Monday, August 25, 2014

The Wedding

   1969 in Manila, the country was ripe for Martial Law.  In the hub of street mass actions, a wedding was arranged in secret.  The bride and groom wore blue jeans and exchanged bullets instead of rings.  They pledged to fight and die together for Philippine national democracy.  The music was a nationalist song totally devoid of romance.  The bride has romanticized the political struggle like a love affair between her and her country.  That was enough to put her heart into this wedding.  She liked the groom and was proud of him but she was not in love.  However all her flirting has got him in love with her.  She went through the motions of a girl in a whirlwind love affair.  Her emotional coldness was blamed on her youth.  She was seventeen.  How serious can one be at that age?  

   The groom was 18, in a hurry to be a man.  The political struggle and this marriage ought to do it.  He mistook the bride’s lack of tenderness as a result of her being street wise, having grown in a rough edge of Manila.  He thought she was hiding her great love for him to keep her cool façade which was typical of “siga mentality” (street thug mentality).  The bride spoke proudly of the neighborhood toughies she grew up around.  She narrated to him their feats and gang wars.  Being from the province he did not appreciate the city bums.  He grew up in the farm with hard work and no fun.  He hated that those city bums live off their parents and get to be heroes in her eyes.  

   They have not even kissed.  The groom has had little practice kissing in his young life.  The bride has been kissed by her high school boy friend.  She loved the kisses and liked the kisser a lot but for some reason she did not fall in love.  The couple both had no clue how the honeymoon would go.  

   The newlyweds checked into a motel.  The cheapest they can find.  But like any honeymoon it was an exciting journey into the novelty of intimacy.  The bride was a virgin.  She went to bed a child and rose from it a wife.  The groom woke up feeling like he became an action star.  Their future from there on was entirely in God’s hands.

* Names were withheld to protect the guilty.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Best Place to Work in Manila

GA Manila Reception
   In 1998 I found a new job.  GA Manila, a branch of an international interior design firm, allowed me to be creative with Microsoft Project and PowerPoint.  I even enjoyed filing. Not long after, I was promoted to Administrative Manager.

   I loved the company and my officemates.  The cubicles were designed so each one of us can see everybody else.  While we all worked hard, there was always conversation going, teasing and laughter.  Everyone was an open book.  We accepted each other with no pretenses, no defenses necessary.  We swapped lunches like fifth graders.  There was a sound system where employees played their favorite music.  To top that, a flat screen TV with cable was installed in the break room, hanging high off a wall to be visible to everyone so employees don’t miss their favorite show during lunch break.  

Office Overtime Fun
   We didn’t get paid for overtime but on those nights when we needed to work after five, the company provided pizza so projects got done in party mode.  Employees happily stayed till nine or ten without overtime pay.

   The Managing Director, who preferred to be called CDC, treated the employees kindly.  When my daughter needed a computer, I approached CDC in the break room one morning.

   “CDC, my daughter is in college and she needs a computer.  I need a raise to be able to afford the monthly payments.” I said while handing CDC a newspaper ad of a computer.

   “This is not right.  You’ll be paying big interest.  Do you remember the company from where we bought the new flat screen monitors?  Order your computer from them and charge it to the company.  I will give you a raise equivalent to the 24 monthly payments and you pay no interest.”  CDC said after he read the ad.

   “Thank you so much!” I did not think it would be so easy.  I got the raise and the computer interest free.

Company Outing
   Company events were celebrated with dinner, booze and dancing at Hard Rock Café.  Summer trips were overnight at a beach resort with bonfire by the shore, all at company expense.  During the Holiday season, the year end party had raffle prizes like appliances, latest cellphones and wine baskets, etc.  The office closed from December 24 to January 1st, giving everyone a week of paid vacation on top of each individual’s vacation benefit.

