Monday, December 19, 2016

Charles Dickens' Victorian London

   I don’t celebrate Christmas so I stayed away from The Dickens’ Fair.  The fair is held every year at Cow Palace, along Geneva Ave, Daly City.  I’ve been in San Francisco for three years before I took an interest to see what goes on in there.  I found out The Dickens’ Fair is not about Christmas.  It’s more about London during the Victorian era.  Street signs of the period were posted along the hallways of the exhibits.  It’s not only about Charles Dickens either.  Edgar Allan Poe was there too.  

   The costumes, food and products available during the Victorian era were displayed and were on sale.  The shepherd’s pie was good.  I also tried the hot cider with whiskey and cinnamon and the clam chowder.  There were a lot more but I can’t afford to sample all.  The products on sale were scented candles, crystallized rose flower fashioned into jewelries, handmade soap and a host of curios that may or may not have been worn during the Victorian period.

Joy  Strong playing a street wench 
   There were some interesting characters portrayed by actors and actresses who were all dressed in Victorian era costumes.  They stayed in character while they mingled with the spectators.  One of them was Joy Strong, who played a ‘street wench’, (prostitute).

   “Where can I get a wench’s costume?” I asked her, expecting an answer circa 2016.

   “Find a lady who has fallen from grace and steal her clothes.  You’ll be fine.”  She gave a suggestion expected of a wench in a Victorian low life accent. 

   At the end of our conversation, she handed me a ticket that meant she had given me crabs.  Another ticket meant I contracted “Scarlet Ague”, a sexually transmitted disease of the place and time.

   There were stage shows which were the entertainment during the 1800’s.  They featured acted drunken singing and supposedly lewd jokes which are tame compared to what we have today.  The audience was singing, hooting and hollering with the performers, giving the hall the atmosphere of a theater bar.  We may not have this kind of theater bar today.  These days it’s called a strip joint.

   It made me wonder if long after I have died, would people dress up in my era’s fashion to reenact the stories in my books.  That would be just as interesting I’m sure.

See also: 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Makati Film Society Experience

   Back in 1977, three film enthusiasts joined hands to found a film society that would highlight memorable films.  The Makati Film Society was born.  The first project was a film revival festival to be shown in one of the theaters in Makati.  In those days there were large ones like The Rizal Theater and small ones like Quad.  A big one might be difficult to fill with a rerun film.  A small one would be perfect.

Festival Poster on Gloria's car
   Dick Cutab, the moving force of the society, initiated talks to rent a small theater for seven days.  He then went to the movie distribution companies to see what could be rented on a per day basis.  The brainstorming with the other two co-founders, Tess Novero, an accountant and Gloria Samson, an Advertising Account Executive took several days off and on.  Finally, the three came up with a choice of seven films to show in one  day each for seven days.  Posters would be printed to promote the project.  Apparently, using the tape tickets from the theaters would mess up the theater’s accounting records.  Festival tickets would have to be printed.  

   Quad management wanted PHP3,000. per day for one of the four theaters.  They didn’t have to come up with the cost of the entire seven days.  The ticket sales of the first day would take care of the succeeding days' rent.  Still, PHP3,000 was a fortune back then.  The three went scrambling for their share of PHP1,000 each.  They rummaged through their personal savings.  They tried to interest relatives to invest or get a loan.  A few days before the rent deadline, Dick and Tess had their shares secured.  Gloria had nothing, no savings that big, not good enough credit to qualify for a loan.  Renting a cinema and film was unheard of at that time.  Her parents and relatives thought she was being scammed.  They wanted no part of it.

   Then Gloria’s Aunty Aida arrived from the US for a vacation.  Gloria told her about the project but she had no hopes of getting a cent.  Gloria assumed Aida will be needing all her pocket money to spend on her vacation.

   “I can lend you the PHP1000 but it’s my shopping budget.  You’ll have to give it back a few days before my return to the US so I can shop in Divisoria,” Aida said as she handed Gloria the cash.  It was a surprise of Gloria’s life.  Her Aunt Aida gave without her asking.  That PHP1,000 became the seed money for her role in The Makati Film Society which lasted into the 80’s.

