Monday, September 29, 2014

Pasay City Kids

   The community in the vicinity of San Rafael Church located along Park Avenue was a mix of rich and poor.  The children knew early on in which side they belonged as per their parents’ training.  The rich, mostly along Park Avenue, went to private school and kept pretty much to themselves.  The rest of the children went to Jose Rizal Elementary School and played in the street.  

   In the late 50’s there was a little girl named Esther who did not have a sister.  She had baby brothers who were too young to play with.  She played with her cousins and neighborhood little girls her age.  Esther was accident prone by choice.  She used to climb the corner street sign and perch on top of it.  She got her hair on fire playing with candles on All Saints Day.  During a fiesta, the churchyard had ‘Betobeto’, a game played on a table which had images of balls in different numbers.  The Betobeto manager would shake a couple of dice enclosed in a wooden box making clacking noise to heighten the excitement.  Coins were laid on the image as a bet.  When the box was opened the number showing wins double the amount of the bet.  Esther lost all her coins and ran back home to get more.  On her way back to the game a jeepney crossed path with her.  The passengers screamed, the driver jumped off to check on the girl.  She came crawling out from under the jeepney without a scratch and ran back to her Betobeto.  Esther grew up to be a Marketing Manager.

   In the early 70’s ‘standbys’ (street thugs) were hanging around the corner store when they saw Jojo, a 5 year old boy playing around a parked private jeep.  These jeeps have front seats that folded forward instead of recline.  Jojo found a lost kitty on the sidewalk.  He picked up the kitty and laid it on the front seat of the jeep.  The thugs watched in horror as the boy folded the seat over the cat and sat on top till the cat died.  Then the boy took the dead cat, hid it under the seat and walked away to play somewhere else.  When the boy’s mom, Becky stepped out her door the thugs told her what they saw. 

   “You need to save up some bail out money for your kid right there!” the thugs advised the mom.  Becky just smiled.  The boy’s father was a professional hit man.  She did not let the boy play with toy guns.  Jojo grew up to be an Engineer.

   "Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.  “Honor your father and your mother” is the first command with a promise: “That it may go well with you and you may remain a long time on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

Post Script: In 2014, Pasay City kids rock!!!
Photo Courtesy of Mark Calixto

Monday, September 22, 2014

Suicidal Without Depression

   Robin Williams had depression and recently died of suicide.  Freddie James Prinze, Sr. (June 22, 1954 – January 29, 1977), Family Feud host Raymond Neil "Ray" Combs, Jr. (April 3, 1956 – June 2, 1996) and Improv/Stand up Richard Jeni (April 14, 1957– March 10, 2007) are a few who have gone the same route before Robin Williams.  They all left a question.  Who makes a comedian laugh when he needs it?  

   Vicky is a Filipina with a hyperactive sense of humor.  She has the wit of a stand up comedian and like one, actually finds satisfaction in making people laugh.  Very few have been privileged to see the dark side she hides behind the bubbly personality.  She has been suicidal from childhood.  She did not even have depression.  How did that happen?

   Vicky’s mother was sickly and her father worked abroad so she was raised by her grandparents.  When her mother got better her grandparents moved to the province leaving her in the care of her mother and a nanny.  For some reason she failed to bond with her mother like she did with her sweet grandfather.  She could not emulate her mother like she did her grandmother who was the strong matriarch of the family.  When her siblings were born, one of them became her mother’s favorite.  

   Vicky felt like she was living with strangers.  At the age of 8 she ingested Mercurochrome, a skin wound medicine popular in the 50’s that grownups told her was poisonous.  She did not die.  She was dragged to a priest to do a Catholic confession.  No one asked her why.  No one tried to look into the mind of a suicidal 8 year old.  

Vicky never again tried to kill herself.  However, she grew up always courting danger.  She dated normal boys but picked a shady character to marry. She bought a car, frequently disco danced all night with 10 orders of Stolichnaya and tonic then drove an hour home.  Sometimes she parked in the middle of the highway with the lights off waiting for a Saulog bus to hit her.  None ever came by till she got tired of waiting and drove on.  A cousin told her about a job in Saipan.  She jumped at the opportunity knowing nothing about the island where she almost got in harm’s way with the natives.  Her father bought her back from that fiasco.

   She went through a divorce.  She lost her children to immigration.  Eventually  she  lost her grandparents and her mother in death.  Through it all she was cheerful and funny, without a tear.  To this day the sense of humor that hid the solitude within remains her cover.  Solitude is not depression.  Depression is a psychological condition.  Solitude is just a lingering disconnection.
   "Even in laughter the heart may feel pain, and rejoicing may end in grief." (Proverbs 14:13)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Educating Mom – Social Media

   The term ‘generation gap’ was coined in the 60’s.  That decade saw the widest divide between two generations.  Music switched from solo artists like Elvis and Neil Sedaka to groups like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.  Fashion was reinvented to break age old rules on hairstyle killing barbershop business because the men refused to cut their hair.  Hemlines went up from below the knee to showing as much thighs as possible.  While their predecessors were timid and restrained, the youth took to the streets chanting political slogans.  Everything in the 60’s screamed ‘radical change’.