   I worked in GA Manila until I left for the US.  Those were the best 8 years of my life.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eat Bulaga's FHHM - The Equalizer 2

   Cherie has always been slim.  She has a workout routine designed to keep fat off her back.  As well as keep her thighs, upper arms and waistline in shape using leg weights and dumbbells.  Now a senior citizen, she can still wear the skinny jeans or leggings commonly worn by teens.  The figure which she flaunted in a tankini whenever possible also came with another price.  She had to miss bigger bites of goodies that she loved like leche flan, cakes with marshmallow icing, halo-halo, etc.  However she never even tried to join a beauty contest because of her five feet one inch height.  Most contest required at least a height of 5’6. 

   Imagine her surprise upon seeing Eat Bulaga’s FHHM contest.  While other nations’ competitions urged losing weight, others simply overlooked the over weighed, FHHM brought out beautiful plus size ladies out of the wood works.  They now have their talent, wear the makeup, dresses and gowns and speak their minds in the interview portion all in the spotlight televised not only nationwide but via Filipino channel global wide not to mention the history making YouTube clips that could be available to their grandchildren someday.  

   Once again Eat Bulaga has found a way to be The Equalizer, leveling the field between the over praised slim and the overly ignored plus size women.  This contest also highlights the Philippine’s uniqueness in its treatment of women.  Countries all over the world should keep in mind that the women comprise half of their population.  The less disenfranchised women the better it would be for the country because that other half of the population would make a big difference in winning a war, supporting the economy or by just being good mothers affecting the crime rate and the justice system. 

   Eat Bulaga uses the word Dabarkad to mean its regular stars, audience and followers.  Dabarkad is the flipped word for ‘barkada’ which means ‘group buddies’ in English.  Cherie was in her teens when it became a fad to flip words so that parents within hearing distance would not easily catch what the teen was thinking or planning.  Cherie is proud to be a Dabarkad residing in San Francisco.  She loves that Marian Rivera has joined the Dabarkads.  In her eyes Julia is one of the most beautiful women she has seen.  She dreams of seeing Poleng’s wedding to Bosing.   
Julia Clarete
Marian Rivera

  See also: 
  Eat Bulaga - The Nation's Equalizer
  Eat Bulaga Scholarship
  A Dabarkad Miss World Phil.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Api (Oppressed) Syndrome

   An American commented that Filipinos are too emotionally sensitive.  My late brother Manny called the attitude ‘Api’ Syndrome.  Api is a Tagalog word that means oppressed, browbeaten, exploited or persecuted.  More than the actual word definition, there is a connotation that the offense was done on purpose for either fun or gain.  If it was done for fun that would be tantamount to bullying.  There is no Tagalog word for bullying.  Api would be the closest thing.  If it was done for gain, either financial or ego trip, then it would be classified as exploitative or manipulative. 

   How does one get Api Syndrome?  Three hundred oppressive years under Spain, four brutal years under the Japanese in WWII, innumerable repressive years under American rule and despotic decades of corrupt Filipino governance should do it.  

   The Filipinos won the revolution against Spain but like a money making loan that has defaulted could be sold to another collector, on the eve of Philippine victory, Spain sold the Philippines to the Americans in the Treaty of Paris of 1898.  Then the Japanese came in WWII.  The rest is more commonly known history.  

   “I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him.  It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Where else than the Philippines are those words more valid?  The succession of rulers in the Philippines left the people destitute despite the God given natural resources rich in gold, oil, ocean access and annual rain for food production.  All of which were exploited by foreign corporations and crooked politicians in shady deals.  For example “the mutual rights to fish in each other’s ocean territory” sounds upright but the Philippine fishermen did not have the same capability to go so far while the other country sent the big ships to deplete the Philippine seas.  And the list goes on.

   The Filipinos learned to survive in spite of the tragedy of their existence and developed the now world famous tenacity in times of calamity.  They have maintained their unparalleled hospitality and generosity towards all nations including those that did them wrong.  It’s no wonder the Filipinos are emotionally sensitive. 

   “During a great test under affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty made the riches of their generosity abound.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)  

See also: