Friday, March 29, 2013

The Immigrant (A Satire)

   A couple of young primates bumped into each other in America.  

American Primate :
Look what the cat dragged in!  You are all tanned.  What country did you come from?

Immigrant Primate:
I came from the Philippines.  Man, they’re testing drugs on us back there.  Just about killed my entire family.

American Primate :
Woooah!  That’s a nightmare!  You’re right about getting out of there.  We got laws here to protect our rights.  In this country drugs are tested on humans. 

Immigrant Primate:
That’s what I heard so I jumped on a plane. 

American Primate :
How did you get on the plane?  No airport security back there?

Immigrant Primate:
They do but airports are tougher on humans.  There’s no way I could be mistaken for a terrorist.  My fur is not thick enough to hide anything.  Not thick enough for your climate over here either.  I’m freezing!

American Primate :
My granddaddy arrived from Africa some hundred years ago.  Let me tell you a trick I learned from my parents.  You fluff your fur to make it feel thicker.  Your own body heat will warm the air between the fur strands.

Immigrant Primate:
That’s a great advice. Thanks man.  I love this country!  The place I’ve been staying at has got a dog they treat like a king.  One day the owners forgot the sleeping pet in the car and someone called the police.  The pet owners got in trouble.  They called it a felony whatever that means.

American Primate :
I hear you.  Those dogs sure are arrogant.  One of them chased me around the block.  Good thing a cat wandered by.  That got him off my back.

Immigrant Primate:
So you said drugs here are tested on humans, does that include veterinary drugs?

American Primate :
I guess so.  Animals here have lawyers, lobbyists, fund raisers, you name it.

Immigrant Primate:
We don’t have those in the Philippines.  Back there humans get better treatment. (Genesis 1:26) What a bunch of bigots!  Is there anything I should beware of? 

American Primate :
Nothing, you’ll be fine.  You don’t even have to worry about immigration.  Those guys deport overstaying humans so you’re good. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Amour, A French Film

   Felisa’s one great love died at the age of 41.  She was 46, 5 years his senior.  For 15 years she secretly envied the gray haired couples wiping each other’s face over dinner or walking hand in hand in the park or mall.  The Viagra and Cialis commercials on television broke her heart all the time.  She wallowed in her memories of her moments with her late husband while she stared at his photograph on her computer desktop.  In privacy she relived his kisses and gentle touch. 

   At 60 she saw the French film Amour.  It stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva who was nominated for an Oscar Best Actress for her portrayal of an elderly dying wife.  The movie showed the elderly couple enjoying a meal with her courteously listening to his telling an anecdote and encouraging him for more. Everyone knows when a couple have been married to their 80‘s each of them have heard the other’s stories multiple times before.  The wife listened like she was hearing something new.

   The couple went out for entertainment and as soon as they got home the old man told his wife she looked good that evening.  He must have said those words a million times before but it would always sound new to a wife.

   Towards the end of the movie the wife’s health deteriorated and the husband insisted on caring for her himself, changed her diapers, spoon fed her and carried her to and from her wheel chair. 

   The love the movie portrayed was admirable but at the end of the movie Felisa no longer envied the elderly couples.  She thought if her husband had not died and they grew old together, would she want the coolest guy that walked this earth to change her diapers? NO WAY!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Street Games

   Patintero is a game played by splitting into two teams.  It requires to line a road in squares.  Teams would take turns guarding the lines as the other team penetrates the squares.  If a guard gets to tap anyone from the other team as that player crosses the line the teams switch places called taya, which in this game means line guards. 

Tumbang Preso (knock down the prisoner) is another street game that required two teams.  It needs only one line with an empty tin can as the preso or the prisoner.  The taya or guard makes sure the other team does not knock down or tumba the tin can off its position.  The other team throws their slippers to knock the tin can off the line then they can safely run across the line.  The guard has to put the can upright on the line before he can go chasing the running team.  Points are made every time a team crosses that line without getting tapped by the guard.  This game may seem simple but it requires accuracy in targeting the can with a slipper and running fast dodging the guard should he manage to get the tin in position while the runners are crossing the line.

