Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Asian Driver

   I got my first license to drive in the Philippines in 1979.  I did not go to driving school.  How did I pass the LTO test?  The guy who handed me the test paper must have noticed my anxiety.
   “Just put your name on it.  Don’t put any answer.  I’ll do it for you for PHP300,” he whispered to me.
   I have never appreciated corruption like I did at that moment.  I discretely slipped the money into his hands.  I passed the test with flying colors.  I was proud of that license.  Per capita, fewer Filipinas than men drove back then.
   I got my fair share of fender benders.  Even the best trained, well-schooled drivers got ticketed, got bumps and scrapes.  Did I drink and drive?  I was 26 years old.  What do you think?  

  Some US states have had drunk driving laws since 1911.  The Philippines never had one until the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10586).  We had bars with dance floors in Makati City.  I drove from there alone all the way to Imus, Cavite, anytime between 2:00 am to 4:00 am.  I was never pulled over by police.  Apparently, as long as I didn’t hit anything or anybody, I was good.  I did not get in any accident drunk, not even a minor one.  It turned out, I was a better driver drunk, after all I was suicidal, not a sociopath.  

   Fast forward to 2006.  I arrived in the US with my Philippine driver’s license that had been many times renewed with a clean record of no ticket nor accident.  Here, I felt a bigger appreciation for corruption.  I gave the policeman pocket money for every ticketing incidents.  Accidents were settled between parties without documents.  That Philippine license earned me the privilege of getting a US license without a written test.  Someone with international license required only driving test which I passed on the second try.  That PHP300, in 1979, was well worth it.  I love the Philippines!
   My Kentucky license in 2006 was exchanged for a California license in 2013.  My driving still leaves a lot to be desired.  My children now drive better than me.  My daughter is a whiz at GPS while I remain skeptical.  My son noted that I still drove like a “jeepney” driver, as I did when they were children.  He’s now 47 years old.

See also:

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Cars in My Life - Philippines

My Beetle with my daughter
   The first car I owned was a red Volkswagen Beetle I got in 1979 for PHP13,000.  That price was a lot of money back then.  I didn’t even know how to drive.  I did not take a driving course. This was how I learned.  A distant relative who works as a professional driver taught me by sitting with me as I drove.  He gave no orientation on traffic laws, no one ever gave him that either.  I wondered for years, if red means stop and green means go, what’s yellow for?  

   I drove daily to work in Makati City from Imus, Cavite via the old Parañaque road.  The coastal road was still under construction.  That humble Beetle with tiny tail lights gave me empowerment.  Holding that steering wheel made me feel I have come into my own.  

   A number of turbulent years followed.  I had to sell the car, the house, moved twice until finally life stabilized.  I bought a pre-owned, what was called box type,  1990 Nissan Sentra.  I got it a taxi franchise, taxi top lights and painted on the sides the logo “Camino Transport”.  I let it run 24 hours per driver with two drivers alternating.  That car cost me PHP150,000 in 1993.  I sold it with the taxi franchise for the same amount two years later.  I used the money to put a down of PHP50,000 each for brand new 1995 Nissan Sentra Series III, Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer, all white.  I got the three units a taxi franchise each.  I paid the monthly car loans with the taxi earning.  This was when the Philippines started the “color coding law” which means there’s a day for every car that it can’t run in Metro Manila.  On those color code days, I drove the car to my Bible studies inside gated communities not affected by the color code.  Otherwise, I went out of Metro Manila to swim in Los Baños hot springs, Laguna or Tagaytay, Batangas.
   A few years later, I found out the banks had warehouses along South Super Highway where they kept repossessed cars being sold at a bargain.  There, I found me a red two door 1995 Daewoo Racer.  Its stick shift goes to five speeds!  It wasn't called racer for  nothing.  I named it Sutra.  Sutra was not for taxi, it was for me, at least until I sold it for a profit.  It marked the end of my taxi operator days and the start of my car buy and sell days.  Next, I bought another 1995 Daewoo Racer.  This time, it was white with four doors.  I called it Kim, because it felt so Korean.  I enjoyed Kim till I sold it.  Kim was my last car in the Philippines.  

See also:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Cars in My Life - USA

   I was amazed when I realized there were still places in America where the residents are not familiar with Asians.  There were rural areas where only white people live and city areas with all black population.  In Louisville, Kentucky, Asians are few and far from each other.  I met four Filipino families in my residency of eight years.

My employer bank
   The image of Filipinos seen on television news of a calamity gave the impression that all Filipinos are destitute.  Many Americans I met were not ready for a Filipina in a suit and were resentful that I landed a job on the seventh floor of a bank's corporate center.  A man said to my face “You’re taking a job from an American.”

 2000 Ford Focus SE
   My first car in USA was a 2000 Ford Focus SE.  It did not have ABS brakes.  The place snows six inches in winter.  After slip and sliding several times, I traded in the Focus for a car with ABS brakes, a 2005 Saturn red coupe, something too sporty for a middle aged immigrant.  I named this red Saturn, Slick.  