   The film's rent was PHP250 each but could be paid upon pick up of the film reels.  There was no deposit required.  After all, who would run off with several heavy reels that could be played only with a cinema projector? 

   The Makati Film Society film revival projects were promoted with free press releases, the Eat Bulaga television show gave free 2 seconds camera shots of the posters and announced the movies scheduled.  The first project grossed well in the box office insuring the budget for succeeding film festivals in Quad and in Ali Mall theaters.  Notable movies shown were The Godfather, Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, Franco Zefirreli’s Romeo and Juliet, the only one that featured the original Shakespeare language in the dialogue.

   The arrival of Batamax movie copies in the mid-80's killed the film revival projects.  The three co-founders moved on to different directions but it was fun while it lasted.  

See also:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Climate Change is a Poverty Issue

   It’s easy to blame one who is not present.  Thus every calamity is called ‘an act of god’.  Climate change deniers are as many and as prominent as those who brought the issue to our attention.  
   There are tons of scientific evidence presented.  Famous names have taken the cause.  Some laws have been passed to minimize the advance of global warming.  These resulted in a more systematic waste segregation and recycling, better landfill management and composting on a nationwide scope.  

   Federalism created different strokes for different folks.  Wood burning fireplace is not allowed in California but is allowed in the Midwest states.  Homes in States prone to drought have a shower while in the Midwest, even the cheapest place has a bathtub. 

   Flash flooding is dealt with one storm at a time, with no permanent solution other than the age old water pump.  Flood water can be pumped into waterways, rivers and shorelines when low tide allows.  States in the center of America have no shores and may have no river running through it.  In those places, the water pump does little help.  I have seen a city where flood water is pumped towards the poor community populated by African Americans.  This results in basements requiring expensive and arduous repair, not to mention the damage to the building foundation and home appliances.

   That brings us to the one argument about climate change that has not been discussed.  Climate change is a poverty issue.  Global warming does not affect the rich in their sturdy hilltop mansions and high rise apartment towers.  In the comfort of those homes, politicians watch the six o’clock news about the flood rescue and fatalities then go to work the next day and make laws about taxing soda.

   The Philippines get six months of typhoon season every year.  If a storm falls during high tide in islands barely above sea level, people drown.  Only poor people drown.  The worst that can happen to the rich man’s home is the swimming pool gets a little messed up.

   As an act of god who loves the poor “He will have pity on the lowly and the poor, and the lives of the poor he will save.” (Psalm 72:13), global warming and climate change blame needs a second look “and the appointed time came … to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18).  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Be Kind to Your Eyes

   We spend a lot of money on shampoo for our hair.  We pick the latest and most beneficial depending on our hair texture.  The same goes for the skin, from lotion, toner, facial mask, dermabrasion, all the way to facelift surgery.  The feet gets expensive signature shoes.  

   What do we do for our eyes?  The one organ that leads us through life is the most neglected.  We order prescription glasses when we are forced by necessity.  Ladies batter their eyes with tons of makeup, from powder or cream shadows to mascara, to heavy fake thick lashes attached with glue.  Then they remove everything with a chemical called eye makeup remover.

   The use of eye makeup started in Biblical era (2 Kings 9:30).  Cleopatra is portrayed in history and movies based on her life as big on eye makeup.
 The Filipina caught on when American cosmetics arrived in the Philippines.  Still in the 50’s, lipstick was the most commonly used.  Revlon was my mother’s brand.  Mine is Maybelline.  My daughter’s is whatever catches her attention.

   We spend on cellphones, cover them with glitters and all it could say is what we type.  The window to the inner person, the eyes, transmit involuntary messages like anger, fear, love, etc. that even the best trained actor can’t fake.  Our eyes can speak volumes in a glance.  It reflects the person’s racial identity through color and shape.  Even babies who can’t say a word show intelligence with their eyes.  The eyes show compassion towards others better than money changing hands.  