   The gap between the 60’s and the today’s generation however does not scream anything, just a silent sneaking crack that widens every minute.  Silent because homes previously filled with conversation are now preoccupied with internet entertainment, each individual to his own device.  Arguments have moved from verbal to social media, even fights and bullying are conducted on a monitor. 

   Julie, a middle aged mom can still remember how in her teens the home telephone was the way to reach her boyfriend.  If he failed to call in a couple of days she missed him terribly and wondered if he was seeing another girl.  Like most baby boomers she married that boyfriend as soon as it was workably possible. 

   She raised her daughter Tina the best way she knew how.  When she helped the girl with the homework it didn’t quite work.  The data she learned with her education was no longer the data being taught.  The generation crack between them has begun to creep in. 

   When Tina reached her teens Julie worried about her going to dances and dates.  Tina’s dates did not pick her up from home.  She didn’t go to dance parties.  She went to sci-fi conventions instead.  The young girl didn’t wait by the phone like her mother did some 25 years back.  She finished college, got a managerial job and comes home each day, go directly to Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. amazingly happy without a boyfriend. 

   “Mom look the dog is dancing Cha-cha-cha!”

   “Hey look this is funny!  Somebody Twitted…”

   “You got to see this, the elephant is painting art work!”


    Julie’s friends who were her age could not believe her daughter does not have a boy stashed somewhere.  In the previous generation a girl who has no boyfriend to show was probably seeing a married guy.  To the new generation husband and children did not come first on the list.  They came after career, travel, social interest, if they were on the list at all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Employee Mentality

   The Americans have inventor mentality.  Inventions are done either by an American or by another nationality under the management of an American company.  Invention agents are all over the internet offering assistance in licensing, product development, manufacturing funding and marketing.

    Some inventions came under the initiative of the American government.  “The handy navigating device in nearly every car and Smartphone was also originally developed by the Defense Department in the 1970s to follow the exact locations of nuclear missiles and calculate their proper trajectories.” (

   The Chinese in any country has entrepreneurial mentality.  Almost from birth they are trained to help out in the family business preparing them to manage their own.  Chinese doctors and lawyers put up their own clinic, hospital or law office that they manage.  

   The Filipinos have employee mentality.  They are all over the world working for all nations, adapting to all kinds of climate and terrain for a labor’s wage.  There are Filipino geniuses working in IT or medical field or engineering who are content to be employees till they reach retiring age.  Some aspire for management promotion but employees nonetheless.  

   Every country has a retirement law that sets the age when a person can receive a pension for years of labor.  “Roughly half of the state pension systems used age 65 as the retirement age and half used age 70.  Taking all this into account, the Committee on Economic Security (CES) planners made a rough judgment that age 65 was probably more reasonable than age 70…The studies showed that using age 65 produced a manageable system that could easily be made self-sustaining with only modest levels of payroll taxation.” (
Oveseas Filipino Workers Lane 

   Even the Philippines has a retirement age.  However employee mentality is in the mind.  When the body has all but given up the mind retains the inclination to work, to associate with peers and to receive the wage that is proof of appreciation for a job well done.  The Philippines has an abundance of young efficient intelligent labor that makes employment difficult to find for the middle aged.  The retirees find their way into countries that would hire them.  Some leave behind the country they love to immigrate just so they can enjoy working.  ‘Enjoy working?!’  Is that even possible?  Well maybe someday.  

   “No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Isaiah 65:22

See also A Breakout Nation

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mother Said …Part 2

   Olive’s mother, Celina belonged to the generation of Gloria Romero, when women were demure and chaste by tradition.  These were the women who stayed married for life to womanizers “for the sake of the children”.  Olive saw her parents’ marriage unfold before her eyes from her childhood to her teens.  She believed, the reason why there is no divorce in the Philippines is so husbands can keep their wives while they enjoy other women.  

   Olive’s father was not a bad guy, just attractive to women due to his financial level.  Ironically, while women of the era were traditionally virtuous, the men were compelled by the same tradition not to reject women, otherwise their manhood could be questioned.  

   By the time Olive matured and married in 1970, the world has changed with regards to most traditions.  Her father, in his 50’s was still fooling around.  Olive got curious and asked him “When you have other women, do you deprive mom in bed?”

   “Of course not!  No man should ever say no to a woman.  I would do them all, even if there are 10 of them in line!” was her father’s proud reply.

   Then Celina heard from nosy neighbors that Olive was having problems in her own marriage.  It was time for a mother and daughter heart to heart talk.  

   “Don’t live the way I do.  Don’t stay home the way I did.  If you’re not happy LEAVE!  If you need help with the children give them to me.  There’s a big world out there, find your niche.” Celina advised, to Olive’s surprise.

   Olive took her mother’s advice.  She left her first husband and found a new man.  (" I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery. Matthew 19:9)

   After over two decades her second relationship started to fall apart.   They had been cheating on each other for many years.  But the two decades have mellowed the spunk in Olive.  Her children have married and left.  Celina has died and yet Olive kept hearing what her mother said “If you’re not happy LEAVE!”  

   Olive sold the four bedroom home she had painstakingly acquired and moved out of her unhappy marriage.  She got a job, then moved into a ladies dorm near her office.  If Celina were alive to see her retake control of her life, this is what she would say. 

   “Way to go daughter!  I am proud of you.”

See also