Thursday, February 28, 2013

Educating Mom

   In the 60’s only the rich could afford an encyclopedia.  The books were expensive and required a big bookshelf to store them.  Each volume of the encyclopedia set was too heavy for a small child to pull and put back in its place so that children generally avoided reading them.  After five years the whole set needs to be updated. 

   These days a child can open an encyclopedia with the tip of his fingers.  It’s in the internet.  The information is as current as yesterday.  Everything is searchable.  What used to take a lot of book carrying and page flipping now take a few seconds to get in the right page. 

   Raquel grew up with an encyclopedia in her living room.  After high school she went to the University of the Philippines.  There was no reason for her not to get smart.  By the 90’s her children have grown.  Like a time traveler she woke up in a world she was not familiar with. 

   One of her sons has become a multimedia artist.  In their conversation he mentioned the words pixel, hard drive, memory and Raquel was stunned.  Wow!  Pixel!  Hard drive!  Her son has become so intelligent.  She pretended to know what he was talking about.  She didn't have her own personal computer.  

   Her daughter came home from college wearing the red Star Trek attire.  Raquel had seen Star Trek in black and white from the time she was a child.  She was stunned.  She remembered that she ran away from home when she was in her teens.  She managed to get to the next city.  Seeing her daughter wearing an outer space uniform sent chills down her spine.  She very calmly asked “Honey, I know you’re a Bachelor of Science in Communications graduate, does that include outer space communication?”  Her daughter laughed.  The girl was in a sci-fi convention

   The following week Raquel bought a computer and asked her son to teach her the applications.  She attended the next sci-fi event just to make sure she’s not losing her daughter to Spock

   Parents smart or not will always have their child’s interest at heart.  “Honor your father and mother…that it may go well with you…” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

See also: 
Educating Mom 2  
The Roommate Agreement  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Divorce For Filipinos

   The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia.  A divorce law had been proposed several times but can’t pass.  The Bible states “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife… and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9)  

   There is a legal separation law which does not allow the parties to remarry.  There is an outrageously costly annulment that would allow remarrying.  The going rate is the peso equivalent of $3000 and up, a small fortune that could go into a home down payment or a child’s college tuition. 

   In a legal separation, custody and child support are privately settled.  Settling the community properties would be a lot simpler than in America.  In the Philippines anything inherited from parents such as jewelry, real estate or any big ticket item remains with the heir.  That law was meant to protect against a gold digger.  Assets earned during the course of the marriage would be equally divided on the premise that without the unemployed partner’s help in managing the household and raising the children the breadwinner would not have netted much.  Remarrying legally would still constitute bigamy. 

   How does the absence of a divorce law affect the family in particular and society in general?  Most couples would rather suffer in silence and stay for the children’s sake or agree to discretely cheat on each other.  It’s not unusual to have the unspoken agreement kept from the children introducing the third parties as friends of the family.  Gossip could be avoided if the couple were friendly to each other in public.  

   Some children of separated parents have adjusted to ‘undocumented step parents’.  Some have learned to manipulate their parents into competing with each other for their love.  In simple arithmetic four Christmas presents instead of the usual one signed from mom and dad should make any kid happy. 

   The spouse that gets to keep the children better have the finances to start over.  The spouse who lost the children could simply move on to a new relationship and have a new set of children.

   Divorce in the US has become complicated from the day it was instituted.  Child custody, alimony and child support are emotionally charged issues.  Failure to comply could entail jail time.  Property settlement whether it involved big or small money, when both parties feel it’s all they got, divvying it wouldn’t be easy.  Reality crime shows on television are fed by spouse murders arising from an impending divorce and irreconcilable financial interests.  When a mutual life insurance is bought as a loving gesture the cash incentive may become too irresistible at the height of conflict.

   Do Filipinos need a divorce law, maybe in another hundred years?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

See You in Paradise

   When asked does she want to go to heaven when she died, Doris said “No.” out right.  There's no food there, no swimming, whatever would she do with her days. Did that answer mean she wanted to go to purgatory?  Of course not, there’s nothing there.  Purgatory is described as a halfway house for spirits of the dead.  Did she want to go to hell?  No, not even a suicidal person would agree to get toasted.  There went her three options under that doctrine.