   Driving Slick earned me the title 'Diva' with my American friends.  The Urban Dictionary defines diva as “to describe a person who exudes great style and personality with confidence and expresses their own style and not letting others influence who they are or want to be.  A person whose character makes them stands out from the rest...A person who tries to achieve what they want and who do not let people get in their way, and doing so with style and class.”  

   Now, seeing how Asian women are marginalized in the Midwest, I liked being called a diva.  Soon after, I left for California. 

   In California, it broke my heart but for many reasons, I traded Slick for a 2008 Toyota Matrix.  I named the Matrix, Trixie.  She brings me and JW sisters to 'field service'.  She carries the cart to our cart witnessing location.  Unlike Slick, Trixie is more of a 'sister' Jehovah's Witness.  Anyone who maliciously hurts her, I will not forgive.

See also:
A Saturn Named Slick 
Parting with a Saturn Named Slick
Keying In

Friday, April 27, 2018

Potassium to a Dialysis Patient

   Potassium is a mineral found in most fruits and vegetables.  Some food high in potassium are avocado, squash, spinach, potato and sweet potato, coconut water and coconut milk Filipinos use as ingredient in the most favored dish called “gata”. 

   To a normal person, I mean one who does not have kidney failure, potassium is required to have energy because it controls muscle function.  When I was in my 40’s, before I got kidney disease, I suffered weakness of unknown origin.  I was not ill, not depressed, not malnourished in the least bit.  I slowly lost energy until I have taken to laying on the sofa.  Finally, I decided to see a doctor.  I don’t see a doctor unless I'm desperate.  The doctor prescribed that I eat BANANAS!  Lots and lots of bananas!  I couldn’t believe the fruit was the cure.  Banana is the top potassium provider.  It worked!  Thanks Doc!  It turned out, I had been eating a lot but none of the potassium rich food.  

   Patients with kidney failure can no longer remove excess potassium.  The level builds up in the body, hiding in leg, feet, and other muscles causing cramps.  During dialysis, I’ve had cramps start on my toes then move up to my legs, then to my waist.  Brian Benedict Reyes, my Dialysis Tech pushes my toes with his butt to reduce my cramp.  When the cramp starts, I jokingly alert him “Brian! I need your butt!”  I’m one of those who won’t admit they’re hurting.

   Fun and games aside, the heart is categorized as a muscle.  It beats because of potassium.  Patients on dialysis are at risk for sudden cardiac death. claims that nearly half of the population on dialysis die by cardiovascular disease.  The heart could cramp like a leg.  When it does, it’s called heart attack.

   Dialysis effectivity differ by country, by company management, by financial consideration and by the patient’s individuality.  DaVita, my dialysis center, tests my blood monthly to monitor what I’ve been doing to my body.  My potassium level tells them I have been eating the Filipino food rich in potassium, like turon, gata, etc.  My fluid level tells them I have been drinking like a fish.  My phosphorus level tells them I have not been taking my binder with every meal, or every can of Diet Coke, which I refuse to give up through the eight years that I have been on dialysis.  

   In Jehovah God’s great mercy I have survived all these years on dialysis.  My children say I’m “masamang damo”, an old saying in Tagalog which translates in English as “bad grass”,  the saying means horses don’t eat bad grass so they don’t die.

See also:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Open Letter Regarding Bank Fraud

Embassy of the United States of America
Consular Officers

Dear Sirs:

   My father, Marciano M. Camino was a US Navy Chief of Dental and a Korean War veteran.  He died in August 18, 2017 at the age of 90 in Malagasang 1st, Cavite.   I am the eldest of his four children by his first wife who died in 1983.  I am a US Citizen residing in California.  Two of my brothers are deceased.  My third brother also lives in California.  My stepmother whom my father married in April 14, 1994, died in February 10, 2016.  

   The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs states in its website and on the above screen grab that “If no legal representative is in country, a consular officer will act as a provisional conservator of the deceased’s personal effects.  Consular officers will usually take possession of: convertible assets such as money.”  I believe that applies to our situation.   I am on dialysis here in California and can’t stay in the Philippines.  

   The bank managers of two banks informed us that his accounts has three signatories, my father, my stepmother, and a woman who claims to be a biological daughter of my father and stepmother.  This woman put her name in the bank accounts as soon as my father and stepmother became bedridden.   The woman’s late registration Birth Certificate and the accompanying affidavit were signed by my stepmother only, assuming that it was her authentic signature.  The affidavit’s Acknowledgement/ Admission of Paternity was not signed by my father.  His refusal to sign it proves he did not acknowledge the woman as his child and lawful heir.  This puts into question her access to the bank accounts.  Delayed registration is the Philippines short cut to legal adoption.  It is, nonetheless, falsification of public document, mainly since my stepmother had cancer of the uterus and a hysterectomy before the woman was born.

   The Philippine banking law states that accounts should be frozen upon the death of one of the account owners.  The banks did not freeze the accounts and allowed the woman to withdraw, even closing one of the accounts in July 2017, one month before my father died and more than one year after my stepmother died.  The banks refuse to give us, rightful heirs, any information on the accounts, invoking the bank secrecy law even after we have submitted identifications as next of kin.

