Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Politics of Marriage

   Although the two countries' economies have always been intertwined 5 years after World War II ended, the American presence in the Philippines was at its height.  Raw materials were imported from the United States.  The Filipino cheap labor created the finished products which were then exported back to the US and other countries.  

   Most young Filipinos at that time joined the US Armed Forces.  Carding was one of them.  When Carding’s father Mauricio heard about Carding’s courting Tinay’s daughter Duday he told his wife it would be a good idea to arrange their marriage.  US enlisted men who married abroad never came back.  They stood to lose a dollar earner.  His wife agreed.  Mauricio approached Tinay to propose the matrimony between their young ones.  

   “My daughter has a weak heart.  I don’t think it would be good for her to marry.”  Tinay said, cautious about the offer.  

   “Carding has been accepted in the US Army.  He will be able to get her better medical treatment in Sangley Point hospital.”  Mauricio gave Tinay an offer she can’t refuse.  

   The following week Tinay told Duday “Go get dressed, put on something nice.  We’re going someplace.”  Duday did immediately as she was told.  Somewhere in the adjacent city Mauricio was giving his son Carding the same directive.  The four characters met up in front of a judge.  

   “If there’s anyone who objects to the union of Carding and Duday in matrimony let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” the Judge started with the customary line.  

   The groom and bride looked at each other in shock.  Neither one of them had a clue.  They knew each other real well, even flirted once or twice.  Obviously their parents knew each other too.  However getting wed to each other on that day was never in their wildest dreams.  Duday had other suitors although she favored Carding.  They were both afraid to question their parents.  

Carole Lombard
   During the honeymoon Carding found Duday who was a Spanish mestiza almost centerfold perfect.  Her long white thighs and legs reflected the moonlight coming in through the window.  She had long brown hair, aquiline nose, deep Spanish eyes and the thin lips that were in fashion before women artificially plumped up their lips.  Carding realized his new wife looked like Carole Lombard.  

   Duday died at the age of 55.  She left Carding three children.  They were together for 32 years.  Below is a song that was popular among US enlisted men and their wives of that era.

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Bullying

      What is wrong with this picture?  How did that pair of shoes get up there?  And who did it?  

   The image means a boy went home barefoot in cold San Francisco.  There is only one way this could happen, a bully forced him to give up his shoes.  It is a prank against which there is no law.  The shoes were not stolen and the boy was not assaulted but the humiliation and helplessness that he must have felt could potentially scar him for life.  He could grow up scared of everyone or worse when he finds his own power he might do worse to others not necessarily the person who had bullied him.  

   The boy would have to explain to his parents where he lost his shoes.  If he told his parents the truth about the shoes’ new location the parents could either be sympathetic or berate him for not defending himself.  This is an American scenario.

   Here’s the Filipino version.  Tina, a single mom of a fifth grader in the Philippines overheard a friend say to her son, Teddy “Why do you let that Bong treat you that way?”  

   Tina’s alarm went up and barged in on the kids’ conversation “What did you say Jasper?  What’s that Bong doing?”  

   Apparently Teddy was being bullied in school.  He never mentioned it at home.  Tina told the boys “I will pass by the school tomorrow on my way to work.  Jasper, you point out that Bong to me.  I want to talk to him.”  

   The following morning Tina came charging into the school while the kids were out in the grounds with no teacher around.  Immediately Jasper pointed out Bong who suddenly got scared as all fifth graders commonly are when confronted by an adult.  

   “I know what you have been doing to Teddy.  If I hear you still mistreating him after this conversation I will come back and beat you up myself.  And oh, I have a gun I can use.  Don’t try to escalate this.” Tina said. Bong was clearly shaken.  As per subsequent reports he has been ‘nice’ to Teddy since that day.

   Some parents get their kids martial arts training to be able to defend themselves.  Some move the child to another school.  Some said Tina was wrong for confronting and threatening Bong.  It’s a matter of opinion.  Being a single mom Tina believed it was her duty to protect or fight for her son in the absence of a law that should protect children from other children.  She did not want martial arts lesson because that could hurt her son too.  So she did what she could.  

   "For men will be lovers of themselves... having no natural affection...without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness..." (2 Tim 3: 1-3)

Monday, October 21, 2013

War of the Santos’

   As the old movie War of the Roses showed marriage could turn into a war.  When it does the casualties are unfortunately mostly children.  A similar story happened in the Philippines.    