   One day a couple of missionaries came and offered her celestial kingdom when she died.  This is where she would be a heavenly mother, a spouse to her heavenly father husband who would rule as god to his own planet that they could populate together with their own creations.  Doris said “No.”  It reminded her of the serpent’s offer to Eve “you are bound to be like God.” (Genesis 3: 1-5) The missionaries’ offer came with a second option, terrestrial kingdom which is an improved version of purgatory.  Doris said “No.”  The third option is outer darkness, an opposite of hell, no fire and no light of any kind.  It sounded like outer space in a sci-fi film.  Doris said “No.”  She hated sci-fi, why should she want to be in one.

   Doris wondered why Jesus Christ told the guy on the cross next to his “You will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)  She thought why paradise, why not heaven or celestial kingdom?  When she met Bible preachers she asked them what is that about.  She was told that God put Adam and Eve in paradise.  That couple did not follow instructions, became ineligible and were relocated. (Genesis 3:24)  Jesus will redevelop the earth back into a paradise someday soon and if she should qualify when she wakes up from death, she can live there (Isaiah 65:21-25).

   Doris was born and raised in the Philippines, a tropical island with her favorite fruits and goodies, endless sea shore with a population famous for being hospitable.  The paradise the Bible described sure sounded familiar (Psalm 37:11).  The paradise package comes with resurrected loved ones, a perfect body that would feel no pain, get no illness, cry no more tears and no one dies again (Revelation 21:4).  Finally she got an offer she can’t refuse.  All she needs to do is follow the instructions laid out in the Bible.  It would not be easy but not impossible.  The guy on the next cross can make it and he was a convicted criminal.  
   This time Doris said “Let’s do this!”



Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Ladies of the Palace


   Every president that moved into Malacañang Palace came with a First Lady except one.  Gloria Arroyo came as President.  At first people were unsure what to call her husband. Consort?  First Man?  A few years later they got a lot of names for him but not one he would put on his lapel. 

   Gloria Arroyo was not new to the Palace.  She is former President Diosdado Macapagal’s daughter.  Her father’s four year term is remembered by the Macapagal tenement buildings he provided for the poor.  All still stand today. 

   The Filipino saying “a mango tree will not produce a banana” gave the nation high hopes on his daughter’s reign.  Gloria Arroyo’s two terms lasting 9 years in the Palace left the nation’s hopes unfulfilled.  She is right now under litigation for alleged corruption her family is accused of on her watch. 

Gloria Arroyo
   During Pres. Arroyo’s term Hong Kong and Singapore were crippled by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) a new epidemic that reached 37 countries and killed a total of 775 worldwide.   Philippines, a stone’s throw from Hong Kong, has a huge Chinese population that traveled to the SARS infected countries.  The Bird Flu spread from Asia to Europe, Middle East and Africa.   The Philippines did not catch an epidemic.  Pres. Arroyo must have done something right. 


   Corazon Aquino better known as Cory was a housewife who was catapulted into the Palace by tumultuous events that ended the 20 year Martial Law.  Career politicians said she was not qualified.  Cory did not aspire for a second term.  The Family Code she instituted made marriage annulment, albeit outrageously expensive, possible.  The judiciary found a new source of income and it worked around the impassable divorce law.  She left the nation a gift of a second chance. 

Imelda Marcos arrived at the Palace as a First Lady.  The former beauty queen, 5’8 tall, sang her way into the hearts of the Filipinos.  She developed the parks poor families could enjoy for free.  She built the Cultural Center, the Kidney Center, the Heart Center, the Lung Center and the Light Rail Transit.  She modernized the public hospitals where the poor can have a major operation for as little as the equivalent of $10.  She diplomatically positioned the Filipinos in many countries as contract workers (OFW) which created a whole new sector of the population bridging the poor and the middle class.  She was accused of so many crimes none of which the justice system could make stick. Ignoring her accomplishments, the world remembers her by the shoes in her closet.


   The Bible says to “be in subjection to the superior authorities … the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God.” (Romans 13:1)  The same God saw it fit to have three Filipinas do the job.