   There is no telling how many aging US Citizen Veterans in the Philippines are being scammed in similar manner.  I believe this was also the reason why my incapacitated father and stepmother both died at home without the benefit of hospitalization.  

   May we request the Provisional Conservator to audit the bank withdrawals and equitably divide my father’s last bequeath between myself and my brothers.  Please help us.

   Thank you for your kind attention.

(Signed by Gloria P. Camino)

See also:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Importance of Meditation

   Bible readers are always advised to meditate on what they have read.  Not to find something to add or take away from the Bible.  Revelation 22:18-19 says “If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; (19) and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city…”

   The story of Moses needs a lot of meditation.  Let’s forget the movies made about him.  Let’s focus on the verses and their initial impression then what meditation brings to the table.  

Initial impression
My meditation says

In Exodus 4:21, it  says,  “The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

Films that shows Pharaoh ignoring the miracles led the readers to overlook the verse saying “I will allow his heart to become obstinate,” some other translation says “I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.”  It was Jehovah who wanted Pharaoh to ignore the first nine plagues.
If Pharaoh gave up the Israelites too soon, somewhere between plague 1 to 9, then it would not reach the tenth where the first born of the Egyptians were killed, thereby   symbolizing Jesus’s death as Jehovah’s first born.  The parting of the sea showed something only a god can do. 

Numbers 20:8-9 says, “speak to the crag before their eyes that it may give its water” but then Moses said “Hear, now, you rebels! Must we bring out water for you from this crag?” 

Numbers 20:12 says, Jehovah said “Because you did not … sanctify me before the eyes … of Israel, you will not bring this congregation into the land that I will give them.”
Moses had been a faithful servant to this point.  He misspoke when he said “Must we bring out water…”  Because of those words Moses was not allowed to reach the promised land.  

Many readers found the penalty severe, it seemed that he was punished for not saying the words exactly as Jehovah commanded. 
1Sam:16:7 says, “Jehovah sees into the heart.”  And Matthew 15:18 says,  “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,”

Meditation should put us in the moments during Moses time.  The Israelites never saw Jehovah giving Moses instructions about the ten plagues.  They saw only Moses at the parting of the Red Sea.  Through it all the Israelites must have developed an awe for Moses.  Moses must have seen that admiration in their eyes and developed an equivalent self-esteem.

If he made it to the promised land, would he have said to the Israelites “I brought you out of Egypt to this land, I should now be your god!”?  Only Jehovah knows, but judging by Moses’s punishment, what do you think?

See also:

Monday, March 26, 2018

CPAP Effects on Allergies and Dialysis Patients

   I’ve had seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) for three decades before I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure (ESRD).  In the Philippines, I was given an allergy test that stuck rows and rows of allergens on my arm to see which one will get a reaction.  From there, I found out I’m allergic to some parts of beef but not all so I can have steak, some parts of chicken but not all so I can have breast and wings and egg white so I can have the yolk.  I’m also allergic to molds, spores and fungus so I can’t have mushrooms, which is too bad because I have a killer appetizer recipe of adobong mushroom, perfect for cocktails.  I got it from frequenting bars in Makati City after work.  Oh yes, those were my days of wine and roses!

   Rhinitis is called seasonal because it’s caused by pollen carried in the air during different times of the day or year in different parts of the country.  I was told by my allergy doctor that in the Philippines pollen is active between 5:00 PM and 6:00 AM, or when it’s unusually cold like in Tagaytay or Baguio.  I was given a weekly then monthly allergy injections at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for PHP 2.00 per injection.  That’s right, it cost PHP 2.00 per injection back in the 80’s.

   In America, I first landed in Kentucky, where my rhinitis seasons changed.  It came between seasons, and all of spring and fall.  Lexington, KY, is one of the worst United States cities for allergies as per pollen levels and has extended spring seasons.  Lexington is only one hour and twenty one minute drive from Louisville where I lived so it’s safe to say the two cities shared the same allergen counts.  My allergy rose to a new high.  I went to Kentuckiana Allergy once a week for injections and was prescribed a 24 hour antihistamine.

CPAP machine
   After I was diagnosed with ESRD, I was sent to a sleep center and was given a CPAP machine.  ESRD affects not only the kidney, it puts fluid in the lungs, heart and other parts of the body.  The CPAP was initially prescribed for sleep apnea but I found it helped me sleep on those weekend nights when I am loaded with fluid.  The CPAP’s pressurized air can help dry some fluid hiding in the lungs and easing the lungs’ job of pulling air.

     It also eliminated my problem sleeping during allergy attacks by giving me filtered and enhanced air.

   CPAP is an expensive machine but with insurance or two you can have one for free.  It’s definitely worth the trouble of doing a sleep over at a sleep center.  If you are a dialysis patient, find a sleep doctor or sleep center in your insurance network of providers.  

See also:
My Bout with Pneumonia 
Vitamins to a Dialysis Patient 
Lifestyle Choice with Dialysis