   If the eyes could complain, what would it say?  I heard mine speak to me.  Now, I wash my eyes daily with a couple of drops of Visine at the end of the day and in the morning as soon as I get up from bed.  That’s not too expensive considering that the eyes age without discoloration.  Blue eyes will be blue from cradle to grave.

See also:

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Nice Guy
   My mother taught us not to hurt rats or curse or call them names.  She insisted that we call the creature “mabait” instead of rat or mouse.  Mabait means ‘nice guy’ in English.  Some people chase rodents with a broom or any weapon around the house.  Mother said we are to dispose of the rodent inflicting as little pain as possible.  She said rodents are to be treated kindly or else they will retaliate by eating holes in your socks.  To emphasize the point, she said that even if all our socks are kept in the same drawer, the mouse will only eat the sock that belonged to whoever said something offensive.

      I have not had any encounter with a rodent since I was a child until this past Saturday.  I took out the garbage and failed to close the screen door.  A ‘mabait’ managed to slip through the door.  That night my daughter and I were watching television when she heard an unfamiliar sound.  She checked it out and found the mabait eating a hole in the loaf of bread laid out on top of the microwave.  The rodent ran off to hide.  We cleaned up the kitchen of exposed food and swore to never again leave dirty dishes on the sink. 

   That night, I was terrified the rodent would eat holes in our clothes.  We got too careful about closing our bedroom doors while I figure out what to do to get the mouse out.  The next morning, Sunday, I went to my religious meeting.  I picked up an elderly member on the way.  During the ride, I mentioned my problem with the mabait.  She suggested a product I have not heard of before, a kind of glue that sticks to rodents not kill it.  After the meeting I went looking for that glue.  I found it and laid it around the house that night.

   Overnight, the mabait has been caught.  I didn’t think it would be so quick.  Over breakfast, I marveled at the efficiency of the glue and reminded myself to thank the sister for bringing it to my attention.  I heard the mabait make some baby noise, it was just a baby, judging by its size.  I thought it was trying to ask for help.  I had the urge to buy it a cage and make it a pet.  My daughter feared that I might do just that.  I put it in a bag and dropped it in the trash outside.  I leave its future in God’s hands.

See also: 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sesame Street versus Ibarra St.

   In the late 50’s and early 60’s in Pasay City, Philippines children played in the street.  Homes with television were few.  Children with no television set at home watched by peeping through windows of neighbors.  Shows were created for adults.

   Along Ibarra Street, we played with trumpo or tops as it is called in English.  The contest was to break each other’s tops by hitting it with the metal pin while spinning on top of it.  That may sound barbaric but the exercise honed the kid’s survival or killer instinct.

   We played with Teks cards.  Each child has a designated card to represent the owner.  The bunch was flipped in the air and the card that comes down face up wins.  The owner of the winning card was paid in cards by the losers.  Eventually the one who has won most of the cards gets to sell some to the losers for money, nickel and dime.  This game fostered cunning.

   We had pocket wars between neighborhoods fought with tirador or slingshot made from a Y shaped tree branch with bullets made of folded paper bent into V shape or pebbles.  

   This could actually hurt but whoever complained to the adults will not be welcomed in the game again.  We nursed our wounds and moved on to fight another day.  This game taught sportsmanship, teamwork and loyalty to the team.

   By the late 70’s I was a mother of three.  The world became more dangerous.  I became paranoid.  We left Ibarra Street for the more tranquil Tahimik Street in Imus, Cavite.  Tahimik literally means silent.  I kept my children indoors.  I stocked up the freezer with Magnolia products so they didn’t have to go out for ice cream.  
I encouraged them to bring their friends home.  I invited their cousins to spend summer vacation with us.  We spent weekends in the mall or swimming in hot springs.  We took their playmates swimming with us.

   When I was at work, they spent their time in Sesame Street.  They learned to sing the alphabet.  They found harmless creatures like a vampire who loves to count.  The monster ate cookies.  The biggest character, Big Bird, didn’t bully.  Ernie and Bert taught them about friendship.  Oscar the Grouch who lived in a trash can taught them the worst thing that can happen to a homeless is become grouchy. Hence, my children grew up with a very unrealistic view of life.  

   They all got bullied in school and didn’t know how to defend themselves.  I didn’t know how to handle it because I was not bullied.  From Ibarra St. to Jose Rizal Elementary School, a public school at the corner, there were enough childhood pranks, teasing and thug brawls.  I learned the valuable lesson of when to run or when to fight.


   The new US Administration is trying to cut PBS funding among other charitable programs.  This means Sesame Street will be shut down.  The idea did not come from this article.  We empathize with the cast and staff of Sesame Street.  As per Philippine history, the children that were deprived of Voltes V grew up to populate a coup d'tat.  Let's see what 15 years will bring.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Bird’s Life

   I have been doing cart witnessing with a sister on Wednesdays at the Daily City BART from as far back as January 2015.  We stand by the bus stop.  The two hour long shift has been gratifying partly due to our growing affinity to the birds in the area.

   In the US the birds are protected by law.  Doves and crows are all over the place, with a few seagulls here and there.  Recently I have been prompted to feed the birds in Daily City BART.  I save any stale bread or the ends of bread loaves from home.  I toast the bread to make it crunchy, then I crumble it with a blender.

   Edith and I enjoy feeding the birds.  We feel the birds are actually beginning to recognize us.  A man, a perfect stranger came up to me to commend us for our efforts.  He said I would get good karma.  I don’t believe in karma but I know Jehovah God appreciates kindness shown to his creatures.  “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky.” (Genesis 1:26)

   Just as Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “I have seen … that the swift do not always win the race, …nor do the wise always have the food, … nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all,” the past Wednesday was a sad one for Edith and me.  A bird, one of our birds as we have owned them in our hearts, was caught under a bus right in front of our eyes.  It was an upsetting sight.

   I looked at the birds perched on the roof of the bus stop, half expecting to find them horrified and grieving.  They simply looked the other way and went on with their lives.  

   The typical grieving time for humans, according to something I read, is about six months.  Still for some, it stays for a lifetime.  In this regard, God gave the birds a gift we didn’t get, immunity from despair.

See also:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Muhammad Ali, In Memoriam

   Boxing champions come and go but once in a rare while one rises above the pack.  I knew little about Muhammad Ali but like most Filipinos he had a place in my heart.  I knew he changed his name from Cassius Clay and became a Muslim.  It was big news when he lost his boxing title and was thrown in jail for refusing to be drafted in the military in 1966, at the height of the Vietnam War.

   He claimed to be “The Greatest”.  According to Hauser, Thomas in The Importance of Muhammad Ali, “He set an example of racial pride for African Americans and resistance to white domination during the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.”  The Filipinos known for personal, family and national pride could relate to his racial pride.

   The fight between Ali and Ken Norton in 1973 where Ali suffered a broken jaw literally brought tears to my eyes.  The significance of this is that I have suffered personal tragedies like terminal illness and divorce without shedding a tear. 

   Then, the Thrilla in Manila happened in 1975.  The third and final fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was held at the Araneta Coliseum.  Ali Mall, the first shopping mall in the Philippines opened in 1976, a block from Araneta Coliseum, in honor of Muhammad Ali’s coming to the Philippines.  It has four floors, 100 shops & restaurants and has undergone expansions and renovations in the 80’s and most recently in 2009.
   In 2006, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky not knowing it was Muhammad Ali’s hometown.  There I found the Muhammad Ali Center, established in November 19, 2005, almost 30 years after the Philippines honored him with Ali Mall.  Obviously, Ali is loved by the Philippines more than the city where he was born.

See also:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Paperback Writer

   In the 60’s, writers were at the mercy of publishers.  The printing cost was outrageously expensive back then.  The printing machines were big and heavy so that manufacturing and importing them would take years maybe even decades to break-even.  From flat-bed printing press to offset printing to rotary printing press, production of reading material was labor intensive, which further added to the overhead cost. 