   Sipa or kick involved bouncing a metal weight wrapped in plastic or paper using a foot while the other foot is used to balance.  The number of bounce is counted as points and the count ends the minute the sipa hits the ground.  

    These games showed how Filipino children can have fun without commercially manufactured toys.  Did children from industrialized countries have more fun with their dolls, toy guns, etc.?  The little girls played mom with the dolls while the little boys imagined killing with toy guns.  Some of those little girls grew up thinking their babies should be put back on the shelf and some of those little boys grew up wanting to be highway snipers.  (Isaiah 2:4)

   The Filipino children grew up to be team players and non-aggressive competitors in the game called life.  

Friday, March 22, 2013


   When she was six years old Mila found her first best friend in her first grade class.  The two were inseparable until in second grade her parents told Mila they will be moving to the city at the end of the school year.  Mila started to avoid her best friend who was clearly hurt because she can’t figure out what happened.  Mila thought being close right till the end would be devastating.  She decided she might as well throw in the towel early than live everyday with her friend anticipating their goodbye.

   All of Mila’s relationships as she grew ended the same way.  She was in and out of girl groups.  She preempts the slightest hint of rejection by subconsciously holding on to the anchor, ready to sail away.  

   Was she a budding fatalist?  Fatalism is an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable.

   Or was it detachment?  Detachment, also expressed as non-attachment, is a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world.

   To avoid the pain of goodbye Mila kept herself from being attached to any place so that she moved from one location to another, never growing roots.  Her love affairs and marriages ended in 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years or 23 years as if ruled by the number three.  She loved her parents and her children but subconsciously avoided bonding with them. 

   Before the television was invented Mila and the maid listened to soap series on the radio.  The shows aired a lot of heartbreaking sound of crying over someone leaving or dying.  

   At 60 Mila was still unattached.  She became a US citizen and changed her name, a final and absolute act of detachment, she has left herself.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Shallowness of Youth

   In high school a new kind of relationship is added to a young girl’s life, it is called boyfriend.  Decades before the dating compatibility tests and surveys, the astringent qualification process required cool, cute, thin, wavy long hair, nice teeth and he must look like a particular celebrity.  I was a young girl in the Philippines in the 60’s.  I found my match, several times.

   The first guy was a literal boy next door, Willy.  He was thin (had asthma), wore glasses (looked like Derek Leckenby of Herman’s Hermits), has a father in jail but that was not a big deal.  I was energetic physically, assertive emotionally and sharp intellectually.   Willy could not keep up with me due to his health condition and poor family background, both of which did not matter to me.  Willy dumped me.

   The second BF was Hal, 21, a working college student.  Hal looked like David Jones of the Monkees if the actor/singer was a Filipino.  He has a gold tooth I loved, I had one too, a match made in dental heaven.  I was so eager to start dating that I couldn’t wait for him to ask me out.  I actually brought it up to reassure him that it’s alright.  I figured he must be apprehensive because I was 13.  We met up secretly and went to a movie where I waited for the first make out of my life.  It did not happen.  It simply shows that even without a sexual harassment law men actually know when it’s wrong.  Hal dumped me.

George Harrison
   My third BF was James, 15, a tall, dark and thin elder brother of my best friend/classmate.  He has wavy hair, nice teeth and he looked like George Harrison with his starter mustache Filipinos call “balahibong pusa” which means soft as a kitty’s fur.  This was the point where the mustache was added as a criterion for judging.  James can dance and we went to dance parties.  He was my first kiss when my nanny was not looking and my date to my high school graduation party.  For unexplained reason, James dumped me that summer vacation.

Che Guevara
   My fourth BF was Ely, 18, a fellow member of a college organization.  He has a mustache though not kitty soft.  He wore a French beret because he was a fan of Che Guevara, every guy in campus was at that time.  He has nice looking buck teeth which I loved.  He was my BF during org events but he never took me on a date or tried to make out.  Ely dumped me again for an unexplained reason.

