Thursday, November 27, 2014

Famous Uncles

   The notorious ‘Nardong Putik’ (Nardo, the Dodgy) was a folk hero in the province of Cavite.  He made headlines in the 50’s for stealing from the rich and giving money to the poor.  Newspapers called him ‘the local Robin Hood’.  It was said that crime victims who could not afford the expense of a lawyer or police action came to Nardo to plead their case.  Nardo investigated, prosecuted and executed the wrongdoer according to street justice.  He settled disputes between neighbors.  He threw loan sharks preying on the small businesses in the market out of his county then he lent the market vendors money with little or no interest depending on their capacity to pay.  Three times he was arrested, incarcerated and escaped.  During encounters with government authorities he shot it out and magically got away earning him the name Putik and a legend that he had an amulet which made bullets bounce off his body.  He was killed in an ambush in 1971.  A movie was made of his life.  He was my father’s first cousin, which made him my uncle.  

   Tatay Maring owned a gun and a license to carry it.  He wore the gun on its holster like a jewelry.  During World War II while he was just in his early twenties, he joined the guerrilla forces against the Japanese.  After the war he became a prize fighter.  Before the government provided a Barangay Captain to govern at the community level, he assumed the responsibility of keeping peace and order without pay, protecting the community against criminal activities.  A felon who wanted to take over his neighborhood challenged him to a duel.  Tatay Maring came to the duel site, his opponent did not show up.  His daring acts made him larger than life.  An unknown assailant fought him for his gun and shot him in the head.  He was my mother’s brother, which made him my uncle. 

   These two legendary uncles, who were both gunmen from the 50’s blazed the trail for The Gunman of the 70’s.  Those three men never met but had two things in common.  They fought for the issues of their era and they were all related to me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Another Pasay City Kid

   According to Wikipedia, “boys usually complete puberty by ages 16–17”.  In 1965, Marc was fifteen years old.  Like most boys undergoing puberty he developed an overwhelming interest in the opposite sex.  However, he was at the wrong place and time.  The sexual revolution that was setting the US teens on fire had not reached Philippine soil.  He was awkward around girls his age.  Marc had strict parents.  There was no sex education in school.  To get some sexual orientation during that period of transition from the conservative 50’s, Filipino boys had one option.  They went to the professional sex worker. 

   Prostitution was illegal but widely available.  With a corrupt police force, prostitution became a big business.  Every customer was assumed an adult.  Marc was caught by the police on a solicitation entrapment.  Very young offenders usually have parents who would pay the price to get the kid out of jail and the criminal record expunged.  Marc’s father paid but as soon as they got home he locked the boy in his room where he remained locked.  He was not allowed to go to school or church or even out in the porch or in the garden.  A tryst with a hooker that was not even consummated earned him a life sentence in his own room.  

   After ten years of lock up, Marc was able to escape.  He managed to walk out of the house and make it out of the gate into the street.  He was no longer the teen neighbors knew.  He has become a man in his 20’s whom no one recognized.  The years of solitary confinement had driven him stark raving mad.  He grabbed the first person in skirt that passed him.  It took half an hour for his father to catch him and put him back on lock up.  The girl he attacked was rescued unharmed but the whole neighborhood got scared.  In conversations, his neighbors called him crazy, maniac, etc.  

   After that incident, Marc’s family sold their home and moved out of the neighborhood.  No one has heard of what ever happened to the once shy teen and his strict parents.  To this day it is still debatable if the punishment fit the crime. 

 "Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah;

The fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalms 127:3)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Dollar Exchange Rate To Hate

   Filipinos abroad live with less love, missing family and friends.  As soon as they arrive in another country, they are compelled to send back money and gifts to keep the love of the family they left in the Philippines, or at least be remembered.  How they can still deserve hate with this culturally ingrained attitude must be a marvel of social science.  

   When Edith left Manila, she had in her heart all intentions of preparing for her retirement so she would not be a burden to her children when she could no longer earn a living.  She found a good job in America and managed to qualify for basic social security benefits but the cost of living did not allow for really big savings.  

   In an economy run by credit, she used credit cards to send dollars and fill the Balikbayan boxes she sent to her children in Manila.  She browsed through her children’s Facebook photos.  She could not find anyone wearing something she bought.  She did find similar items just not the ones from her.  When she came home to Manila for a brief vacation she found the gifts that maxed out her credit cards in storage.  

   As per her projection, aging caught up with her, as soon as she got her US citizenship and benefits.  She lost her capacity to work due to a disability.  She cashed out her 401K and sent half of it to one of her children as her last bequest.

   After the 401K money was gone, the monthly social security benefit was barely enough for her to live on independently.  With nothing more to send, she started to get the cold shoulder.  Without any argument from her end, she got hateful messages.  One even unfriended her in Facebook.  Where did all that come from?

   The Americans have the answer: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

   Edith wishes her children well.  Hopefully someday they can go to the Mall of Asia and buy a better mother.