Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Iron Lady

   In the 50's to the 60's, before the cost of electricity became outrageously expensive, Filipinos ironed not just clothes but bedding, hankies, curtains, table cloths and napkins.  In those good old days pants were mostly slacks with crease (piston), skirts had pleats, collars must be straightened stiff and to leave home with wrinkled clothes made you "burara" (sloppy; untidy).  

   In the Philippines, laundry was then a long process.  Without a washing machine, laundry was done by hand, then rinsed with starch then hanged to dry stiff.  When the pile was ready for a day long ironing the entire bunch was sprinkled with water and bundled overnight.  The moisture on the starched fabric made ironing smooth.  The next day the flat iron was laid on banana leaf while ironing to make it slide easier.  

   The crease must be ironed straight and skirt pleats must be even.  Every item must be smooth as new with no residual wrinkle called 'manhid' which means the iron was not hot enough or the iron itself produced the wrinkle which happens when the fabric is not stretched flat correctly in the ironing board.  Thus ironing was a special skill.  Filipinos hired a planchadora, an ironing lady on a per diem basis.  Aling Monang was a planchadora in Pasay City.  We had two lived-in maids but my mother still hired Aling Monang to do the ironing because the maids could not the job as well as she did.  

   When my mom found out that Aling Monang lived alone she invited her to live with us.  She got free board and lodging but she did our ironing once a week for free.  The other six days she used to work for her other clients in the neighborhood or saw a movie, etc.  She got a family in us and I got a chaperone whenever my boyfriend came in the evenings.  

   At the tail end of the 60’s the wheels of change started to grind.  Oil prices began to climb.  “The 1970's energy crisis was a period in which the economies of the major industrial countries of the world, particularly the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan…were heavily affected and faced substantial petroleum shortages, real and perceived, as well as elevated prices.” (Wikipedia)  The Philippine economy, as always, intertwined with the US economy, felt the sting.  Under martial law, President Ferdinand Marcos made the decision to build a nuclear power plant.(Wikipedia)   “In 1972 the government altered the legal arrangements for oil exploration from concessions to service contracts (this change made the Philippines own the oil, we just paid for the exploration), and serious oil exploration began in the mid- and late 1970s. As a result of exploration in the Palawan-Sulu seabed, oil was discovered”(U.S. Library of Congress)
Pantabangan - Masiway
 Hydroelectric Power Plant
Tiwi Geothermal Power Plant
In addition, the country's hydroelectric power plants and geothermal power plants were commissioned in 1979. (Wikipedia)  A food for thought - President Marcos did all these.   (Romans 13:1

   They say “necessity is the mother of invention”.  The term wash and wear came into fashion.  Polyester and double-knit fabrics that needed little or no ironing were developed and marketed.   Slacks turned into non-iron denims and lost the crease.  Since flat irons take a lot of kilowatts to run the planchadora became a thing of the past.  

   Just in time, Aling Monang got her US immigrant visa (her daughter married an American named Clifford).  We never heard from her again. 

See also:
The Politics of Marriage
1950’s Kitchen
Remembering Cousin Rey

Sunday, April 19, 2015


   In today’s age of information overload,  answers to questions are a click away.  Now everything has to be informative to be appreciated.  It is no longer enough to be entertaining.  The audience of the world has matured.  The silly teenagers of the 70’s have become tech savvy nerds.  

   To keep up with the internet, we now have infotainment. Talk shows now need to have intelligent conversation.  Every episode should bring something new.  HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report are two shows that have made research and information analysis their focal point.  The television audience should be left with something to think about, an issue to approve or not, the more controversial topic the better for cable replay or YouTube pass on viewership.  

    Gone are the days of I Love Lucy and Family Ties. Television situation comedy shows are now informative. The Goldbergs illustrates the psychology of the 80’s parenting.  Since diversity is still contentious, Fresh Off the Boat and Blackish attempts to make racial differences funny but enlightening about the reality of a multicultural society.  

   Courtroom, hospital and crime show dramas give some valuable info on the justice system, on illnesses or emergency room procedure, and modus operandi of criminals.  Just be wary if your lawyer is quoting Special Victim’s Unit (SVU) or your doctor is quoting Grey’s Anatomy.  

   Dateline (NBC), 20/20 and 60 Minutes are investigative accounts of crimes and relevant issues.  They often give updates on criminal cases that have been concluded to provide their viewers closure, for indeed, after watching the crimes unfold, the audience gets caught up in a virtual relationship with the victims and their families.