   Ramon Santos was a catch.  He was a college graduate.  He cannot be called gorgeous but he’s not bad looking either.  He was a nice soft spoken religious man who loved children and who would seemingly twist himself into a box to get along with his wife Laura.  Actually he was a clinical sample of a Passive Aggressive character before the name of the condition reached the Philippines.

   Laura, on the other hand, was a strikingly good looking, above average intelligent housewife.  She would fight anyone over anything she felt strongly about and call it ‘assertiveness’.  Thus, the reign of the marriage has been put decidedly in her hands from the get go.  She was a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) before the name of the condition reached the Philippines.

   Now let’s see how those two conditions came into play to create the War of the Santos’.  

   When Ramon realized that his dream of having a working wife has been frustrated he started secretly dating a work associate while remaining the compliant husband at home.  This offense would not be overlooked by the hyperactive observant Laura. 

   When Ramon’s company sponsored a summer weekend beach outing he told Laura wives were not invited because his ‘office girl’ would be there.  Laura investigated and found out other wives were attending.  When Ramon came home from his fun weekend Laura was playing solitaire with cards.  He was running a fever and must have caught a virus in the remote beach resort.  He asked Laura to take him to a hospital.  She continued playing her game and said “You need to call the girl you were with to take you.”  

   Of course Ramon denied her allegation and begged sweetly further.  Laura let her loving husband ‘stew in his own juice’ until the fever has gotten to deathly temperature then she took him to the hospital dropped him at the counter and went home after telling him if he needed assistance he should call the girl he was with.
   When Ramon got better he cooked Laura her favorite dish ‘bagoong’ with lots of tomato then kept it without refrigeration for a few days to spoil then served it to Laura.  The salty taste of the dish disguised the rancidity.  Laura almost died from food poisoning that day.  Ramon did not take her to the hospital till Laura’s cousin who was present started screaming “Take her to the hospital!”

   By God’s intervention the couple failed to kill each other.  This marriage was ended by a US divorce.  Their children never saw it coming.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tamboy – A Legend on His Own Street

   Lallie lived with her husband and son in the same Pasay City neighborhood she grew up in.  They rented an apartment a block from a catholic church, three houses away from a convenient store and right next door to a Mahjong gambling site.
 Whenever she was bored Lallie hung out as ‘miron’ (watcher) around the Mahjong games with her little baby in her arms waiting for a chance to play for free when a player needs to eat or go for restroom break.  She didn’t gamble, couldn’t afford it anyway.  She just enjoyed the chatter around the tables where players gossip, flirt with each other or fight over the game.  Gamblers teased each other about a family problem or personal imperfection to distract the opponent.  In a neighborhood where homes are too close to each other anybody’s family situation is common knowledge.  Personal imperfection included age, looks, smell, hair loss, etc.  

   Another ‘miron’ whispered to Lallie.  “His name is Tamboy, a policeman’s son.  He’s a legend, you know.”

   Lallie looked at the young man the gossip was referring to.  He looked nice, wore glasses with round rims like John Lennon wore.  He was quite neat and decent looking despite the shoulder length hair.  He was thin, no tattoo or mark of any kind.  He spoke with a very hip tone like “Ye eh eh eh, how are you Mrs. L?”  Tamboy was the only one who calls her Mrs. L.

   “When he was a young boy, you know, he used to wait for the school children to pass by.  He would put a big empty can on the middle of the street and children would drop some of their lunch money in the can.  I asked what that was for and one of the kids said if anyone is being bullied Tamboy would set it straight and the bully would have to donate to the can as part of the punishment.”  The gossip continued with her information.  Lallie felt a new respect for the young man who looked so harmless.

   The gossip whispered a new update the following week.  “Tamboy caught his father once hitting his mother.  He waited for the old man to leave.  Out on the street he jumped the old man, put a knife to his throat and told him if he ever hit the mom again he’s going to get it.  The father learned his lesson.”  Lallie’s jaw dropped.  

   The next time Lallie crossed path with Tamboy she was on her way to the fresh market.  The boy as his usual greeted the bored young mom with “Ye eh eh eh, Mrs. L, you’re too pretty to go to that dirty wet market.”  That made Lallie’s day.  

  She didn’t see Tamboy for a while then one day she heard that he had died in a shootout.  With a couple of friends, they carjacked a taxi, tied the driver, unhurt and left him at the cemetery.  The plan was to use the taxi for a joy ride / road trip.  The driver was able to get himself free and notified the authorities.  During Martial Law carnapping was punishable by death.  Police shot to kill with no questions asked.  It was said that Tamboy came out of the cab unarmed with his hands up.  He was shot with high powered rifles that almost cut him in half, the final act in the life of a legend on his own street.  


