Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Day in Central Park
by: Farah Montehermoso

I went to Central Park to support my husband who joined the 25th NYC Century Bike Tour. It’s an annual 100 bike tour across five boroughs of New York City.  I am his official photographer since I cannot join yet because of a recent accident. While waiting for him to come back I walk around Central Park taking pictures of people and hope to share with you the stories behind the pictures and some of the issues in New York City.

1      1.   Hijabi Cyclist

Among thousands of cyclist that I saw on the start of the bike tour this lady caught my attention. I think she’s one gutsy ‘hijabi’. Hijabi is a term used for Muslim women who wears hijab or headscarf. As a recent Muslim convert in New York wearing hijab in a fashion capital of the world is a complete irony. For me wearing it is a struggle especially during summer time. I do wear head scarf and I am trying to practice modesty. One of the issues of Muslim women is about modest sports clothes. I am planning to design modest sportswear someday. This lady inspires me, she is just confident with her looks. We’ve heard so many negative things about Muslim community in the news. It is refreshing to see a fellow Muslimah just enjoying herself in a 100 mile bike tour. This image may not go to big news agency but I am proud to show this. Majority of the Muslim community have simple and happy life just in case anybody would ask. 

1.                  2. Homeless Guy

If you have been to New York you would notice homeless people all over the city.  When I first came here 2 years ago I was shocked to see homeless people. Why one of the world’s powerful and rich nation would have homeless people. I always say the government has billions of budgets for research about outer space or war on foreign country but they could not eliminate homelessness. My memory card was full so I have to delete some old photos. I was looking for a shaded bench when I saw this guy. I sit beside him for few minutes.  His bench was pretty cozy.  I noticed other people taking his photo and talk about him in foreign language. Each person has a story to tell. Some people who become homeless were veterans who came back home from war and struggle with PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder)or people who were released from jail who cannot go back to their family.  When the weather is good like this homeless people can find spaces on the park but during winter time it is painful to see them on the subway in freezing cold weather.

1.       3.Puppy Love

Central Park is also known for its fundraising events like “Susan G Komen Race for the Cure”. 5k walk to raise awareness of breast cancer. Famous names in fashion industry joined with their employees in support for the event. But “Zeus” (Samoyed breed) steals the show. All of the people just notice how cute he is even this brown dog stop for a ‘kiss’. Maybe it is love at first sight. I talked to the owner of Zeus she said they are supporting her friends who joined the walk. Almost every week there are fundraising event happening in Central Park. My husband and I joined several 5k run before. People from all walks of life together with their families, friends and their dogs walk and run for a cause.

1       4. No Excuse
I was walking when I heard this lady saying “Excuse me”.  She ran past me then suddenly I noticed her legs.  This lady is one of the few reasons why I love running. We often make too many excuses not to work-out. You don’t need to know to why she lost her leg.  It maybe from illness, accident or she may be a veteran but the most important thing is she did not lose hope. Just looking at her gives me inspiration to live a healthy lifestyle. There were also blind runners train for the upcoming New York City Marathon. I saw him run with a guide and he has a string attached on his arm and his guide’s arm. If blind and amputee can run what excuse do we have not to be fit. 

1.                 5. Cool Dad

       I am not sure if they are really the father of the kids or if they are married or they are just baby sitters. For me, they gave a new meaning to modern parenting. Isn't it cool to roller blades while taking care of your kids? 

1.       6. Blonde Musician

You will see so many talented artists on Central Park but most of them are men. This lady is not your typical blonde girl. I feel like she represents young adults with college degree who does not have a stable income and has thousands of student loan. I believe she’s a talented artist waiting for her big break. Street performers are enjoying the last days of summer. When winter season comes they can still perform but only limited subway stations or trains.  In Philippines she could be a model or TV actress but she’s more than your typical blonde girl. I can feel her passion and she’s just enjoying her music. 

