Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wood Floors

   There are few places in cold States with wood floors.  Carpet helps to save on heating.  The houses in the Philippines have mostly vinyl, cement or ceramic flooring which are easy to clean and maintain.  

   When my daughter asked me to join her in California I was not so keen on leaving Kentucky.  There at 60, I had a crush on a thirty something absolutely gorgeous medical tech who attended to me three times a week.  He flirted with me first. That started my fall.  To disguise my inappropriate feelings I said I wanted him for a son-in-law.  The thought of not seeing him again felt like fate worse than death.  I believe this is what is called second childhood.

   Then my daughter sent me a photo of the apartment she’s renting if I came to live with her. It had wood floors! I immediately packed to leave behind my last romance.  I have not had wood floor since I was a child.

   As soon as we moved in I worked on making the floor shiny.  I may not have been a perfect wife and mother but I was always a good cleaner.  I did not just clean I detailed.  I tried every product in the market but nothing worked on the daily traffic areas which have lost the natural wood luster.  After a year of trying I decided to go back to an old world solution, the floor wax.  

   Before I opened the can I smelled the wax.  It was so strong it seeped out through the lid.  The floor wax actually repel ants and other insects because of the strong smell.  The scent took me home to a place and time when my Mom used to make me wax the floor and then scrub it shiny with bunot (coconut husk).  Those were the good old days before the floor polisher and vacuum cleaner arrived.  

  Now, 2014, in California, I sweep the floor with walis tambo, wax the floor with Johnson wax and in the absence of bunot, I scrub it with a coarse disposable paper cleaner that is attached to a mop.  My floor got the shine I have been searching for.  Now, if I can go only back to being fifteen again I will not give my Mom a hard time about waxing the floor.

   Here's how I protect my beloved wood floor:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Flaws and All

   The Email Ordered Wife was first published in, in the fall of 2012.  In 2013, I received new materials that should be added.  I edited the book to include them.  The second edition was launched.  

   Recently Derrick, a very sharp young man, read the book and gave me very valuable feedback.  He said the book contained phrases that Americans may be familiar with, which English speaking readers from another country or culture might find out of place or context.  Worse, the phrases could be read as a mistake, like a misspelling of a different word with entirely new meaning.  I reviewed the book from beginning to end and rephrased those that I thought might be misconstrued.

   Derrick also showed me that his downloaded copy did not have the footnotes that should provide the readers necessary information on the cultural and religious beliefs of the characters.  I have removed all the footnotes and inserted some of them into the paragraphs.  I moved some from the footnotes into an Endnote page, following a suggestion of my daughter Dekya, who I must admit is a better writer than me.  She was published at the age of nineteen in the Young Blood column of The Daily Enquirer, a broad sheet daily newspaper in the Philippines.  She was at that time a Bachelor of Communication Arts student at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos.

   A well-meaning Filipino, who has lived most of his life in the United States, suggested that I remove from the book any trace of my Filipino identity.  He said book readers would buy it if they thought it was written by an American.  He could be right.  

   However, I wrote the book with the intent of leaving a legacy that would remain out there long after I have died.  A part of that legacy was meant to provide insight into the character of the author as shaped by the Filipino upbringing, moral principles and religious orientation.  A non-Filipino writer could research data about the Filipina but might fail to bring the character to life and the emotional implication of those data.  

    The Email Ordered Wife may never get on a best seller list nor win a Pulitzer prize but it will always be, however humble, written by a Filipina, flaws and all.  

   I am proud to say I was born and raised in a small city in the south of Manila called Pasay.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Sponge

   It was said that children like sponge absorb the opinions and actions of whoever they associate with.  In this respect most Filipinos are like a sponge.  This is one reason why Filipinos look more westernized than other Asians.  

   Among the country’s leaders only First Lady Imelda Marcos wore the Mestiza gown with pride.  The rest of the women in the country abandoned the national costume for whatever the Americans are wearing.  Granted that the Filipina costume required more fabric which means more expense and global warming
has made the long skirt uncomfortable, other nations continue to wear their similarly fabric intensive costume despite weather condition or foreign influence.  

My Grandmother
   My grandmother wore the kimona (thin fabric on top of a thicker chemise) and saya (long skirt tied by string at the waist) from childhood until she died in the 80’s at the age of 92.  Her journey took her through post Spanish colonization, American occupation and Japanese invasion in World War II.  She went around her days in costume, riding whatever public transportation was available from kalesa to jeepney to tricycles.  It couldn’t have been because she was hiding her figure underneath all the fabric.  She was slim, tall and kept good posture till she died.  It wasn’t the cost of wardrobe makeover either.  For the most part of her life she owned and managed a clothing store in Pasay City market which sold western fashion like jeans and shirts.  It couldn’t have been out of nationalism.  She didn’t care much for politics unless election was around the corner.  Because she looked so out of place I asked her once why she refused to wear the American fashion which her daughters wore, one of whom was my mother.  I didn’t get a valid response.  She just said “I don’t want to.” 

   Now at middle age, I realized my grandmother was simply not the sponge that I have always been.  In grade school I harassed my mom into buying me a ‘torero’, a bull fighter inspired capris (has to be red) that came into fashion in the 50’s.  I wore bell bottoms in the 60’s and bleached my hair blond with hydrogen peroxide in the late 70’s.  Forty years later I moved into an African American community in the US.  I cut my hair short and dyed it black, bought a wig and some hats.  Someone commented I have become a “soul sister”.