Monday, March 28, 2016

Another Love Story

   I recently came across another real life example supporting my mother’s interpretation of the old Salawikain (proverb) “Pagkahaba-haba man ng prosisyon sa simbahan din ang tuloy,” which she took to mean, in English, as “No matter how many mistresses a man should have, at the near end of his life, he will return to his first wife.”

   Ruben was a young man when he met and married Erika, a beautiful heir to her family’s business.  He had a stable job in the military and he looked handsome in uniform.  She didn’t need much since her family was glad to keep her on allowance.  They were crazy about each other but marriage is tricky whether it be ‘for richer or poorer’.  

   Erika had the temperament of a spoiled brat.  When she got the idea to raise pigs, her family supported the business venture with a small capital.  When she and Ruben had a fight she had the pigs killed where they stood.  That ended the animal husbandry venture but not the marriage.

   Her family built them a home, not a mansion but still a small fortune at that time.  Then she and Ruben had a big fight.  She had the house demolished to impress upon him that she has a right to do whatever she wanted to her property.  They had to move into a rental.  The marriage didn’t end there though.  

   Some years, a couple of children and more fights later, Ruben and Erika finally separated.  As customary in the Philippines, a country without a divorce law, Ruben met someone new and moved on to have a common law 2nd marriage.  The bratty Erika, surprisingly, never remarried.  

   The second wife spent her life bashing Erika at every opportunity, while none in Ruben’s family heard of Erika again.  No one understood, why the girl who managed to steal the man was the one bitter.  

   Years turned to decades.  The children of Erika and the second wife’s have all grown up civil to one another, like stepsiblings ought to be.  The ravages of time caught each one in this ménage à trois.  Now all in their 80’s, the 2nd wife walks with a bent back, Ruben can hardly see and walks with a caregiver.  No one has seen Erika, thus no one can describe her health condition.  However, the 2nd wife, still bitter, still talking about Erika, narrated how Ruben laboriously walks three blocks with his caregiver to where Erika now lives.  The caregiver has reported to her that on those occasions, Ruben and Erika put food in each other’s lips like newlyweds.  

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Picture of the Gunman

   The Gunman, believe it or not, did not allow himself to be photographed all his life for an obvious reason.  The fastest way for authorities to catch him was to have photos of him lying around.  The good thing was that phone cameras and CCTV did not arrive until his outlaw activities had waned.  Aging mellows the grind.  (According to Urban Dictionary, grind is  "to work hard, be fully dedicated, to have no limits, pushing yourself; leading yourself to triumph”).

   For the readers who may be wondering how the Gunman looked like, I will attempt to draw a picture.  As I remember, he stood five feet and six inches.  That height is typical of Filipinos but he always looked ten feet tall to most.  

   His wavy hair touched his shoulders.  His body was just the slim side of muscular.  He has strong jaws that housed perfectly straight teeth that would put an Orthodontist to shame.  He has fair complexion but the rough life covered him with a permanent light tan.  His eyes were deep set.  He always wore a mustache and a trimmed beard because he looked so good with facial hair.  

   I tried to search for a photo that could serve as his likeness.  It was not an easy task because a person's appearance change with age.  He was in his mid thirties the last time I saw him That’s the image I can impart.  He was driving a big bike (1000 cc) like the one on the photo.  I remember him saying he had to build up his arm and shoulder muscles to handle a bike that heavy with only one hand.  He needed to hold and shoot a gun with the other.  (I know this sounds like a Tom Cruise movie, but trust me, the guy was real.  Assassins in the Philippines ride motorcycles because the helmet covers the entire face plus it gets  through traffic.)

   Finally, I found a photo of Piolo Pascual that could pass as the Gunman.  The hair length, strong jaws, eyes and eyebrows are almost identical to the Gunman’s and the same facial hair.  The big difference is that the look in the Gunman's eyes said it would be a mistake to mess with him.  However, Piolo’s body in this photo, is a dead ringer.

   The Gunman’s grandson has been asking how he looked like.  I don’t think this article would satisfy.  There are just some things in life that one can't hold and keep, and impossible  to retrieve.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Homes from President Marcos

   This is a story not even my kids knew.  In 1978, we all lived in the family’s apartment in Pasay City.  I got the idea to acquire a home.  So I asked my mother for an idle lot in Imus, Cavite, which she inherited.  It was a long shot but my mother said yes in a heartbeat.  I transferred the lot title to my name.  Then, I asked a childhood friend, who has become a famous architect, to do the construction plans for free.  Armed with my lot title and building plans, I applied for a Social Security Service housing loan.  The SSS interest rate was lower than any bank could offer.  

The 2 Bedroom Bungalow built on Php50K
   I was a 26 year old college dropout, with only 4 years of employment record.  There was always a long line at the SSS loans department.  Every step of the qualification process was discouraging but the challenge kept me going.  Finally my loan application was approved for PHP 50K.  The Admin guy said the formal loan approval notice will come in the mail.  Then, he said the strangest thing to me:  

   “If you should run into some bad times, don’t worry about the loan payment.  SSS will not foreclose any loan as long as you keep your SSS membership current you get to keep the house.”  

   I took what he said with a grain of salt.  It was common knowledge that loans are to be paid religiously, otherwise you lose the collateral, in this case, the lot my mother gave me.  Now fifty thousand seemed like a small amount but a bag of cement cost only PHP14. during that time.  The contractor I got did not even ask me for any advance money.  All they wanted was for me to sign over my loan proceeds from SSS when the construction was completed.  

   After we moved into our new 2 bedroom bungalow, to test what the SSS Admin guy said, I did not send the first month’s loan payment.  I skipped the payments month to month while I waited for the collection letter.  Then we really hit some hard times.  My husband lost his job.  I got pregnant with the third child.  I forgot totally about the loan payments.  I never got the collection letter just as the man in SSS said.  

   Eight long years later, EDSA Revolt happened.  Cory Aquino rose to power.  I received the SSS collection letter asking me to pay the entire amount of the loan.  I had to sell my home to pay SSS back.  The good thing was that the property has appreciated to PHP 300K by that time.  I paid the 50K loan and took the 250K to relocate.  It just occurred to me, after reading this article from  that President Marcos was giving away homes via the SSS housing loans, sharing his ‘stolen’ wealth, 50K to each, who could come up with a lot to build on.  His program fueled the housing construction boom that populated the new gated communities, from Paranaque to Las Pinas, all the way to Cavite in the south, Binangonan, Marikina and more parts of Rizal in the east, and Quezon City to Bulacan up north.

   I was not a Marcos crony.  Ironically, I was a pre-Martial Law student activist.  This maybe 38 years too late.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Marcos posthumously.

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