Thursday, May 24, 2018

Coming Soon! The Matriarchs of Cavite

   Women across the globe differ according to culture.  Culture is mostly developed out of historical interaction between nations.  Asian women are known to be culturally meek and subservient except for Filipinas.
   In the revolution against Spain, women were a moving force.  In 1893, the Supreme Council of The Katipunan, an underground revolutionary government, organized a women's auxiliary section.  In the same year, the provincial council of Cavite was organized.  It was the most successful council of the Katipunan.

   There were sporadic pocket rebellions throughout the three centuries of colonialism.  A large organized group with a meager arsenal to dare confront the well-armed Spanish army was at first inconceivable. 

Battle of Imus Monument
   The first big battle of the Philippine revolution was the  Battle of Imus, or the Siege of Imus in September, 1896.  It caught the Spanish colonial government by surprise.  The victory gained by the Filipino revolutionaries in this siege showed potential to win.  Two months later, in November 1896, the Spanish military retaliated against the revolutionaries in Cavite province with the Battle of Binakayan - Dalahican.

   Those three clashes made the revolution official.  After centuries of procrastination, the first to draw blood from the enemy were the people of Cavite.  That placed the Caviteños’ courage and bravery in history.  Not all of those revolutionaries were men.  A good number of them were Caviteñas, the women of Cavite.

   The Philippine Revolution was winning when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898.  The treaty ended the Spanish–American War.  As a condition of the treaty, the United States paid Spain $20 Million for the rights to occupy and govern the Philippines.  Except for the priests who remained under a separation of church and state clause, the Spaniards absconded to salvage their hold on other colonies around the globe.

   Filipinas came out of the colonial years under Spain stronger than their men.  By the time peace and a relative independence was reached in 1899, it was too late to break the Filipina spirit back into domestication.  She has learned to fight for her country, take sole responsibility for her family and make money.  All while retaining the balance between feminine charm and subtle assertiveness that took the Women’s Liberation Movement, a century later, to teach the women of other nations.

   The Caviteñas, in comparison with Filipinas from other regions, earned a reputation for feistiness, vindictiveness, if warranted and only if warranted, down right malevolence.  They would be least likely to become victims of rape, domestic abuse, assault or home invasion.  They are shrewd business managers, assertive in any situation and adapts to the most difficult condition without losing charm and poise.  Thus, they make perfect matriarchs.

   The book, The Matriarchs of Cavite is now in editing stage and will be launched soon. 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Asian Driver

   I got my first license to drive in the Philippines in 1979.  I did not go to driving school.  How did I pass the LTO test?  The guy who handed me the test paper must have noticed my anxiety.
   “Just put your name on it.  Don’t put any answer.  I’ll do it for you for PHP300,” he whispered to me.
   I have never appreciated corruption like I did at that moment.  I discretely slipped the money into his hands.  I passed the test with flying colors.  I was proud of that license.  Per capita, fewer Filipinas than men drove back then.
   I got my fair share of fender benders.  Even the best trained, well-schooled drivers got ticketed, got bumps and scrapes.  Did I drink and drive?  I was 26 years old.  What do you think?  

  Some US states have had drunk driving laws since 1911.  The Philippines never had one until the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10586).  We had bars with dance floors in Makati City.  I drove from there alone all the way to Imus, Cavite, anytime between 2:00 am to 4:00 am.  I was never pulled over by police.  Apparently, as long as I didn’t hit anything or anybody, I was good.  I did not get in any accident drunk, not even a minor one.  It turned out, I was a better driver drunk, after all I was suicidal, not a sociopath.  