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Eat Bulaga - The Nation's Equalizer

   In the 60’s and 70’s Pasay City was raw.  Cherie grew up in the streets of Pasay City and was proud of it.  When not in school she hung out in the street corner store with local bums called ‘istambays’ (from the English words stand by).  She could throw a joke like ‘Tito, Vic and Joey’. 

   After college, when Cherie was in her 20’s she co-founded a film buff organization that sponsored film showings for the benefit of a charity organization.  Her main function was marketing the projects and for that she sent out press releases and went to live television shows for free plugging and airtime exposure of their film festival poster.  Eat Bulaga, the highest rating noon time show never failed to accommodate her.  Needless to say the TV plugging helped sell the tickets and made each project a success.

   When Cherie immigrated to the US Eat Bulaga continued on in the backdrop of Filipino life.  Recently Cherie rediscovered Eat Bulaga via The Filipino Channel (TFC).

   The show is still very Filipino, more so now than ever.  The segment “All for Juan and Juan for All” seeks out the poorest of the poor in a different locale per episode to hand out cash and goods to be used as capital for business, budget for children’s education or whatever else the lucky family could use.  

   Cherie could not keep from crying as she watched an old woman who actually lived in a church’s toilet get cash and she could now find a proper living space for her granddaughter and herself.  A hard working repair man whose wife has left him with four children got some help to put his children back in school.  And the list goes on.  

   Eat Bulaga’s journey from accommodating charitable projects into becoming the nation’s equalizer happened inconspicuously while the country’s leaders were busy privatizing government assets and political commentators were busy exposing corruption without any concrete result.  Eat Bulaga as led by ‘Bossing’ Vic Sotto has devised a new way of ‘giving back’, a silent unconditional aid to a face in the crowd.

   “But the poor will not always be forgotten; nor will the hope of the meek ever perish.” (Psalms 9:18)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

High School Girls

   Tess, a Filipina, went to a catholic school in Manila in the mid 60’s.  Unlike public school the all-girls private schools were full of tall ‘mestiza’ (means a high degree of Caucasian genes).  Tess was ‘mestizahin’ which meant she was fairer than most but not quite as white as the real ‘mestiza’.  She grew up to 5’1 tall then stopped growing.  She had smooth skin with no pimple common to teens however she had a round face, a result of her Chinese genes which dominated her Spanish.  She has over staying baby fats and wore eye glasses for astigmatism so she was not picked for volleyball or any kind of sports.  

   She had long hair her mother insisted on braiding into what her mom called pig tails when braid was not in fashion and wore clothes made by a ‘modista’ or dressmaker while her schoolmates wore clothes from department stores at Escolta Street, Manila.  Her family was not poor but they were not rich either so she was more comfortable making friends with poorer classmates and neighbors.  

   Tess has above average intelligence but she was not competitive like her more commended schoolmates.  She was quite content with getting just above passing grades which she got without much effort.  This might have been a result of the unconditional love she got from her parents and grandparents.  She didn’t have to compete with siblings because she was an “unica hija” (only daughter).  

   Her teachers said she has ‘potential’, for what they did not specify.  Her grandmother wanted her to be a lawyer because she was so smart.  No one ever said she was pretty.  Unlike all little girls she was never asked what she wanted to be when she grew up or they would have been surprised at her answer.
Flores de Mayo Procession 

   Tess wanted to be a beauty queen but she was not even invited to the Flores de Mayo festival which featured the local beauties.  Then she wanted to be a Flight Stewardess but she was too short.  At sixteen she wanted to be a ‘television caged dancer’
but that one had height requirement too.  Then she noticed that all the girls in school had well developed breasts while she was chubby in the wrong places.  She did everything the women’s magazines suggested, massage, exercise, boobs diet, etc., nothing worked for her.  The push up bra might have helped but there was nothing to push.  

   It has been said that every kid is miserable in high school.  Tess knew a lot of early bloomers who had the time of their life back then.  She just was not one of them.   

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hidden Gender 2

   At twenty one Amanda finally found a nice young man to marry.  Her family loved Charlie.  He had a college degree.  Both of his parents have died.  Amanda’s family said “That is the best catch.  You will not have in-laws to mess it up.”  

   They married and had two sons three years apart.  Their boys were well behaved.  Charlie never raised a hand or even his voice at anyone in his family.  Both Charlie and Amanda worked and enjoyed their careers on weekdays.  They went to resorts on weekends to have quality time with the children.  Beach resorts were an hour’s drive from where they lived and in the Philippines in the 70’s cost as cheap as a movie ticket.  Life was good.  