1     7.Innocence of the young boy

I love this photo. I work as early childhood special education. I remember one of my students when I saw this boy. I was far away from him but I could see he was chasing the birds and I could feel his giggles trying to catch the little birds. I wish young African American boys have the freedom to enjoy their childhood without prejudice and violence. Like other young boy my student was born by irresponsible parents who left their kids in foster care. I saw the transformation in my student’s behavior when he was moved from different homes and different schools. Racial discrimination and racial profiling is still an issue that we face every day.

1.       8.Lost in the city

There is no public transportation inside Central Park except horse carriage and rickshaw. When I saw this Indian family with their luggage first thing that comes to my mind they got lost. I saw them asked an ice cream vendor for direction. I remember my mother-in-law when I saw this lady. My husband’s family is from Bangladesh. My  A ’ma ( Bangla for mother ) also wears sari. I only talked to her on skype and I always saw her wearing her ‘Sari’ (traditional women’s clothes in India and Bangladesh).  New York city is one of the most diverse city in the world. There are at least 200 languages spoken in New York City. Though the city welcomes diversity it is also a struggle to find your own unique identity. 

1.                 8.Love in the city

I met my husband in New York City two years ago and after a year we got married. I didn't have photo shoot in Central Park so I’m happy to see young couple having the day of their lives. I thought they are Filipino but I heard the photographer speaks Mandarin so they are Chinese.  When I saw them walking in front of me I hurriedly followed them and took some shots. In an instant they were surrounded by curious tourist who wants to take pictures too. 

     10 Grow old with you

I love taking pictures of old couple. We all want to have someone to be with when we grow old. However, divorce is rampant in western countries. In New York City, you will see posters of divorce lawyers offering their services. I saw ads like “$300 divorce lawyer, no spouse signature required”. I admire old couple because by just looking at them you would know that they are still in love.  I took so many pictures of couple on the boat near the Bow Bridge. I was sitting on the bench feeling so sleepy when I saw them.  Then the lady took nuts and feed her husband. The sweetest thing I've seen in my day. 

*This article was written last fall of 2014. All photos are property of Cherry Ann Montehermoso

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Top 10 "Orange Is The New Black" Characters

I recently finished binge watching two seasons of "Orange Is The New Black" for 2 days non-stop. Since it may take a while before they finish filming season 3 I just focused my energy to write this on my blog. If you haven't watch OITNB spoiler alert I shared some of my favorite scenes here. 

Here is my top 10 favorite characters from the Emmy nominated series "Orange Is The New Black". I ranked them based on how they gave life to the characters that they portray. Like after 10 years when you asked me about "Orange is the New Black" I would still recall them. Also, their character is so intriguing that I pause Netflix and Google / Wikipedia the characters to find out that they look completely different. I learn more about what other  then I followed them on Instagram. 

Two thumbs up for Jenji Kohan and Netflix for creating this amazing show. 

10 Piper Chapman

I think she did great. She looks exactly the same like the real life Piper the author of the book "Orange is the New Black". Some people might disagree why she's on my number 10 list. I believe she is a good actress but if you replace her with other actress I would still be watching OITNB. 

My favorite scene was after she was placed in isolation she learn to fight back and learn the ways of the prison. She was able to adapt to the conditions that she have. I liked when she made the chili oil for Red's back pain.

Taylor Schilling - She attended acting classes at  Fordham University and New York University
                               She worked as a nanny while studying.
                               Webby Awards, Satellite Awards - Best Actress for Orange is the New Black
                               Hollywood Film Festival Award  - Cast - Argo

9. Poussey Washington 
I think she is smart and she stand on her principles. She was able to convince her friends to stand-up against Vee and stop doing illegal drugs. She saved the books in the library during flood.

