to a traditional exercise routine.

Zumba and Girlicious are some of the classes provided to students that focus more on a fast-paced and high-energy cardio with the added twist of a fun dance routine. Girlicious is a high intensity workout that borrow the movements of jazz and pop dancing to help break a sweat in a cardio routine.

Michael Scheitzbach snaps for timing as the dancers practice a routine.
Michael Scheitzbach snaps for timing as the dancers practice a routine.

Michael Scheitzbach, a second year massage therapy and choreographer of NOISE said dance is a great alternative for those looking to have a full body workout.

“As dancers it’s very very physically demanding on our bodies,” said Scheitzbach.

His dance group NOISE include Humber and Guelph Humber students rehearsing for dance competitions such as Urban Rumble 2015 set to take place Nov. 28.

“It’s so much like sporting events—you meet a whole bunch of new people there, you compete and you get to do the best you can. That’s just like any sports competition, just a different way to express ourselves,” said Scheitzbach.

Angelo Seridon, a new comer to the dance group and also a massage therapy student at Humber College, said that dance is great way to keep active.

“People don’t really realize but it is a sport there is a lot to it,” said Seridon.

Seridon said he joined the dance group to find a safe space and productive space for him. Once he got the nerves and pre-jitters out of the way he was able to involve himself completely with the group, earning himself a spot on the dance team.

Seridon is the alternate dancer for noise and continues to attend practice regularly should they need him to perform.

Mark Gomez, a Guelph Humber student, said that dance is a great way to express yourself if traditional exercise becomes intimidating.

“Just have fun with it, feel the music—don’t be scared of it, nothing to be scared about,” said Gomez.

Copyright Erian Amor De Los Reyes
Dancer does a handstand to stretch his muscles

During his debut in 2009 at his former high school, Monsignor Percy Johnson, he recalls he didn’t really know what he was in for.

Six years after, he is still an avid dancer and has performed in more competitions than he can remember.

Scheitzbach wants to reassure new comers and seasoned veterans that the dance studio is nothing to be scared of. He said mistakes are welcome and all the choreographer looks for is that the individual is doing their absolute best.

Scotiabank drops everyone

Photo by: C.P. Storm (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by: C.P. Storm (CC BY 2.0)

Though we’d think that Nuit Blanche was the only event dropped by Scotiabank this year, more events got the boot as well. The response was something most Torontonians saw coming after the incident that happened at Yonge and Dundas, but, Scotiabank’s seemingly unfinished with their hit list.

Read more here.