   Eight years in the marriage Charlie found a male friend, Mario who was also married and seemed like a respectable guy.  Amanda got used to finding Mario in their car.  Charlie offered to take him home every time he hung out with them or whenever he came to visit them at home.  

   One fine day when Charlie and Amanda were with other friends, another couple, Mario came over to say hello and opened the passenger car door to say a few words to the couple in the back seat.  As he shut the door Mario pretended to have caught his finger in the door.  Charlie jumped out of the driver’s seat and in a flash got to Mario’s side to see if he was hurt.  This is where Mario said it was a joke.  He was messing with them.  Amanda looked at Mario and then Charlie and then at the couple in the back seat.  She took mental pictures of the reactions and filed them away in her mind for future reference.  Later that day the woman in the back seat said to Amanda “Why did Mario do that to Charlie?” referring to the ‘joke’.  Amanda had no answer but again filed the question in her mind for future reference.  

   In the 80’s when working in the Middle East became a trend for Filipinos, Mario went to Riyadh, shortly after Charlie quit his stable job in the Philippines to join him against Amanda’s wishes.  However Charlie's appointment in Riyadh lasted only 3 months.  He was sent back home.  It was bad enough that jobs in the Philippines were hard to come by, Charlie left all his work clothes with Mario as if leaving his suitcase was a guarantee that he would be able to return.  Without work his clothes and no money to shop for new ones it took Charlie 2 years to find another job.   

   How any 35 year old could be that desperate to be with a friend to the detriment of his family’s income was a great puzzle, to Amanda most of all.   She remembered what her mother used to say about married men "his heart is where his clothes are".  It was at this point where all the ‘files for future reference’ were revisited.  

   Amanda did not ask the question.  She knew the answer.  Still she waited till the children have grown and married before she dumped her 2nd encounter of the 3rd kind.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hidden Gender 1

   Today’s gay generation is fighting to be allowed same sex marriage.  They were not always so brave.  In the early 70’s in the Philippines, Amanda, a 19 year old absolutely gorgeous heterosexual girl had her first encounter with the third kind.

   He was 5’11 tall, not a common height for a Filipino.  His name was Guerrero, 29, which means “warrior”, a name that showed his parents must have towering hopes for their son’s manliness.  He bragged that he could do karate although no one has seen him in action.  He took up Engineering in college, a course dominated by men of that era.  He was manly good looking with curly hair and almost Caucasian white skin.  He was a wide reader, the kind that would often name drop the authors and titles he has read.

   Amanda was smitten.  He never asked her out or even called however during parties Guerrero openly flirted with her, making sure other friends heard him, which flattered the young girl.  He would say such things as “Amanda is the girl of my dreams” or “if she wasn’t dating my friend I’d definitely make her mine.”  

   Those words were convincing enough for Amanda to make the call herself.  Guerrero hung up on her before she could say a word.  Amanda never called again and avoided the usual parties where he would be invited.  

   One day Amanda heard one of their friends died in a motorcycle accident.  She went to the wake and was puzzled why all their friends were giving their condolences to Guerrero instead of the parents of the deceased.  From bits and pieces of the guests’ conversations Amanda realized Guerrero and the man who died were more than just friends.  

   Typically it is a strikingly attractive female who qualifies to be a distraction for hiding in plain sight.  Amanda who was clueless at the ways of the closet gay was emotionally bruised by way she had been used to decorate the closet door.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Thousand Years

   On the question “Who do you want to be with for a thousand years?” many would not have one in mind.  In these days when marriages could end in 55 hours, 9 days or 2 weeks having someone for a thousand years is unthinkable.  

   The Bible records a promise of everlasting life in Titus 1:2upon the basis of a hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting”.  In John 11:25-26, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life.  He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all…”  Everlasting life is longer than a thousand years.  In Isaiah 65:21-22, the Bible says “And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage.  They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.  For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”  

   The question gets clearer.  Who do you want to build a home and have occupancy with for eternity?  When there will be no foreclosure nor financial woes what could possibly be a reason not to stay.  

   Resurrected people are not going to be like robots.  They might still get bored, change their minds or have unique quirks that could rub the other the wrong way.  The movie The Mexican brought out a question “If two people love each other but they can’t seem to get it together when do you get to the point of enough is enough” the corresponding answer is “never”.  

   Never is as long as forever, so who do you want to be with for a thousand years?  The one you could never say goodbye to.  One clue is he must like talking to you.