when a kabayan attends a kiwi christmas “do”

from left : Matt is the southern North Island sales mgr who tries his darndest best so that our company isn't beat up by the competition all the time, to my left is Lakay, my first and only Pinoy colleague on site, behind us is Dallas, a sometime drummer but full time retail packer for the 1.5kg & 5kg product lines and soon-to-be dad. Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!

BROTHERS IN ARMS. to my right is Matt, the southern North Island sales mgr who tries his darndest best so that our company isn’t beat up by the competition all the time, to my left is Lakay, my first and only Pinoy colleague on site, behind us is Dallas, a sometime drummer but full time retail packer for the 1.5kg & 5kg product lines and soon-to-be dad. Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!

JUST thought you might wanna know how managers here in NZ organize Christmas parties, or as they say in New Zealand, “Christmas do’s.”  My memories of Christmas parties in years past back home in the Philippines aren’t that good anymore, but they were mostly about eating, raffles, dance numbers, more eating, drinking, and car pools going home where you could drink some more.

Owing to the current mentality  popular among New Zealanders to be more healthful in their activities (ball sports, hiking and all around aerobic exercise), and the fact that our site manager wanted to try something different this year, she drew up an “Amazing Race” type contest and divided us into five teams of five members each, partly to get the juices flowing before the bar crawl, and partly to generate some team building among the staff.

Each team was given clues in the form of riddles, given a car to use to search for things and challenges to pass; we had to score ten strikes or spares in a nearby alley, hit a rusty old car in a driving range, and score a complete round in a dart game.  After that, we needed to find the answers to questions about exhibits in the Te Papa museum in town.

It was surprisingly a bit of fun, I was lucky because since I couldn’t hit the back of a barn and was quite hopeless in golf and darts, my teammates were all quite adept in the said sports.  In fact, had our nearest competitor not overtaken us on the motorway after the last challenge, we would’ve won the overall title and Westfield vouchers for each team member.

Alas, it was not to be.  But I got to know my team.  To a man, each of my teammates was competitive and hated to lose, I could tell they were all upset by the close finish; we actually had a case to present for being the winners (the champion team didn’t stick to the spirit of the rules) but we would’ve looked like sore losers.  In the end, everyone was drunk and happy.

There’s no exaggerating about it, New Zealand is even more than the Philippines a drinking culture.  You can do what you want during the party, dance on tables and make a fool out of yourself, no one cares as long as there’s grog around.  We had our fill of alcohol, and though I’m not much of a drinker, like everyone else I got a buzz and looked silly as the drunkest guys.

Hope your Christmas party was as great as mine!

johnny jihad, you are not welcome in Australasia

screen grab of Australian channel 7 News

screen grab of Australian channel 7 News

SYDNEY  AUSTRALIA is only five hours away from Wellington where I live, probably four hours or less from Auckland where Fourth Brother and his family live.  So understandably, it is a big deal in New Zealand.  Witness the special news coverage in all the major TV channels here.

But there is a deeper, more sinister symbol behind the hostage crisis today.  Yes, there have been threats and actual incidents of terrorism from fundamentalists, Islam-oriented or otherwise.  But to my recollection this is the first actual situation where lives and well-being are held hostage in the so-called First World, for sure the first in Australasia which as far as I know is a bastion of democracy, pluralism and free speech.

It sounds dramatic, but a Pandora’s box has been opened.  If it can happen in Sydney, it can happen anywhere in Australia.  And therefore anywhere in the Western world.

Fundamentalist terrorism and extremism is at the gates of Main Street, the Free World.  We pray for peace and tolerance everywhere.

why Ms Anita Mansell is my favorite Kinoy*

Kabayan and QSM awardee Anita N Mansell walks in their shoes.

Kabayan and QSM awardee Anita N Mansell walks in their shoes.

[Note : As always, this post about this remarkable person is long overdue.  Thanks to Ms Didith Tayawa-Figuracion, Ms Meia Lopez, and of course Ms Anita Mansell for the allowing the reposting of this article and Mr Craig Phillips for graciously allowing use of the photo.  Please visit the latest issue of KABAYAN Magazine (where the original article was published), the only newsmagazine of the Wellington Filipino community, at http://www.pinoystop.org/kabayan/, advance Merry Christmas to everyone! ]

THIRTY-ONE YEARS ago, we can’t be 100% sure, but Anita Nadera arrived in Wellington New Zealand on a typically windy, overcast day.  The migrant in her conditioned her to prepare for anything and everything, and it would be her constant source of strength for years and years.  It helped her adjust to the vastly alien life of being a new New Zealander, but it also helped her to be strong for her brethren, other new migrants.