See also:
Homes from President Marcos 
Reshaping the Philippines 
The Iron Lady   





Monday, February 18, 2013

Honor Among Thieves

   According to experience here are three rules on how Filipinas abroad should treat one another:

1.     Don’t break something if you won’t be building anything in its place.  Time and effort wasted tearing down takes away from a person’s energy and lifetime.  Unless there is a definite desire and absolute resolve to accomplish a specific gain any counter-productive act goes against the instigator.  For example, any person who hears a backstabber will take note not to be the next victim in this case backstabbing a friend could only effect in losing the friend but not in gaining a new one neither does it add to the backstabber’s popularity.  Whatever was said becomes a clue to the backstabber’s character.  “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, … thefts, false witness…” (Matthew 15: 18-19).

2.     Do not over price when you sell an item to a friend or buy on verbal credit then pick a fight with the friend to avoid paying.  The friend may tolerate it and not say a word for friendship’s sake.  It does not mean he is totally ignorant of the ruse.  An intelligent person knows there is nothing to be gained by being confrontational.  An objective assessment of the victim’s intelligence should give an idea however the tricky one always thinks that he or she is the smarter so it is assumed that all is well without further consideration.  “Now in case you should sell merchandise to your associate or be buying from your associate’s hand do not you wrong one another”. (Leviticus 25:14).

3.     Do not assume you are smarter because you’ve been abroad longer.  The year of arrival and the length of stay in the US are not proof of intelligence.  Like what we say about death in the Philippines “una una lang yan” which means we can’t all go at the same time.  The person’s character and abilities are fostered from childhood.  Family upbringing, education, provincial values (every province has its own subculture) and actual life experience shape a Filipina’s cleverness.  Study the person before making assumptions.  No two Filipinas are alike i.e. they could both be from Metro Manila but if one was an urban poor and the other is middle class or one has been conservative family sheltered while the other is street smart, the list of difference is endless.  Then uniqueness comes into play i.e. one could be from a middle class conservative family and get street smart by association or one could have less education in years but make up for it in with a long and varied reading list.  “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lay open his folly” (Proverbs 13:16)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Filipina's View of Rural Kentucky

  The drive to Bardstown, Kentucky takes an hour from the city of Louisville but the view is gorgeous. In the fall the trees turn red or gold. 

The exact same trees turn green in the summer and die in the winter.  Then in the spring those dead trees come alive with leaves in white and yellow.  From afar they looked like giant bouquets of flowers till you get close enough to realize there’s no flower, no scent, just the same old trees making the same old landscape new again.  It was amazing to the Filipina because the trees in the Philippines remained green all year round. 

   Some of the homes have exquisite gate posts but no gate and no fence which wouldn’t make sense to a Filipino.  The homes of the rich in the Philippines are fenced in tall concrete with iron spikes or broken glass on top and solid iron gates to ward off intruders.  These homes with no gate and no fence have better security.  The owners have guns.  Judging from the daily six o’clock news their security system works.  No home invasion has been heard to have happened in that area.

From: Tripadvisor.com
   In the Philippines you could find big bells in the antique Catholic churches.  They were rung to announce Sunday service or someone died or got married.  Some homes in Bardstown have that kind of bell on one side.  Before the Emancipation Proclamation those bells were rung to call in slaves working in the fields.  According to WikipediaKentucky which is located right in the middle between Confederate and Union states, was the site of fierce battles during the Civil War so that Abraham Lincoln said “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”

   Most of the homes have acres of green grass with a pond that freeze in the winter.  They all have riding mowers to maintain the lawn which is a chore to an American but an amusement ride to a Filipino.  The riding mower feels like a mall bump car in the Philippines minus the bumps. 

Gypsy  Drive In Theater
   Along Highway 31 E there is a tall concrete wall that stands strong and mighty.  It was the screen tower of the Gypsy drive-in theater.  According to Driveinmovie.com it was built in 1948 and was closed in 1985.  During the rise of the drive-in theater there was one in every county in Kentucky.  Today there are still seventeen of them in operation. 