   The fifth BF, Eddie, 19, was an aspiring hitman with a shiny cal. 45 pistol tucked in his belt.  He looked like Christopher de Leon with a full beard and mustache Filipinos call “balbas sarado”.  He upstaged all the previous facial hair.  I was excited by the fact that I was making out with a gunman.  He was very sexual and that kept me going for two years.  Then life got real and the excitement wore off.  I dumped the macho BF and married a guy who looked like Joey Marquez with a receding hair line and not a strand of facial hair.  And we lived unhappily ever after.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soda Through the Years

   In the early 1900's, Coca Cola bottling operations were built in Cuba, Panama, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.  In 1916 bottler's convention, the contour bottle was chosen over other entries and was on the market in the same year.  In the Philippines a woman's shapely figure was called ‘coca cola body’.  

   During the WWII post war depression soda was an expensive item.   Filipino hospitality dictates depriving themselves to give guests, even the uninvited, the best.  Filipinos served guests soda while the children hid behind curtains.  As soon as the guests walked out the front door, they ran to grab the left overs in the bottle. 

   The Filipinos used 7Up primarily as a marinade ingredient (along with soy sauce, calamansi juice, salt and pepper) or a cocktail mix (it made gin taste better) until in 1965 the Wet and Wild 7Up ad campaign came out with a beautiful woman coming out of the water amid the waves.  She was wet and looked wildly sexual.  7Up became a soda of choice for the teens who during that era all wanted to be called ‘wild’, the ultimate compliment to a woman coming out of the conservative 50’s.  In 2007, Cadbury Schweppes entered into a licensing partnership with Vita Food Products to produce a line of barbecue sauces and marinades flavored with 7Up.  The Filipino cook would say “been there, done that”.

   The Philippines has one soda that was not imported, the Cosmos Sarsaparilla, later renamed Sarsi.  It was cheaper than the imported soda but tasted just as good as any foreign brand Root Beer.  

   Currently there are probably a thousand kinds of soda in the market and millions of soda addicts scattered all over the world.  A big number of those are Filipinos.  Unfortunately there is no rehab for this addiction.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


   Corporations invest millions in training their sales and customer service people to fake competence, concern and gratitude towards the customer.  People have no problem faking anger, even rage, or disgust.  Many have made it an occupation to fake love or affection whether in front or behind cameras.  Response to physical intimacy could be faked and the couple benefit from the scripted rhythm of their duet.  One only needs to see a campaigning politician to find fake generosity and compassion. 

   Award winning actors and actresses fail to act out remorse after cheating on a spouse, even if it means losing the marital assets and the children.  Criminals get convicted over the lack of remorse.  Why can’t they just fake it to get a lighter sentence?  Even the hardened criminals fail to fake it.  What is it about remorse that makes it genuine or nothing?  Where does it come from? 

   The World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases defines antisocial personality disorder to be incapable of remorse and prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, defines dissocial personality disorder as lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.  According to the same Manual of Mental Disorders although there are behavioral similarities, the psychopath, dissocial and antisocial personality disorders are not synonymous.  A psychopath is also characterized by a lack of remorse, however a psychopath is also described as having shallow emotions (including reduced fear, a lack of empathy, and stress tolerance), coldhearted, egocentric, superficial charm, manipulative, irresponsible, impulsive, criminality with a parasitic lifestyle. 

   The above descriptions are found in varying degrees on everyone.  A personality disorder does not justify any cruel act.  God knowing that we are dust (Psalms 103:14) still expects us to have remorse (Luke15:7).  Remorse does not require a lengthy apology or a peace offering.  It comes from the heart and a short glance at the person’s face would show it and the God who reads the heart will find it (Proverbs 21:2).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kindness of Strangers

   Gloria was a Filipina alone in Louisville, Kentucky.  She found a job at a local bank.  The break room had a fridge with an ice maker, a microwave oven to warm her bagged lunch and a table for four.  She ate alone most of the time.  She guessed from their initial reaction the American employees could not stand the sight and smell of her Filipino cuisine.  She told them the shrimp heads tasted better than lobster.  Nobody believed her.  In more than three hundred employees spread out in five floors of that building she found one good friend, Gail.