Thirty-one years later, on another typically windy, overcast Wellington day, Anita Mansell (she has been happily married since then) she looks back with much introspection on half a lifetime of service and volunteerism.

She refuses to choose highlights in her career as a volunteer, and we believe her because she doesn’t even want to be called such, only someone who has been there for others.  She wasn’t a pioneer with the Mabuhay Filipino Association, but she might as well have been.  She joined a year after the Society was conceived, and she has not stopped helping newcomers, refugees and migrants first get settled in (physically and figuratively), then finding out her wards’ particular area of difficulty in adjusting.  Whether it would be the language barrier, getting around or finding a job, Anita would be there, and she didn’t limit herself to helping kabayan only.  Southeast Asians, South Asians, Middle Easterns, it didn’t matter to Anita as long as you needed help.

She believes that better-adjusted migrants are better able to show their pride in their cultures, showing her Kiwi hosts our native performing arts could help them better understand us.  Anita became more involved in both the Wellington International Filipino Society and the Hutt Multicultural Council, where Anita served as vice-president.
Time flew by so quickly that before Anita and her crew realised it, they had helped and eased into New Zealand society scores and scores of migrant families via the simplest of formulae : because she was a former migrant herself, she knew how it was to walk in their shoes.
Almost as an afterthought when asked how she had spent so much time in these migrant aid groups, she said : helping people is my passion.
In 2011 no less than the New Zealand Government, represented by the Governor General himself, conferred on our kabayan Anita the Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of her sterling efforts serving both the Filipino and migrant communities the last three decades.
Only two other Filipinos have received this honor, but Anita says the award itself is but a confirmation of the work she has done since she arrived in New Zealand, as a volunteer where the opportunity to help others is its own reward.
Inspiring words from the Cebuana migrant who jumped into New Zealand on that fateful windy day in Wellington 31 years ago with stars in her eyes, and ended up dedicating her life to helping others.
*Kinoy, a contraction for Kiwi Pinoy, is a non-racial term for Filipinos who’ve either been born or have migrated to New Zealand

remembering Tita Lily

until this post I had overlooked this precious pic of Tita Lily with my four bros 4th Brother, 2nd Brother, Eldest Brother and 4th Brother.  Thanks and acknowledgment to judebautista.wordpress.com for the pic!

until this post I had overlooked this precious pic of Tita Lily with my four bros 4th Brother, 2nd Brother, Eldest Brother and 5th Brother. Love you brothers and love you forever Tita Lily! Thanks and acknowledgment to judebautista.wordpress.com for the pic!

(Note : Still the last day of the month of undas today, and I remember with fondness a most remarkable person who died May last year, an aunt for the ages, Tita Lily. )

MY earliest, earliest memories of Tita Lily were of her helping pay the monthly rent to our apartment landlord, which was way back ago, probably the late 1960s.  She had been married for some time and no longer lived with us but I’m nearly certain she was still helping my dad (her bro) and mom with the rent, having lived together for some time before she got married.  Long after that, and till the day she died, she kept my folks and bros as part of her immediate family, for more than four decades.

She would help send us to school, always made sure we had happy birthdays, happy holidays and happy school breaks, never forgot a birthday anniversary or other milestone, and frequently asked at least one of us to tag along during her annual overseas trips.  My parents were always grateful, and always made sure we thanked Tita Lily and showered her with gratitude.  Because she had many other siblings and many other loved ones in her circle, multiply this feel-good festival by around two dozen and you get an idea of how highly people thought of her.

But Tita Lily’s charity only started at home.  At the law office where she worked, in her neighborhood and larger community, and particularly her parish church, little acts of generosity became part of her regular routine.  Do you know how with most of us, every time you or I enjoy a happy thought, we smile or hum a tune?  Well, every time my aunt had a happy thought, she did something for someone.

She bought a hungry person lunch.  She visited someone sick in the hospital.  She sent a poor student a monthly allowance.  Or she remembered to send someone a birthday gift.  She did it so well, and it became such a part of her thoughts and actions that it inevitably became a part of her character to be a remarkably generous person, the way Stephen Covey says it so well:

Sow a thought; reap an action.  Sow an action; reap a habit.  Sow a habit; reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny. 