   The movie tickets were bought per car load.  A Kentuckian remembers they would pile up in one car with at least one of them in the trunk.  It was the place to go to for teens on dates.  A lot of people were conceived in those parked cars.  The sight of its tall tower brings one back in time.  It’s a tribute to the past when going to the movies was an important part of our life.

See also:
Leaving Kentucky 
Loving the Job 
Wood Floors



Friday, February 15, 2013

Racial Bullying in Dialysis Center

   Filipinas have been victims of racial bullying in most countries where Asians are not numerous enough to be considered as a voting mass.  These women suffer silently, accept the injury as a part of migrating process, then come home to the Philippines pretending life abroad was not so bad. 

   One example is a 60 year old patient in a dialysis center in America.  She lost her kidneys through an accident.  She had no preexisting illness.  She was doing fine until a big bully Dialysis Tech was hired.  The bully first made fun of her to gain popularity with the other Techs. 

   When the bully realized she was getting laughs, she saw that there are more points to be gained.  She escalated the bullying by pouring saline into the old woman’s boots.  Waking with wet feet in the winter cold could have given the patient pneumonia.  The patient survived that “joke” probably due to the Filipinos’ phenomenally stronger immunity compared to other nationalities.  This immunity may have been acquired through years of wading in flood water, eating side walk food and living in an apartment that have not seen pest control.  Amazing how the things Filipinos take for granted might actually be saving the nation from extinction.

   The bully’s next gimmick was to pin down the tubes connected to the two needles stuck in her dialysis access on the side table.  Then the bully kicked the reclining seat to upright position.  The needles pulled at the shunt and hurt the patient as expected.  This “joke” could have ripped the shunt which was made of plastic and cannot heal like a real vein.  The patient could have hemorrhaged internally and died on the drive home.  With God’s help she survived that one too.

   The bully’s next plan was to torture the patient with numerous pricking on the wall of the shunt to create a blood clot and clog the blood circulation.  This time she didn’t do it herself.  She made another Tech do it.  Typical of bullies when it comes to bigger damage they step aside and let someone else take the fall should there be any consequence.  The patient clotted so badly she needed a procedure to clear the blood clot.  The bully’s best friend, the fall guy got fired.  The bully was unfettered.

   When Cain killed his brother Abel, God said to Cain, “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).  This bully should know when the patient’s blood was shed in that procedure, that blood cried out to God for justice.  Cain’s punishment was that all his efforts will no longer bear fruit and he will be a wonderer and a fugitive for life (Genesis 4:12).  The Filipina patient would rather have that kind of justice than a lawsuit settlement so she prays every night to God making sure to mention the bully’s name.

See also:

Lifestyle Choice with Dialysis 
Living on Dialysis 
Paperback Writer

Thursday, February 14, 2013

One Adam for One Eve

   Love is symbolized by the heart which is limited to one for each person.  Doesn’t it follow that a person can only love once?  If it were symbolized by the kidney or the lungs then perhaps each person would be allowed to have two loves. 

   Many would disagree.  They might recall accounts from the Bible that says God allowed Jews to have multiple wives.  Many religions at present continue the practice arguing that God had allowed it then why not now.  

   The first marriage with two wives recorded in the Bible was a result of a father-in-law, Laban’s manipulation to keep Jacob, his son-in-law working for him for another seven years on top of the seven Jacob has labored to have his great love Rachel.  Laban’s motive was exploitative.  It was not Jacobs’s idea to acquire two brides.  He was furious when he found out he was given the wrong daughter in marriage (Genesis 29:18-28).  His love for Rachel as the rest of the story showed proves the premise that he loved one despite the unique privilege of having two. 

   Some could argue that it could be because Rachel was better looking than Leah.  The only difference between the two sisters was Rachel’s eyes were prettier (Genesis 29:17).  Sisters tend to look like each other particularly during the epoch when mankind was a few generations away from paradise perfection and genes have not been so diluted by interracial marriages.

   The God who created man gave Adam only one Eve.  Each one of us is allowed one great love in a lifetime, whoever comes before and after THE ONE is ENTERTAINMENT!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love at First Sight

   Margarita just met a man with prominent cheekbones and chin.  She has never seen such beautiful dimples on a man before.  She had met and dated good looking men all her life but for reasons she can’t understand that moment ago felt so different.  She kept her eyes focused firmly on him during the conversation as if she was afraid he might disappear.  She walked in a daze all day with her feet barely touching ground.  Could this be love at first sight?  Generations have debated the phenomena.  Skeptics dismissed it as fleeting fascination. 