Samira Wiley - studied at Jiulliard School in New York
                        - practiced the lines with Danniele Brooks also graduate of Jiulliard for the role                                     of Poussey
                        - Her father is Baptist Minister from Washington, DC

8. Lorna Morello 

Her accent was amazing even critics noticed her Brooklyn / Boston accent. I love the scene when she went to his ex boyfriend's house and try the wedding dress of her ex boyfriend's fiance. I also like the scene when she let Rosa escape the prison.

Yael Stone - Australian movie and theater actress
                   - moved to New York four months before she was cast in Orange is the New Black

7. Yoga Jones

I love Yoga Jones. I feel like her character fits her very well. Her eyes are so expressive. I hope they would show more of her back story.
Constance Shulman - voice of the cartoon charter Patti Mayonaise from "Doug"
                                   - theater and TV and movie actress

6. Daya - Dayanara Diaz 

I liked her back story how she took care of her sisters when her mother was too "busy" with her boyfriend. I didn't like it when she have to use Pornstashe to clear her boyfriend's name. But, well we did some crazy things for love.

Dasha Polanco - Psychology Degree from Hunter College ( I'm also from Hunter! )
                           - Born in Domican Republic, raised in Brookyn and Florida, has 2 kids

5. "Tastee" - Tasha Jefferson

Favorite Scenes - She came back to prison because life outside was worse than prison. I remember my students who went to foster care like her. I also liked the scene when she compete for the "Dress for Success" program.
Favorite Lines I can't watch no more Toddler in Tiaras. I can't support sexuation of baby girls.

Danielle Brooks - Studied drama at Juilliard School
                            - She will be cast in the series "Girls".

4. "Pennsatucky" Tiffany Doggett
I love Pennsatucky's character perfect mix of scary and funny. I like the scene when she was carrying the cross.
Favorite Lines: "I'm angel of God, I mean look at my dress".
                          "It wasn't my fault. I was just doing what the spirit commanded."
Taryn Manning - fashion designer, singer-song writer
                          - first known from movie Crazy/Beautiful
                          - related to football star Eli Manning

3. "Red" - Galina Resnikov
I love her thick Russian accent accent. I live in a Russian community. I can relate to the scenes from her back story. When Piper got furlough she request to come and visit her shop in Sheepshead Bay in Brookyn. That was so close to where I live.

Famous Line: "All I wanted to eat the chicken that is smarter than any other chickens and to                                         absorb its power!"

Kate Mulgrew - played Captain Katryn Janeway in Startrek: The Voyager
                        - had acting scholarship at New York University
                        - advocate and active member of Alzhiemer's Associatioin
                        - won acting awards in Broadway and Emmy nominations

2. Sophia Burset 
I love her back story when her wife helped her fit some dress and pleaded that she shouldn't do the surgery. I liked the actress that played as her wife and his twin brother who played the pre-surgery Sophia. I can feel that she really loved her wife but she stands with her decision to live as a woman. I respect her for that. Then she gave her wife the freedom to fall in love with other guy.

Laverne Cox- Produced reality show and documentary "Free CeCe"
                     -Advocates for the rights of Transgender
                     -Fine Arts Degree from Marymount Manhattan College
                     -Wrote articles for The  Huffington Post

1. "Crazy Eyes" - Suzzane Warren
I love her so much I cried when she delivered her speech at Emmy's. I can feel her passion and dedication in her character. I love her back story how her adopted family love her and made the best effort to give the same opportunities like their own child.

My Favorite Lines "I throw my pie for you!"
                              "Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl, Swirl"
                              "I'm a garden rose."

Uzu Aduba - Attended Boston University - Classical Voice and compete in Track and Field
                     Winner: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
                     Critics Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series

Do you agree with my Top 10?

Who is your favorite character?

I can't wait for Season 3
- Farah M.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Last May 17, 2014 my husband and I finished our first Brooklyn Half-Marathon. I would like to share the lessons that we learn and hope to inspire other runners too. 13.1 lessons because there are 13.1 miles in a half-marathon.

