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”.

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