It didn’t hurt that her focus on work and career success allowed her to become a person of means.  But Tita Lily was the type of person who would have been uber generous if she was wealthy, if she was of moderate means, or if she was poor.  For the entirety of my life, long before, and long after, that’s how I saw her.

I say long after because long after I’m gone, children, grandchildren and probably even great-grandchildren will continue to benefit from her generosity.  The fruits of her compassion have been and will be paid forward years and years from now, far and wide, and to people she has loved, friends, acquaintances and those she had never met.  It gives me goose bumps to know that long after she has passed on, people will be telling their grandchildren about Tita Lily :  I am the man / woman today because of a woman who cared enough to send me to school, and who loved me even though she never knew me.  

That woman of course is Ms Lily B Yang.  Privileged to have known her, privileged to be her nephew, and privileged to have a life touched by her.  Missing you terribly Tita Lily!

intimate bedroom items bout Mahal & me

snoreHOPE I didn’t mislead you anywhere Ginoong / Binibining (Mr/Ms) Precious Reader, but what I meant to say was intimate facts around the bedroom that I have learned about myself and Mahal.  That’s better.  Now you wouldn’t toss a second look at a blog post with that title diba?  It’s just that over the last few years I have come to realize first that there is no familiarity built up that is more intense than one with a partner spouse or live-in boyfriend/girlfriend, all scruples of morality aside.

You burp, fart, pick your nose, do your number ones and number twos in front of each other, perform your bedtime rituals and morning ablutions without a second thought to the other’s presence.  Things you wouldn’t dream of doing in front of another human being you do regularly in front of your loved one.  What did he/she do to deserve such dubious entertainment, I ask?  Well, it’s one of the facts of life we accept when we take a person to share a bed, roof and life with.  You take the good and the bad, the sublime with the icky, everything in between, hope for the best, but actually expect the worst :

snoremanDM1211_468x337Snoring.  I’ve started with the singularly universal issue that many cohabitants live with (pun intended).  Either one of the pair snores, making sleeptime difficult if not miserable for the other, or in some cases both partners snore, in which case it’s a race to who gets to dreamland first, at the peril of the one left behind.   The reality in my case is that while I snore infinitely louder than my beloved, I can’t tolerate hearing her snore, even if she’s just a “moderate” snorer.  Our interim solution, until we consult a sleep or apnea specialist, is she very generously waits for me to fall asleep first (which isn’t hard) or failing that, I temporarily move to the next room and try to fall asleep there.  It’s not ideal I know, but it works.  I pity the creature, though, who happens to be in the bedroom when we’re both asleep and snoring our heads off.

choresChores.  The bedroom is the place where I do a little more than Mahal, and not in the naughty sense.  She vacuums most of the rest of the house, leaving me only the bedsides and surrounds to clean up.  I also make the bed and fill the water bottles on the side tables.  If I don’t do these token chores, I usually get in trouble, because it’s practically the only things expected of me outside of doing the dishes and taking out the rubbish, so I do the best I can.  On most days. :)

House rules.  No electronics, except the digital alarm with five-minute resets.  No reading material, unless I want a cranky, cantankerous and caustic bedmate who sleeps only in absolute darkness.  It’s been such a habit of hers that I’ve gotten used to sleeping in pitch dark now, not even a sliver of light from between the curtains or under the door.  And no sharing of pillows, particularly if you need pillows under your feet thighs or support for your back, which coincidentally I do.  In fact, the only thing we share on the bed is the duvet and a goodnight kiss before beddy-bye time.

thanks to biensoeur.blogspot.com for the pic!

thanks to biensoeur.blogspot.com for the pic!

And finally…  After all, it is the bedroom, where conjugal love and intimacy has been celebrated for as long as humans started seeking shelter from the elements, in a cave, up a tree, or what have you.  So whenever I want  a little more than the usual shuteye and Mahal isn’t too tired from the day’s work, I take extra pains to let her know I’m in the mood.  How to do it?  Taking a shower, taking pains to look and smell good, keeping the bedroom cleaner and tidier than usual, and most of all, kissing Mahal extra long and sensuously.  Of all the tricks, the last one seems to work well most and often.

But that’s just icing on the cake.  Night in and night out, it’s the companionship and the knowing that everytime you turn in, there’s someone beside you who, no matter how awful your day has been, kisses you and tells you, tomorrow will be a better day.  Thank God for that!


meet the parents

Bunso & Logan

Bunso & Logan

[ I’m sure they’ve seen the video below before, but it’s dedicated to Bunso and Logan!  And it’s the not main reason for this blog, but if after reading this if at least one parent can broaden his / her perspective on gays and gayness, particularly in connection with their kids, then this post would’ve been worth the typing.  Mabuhay po! ]

I hope Precious Reader doesn’t think that I’m making such a big deal about this.  After all, I’ve met Panganay’s girlfriend quite a few times over dinner without too much fanfare (although she is the first Kiwi in our family), and Ganda’s boyfriend, a Pinoy-as-bagoong twentysomething, has been in our flat several times since he was introduced to us.

***   ***   ***

But it’s no trifle when it’s your baby introducing his special someone, the baby that Bunso happens to be.  As far as I know it’s his first relationship, the first in his 19 years, he seems very fond of his special someone, and he absolutely insisted that we meet him before he returned to Australia for the holidays.

I would be less than candid if I didn’t tell you there was a bit of apprehension on the way, as you may have gathered from the pronouns and if you’ve heard me go on about Bunso before, that he has made no qualms about being gay in his sexuality and relationships and it has only made goodwife Mahal and me, and of course his mom and stepdad, prouder than we already are as his parents.  Given his courage and forthrightness, we can do no less.

***     ***     ***

The dinner date last Saturday almost didn’t happen, what with Mahal filling in for a sick colleague on a weekend shift and me hoping to catch some zzz’s after a week of mixed shifts.  But in the end we loved Bunso too much to disappoint him, and of course we were more than a bit curious to see Bunso’s beau.  Besides at least Panganay or Ganda (or maybe both of them) would be tagging along, just as curious to see how we would react to the match.

Chinese goes well with anything and so Chinese it was, complete with noodles, dumplings and fried rice, staples you need to get the juices flowing.  And we needed the juices flowing just to be able to keep up with Logan (not his real name, but it’s close), who was just as eager as we were to make a good first impression.  He ticked all the right boxes for our Bunso.  He was (is) handsome, intelligent, well-spoken, charming, and as polite as any young man could be.  He just happened to be as gay as our son, which obviously suited Bunso just fine.

We wanted to make him feel comfortable with us, even though it was the first time that we were witnessing Bunso truly in love, but on the other hand we didn’t want to appear as trying too hard to be agreeable, as we also wanted to get to know him as he was and not just because we were Bunso’s folks.

***     ***     ***


Turned out Panganay (who was there obviously) balanced it out, what with his willingness to ask honest questions in the midst of a politically correct family dinner.  Were Logan and Bunso alright with the fact that bigots and homophobes were lurking just around the corner to give them a hard time?  How did Logan deal with the mentality that compared with Kiwi society, Australians are considered more racially intolerant?  (Logan is Australian.)  All credit to him, he dealt with such questions with grace and good humor.  You can’t please everybody.  And I can’t apologize for my people.  But I can get out of my stereotype as positively as I can.  

You don’t need to be gay to appreciate his words.

Before we knew it, it was time to go, but it did make me cringe a little bit (mentally) to see my son and his boyfriend kiss and cuddle, hold hands and complete each other’s sentences, and gaze at each other with goo-goo eyes.  Panganay rolled his eyes more than a few times, but I knew what he was thinking, which was exactly what I was thinking : if he can make Bunso happy, then I’m good.

And that, my friends, was that.

adjusting my FB profile to reality

blockHEY GUYS, smile if you’ve done one, more or all of the following :

You’ve just come home from a party or event, and the first thing you do, even before peeling off your street clothes, gathering or collecting the accumulated miscellany of your long day, is feed your memory card / smartphone to your computer so you can show off / edit / select your precious pics to your Facebook friends.

You love a post about an ideology / life philosophy / lifehack so much that you replace your current Facebook profile pic with said post, letting the whole world know that such philosophy is now imprinted into your DNA.

You are “tagged” in a photo, meaning such photo gets posted in your Facebook account / page, but such photo is unflattering to you, meaning it doesn’t show off your good side, and you look like your eyes are half closed, your mouth is partially open or you look like you weren’t ready for the picture-taking, whatever.  You unceremoniously “untag” yourself and banish such post, however well-meaning, from page,  hmmmp.

Wow, I need my sunglasses for all those sparkling ivories and nodding heads.  You too Mom?