   When Gloria went ill she told Gail about her scheduled surgery.

   “So who’s going with you?  You can’t drive to and from surgery” Gail asked.

   “I’m taking a cab.”

   “What?  No!  You need someone to be there with you.  I’m not going to let you do this alone.  I’m requesting for a vacation on that day.  I will pick you up at your place to drive you to the hospital and take you back home the next morning.”

   Before she could say anything Gail added “I don’t know why but I have a strong feeling that God wants me to do this for you.  You can’t say no.”

   Gail was there for her during the most frightening experience of her life.  She held her hand in the prep room while she was anesthetized.  She stayed outside the operating room till Gloria came out of it and was wheeled into her room.  She stayed with her till late afternoon and came back for her the next morning to take her home.  Gloria saw God’s love for her in Gail’s compassion and kindness.

   When she lost her job due to her illness, Gloria found a new friend in Margarita.  Margarita took her to out of state conventions, toured and hang out with her in the mall.  In her last medical procedure Margarita drove her and took her home. They enjoyed the preaching work together. 

   Gail is a blond beautiful American and Margarita is a lovely woman from Mexico.

   Like the Good Samaritan story in the Bible where the wounded Jew did not find kindness in his own race (Luke 10:30-36), God chose to send Gloria kindness from strangers.  The Bible states there will be a new nation (Revelation 7:9) composed of different tribes, tongues and peoples.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Nature's Toys

   In the Philippines during the 40’s and 50’s almost every home has a yard with trees.  The soil was fertile and it rained six months a year so if one spits a dalandan (Philippine orange) or tamarind seed on the ground a tree stood on that spot the next year.  Fruits with bigger seeds like mango or avocado needed planting underground.  The guava tree is actually wild and sprouts without human effort.  The guava fruit was bird feed so the birds scattered the seeds.  These trees nurtured nature’s gift of toys.

   Salagubang or June beetle or June bug in English was commonly found in a mango tree mostly in June hence the name.  It came in glossy green, brown or gray.  When put on its back in the middle of the palm and the hands clapped the beetle gets knocked out, then the kid ties a thread on one of the legs and ties the other end to their finger.  When the beetle wakes up it flies around its ‘owner’ without escaping.  At night the beetle is tucked with leaves that it can feed on in a glass jar with holes on the tin cap, ready for the next day’s amusement.   
Beetle Game
   There were harmless spiders that also lived off plants.  They were housed in a match box, named as pets like the beetle.  The difference was the spiders were made to compete with each other.  A child would challenge another child’s ‘pet spider’ into a wrestling bout.  The two spiders were put on two ends of a wooden stick.  Each spider would run towards the other end of the stick to escape its abductor.  The spiders run into each other, wrestle to pass and the one that falls off the stick loses.  

Spider Game
   The most fascinating toy of nature is the firefly.  Unlike a light bulb, the firefly’s light does not heat up.  They are perfectly safe for little kids’ hands.  Children kept them in a jar and when they turn off the light at night the firefly glowed inside the glass jar.
Firefly in Jar

   “All flying insects which have four feet shall be loathsome to you.” (Leviticus 11:23)  All those insect toys have more than four legs.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Chicken

   During the twenty year Martial Law in the Philippines there was a curfew from midnight to 4:00 in the morning.  Bars, disco, night clubs and any kind of nightly entertainment can keep operating during the curfew hours but the customers who decide to stay after midnight can’t leave till after four.  There were military checkpoints in major streets and curfew violation could mean jail time.  Warrantless arrest was common and cases were tried in a military court.  There were rumors of torture and summary executions.  Some of those arrested have disappeared, allegedly released, never to be seen again or may turn up dead in a remote area.

   Nikki was a political activist in college.  Her street protest days ended when she married and had kids.  Still she kept herself informed about the Executive Orders that have replaced the civil laws.

