Name: Monica Flores
Where from: Canada, Florida and San Diego, California
Roots: The Philippines
When and where were you born?
September 15, 1973; Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Who did you grow up with?
My mother Christine, who plays the flute and clarinet, my father Sam, who was born on St. Patrick's Day and sings tenor, my sister Carmen, who is majoring in music and is studying in Prague and London, my sister Sylvia, who is in high school and plays clarinet in the marching band, two gerbils, Holly and Jolly, and a hamster, Nicholas.
Do you have any pets now?
Yes: an Indian ring-necked parakeet named Willy (as in "Free Willy") because he's escaped twice and returned twice), two cockatiels: a white one named
Molly and a gray one named Ollie. Ollie is blind.
What do you like to do with your friends?
Go bowling. I usually don't get over a 70, but I have lots of fun... relax at the beach with fish tacos and some music... cycle for miles through the hills and valleys.
What things are you afraid of?
Of people who are deliberately mean.
What is your favorite food?
Adobo and pancit (Filipino dishes), sushi, giant burritos, blueberry cheesecake, lentil soup, spinach, papadums, corn on the cob, and my favorite: chocolate chip cookies, preferably if you bake them for me! with nuts! and raisins! and maybe some dates! Yum!
What is your advice to young people today?
Learn as much as you can -- try to learn something new every day.
Who or what has had an especially strong influence on the direction of your life?
My parents. They raised me to be honest and to search for the truth and meaning in any situation. Even when times have been hard, or I've felt sorry for myself, they've encouraged me to learn from all my experiences. My parents have taught me that everything that happens, regardless of how good or bad it seems at the time, is part of the ultimate plan for my life.
What kind of student were you?
A straight A student 'til I got to college, when I overdid everything and ended up getting a 1.73 GPA my first term, necessitating a strict letter from the Academic Dean. I slowed down the next term and improved my grades.
What was a challenging or cool job you've done?
I develop braille music software for sighted and blind transcribers with a small business. We take texts that teach people to transcribe music and put them onto CD-ROM, so you can hear the music, see or feel the braille, and find out the meanings of all the different braille characters.
What is the place you're most looking forward to visiting?
I have never been to Jerusalem and for me, that section of the voyage is almost like a pilgrimage. We plan to be in Israel on the eve of December 31, 1999. Won't that be exciting? I hope you'll join me as we ring in the new year!
What are you not so good at?
Sometimes I don't have a lot of patience. I tend to get aggravated or frustrated easily, which I'm trying to minimize... Stop me if you see me getting snappy like that! And I've come to realize that everything unfolds in time, so if I'm not getting my way, that's an opportunity to me to pause and reflect on the nature of the universe: if something is meant to be, it will happen; however, this doesn't mean one should give up if the going gets tough. I think it's important to constantly try to work towards your goals.