Even if you’re only vaguely familiar with the above practices, like me you’ve probably been overtaken by events.  The day when our social network avatars have become as important as our actual selves in manifesting our identity to the outside world is not coming, it has already arrived.  Posting pictures of yourself and your social circle, recording the events of your life via your Facebook page, and receiving updates from everyone who matters to you has become an indispensable part of your life.

Jumping right in to my topic du jour, how close to reality is my Facebook page as an accurate representation of myself?  More to the point, how far is how I want to be perceived as a person (as shown in my FB account) from how I am in the real world?  I realize there is never gonna be a definitive answer to this, however I would probably be less than honest with myself if I didn’t try.  I know that you, Precious Reader, may or may not appreciate what I’m trying to say since we may not even be Facebook friends, but I have a funny feeling that maybe just maybe you can relate.

one of our happy gatherings with Panganay and Ganda, Bunso was working so couldn't be in the pic.

one of our happy gatherings with Panganay and Ganda, Bunso was working so couldn’t be in the pic.

doting father - lots of my FB posts are pictures of me and Mahal (my wife) with my three kids Panganay, Ganda and Bunso, giving me the appearance of a hands-on parent who’s a constant presence in their lives.   The truth is, with their school, work and significant others, I hardly see them more than twice a month, but I’m cool with that. After all they are already young adults trying to get a foothold in the dog-eat-dog world of New Zealand migrants.  However, when we do get together, Mahal and I try as much as possible to (1) get all three of them together, (2) indulge in a meal that reminds us best of home, and the easiest way to do that is to go Chinese, and (3) enjoy as much quality time as we can in the window of opportunity available.  Result: I usually post pics of me and the kids in a haze of gastronomic content, all smiles and ready to share our most recent experiences in Windy Welly.

any time there's a family gathering in Manila, I get to see it through FB pics.  This is a birthday celebration attended by Mom and her siblings.

any time there’s a family gathering in Manila, I get to see it through FB pics. This is a birthday celebration attended by Mom and her siblings.

dutiful son - because I have a brother who’s also a professional photog, whenever the olds celebrate another milestone back home, he makes sure to tag me in the pics, and of course I gratefully comment on how the happy faces make me feel I’m right there with them.  I do it every time I can, so my page is filled with pics of Dad, Mom, aunts, uncles cuzzies and everyone who makes the time to celebrate life, longevity and the chance to spend such with loved ones.  FB friends tell me I’m so gung-ho with family, but I immediately tell them that I’m the lucky one, being able to carve out a life in the land of promise and seeing my relatives enjoy the fruits of their labor in the old country.

a typical Saturday breakfast. It's the only day of the week Mahal and I are both off work.  Thanks Mahal!

a typical Saturday breakfast. It’s the only day of the week Mahal and I are both off work. Thanks Mahal!

lucky hubby - everytime you see pics showcasing a Pinoy breakfast spread, a smart new shirt, an unexpected treat or a trip to town, it’s the consequence of a generous helping of thoughtfulness by wife Mahal who feeds me, clothes me, brings me to work when it’s too cold to bike and tucks me in when I’ve got an early shift ahead.  This is the part of my FB profile that is truly accurate, and I can never show enough appreciation for my better half, what better way than to do it with my online avatar?

Sugar Crush!

Sugar Crush!

Facebook gamer - this is one aspect of my cyber self that I can’t avoid showing.  As part of the deal using free addictive FB games, all the levels reached, points scored and milestones achieved get posted on my page, usually indicating the inordinate length of time I spend on Candy Crush Saga, Word Battle and Riddle Stones.  I think it’s a fair exchange considering that I don’t need to visit any arcade and don’t waste any coins on mindless, compulsive activity that has become commonplace and socially acceptable in our world today.

Like it or not, we are now perceived by our postings on our favorite social networking sites, as they have become an essential part of modern existence.  How accurately they reflect our actual selves is a matter of bias, profile management and ultimately our glorious vanity.  Thanks for reading!


the privilege of knowing & working for the Barrio Doctor

Ms Didith Tayawa- Figuracion and the great man, Senator Juan Flavier

Ms Didith Tayawa- Figuracion and the great man, Senator Juan Flavier

[Note : Today we give way to someone special on a special subject.  Though we didn’t know it then, my friend and fellow migrant Ms Didith Tayawa-Figuracion and I worked in the Senate of the Philippines at roughly the same time.  I couldn’t make one word better in this simply written but eloquent tribute to not just a dedicated public servant but a great man, Dr Juan Flavier.  Thank you Didith and Clark (get well soon) for allowing me to repost. ]

Here’s a tribute to SENATOR JUAN MARTIN FLAVIER, my former boss, idol, father figure and Ninong, all rolled into one:

You were my boss in the Senate for 10 years before moving to New Zealand to start a new chapter of my life. In all those years, I have only but happy memories.