   Fast forward to 2006.  I arrived in the US with my Philippine driver’s license that had been many times renewed with a clean record of no ticket nor accident.  Here, I felt a bigger appreciation for corruption.  I gave the policeman pocket money for every ticketing incidents.  Accidents were settled between parties without documents.  That Philippine license earned me the privilege of getting a US license without a written test.  Someone with international license required only driving test which I passed on the second try.  That PHP300, in 1979, was well worth it.  I love the Philippines!
   My Kentucky license in 2006 was exchanged for a California license in 2013.  My driving still leaves a lot to be desired.  My children now drive better than me.  My daughter is a whiz at GPS while I remain skeptical.  My son noted that I still drove like a “jeepney” driver, as I did when they were children.  He’s now 47 years old.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

The Cars in My Life - Philippines

My Beetle with my daughter
   The first car I owned was a red Volkswagen Beetle I got in 1979 for PHP13,000.  That price was a lot of money back then.  I didn’t even know how to drive.  I did not take a driving course. This was how I learned.  A distant relative who works as a professional driver taught me by sitting with me as I drove.  He gave no orientation on traffic laws, no one ever gave him that either.  I wondered for years, if red means stop and green means go, what’s yellow for?  

   I drove daily to work in Makati City from Imus, Cavite via the old Parañaque road.  The coastal road was still under construction.  That humble Beetle with tiny tail lights gave me empowerment.  Holding that steering wheel made me feel I have come into my own.  

   A number of turbulent years followed.  I had to sell the car, the house, moved twice until finally life stabilized.  I bought a pre-owned, what was called box type,  1990 Nissan Sentra.  I got it a taxi franchise, taxi top lights and painted on the sides the logo “Camino Transport”.  I let it run 24 hours per driver with two drivers alternating.  That car cost me PHP150,000 in 1993.  I sold it with the taxi franchise for the same amount two years later.  I used the money to put a down of PHP50,000 each for brand new 1995 Nissan Sentra Series III, Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer, all white.  I got the three units a taxi franchise each.  I paid the monthly car loans with the taxi earning.  This was when the Philippines started the “color coding law” which means there’s a day for every car that it can’t run in Metro Manila.  On those color code days, I drove the car to my Bible studies inside gated communities not affected by the color code.  Otherwise, I went out of Metro Manila to swim in Los Baños hot springs, Laguna or Tagaytay, Batangas.
   A few years later, I found out the banks had warehouses along South Super Highway where they kept repossessed cars being sold at a bargain.  There, I found me a red two door 1995 Daewoo Racer.  Its stick shift goes to five speeds!  It wasn't called racer for  nothing.  I named it Sutra.  Sutra was not for taxi, it was for me, at least until I sold it for a profit.  It marked the end of my taxi operator days and the start of my car buy and sell days.  Next, I bought another 1995 Daewoo Racer.  This time, it was white with four doors.  I called it Kim, because it felt so Korean.  I enjoyed Kim till I sold it.  Kim was my last car in the Philippines.  

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Cars in My Life - USA

   I was amazed when I realized there were still places in America where the residents are not familiar with Asians.  There were rural areas where only white people live and city areas with all black population.  In Louisville, Kentucky, Asians are few and far from each other.  I met four Filipino families in my residency of eight years.

My employer bank
   The image of Filipinos seen on television news of a calamity gave the impression that all Filipinos are destitute.  Many Americans I met were not ready for a Filipina in a suit and were resentful that I landed a job on the seventh floor of a bank's corporate center.  A man said to my face “You’re taking a job from an American.”

 2000 Ford Focus SE
   My first car in USA was a 2000 Ford Focus SE.  It did not have ABS brakes.  The place snows six inches in winter.  After slip and sliding several times, I traded in the Focus for a car with ABS brakes, a 2005 Saturn red coupe, something too sporty for a middle aged immigrant.  I named this red Saturn, Slick.  

   Driving Slick earned me the title 'Diva' with my American friends.  The Urban Dictionary defines diva as “to describe a person who exudes great style and personality with confidence and expresses their own style and not letting others influence who they are or want to be.  A person whose character makes them stands out from the rest...A person who tries to achieve what they want and who do not let people get in their way, and doing so with style and class.”  

   Now, seeing how Asian women are marginalized in the Midwest, I liked being called a diva.  Soon after, I left for California. 

   In California, it broke my heart but for many reasons, I traded Slick for a 2008 Toyota Matrix.  I named the Matrix, Trixie.  She brings me and JW sisters to 'field service'.  She carries the cart to our cart witnessing location.  Unlike Slick, Trixie is more of a 'sister' Jehovah's Witness.  Anyone who maliciously hurts her, I will not forgive.

See also:
A Saturn Named Slick 
Parting with a Saturn Named Slick
Keying In