   In the Bible there is an instance that sure seemed like love at first sight.  The moment Jacob met Rachel for the first time he burst into tears (Bible Book of Genesis 29: 10-11) then he worked for fourteen years to have her as his wife (Genesis 29:18, 27;).  That didn’t sound like fleeting fascination.  He was faithful to Rachel, refusing to sleep with Leah so that the woman had to bribe Rachel with mandrakes to make him sleep with her.  (Genesis 30:14-15

   There was no account of Jacob remarrying after Rachel died at childbirth which means he was a widower for most of his life.  (Genesis 35:17-18) and he loved Rachel’s two sons more than his sons with Leah making them so jealous that they sold Joseph into slavery.  (Genesis 37:4, 26-28)

   Everyone knows the story of King David and Bathsheba.  King David was a faithful servant of God (2Samuel 5:10) and was greatly blessed.  He had several concubines and wives (2 Samuel 5:13) all of whom must be drop dead gorgeous because as a policy Kings are given the best.  Bathsheba was married to a foot soldier, not a General or high ranking officer.  She could not be more fabulous than David’s concubines and wives.  After all, do beat cops marry beauty queens?  Whatever David saw in Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-3) he risked God’s anger by committing adultery with her.  Then he had Uriah killed so he and Bathsheba can marry or else she would be stoned to death as an adulterer.  There is no account of David taking another wife after Bathsheba.  

   It doesn’t happen to everyone but those who have been blessed to have experienced the mystery of love at first sight would swear that wondrous day makes up for a lifetime of misery. 



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Goodbye Linda

    Sharon heard recently that one of the friends she left back in the Philippines had died of a heart attack.  She was saddened by the news.  She was hoping to hang out with Linda again when she came home for a vacation.  People have a tendency to believe their friends and family would survive them.  No one wants to let go of even the old and the sick and Linda was neither. 

   Linda took care of herself.  She was gorgeous.  She was endowed with a beautiful face, smooth skin and  natural fabulous breasts that were the envy of women at a time when a fake one was exclusive to the rich and famous.  Those twin bumpers were the fantasy of any male of whatever age that caught sight of them. 

   Roxas Blvd. in the 60's was a bay side highway in Manila lined up with night clubs.  A night club is not just a bar.  It had live orchestra, impressive stage and dance floor, hotel quality food, drinks and service.  Linda worked as an entertainer for the most prestigious one.  Most prestigious meant the women entertainers looked like movie stars.  They came to work in ball gown and perfect make up.  They were high school graduates or college drop outs.  They sat with the customers and danced with them.  It was not part of their job to sleep with their customers.  They can do so outside of working hours if they wanted to but that would take weeks of courting, a lot of gifts and cash all in the form of real love.  Linda had lovers who were politicians and business men as well as the occasional poor but stud material she called freebees. 

   When Linda died at 50 she had raised three children from her teenage marriage which lasted only five years.  She financially supported her parents in their old age and a poor brother with a wife and child. 

   Before anyone should pass judgment, remember these words “Let the one of you that is sinless be the first to throw a stone at her” (Bible Book of John 8:4-11)

See also:
Hope for Dead Loved Ones 


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Email Ordered Wife

   The internet globalized trade, friendship and marriage.  One should think it would eradicate wars. It did nothing to connect cultures.  While an apology could now reach an entire country with a click of a mouse, no one has used the internet to heal wounds between nations.  Instead the internet has created pocket wars almost invisible to the naked eye. 

   When a marriage between two people of different race turns into a war, there could be at least one casualty.  When a body gets discovered it becomes news for a short period of time and then nothing but a statistic number.

   The book, The Email Ordered Wifeis about one casualty, who survived to tell her story.  Gina came to USA with high hopes of a lasting happy marriage to a tall blond American.  In just a year, she found herself walking on landmines.   She woke up to find herself at war.  Her Filipino survival instinct kicked in.  