I remember how you fondly called me Pocahontas.

I remember how you consoled me after being emotional when substantial changes to the proposed Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), a landmark legislation, were made at the Bicameral Congressional Committee on Cultural Communities.You said: “Didith, in life, you can’t win them all.You have to be prepared to compromise. What is important is to identify your non-negotiables and fight tooth and nail for them.” These are words that have guided me in life all these years.

I remember the campaign trail and speaking engagements when I accompanied you. No matter how many times I have heard some of your jokes and anecdotes, you never fail to make me laugh.You are a stellar public speaker – funny and witty. I asked what your secret was and you said: “Didith, if you make your audience laugh and cry at the same time, you hit the right spot. Speak from your heart and don’t be afraid to make jokes of yourself and your experiences”. I’m trying to but it is easier said than done.

I remember with fondness our Senate family. We ate together, travelled together. You treated us like your own children. We were a very happy family.

I remember how generous you were in your praises of your staff members. At the signing of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as a law in Malacanang Palace in 1997, you introduced me to then President Fidel Ramos as the one who worked hard for the passage of the law even if the credit was yours because of your steadfastness and resolute to have this law passed when others have failed. Previous Congresses have not even reached the Second Reading. You always introduced your staff as the ‘one that makes you look intelligent’ even if you should get all the credit because you put your 100% in all you do. We were just happy to say that ‘you are the one that makes us look honourable’. You are a remarkable man, a very humble man.

I remember how you were unconventional as a Senator. Our Senate Office was the only one with a note on the door stating that you do not accept solicitation letters nor invitations to weddings or baptismal as a sponsor. Others said it was a political suicide. You said you are in the Senate to make laws and not distribute money. You also said, how can you be a true godfather to people you do not know and not even met? This is because you take seriously the role of a godfather.

I remember that when you were driven to work and home, you only have one route and traversed it everyday. You never wanted any other way no matter how bad the traffic was.You never had a bodyguard nor used your ‘wangwang’ nor the car’s horn. You even drove your grandchildren, to SM for instance, on your own. You didn’t drive any of the luxury cars other Senators or public officials drove. You lived a life of a simple man despite your stature.

I remember your advice to us at our wedding. Even if you were not physically present at our wedding here in New Zealand, you sent us your lovely message. You said that your secrets to a happy marriage are: 1) never sleep with your problems/issues unresolved because when you wake up the next day, the problem will remain unsolved plus a headache and irritation for lack of sleep; 2) when one is fire, the other should be water; learn to keep quiet and placate the other person before opening your mouth; 3) always say ‘I love you’ and kiss your partner before you leave the house or the car because you’ll never know that it maybe your last and always remember to celebrate important milestones in your life. Simple advices but true and tested.

I remember how you and Ninang Susan allowed us to visit and had lunch with you at your home in Tandang Sora whenever we go visit the Philippines for holiday, even if in those times, you don’t feel well and were not accepting of visitors. You said that we are always welcome and treat your home as ours. We value that trust and privilege.

I will always remember you. You will always be in my heart. I thank God that I had the privilege of knowing you, being close to you. An honourable person like you, in this time and age, is difficult to come by. So it is indeed an honour and privilege to be associated with you in your life’s journey.

I love you JMF. I will miss you. Goodbye.

Didith Tayawa Clark Figuracion
Wellington, New Zealand

the least we can do is call her Jennifer

thanks and acknowledgment to dailymail.co.uk for the lovely photo of Ms Jennifer Laude.

thanks and acknowledgment to dailymail.co.uk for the lovely photo of Ms Jennifer Laude.

[ Yes we love our gays, as sure as we love bashing them.  But does this also mean we should protect the most vulnerable of their lot, the sex workers who must endure the occasional psychotic homophobe?  The answer is : is gay-friendly Pope Francis Catholic? :) ]

ALMOST as an afterthought and nearly needless to say, 99.9% of this letter-length hodgepodge of words and phrases is sourced from the richest of info motherlodes : word-of-mouth, hearsay, urban legend, and deep bias, not the least of which is that most overrated of sources, internet news media.