   One night a cousin of hers needed medical attention during curfew.  Most of the relatives didn’t want to brave the checkpoints.  At Nikki’s insistence her husband with his nephew drove her and the sick to the hospital.  They were caught on their way home.  

   The two men in the front seats went pale upon seeing the soldiers carried an M15 riffle.  The soldiers looked into the car with a flashlight, inspected the trunk then started to grill them about their reasons for violating curfew.  Nikki knew that there were exceptions to the curfew law such as taking someone to a hospital.  However checkpoint soldiers may or may not accept the violator’s explanation and throw them in jail anyway.  Without a civil court the military court would not prosecute their own. 

   Armed with what she has learned about the curfew rules, Nikki started to argue with the soldiers.  She insisted that they should be excused for taking a sick to the hospital.  The soldier insisted that one person could have done that, why were they all three in the car.  Nikki insisted that the patient was female so a female companion was needed and one man would not be able to carry the patient by himself.  Her husband was quietly scared seeing how things were going.

   A soldier threatened “What if we arrest you all now?”

   “Do it!  Do it!  Do it!” Nikki said in an angry tone.

   The soldiers let them go.  As soon as they were allowed to leave the two men told Nikki “Next time don’t be arguing when the man has a gun.  What if they shot us?”

   “We’re humans not chickens that anyone can just shoot.” Nikki replied.

   Years later, as soon as her sons married and flew the coop, Nikki left the chicken.

  Checkpoint in the Philippines                         

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mortgage Crisis

The mortgage crisis of 2008 threatened wide spread recession.  Corporations in the US were bailed out like felons.  The Philippines has its share of foreclosures but a few foreclosures do not a mortgage crisis make. 

      Philippine banks require the borrower to submit documented proof of regular income and bank savings.  What does a borrower do to avoid foreclosure due to sudden hardship?  In the US, to resell a property the buyer will need his own loan approval.  Here lies the difference, in the Philippines the buyer and seller need only execute two documents, an undated Deed of Sale and a Contract to Sell which stipulates the buyer will assume the balance and arrears of the mortgage and give a down payment to the seller.  The buyer holds the seller free of all liabilities from the date of the contract.  

   After the bank loan has been fully paid by the buyer then the accompanying undated Deed of Sale previously signed by both parties would be dated and used for the transfer of title.  Should the new buyer need to dispose of the property in the future the same procedure is done.  The property continues to change hands but the bank would hold the original title of the property until the current owner pays off the entire balance.

   This system expands the number of eligible home buyers to include people who have money for down and monthly payments but would not qualify for a bank loan due to undocumented job, inheritance or business too small to license.  It gives baby sitters, home cleaners, freelance maintenance or construction laborers, convenience store or repair shop owners a chance to buy real estate.  This hard working sector is what the main stream society call ‘underground economy’.  It has its origin from Biblical time as Leviticus 25:14 says “Now in case you should sell merchandise to your associate or be buying from your associate’s hand do not you wrong one another”. 

   Every country has its poor.  Jesus Christ himself said “For you have the poor always with you…” (John 12:8). Just as Jesus said it, the Philippines will always have its poor but for now it does not have a mortgage crisis. 

See also: A Breakout Nation 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Signs

   When he was asked what would be the signs of the last days Jesus predicted earthquakes, wars and famine (Mark 13:8).  Satan, a tricky guy, invented ways to disguise the signs. 

   “Nations rising against nations” is now called a terrorist attack on cities not in a war zone.  Governments don’t declare war anymore.  They let the bullets tell you.  Biochemical weapons are created to cripple countries with diseases that infect humans, animals and produce for the purpose of economic sabotage.  

   The song “We Are the World” was about famine in Africa that killed 80,000.  George Harrison, sang Bangladesh about a famine that killed 1.5 million.  There is a famine no one is singing about, the starving homeless, who live in cardboard boxes, benches, under bridges.  Every city, state and country has them.  If we can put them all in one place we will see the biggest famine of all time surrounded by McDonald's they can’t afford to buy.