   The book attempts to correct misconceptions on the character of the enigmatic Filipina. There is no divorce law in the Philippines, so internet savvy and English fluent Filipinas search for their second chance in cyber space.  It details the cultural differences that could destroy any marriage in good faith, a must read for anyone contemplating marriage to a Filipina. It brings to attention the racial prejudice prevalent in interracial marriages against which there is no law.  

Post Script: 
The Second Edition came out in April 2014.
Paperback came out in 2016

See also:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paul Williams Hasn't Died


   Paul Williams: Still Alive is a recent documentary that showed Paul Williams’ recent singing engagements in Iloilo City, Philippines.  He comfortably interacted with the people by the road side during the long bus ride to the concert venue.  The bus was stopped at a random security check along the highway.  Paul was one of the first few to get off the bus totally relaxed while the rest were apprehensive, unaccustomed to military checkpoint. 

   After the concert the audience stayed in the lobby to be with Paul.  The music CD’s were all sold out to those who wanted his autograph and everybody wanted to have a photo with the star.  Steven Kessler, the producer and director commented that the Filipinos treated Paul Williams like he’s Justin Bieber. 

   The documentary is a testament to Filipino loyalty.  Paul Williams could not thank his audience enough not only for the large turn-out but also for the loving welcome he received.  He was a family member who came home after a long journey.  That Filipino audience hardly noticed the number of decades that passed after his last Billboard hit.  To them Paul’s voice sounded as good at middle age as it was the first time they heard it. 

     According to celebritynetworth.com Paul’s net worth is about $14M.  The man needs no additional earning.  With the long list of accomplishments he has nothing more to prove to the entertainment industry.  And yet the documentary showed he braved the travel warning from the US Department of State to perform in Iloilo, a small city south of the Philippines.  He took an ordinary bus that the promoter provided, a long drop from the luxury vehicles he is used to.  He encouraged Steven Kessler to take some shots of the scenic province, seemingly proud of his remote fan base.  He deserves all the love and loyalty shown by his Filipino audience. 

   Paul Williams is best remembered as the composer of unforgettable songs about love and loneliness that touched the heart of everyone in the 70’s such as Waking Up Alone, Loneliness, With One More Look at You, That’s Enough For me and Nice to be Around.  He took home a Grammy for We’ve Only Just Begun, Evergreen and The Muppet Movie –the album.  Thirty years later, We’ve Only Just Begun is still used as a wedding song in the Philippines. 

   In the song Nice To Be Around one can imagine a budding love affair as it says “Hello such a simple way to start a love affair; should I jump right in and say how much I care…” which might be illicit in nature as the same song down the line says “To a little girl whose broken every rule…”  In Waking Up Alone we see a man trying to reclaim a lost love but sadly realizes “I could get back to the place but not the time.”  In Loneliness the song writer accurately describes the lot of the single as he says “Loneliness fills the wishing wells and fills the bars.”  In the song With One More Look At You we see someone who has found a lover to heal a broken heart as it says “I might overcome the anger that I’ve come to know…”  He spoke for the runaways in What Would They Say with “Leave us alone…happy in a one room shack and we’d not look back.”  And true enough, happy or not, many of those runaways or ‘stow away’ as we call them in the Philippines are waking up in a one room shack in the country or in a Metro Manila squatters’ area.  Paul Williams’ songs are relevant as the day they were written some three decades ago. 

   You and Me Against The World was the love song of many political activist couples who fought against Martial Law.  The lyrics of the song prophetically predicted the future of those relationships when it said:

“And when one of us is gone,
And one is left alone to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through”

   The political struggle created widows and orphans.  Some surviving couples have parted ways by the time the twenty years Martial Law was lifted.  Maintaining a relationship in a third world economy was tough enough without the added trouble of continuously moving to evade arrest. Contraception was unpopular with the teens so unwanted pregnancy further complicated their situation.  Those who were able to move on did so half-hearted, with a bigger half often looking back to a romantic period of Philippine history when lovers called each other comrades.  Paul Williams could not have guessed that song would have a lifelong significance to the heroic student activists of that era, some of whom are probably still singing the song to put their grandchildren to sleep with their lost love in mind.
You and Me Against the World