   Ironically, while entertainment tries to be as real and as accurate in depicting life in all its complications, Biblical films fail to adhere to the message clearly written in the Bible.  What is so wrong with filming the Bible stories as they were written?  The Bible has been translated in over 120 languages and available for free download making it easy for audience around the world to check the veracity of the movie Noah for an example.  Those films are marketed as based on the Bible.  A film that is not totally consistent with the book it came from is an adaptation. Indeed many films have been adapted from books written by mere mortals.  However, no human has ever claimed the Bible's copyright.  The Bible states in its last page:

   “…If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life…” (Revelation 22:18-19)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Girl They Called ‘Manila Times’

   In 1958, Cynthia, like most Filipinas, lived in a home filled with family, her parents, her grandparents plus an aunt and an uncle who were both single and finishing college.  They had no television so she was the entertainment.  She sang out of tune and danced real bad which became the comedic relief for the adults.  She was also their six o’clock news.  The little girl was as observant as a police detective, has a memory that was sharp down to the details and protected her integrity like a journalist.  Her mother taught her strongly about telling the truth, that if she ever got caught lying people will never believe her again.   

   Since she had no sibling to play with she spent her days in the homes of her playmates.  She ran off to the street after breakfast, ran back in for lunch then stayed out till dinner.  During those days people didn’t worry about pedophiles or children disappearing.  In the evenings everyone sat in the living room to actually talk.  

   “Here comes Manila Times!  What happened out there today?” her uncle would say as soon as Cynthia walks through the door.  

   He fondly called her ‘Manila Times’ because she brought home complete and accurate stories about their neighbors.  She told them which kid got spanked and why.  She was brave about giving her own take on the justice or injustice between the crime and punishment.  She told them which couple fought that day, who was cheating on the spouse and how he got caught.  She told them who lost a job and what that family had for lunch as a consequence.  She told them about neighborhood fist fights between individuals, giving an accurate blow by blow account, who won or lost and the grudge behind the event.  She narrated screaming bouts between families complete with the exact dialogues including the curse words which sounded funny coming from a five year old who did not understand their meaning or connotation.

   Cynthia grew up to become a Media Sales Representative selling newspaper ad space and later on a television show to advertisers.  When she visited her uncle with her daughter 35 years later, the old man told the girl “Your mom should have been a newscaster.  She would look so good doing the six o’clock news.”

   “How can he say you should be on television?  He sounded like he’s such a fan!” Cynthia’s daughter said on their way home.   

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ichiban Kan - Tanforan

   I love chewing on the ice from my drink.  A lot of people do.  However the typical ice cubes can mess up your teeth.  Unless you have a fridge with an ice maker that can serve crushed ice, you will appreciate this ice tray.  This makes ice cubes in candy size that is perfect for making shakes or smoothies.  It has a cover so you can stack them up.  And it would be a hit at cocktail parties.  It cost less than 2 dollars at Ichiban Kan, Shops at Tanforan, 1150 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA.  

   I have a job that takes me walking for two hours at most, then stand without sitting break for two to three hours.  I’m not complaining I love it and I know at my age the more physical I get the better for my longevity.  However my feet are battered.  I can’t afford the electric foot spa so I got this foot soak basin also from Ichiban Kan for less than twelve dollars.  So at night I watch television after dinner with my feet soaking in warm water with sea salt.  How does this system of soaking compare to the expensive Ion Detox foot spa?  Detox helps to balance the alkaline in the body.  Sea salt is alkaline.  A foot soak in a basin of warm water and sea salt will do the same thing.  This could also help arthritis pains, foot fungus or any infection.  Sea salt (a product of Pangasinan, Philippines) is found in Asian stores for a little over a dollar per bag. The same salt can be used to season food and drive away house ants without the insecticide adverse effect on humans. 

   When shopping at Target or Walmart, etc., have you ever felt like walking out with the plastic shopping basket used around the store?  I’ve often wondered where I can buy one like those.  I found the one in the photo at Ichiban Kan.  Although it’s slightly bigger, which is good because I use it to carry laundry or groceries.

   I found the items above only in Ichiban Kan.  Next time you’re in Shops at Tanforan, check out the place.  You might find something you’ve been looking for.

See also: 

Wood Floors