   The monitoring of earthquakes, adapting building code to suit quake prone area, modern rescue equipment and procedure help limit the fatalities of earthquakes.  Still they did not predict one that happened under the ocean floor causing a tsunami .  Another kind of earthquake they can’t predict is sinkhole, a word that was not in the scripture. 

   There is one sign Satan has not managed to blur, “the good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth” (Matt 24:14). The good news is now reaching 236 lands. The Bible is published in 188 languages, even in braille for the blind and taught in sign language for the deaf.

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Friday, March 1, 2013


My Dad and me, in 2013
   In 1962, all the streets in Pasay City have been paved in either concrete or asphalt except Ibarra Street.  It was a dirt road that turned into mud during the rainy season.  Everyone walked around the pot holes that kept water like miniature ponds.  Little children purposely stepped into the watery holes.  I preferred the ankle to knee deep flood.  Taft Avenue flooded first and deeper before the other streets in the area.  After the rain my playmates would call me out and our tiny troop ran towards the beckoning water park provided by nature. 

   To show superficial concern the government dumped a truck load of rocks intended to cover the pot holes.  Two weeks later the pile of rocks has not been touched.  Everyone was beginning to wonder when the public works people would come back to fix the pot holes. 

   After another week, My father, Marciano, who was on vacation from his job in the US Navy came out of the house with a hammer.  He picked up a rock, placed it on a pot hole and pounded on it.  His neighbors who passed him mocked him and laughed.  They thought he was crazy to be out there sweating under the sun doing hard labor for something he was not being paid.  I observed as my father ignored the hecklers.  The rock broke into pieces filling up the hole.  One by one the able bodied men came out of their homes with hammers.  Before the end of the day the pile of rocks was gone and the holes had been filled up.

   I was so proud of my father.  The people who mocked him had crappy jobs that got paid in Philippine peso.  My father earned US dollars but did not think twice about donating his labor to better his community.  Engaging the men to follow his lead without a word showed leadership.

   Pasay City still floods every rainy season but children have fallen into open manholes that they can’t see through the brown water.  That made flood wadding a thing of the past.  Ah, the good old days.  
       Flood in Manila

   Fast forward to 1976, the country was under Marshal Law.  Warrantless arrest was legal.  A presidential election was arranged to show the world that democracy was still in place.  The opposition feared election fraud.  They announced during the campaign that those who would be voting for the opposition were to conduct a noise barrage on the eve of election at exactly 8:00 to 8:30 o’clock in the evening.  The noise was to evidence the number of votes that might fail to get on the tally sheets.  The government similarly announced that police cars would be roaming the city, that those who would join the noise barrage will be arrested.

   I was by this time married with two sons, ages six and three.  I debated with herself all week about joining the noise barrage.  I was afraid of getting arrested but could not live with the idea that I allowed fear to prevent me from doing something I felt strongly about.  I thought I might be the only one in the neighborhood to join the very first noise barrage organized.  That made an arrest probable.  I invited my husband to join me.  He said no, I might need someone to bail me out. 

   Everyone in the neighborhood said they were voting for the opposition.  At 8:00 pm. I waited for the noise, the silence was deafening.  I just had to do it.  I gave my sons frying pans and the three of us made the loudest noise we possibly can.  The boys enjoyed the political exercise.  They were not usually allowed to toy with kitchen stuff.  The snickering husband watched us from inside the house wondering if he would have to bail out the kids as well. 

   Some of the neighbors jeered at our mother and sons band.  I took offense but like my father did a decade prior, I ignored the ridicule.  Then someone started honking his car inside his garage.  The man has joined us but opted to hide from the police.  Another car owner was emboldened to do the same thing.  A few minutes later some housewives came out banging their pots and pans.  By the time a police car came by the whole neighborhood was enjoying the sound of their conscience.  The police drove on. 

   I was so proud of the women and children of Ibarra Street for coming out to face the police with me.  My dad should have seen my show of courage in the face of an arrest threat, exercising the leadership I learned from him. 

Marciano Camino (1926-2017)

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