   As a child, I wanted to be a writer.  Adults in the family discouraged me.  They said, there’s no money in it, writers starve.  Authors become famous after they have died so that they never enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Publishers used and paid the printers.  If the books don’t sell, they lose a bundle.  Thus, the criteria for the acceptance of a manuscript for publication was so stringent that few ever make it.  You would think that in the absence of cable television and electronic games, people should have been reading more books.

   In the 70’s, I sold advertising space for a Manila daily broad sheet newspaper.  That was when I knew firsthand how printed space cost outrageously.  I gave up on my dream of writing.  Then, life happened, marriage, children, divorce.  I totally forgot I ever wanted to write.

From Wikipedia
   In mid 90’s, book printing got computerized.  Copiers went all over the place.  The personal computer came into the picture.  It made it easy for writers to edit their works, no more erasing typewritten errors with white-out.  I got myself a Macintosh but didn’t use it to write a book.  Instead, I used it to learn office software and got myself an admin job.

   At middle age, I landed on dialysis, alone in America.  The patients at that dialysis center shared television.  If one didn’t want what was showing, the 3 hours and 30 minute run felt like forever.  I bought myself a laptop and started to write a love story, mine.  Without literary training, not even a seminar or workshop, I started the first page describing the day I met the love of my life.  Then I went from page to page.  Three years later, my book has reached three hundred sixty pages.

   I gave it an ending, asked my Multimedia Designer son to make me a cover.  Printing companies were asking a thousand dollars I don’t have to print 500 copies I probably won’t sell.  I was about to give up again.  The dialysis techs noticed I have not been using my laptop.  I told Kurt, a very nice young man, that I have finished the book but don’t know what I should do with it.  He advised me to put it up on in digital download format, which I did in 2012.

   Over the years that followed, I edited the book three times from page one to last.  This year, Barnes and Noble accepted it for sale in paperback form.  Dreams fall into place when you least expect it. 

Postscript: Book reviews as of May 2017

See also:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pets for the Poor

   Every year, approximately 2.7 million pets are euthanized in animal shelters in the United States.  For a country of animal lovers, where do we put the blame for those deaths?  Illness, aggression and overpopulation are 3 major reasons why shelters have to euthanize pets.  This brings us to the question, with all the animal lovers fighting for animal rights, why are these pets not being adopted.  

   The strict animal protection laws have made it very expensive to keep a pet.  The most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dog is because their apartment does not allow pets or if pets are allowed, a hefty sum is added to the rent.  

   Pet owners in America have to provide dog food, veterinary treatment, a dog walker, pet toilet and/or diapers, trainer, sweaters for walking out in winter, etc.  Thus, having a pet is a luxury.  
   The poor in America will have to find pets they can afford.  I remembered my son, Joseph used to have pigeons in the backyard.  He made the cages himself.  Here in America, birds are untouchable.  They are everywhere, dropping on cars, nesting on roofs.  A flock has been residing at the train station.  I have been making bird food for them.  I toast stale bread or the ends of the loaf then break them in bits with a blender (dry).  Then I enjoy watching the pigeons eat.

   Recently, I discovered bugs in my stock of rice.  They are harmless tiny creatures that live off the starch that covers the uncooked rice.  I washed the rice in preparation for cooking and found two.  They looked dead.  I thought they may have drowned.  I picked them and laid them on the rag by the sink.  After I got the rice cooker started, I went back to the rag to dispose of the bugs.  They are gone.  I looked and found them inching towards under the microwave oven.  I picked them up and instantly they looked dead.  
   I caged them in a zip lock bag with some bread.  Every time I pick up the bag they play dead, then wait for it, they start to move.  Those buggers know how to play dead to protect themselves!  Another marvel of God Jehovah’s creation, their almost microscopic brains can outwit a human!  

   I went home for a three-week vacation to the Philippines in spring of this year.  I fell in love with my cousin’s dog, Tore.  Now I’m back in the US I shop at Dollar Tree for dog biscuits and toys.  I send them to Tore.  In return, I get videos of him.  It’s a long distance love affair.  If Tore and I start chatting on line, someone please get me a psychiatrist.