Farah Fashions NYC

1.    Motivation- borderline diabetes

Last February 2014, I had my annual physical check-up and my doctor Dr. Rounak Rahman told me that I have borderline diabetes. She told me that I need to lose weight to avoid diabetes. I am also obese, for short person like me 149 lbs is too much. I need to lose around 20 lbs to reach my normal weight. I hate taking medicine. My mother has diabetes and hypertension. This is my wake-up call to adapt a healthier lifestyle. My husband and I was an active member of New York Road Runner, is it an organization that promotes running and they organize the internationally renowned New York City Marathon. We decided to register to the upcoming Brooklyn Half Marathon to force ourselves to be fit. 

2.  Inspiration – If they can do it so can I.

In 2013 we have been running several 5k fun run in Central Park, Corona Park and Prospect Park. We noticed that there’s a lot of elderly runners who are faster than us. And they have wonderful and toned body. There are also some people who are overweight but they are determined to finish the race.
Blind runner Amelia New York City Marathon
photo from

3. Plan ahead – Training Program

My friend Jee finished half marathons before and she told me about the 10-week Half-Marathon training program at NYRR. There’s a lot of classes you can enroll for a fee. There are also some elite runners who made their own training program on Youtube videos on how to train. I download the free training program from NYRR. Basically you need 10 weeks to train for half-marathon. Start with 2k then slowly increase the distance per week by 10% to 20% depends on your capability. Once or twice a week you have to practice the long run then after give yourself one day off to rest and help your body to recover. I started training around second week of February. The race was May 22 so I had almost 3 months of training. I didn’t really follow the training program exactly but somehow it will give you a guide on what to do.

New York Road Runners Free Training Program link

YouTube Video tips

4. No excuses- Discipline yourself

For me hardest thing to do is discipline yourself. My husband and I have different work schedule so most of the time I train on my own. I bring my gym clothes to work and I just wear sneakers all the time. After work I go straight to the gym. It was still cold when I start training. It takes a lot of determination to force yourself to work out. I work out about 4-5 times a week.

5.    Look for training Buddy

My husband is my training buddy. We motivate each other to work-out and live a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of groups that you can join to make running fun and meet new friends. Some membership are free some you need to pay for membership.

Free Membership
North Brooklyn Runners

Paid Membership or fund raising commitment
You can also start a running club and help to raise fund in your local communities through running.

6.   Set your goal - Finish the race alive
Since this was my first long distance run my main goal is just to finish the race alive, as simple as that. I don't want to stress myself for a good PR because I know it's difficult. I just want my finisher medal. 
photo from

 7. Listen to your body - look out for minor injury 

The first few days of my training was the most difficult part. I forced my body to come out from hibernation of winter season. I am also flat footed or what they called over pronation. I didn't buy shoes specific for my feet because they look terrible. I have colorful Asics Gel Noosa Tri 8 sneakers I bought from amazon. I got a lots of compliments from my sneakers. I just add insoles from Dr. Scholl's. There are also some stretching exercises to avoid injuries. 

8. Cross training- Yoga, zumba, pilates, cardio work -out
Aside from regular running routine I also join group classes like yoga, zumba, pilates and kickboxing work-out. We have X-box 360 at home I did Zumba, Black Eyed Peas and Dance Central when I don't feel like going to the gym. 

9.   Running gear - Run in style
For me preparing your running gear is important factor. I want clothes that are comfortable and colorful. Colorful running gear is also part of my motivation. You have to prepare your running gear weeks before the race. Avoid using brand new shoes or clothes because it can cause skin chaffing. It is very irritating during the race if your uncomfortable with your clothes or shoes. I am practicing Muslim. I believe in modesty so I am trying to be modest in my clothes. It is hard to wear long sleeves while working out. My clothes may not be as modest as other Muslim women but I'm trying. 