But as my constant companion and excellent listener, you already know that, right?  (That’s my way of saying reader beware, accuracy alert and all that. )

But it really insults the intelligence and taxes the patience of whoever has been witness to the murder of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude and the resulting brouhaha that (1) more than the moral outrage of his/her death is the apparent cover-up of the details of the commission of the crime, and (2) the scant regard for the reckless behavior of American servicemen that is the consequence of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Pilipinas and Estados Unidos.  Number (1)  is bad enough, but (2) ensures that this sort of thing will not just recur, but will be overlooked and therefore flourish with impunity.

Imagine buying a mislabeled product, bringing it home and finding out it only looked like what you wanted.  What do you do?  Let me guess.  You bring it back to the mall with the receipt, demand a refund (or at the very least an exchange) and come back none the worse for wear.  A no-brainer, right?

Let’s extend the analogy a bit.  We’re all adults here.  (For the kids, you’ll be adults soon right?)  You’re a hot-blooded young stud, you’ve had a bit to drink, after two weeks of non-stop work on a boat in the middle of the sea.  Not only that, you’re starved for a bit of action.  A sweet young thing is in front of you and you can’t wait to bring her somewhere dark and cozy, so you can do dark and cozy things.  After a bit of negotiation, you do just that, bring her to the said dark and cozy place, where you do a lot of necking and smooching, and a lot of other things that can’t be mentioned here.  Along the way you discover that the sweet young thing isn’t what he/she actually is but is more like you, meaning she has all your junk.

Do you say sorry for the foreplay, no matter how enthusiastic, but I’ve just lost interest, and vacate the premises ASAP?  Do you return said not-so sweet young thing to wherever you met and part ways?  Or do you throw a fit or tantrum, demand your money back, and hopefully try your luck again?

You might do one, two or all of those things.  But you certainly don’t beat the sweet young thing up, and break every bone in his/her body and drown him/her in the bathtub.  Because you’re not a crazy, psychotic and homophobic person who reacts as such just because you found someone who has a dick and balls attractive.  (Sorry for the language, but that’s how it is.)

I’m not even sure if Jenny Laude was such (yes, let’s at least call her by her preferred name), but our gay prostitutes are among the most vulnerable in the gay community.  I can’t even imagine the hurt, ridicule, not to mention the danger they expose themselves to, just to earn a living.  I can’t go any further.

The protection afforded by the US Government to US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is natural and expected.  They will do nothing short of bribe, lie, and conceal the truth to get said US Marine out of the proverbial jam.  Wouldn’t you do the same if one of your citizens were in mortal danger of a long prison sentence in a foreign country?  The problem is, while doing so, justice would be denied to one of our own, who just happens to be a transgender Pinoy/Pinay, Jennifer Laude.

If you wanna continue being outraged, you are certainly free to read on in ph.news.yahoo.com. I just want to commend Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who is at least entertaining while picking apart the way details of the crime are being obfuscated :

Chief Superintendent Theresa Ann Cid, chief of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, said evidence recovered at the crime scene included strands of hair, two used condoms, blood and urine samples. The PNP is still completing the tests on the evidence.

Told about the condoms, Santiago remarked: “At least we can safely say that the suspect, or what they call in America as a person of interest, ejaculated twice. Would that be correct?”

Cid replied, “Not necessarily, your honor. The first condom has fresh seminal fluid, with fecal material. The second condom seems not to have the presence of semen… Apparently, they were used.”

Chief Inspector Reynaldo Dave, PNP medico-legal officer, said it was safe to say that the condoms were used in anal sex. The police experts, however, said they could not conclude that the semen samples belonged to Pemberton.

“If he was a male, how does he have sex with the Marine?” Santiago asked.

“I just have to corroborate with the findings on condoms and the other pieces of evidence,” Dave replied. “We can safely conclude (anal or rectal sex).”

Santiago said anal sex is “the usual method for transgenders.” (duh)

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For every Vice Ganda in the super limelight, and every Diego in Mixed Nuts, we probably have a hundred or so Jennifer Laudes who face the dangers of getting beaten up, or worse, getting killed while trying to earn a little money.  Yes we love our gays in the Philippines, but we should also protect them.  Apologies for the scatterbrained and haphazard way I put this together today.  Jennifer deserved a little better.  She still does.