See also:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Keying In

   This afternoon, I came out of a building and tried to key into my car.  The key didn’t work so I flipped the key, thinking I put it in wrong.  It still didn’t work.  I started to get worried.  I took a hard look at the car.  The tires didn’t have hubcaps.  The door looked too big.  I realized it was khaki colored.  My car, Trixie, is dark gray.  I walked away to find Trixie.  

   A police car was parked right behind the car with two policemen observing what I was going to do next.  Apparently, the car I tried my keys in had an alarm that silently alerted authorities.  I thought the presence of the police had nothing to do with me.  I went into my car and drove on.  At the first red light I saw the police car following me.  That’s when I realized I was a suspect.  When I turned left, the police car went on its way.

   This is what happened a year ago.  I found my dark gray Toyota Matrix parked right in front of our gate.  I started washing it.  I tried my key on the passenger side door but it didn’t work.  I found some dents at the back.  Dents have been known to mess up door locks.  When I got to the front of the car I noticed more scratches.  Then I saw the plate has been changed!  

   “Someone has vandalized my car and stole my plate.  I am getting ready to call the police.”  I told my daughter after I finished washing.  My daughter ran out to check it out.

   “Mom, this is not your car!  That one is!” She said, as she pointed to another gray Toyota Matrix with my plate on it, parked just two cars away.

   All those mistakes would not have happened if I had a red car like Slick.

See also:
Parting with a Saturn Named Slick 

PS Dec. 29, 2016:  
   Oooops, I did it again!  I keyed into my car and it's not mine.  As before, I flipped my key and it didn't work.  I was going to keep trying till I heard my friend yell "That's not your car!"  I need to stop doing this or I might one day actually drive off in someone else's vehicle and land in jail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Tricycle Driver

   I was raised by old school women, my mother and grandmother, who knew how to handle money.  They were thrifty to a fault.  Between their generation and mine, I developed a unique way of managing finances.

Game and Watch
   In the 80’s, when medical attention was required, I took my children to Medical Center Manila (MCM).  When I needed medical attention, I drove to Philippine General Hospital (PGH), left my kids in the car playing with their Game and Watch while I suffered the long line for free diagnosis.  Afterwards, we spent the amount I would have spent on a private hospital in Pizza Hut.

   In the 90’s my sons had families of their own.  I took my daughter on package tours paid by credit card.  I called it “5 day millionaire-2 years poor”.  I scrimped to pay the card and make ends meet for 2 years.  Then, we’re ready to go touring again.  We went to Hong Kong, then Bangkok, Thailand, then Cebu on board Superferry.
Hong Kong

   At that time, my daughter lived in a Ladies Dorm inside University of the Philippines, Los Baños campus.  I was living in another Ladies Dorm in Makati City where I worked.  There was a tricycle lined up at the corner two blocks from the main street where I take a jeep to my office.  I skipped the tricycle ride to save money since it was only a two block walk.

   On a nice day, nobody noticed my choosing to walk.  However, one rainy night, I walked in the rain past the tricycle lined up as usual.  It was a clear day till it started to rain so I didn’t have an umbrella.

Tricycle line
   The last tricycle driver on the line saw me walking in the rain.  He broke line to chase me.  Then he slowed when he caught up with me.

   “Mother, I’ll take you where you’re going.  You don’t have to pay,” the driver said to me.  (Mother is sometimes used to address an elderly woman of no relation.)

   “Thank you, you’re very kind but I’m almost home.  I’m fine,” I replied.

   The tricycle fare was loose change but my twisted penny-pinching made me choose to walk in the rain after working all day.  I told myself I can dry up when I get in my room.

   To this day, I remember that split second exchange and still appreciate the consideration that tricycle driver showed me.  He was working in the rain for nickel and dime, yet he offered me a free ride out of the goodness of his heart. 

See also: 
The Standbys of Makati 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wisdom of Birds

   The Bible says “Observe intently the birds of heaven; they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?” (Matthew 6:26)  We have all heard this before.  However, a deeper analysis shows that heavenly Father Jehovah, provides the birds more than food.