a.  Running shoes- There are so many fancy running shoes out there ranging from $30 -$200+. You don’t have to break a bank to buy good running sneakers. First, ask yourself what you want in running shoes. Depends on what is your priority like price, comfort, style, etc. But for me I like design first then comfort. I am flat footed my feet needs constant support to reduce injury in long distance run. Since I bought fancy sneakers but doesn’t have the support I need, I bought shoe inserts from Dr. Scholl’s. I also wear knee length compression socks.

b.    Technology / apps- I use RunKeeper and my Samsung S5 SHealth to keep track with my distance, speed, calories burned and pedometer. In psychology, immediate feedback is a good positive reinforcer. I got gold coin every time I reached 10,000 steps. 

c.    Accessories – I have Bluetooth headset because I don’t like wires. It bothers me a lot. I also used arm band for cell phone. I have hydration belt but I decided not to used it during the race because it adds additional weight. I also wore Ironman shades. 

10.    Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are vital part of the training program not just because of the upcoming race but it should be a part of healthy lifestyle. We started to eat healthy at home and we avoid eating fast food. We change some of our eating habits like grilling fish and chicken breast instead of frying, using olive oil instead of corn oil, brown rice instead of white rice, and brown sugar instead of refined white sugar. Also we drink a lot of fruit shakes and vegetable juice. Fruits and vegetables are expensive but still it’s cheaper than cancer treatment.

During the race I didn’t bring my water bottle because it bothers me. I know there’s one hydration station in every mile. The weight of the water bottle on my waist bothers me a lot so I decided not to bring one. I bought some energy gel for the race but for me it is not advisable. First, I haven’t tried eating those on my training. Second, they are too sweet and dry. During the race I eat one gel since I don’t have water bottle it is hard to swallow and it has a weird taste like medicine, definitely not a good idea.

11. Keep your pace - Run Smart

Learning how to keep your pace takes time. I used to run as fast as I could at the start of the the race but this is wrong especially for distance running. We need to keep our stamina up to the finish line. My average time is about 14minutes per mile. Yup, I'm almost walking. My legs are short, one step of tall people will take me about two to three step. I looked at the previous year record of Brooklyn Half-Marathon. For my age group the last person to cross the finish line was about 3.5 hours. My goal is to cross the finish line within that period. I finished my first half marathon in 3:19:39. 

12.     Enjoy your run - First, let me take a selfie!

     When I was running towards Ocean Parkway I was elated. There was no car only runners on the high way. I took my phone and started taking selfies, video and taking pictures of the people. The volunteers on the side of the road really helps in motivating us. I loved seeing the kids from the Muslim and Jewish community of Brooklyn cheering the runners. My scarf fell down while I was running. I only have my inner scarf left. I looked silly. LOL!

13. Recovery – No Pain, No Gain!

During the race if feel a little bit of pain on my feet. You would feel that your sneakers are getting hot. My shoulder blades and arms were starting to hurt. I also advise bring your own first aid kit. I have tissue paper because the Portalet don't have toilet paper and it is “Ewww!”. 

I also had 6 tablets of Advil with me. I took 2 tablets around 2 miles because I know it will take some time for the body to absorb the medicine. I don’t like the feeling of body pain during run. I don’t know if it is medically advisable but these are just my experience. Then, around 6 miles I took 2 tablets and I took the last 2 tablets around 9 miles. But since I already took a total of 6 Advil that day I didn’t take any pain killers after the race which is not advisable. 

The pain after the race was excruciating and the worst part was I didn’t have plan for it. Lucky for us we live in Brighton Beach area and the finish line for Brooklyn Half Marathon were in Coney Island. It was few blocks from our house. We took some photo after the race then we walked straight to our apartment.

Bubble bath and rest is highly recommended after the race. When I woke up from my nap every inch of my body hurts. I couldn’t explain in words how painful it was. I rest for complete 2 days before I went back to work.

13.1 Run while you can

Life is too short. We never know what will happen tomorrow. We cannot predict our health. 

photo from