   The Watchtower magazine, dated July 2016, says “Jesus did not mention providing shelter for the birds of heaven, Jehovah has provided them with the instincts, skills, and materials needed to make nests for themselves.”  Indeed, the birds have been given the wisdom to find safe location and materials to build their nests.  Here’s one example of the resourcefulness of birds:

   At the Daly City BART station, there is a flock of birds that made the place their own.  Bird deterrent spikes were installed in specific spots to prevent them from perching and pooping on train commuters and information posters.  The birds, in the wisdom given them, built their nest  in the center of the spikes.  They made use of the deterrent spikes as protection for their nest.  This man made spikes’ function has been expanded to suit the God made birds’ purpose.  

If the birds can speak, they’re probably saying to man:

“Sweet justice!”
“Outwitted by a little bird brain, hah!”
“Hey, did you guys really went to college to invent these spikes?  It took me a minute to find use for it!”
“Actually, I wanted a picket fence for my nest but these spikes will do.”

   Birds don’t read the Bible but I bet they’re thinking, “Jehovah provides!  We got the safest nest in Daly City!”

See also:

Saturday, September 3, 2016

My Mother's Generosity

Mely, my mom
   Mely, my mother was a woman of few words.  She was not like other women in our Pasay City neighborhood.  She hardly went out except to church or to the market.  She didn’t listen to or forward gossip.  She was not judgmental but was always conscious of what others might say.

   Once a month she took me to visit her in-laws, my father’s family in their home in Makati City.  My mom whispered the same instructions to me each time.  I was in grade school and she wanted to be sure I remember and practice it.  Here’s what she said to me:

   “When you get married, you have to support your husband’s parents financially.  After all, you won’t have that husband if they didn’t give life to him.  Whether they ask of it or not, give them a monthly share from your budget.”

   During Christmas season, before the 13th Month Pay became a law, my mother had an envelope with gift cash ready for each, to the mailman, the electric meter reader and bill collector, the water meter reader and bill collector, the beautician who does her hair, two housekeepers/nanny, and the dressmaker, (this was before the malls were built.)  For the men on that list, I was assigned to hand the envelope, for modesty’s sake.  If any indigent came knocking at our door, my mother never said “no”.  

   When relatives came for a loan or any financial help, she gave as far as she can afford.  On those times, she said to me, “You have to be generous so that when you have children of your own, people will return the favor to them.”  Or she said, “You have to be supportive to your brothers’ wives, so they will make your brothers happy, the same applies to your children’s spouses.”

   My mother treated the housekeepers as family.  She refused to make them wear uniforms because she thought it put them down.  When I needed a chaperone going to dance parties, my mom insisted I took one of them with me.  Tina (in the photo), became like a sister to me.  I taught her the prevailing dance craze and introduced her to my friends as part of the family.

   I am just now realizing how my mother’s generosity affected my character.  It developed in me the social consciousness that guided my journey in this life.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

On Big Eyes, the Movie

   Before Gloria moved to California, she and her best friend Margarita used to see movies together.  In 2014, Margarita texted her to see the movie, Big Eyes.  Margarita said she had seen it and Gloria shouldn’t miss it because the movie is based on a real life Jehovah’s Witness.  That was about two years ago.

Damian Lewis
   Two months ago Gloria's daughter told her the movie Big Eyes is now available in HULU.  Gloria took note but she had a list of shows she binge watched from pilot episode like Homeland, Billions, Life, etc.  Obviously, she has fallen in love with Damian Lewis, the guy who put red head in fashion.  Then, she ran out of Damian Lewis’ shows.     

   So finally, she watched Big Eyes.  Three quarters of the movie showed Margaret Keane being dominated by her husband.  Gloria thought, she was different from her.  She would not have suffered like Margaret did.  

   Margaret was manipulated to be her husband's work horse while he took the credit for her talent.  He isolated her from her friends, yet she stayed ten lonely years.  When Jehovah’s Witnesses gave her a Bible study, she found the strength to make a change, to break away.

   At the end of the movie, Gloria realized she was no different from Margaret after all.  She stayed unhappily married for twenty three years.  She did everything she could to disguise her loneliness.  When she studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, she found the strength to make changes.  

   First, she threw away the eight feet plastic Christmas tree she set up every year to convince herself that she's got a happy family with presents around the tree.  It was a façade, no one in the family was happy.

   Second, she had a talk with the Elders of her congregation about the legalities and spiritual status of her marriage.  She sought to do what would be right in God’s eyes.  Due to a technicality, her wedding was not perfectly legal.  It needed fixing.  

   The Elders gave her a choice between having a second wedding to remove the technicality or walk away and be single again.  When she heard that it would not be a transgression if she left, she felt as if a weight had been lifted.  With prayers and Bible passages to guide her decisions, she sold their two story, four bedroom home and split the money between her and her husband, as fair as her conscience allows.

   She was baptized in December 1991, at the Lovers of Freedom Convention.  She got freed at last.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Girl at the Airport

   Gloria, a Jehovah’s Witness senior citizen came home to Manila for a vacation in January, 2016 at the height of the ‘Laglag Bala’ controversy.  She was so wary that she wrapped her Coach purse in paper then covered it with duct tape.  She checked-in a one regular size luggage securely locked after watching the YouTube video of how easy it is to open zippers with ball pen or pencil.  
   When she arrived in Manila, a female airport employee in white security uniform with a handheld CB Radio hanging on her belt caught up with her as soon as she passed the immigration and security counters.  The airport employee offered to help her with the wheeled luggage she dragged around.  Gloria respectfully declined the offer.  The woman continued to walk with her until they reached the spot where arriving passengers awaited their pick up.  They sat on the bench provided for those with last name that starts with the letter ‘C’.

   They sat facing the four meter wide curb and the street that brought in the cars picking up arriving passengers.  Fely wasn’t where she should be.  The airport employee asked Gloria for the phone number of the person picking her up, her cousin Fely.  She offered to call Fely because Gloria did not have a cellphone roaming in Manila.  Their call kept going into Fely’s voicemail.  After several tries, they gave up.

   All the airport employee’s kindness made Gloria more fearful.  She asked herself “why is this woman hanging on to me?”  An hour later, Gloria decided she would stay put, sleep on the bench if necessary, until Fely comes to find her.  She remembered an old friend who worked as an airport porter.

   “Do you happen to know a porter named Mario?  He’s Jehovah’s Witness,” she asked the airport employee.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” the airport employee replied, without answering her question.

   “Yes, I am,” Gloria said.

   “Are you a Regular Pioneer?” the airport employee asked.  The term Regular Pioneer refers to an organization ministry privilege in the Watchtower organization.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” Now it’s Gloria’s turn to ask the airport employee.

   “Yes, but I have recused myself since I married a non-witness man.”

   “Were you disfellowshipped?  Were you reprimanded?”

   “No, but I felt I no longer belonged there,” the airport employee sadly replied.  Gloria guessed that the woman might have heard some unkind, judging words from fellow worshippers.

   “Are you legally married to the man?” Gloria asked.


   “The very first Jehovah’s Witness I met said something that stayed with me.  He said, “Humans judge each other harshly than Jehovah himself.”  I also married a man who was not a Jehovah’s Witness.  I am still a Witness to this day.  Jehovah owns the organization.  You are not in the organization for anybody else other than Him.  You deserve to be there if you want to stay.” Gloria said strongly to the sad woman.

   Immediately after that conversation, Fely came walking towards them saying, she had walked back and forth past their bench less than four meters away but didn’t see them.  Neither did Gloria and the airport employee see Fely.  Amazed at the implied miraculous mishap, Gloria and the airport employee stared at each other.

   Just as it says in Ezekiel 34:11,“For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them". 

   “You see how much Jehovah wants you back?  Fely and I could not find each other until after we’ve had that talk.  You need to go back to being a Witness now,” Gloria said, the airport employee hugged her, both of them close to tears.  

   “whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things” (1 John 3:20)

   Gloria, in the stress of travel or maybe due to a senior moment, forgot to ask the airport employee’s name.  She hopes they find each other again on her next trip home.

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