why Marilou Guangco Scott is my favorite Kinoy*


[ Note : a previous blog on the same subject matter contained an error, which we have removed.  Such error is in no way caused by the subject matter of this blog, and YLB is the sole culprit.  Profuse apologies to anyone who may have been offended by such error.  Thanks for reading! ]

UNLIKELY AND improbable.  Not your everyday descriptions of our Pinoy kabayan, but they are quite useful when thinking of Marilou.

Think about it.  In the midst of a half-hearted business climate, Marilou did one of the unlikelier things in Dunedin, one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand.  She put up her own arts and crafts shop that specialized in personalized items, carving her own niche where no Pinoy ventured before.

Improbable, because she has taken up causes for abused women, raises money for the NZ Breast Cancer Society, shouts from the rooftops her pride in being Pinoy every Independence Day in probably the southernmost tip of the Southern Hemisphere, and mentors new migrants, and does all these while generating goodwill and teamwork among the Dunedin Philippine community, under the aegis of her umbrella barkada, the Philippine Dunedin Club.

All because in her own words, advocacy of other people’s causes is advocacy for part of yourself.  That’s why we’ll take unlikely and improbable anytime, when these words are part of Marilou’s inspiring efforts.  And this is certainly a great reason why, especially on her birthday ( last 28th August), Marilou Guangco Scott is our favorite Kinoy!

Mabuhay!

*Kinoy, a contraction for Kiwi Pinoy, is a non-racial term for Filipinos who’ve either been born or have migrated to New Zealand.

belated happy birthday Nancy Chua !


excellent taste and quiet elegance has always been a signature of Nancy !

belated happy birthday (24th August) to Ms Nancy Chua !

One of our most impressive contemporaries in high school was Nancy.

Of impressive stature, she had a nearly picture-perfect face, was outstanding with both the spoken and written word, and could either light up a room or charm a guy speechless with just one of her enigmatic smiles.

Through the years, and aided by Facebook photos and feel-good reunions, we have the confidence to say that she has not lost the qualities that so won us over, then and now.

So sorry for the late greeting dear kabatch, so nice to see you last reunion, and thanks for the memories!

YLB Noel

belated happy birthday Doc Gina Yu – Tecson !


looking great after all these years!

belated happy birthday (20th August) to Doc Gina Yu – Tecson !

Whenever I think of Doc Gina, I remember the jeepney rides from our school near Malacañang to Quiapo, the crazy jokes on the way, and the unqualified happiness of our senior year so many years ago.

But Gina has also been a constant source of strength to all in her circle, an amazing font of fortitude and inspiration to all those facing challenges of life.  She not only provides the healing skills of her profession, but also calming counsel and sage advice from someone well beyond her years.

And looking at her pictures, it likewise appears that Gina has been following her own health advice, looking as fit, young and energetic as anyone half her age.

So sorry for the late greeting Doc Gina, hope you spent your happy day with friends and family.

Looking good, well done and kudos, dear classmate!

YLB Noel

 

the last great pinoy addiction


our favorite food-trippers and their best friends… thanks to archiefans.com for the pic!

[ Please note that “great” in the following context refers to magnitude and extent of influence in my life, and not to other potentially positive attributes, as the word is often expected to project.  Condolences to the family of Sec Jesse Robredo and the Pinoy community of believers in public sector reform, congrats to Pres. Noynoy on his outstanding choice of Prof Ma Lourdes Sereno for Chief Justice of the Phil. Supreme Court, and awesome kudos to the NZ All-Blacks for their clinical dissection of the Wallabies last night to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 10th straight year, sorry to my former news ed Mr Raul Zamuco, woohoohoo! ]

BECAUSE THE excuse of a busted bike gave me free rides from SuperBisor all week last week, I had more than the usual moments with my lonesome after exercise, and before chores and time with esposa hermosa.  I had in fact an epiphany while looking at my pathetic self in the mirror, realizing the following : (1) it was less than three years before I would hit the half-century mark, a milestone that just a few years ago I thought was positively ancient; (2) instead of shedding off unsightly balikbayan poundage since returning to the grind July, I had actually ADDED to it, and was now around 10 kilos above my normal fighting weight (which you don’t need to know by the way, just believe my shameful admission); and (3) my promise to myself to consume either oatmeal or cereal every morning, avoid the decadent Breakfast-Value-Meal-like breakfasts that gave me so much more cholesterol, transfat and lipid-rich slush in my plumbing had remained just that, a(n unfulfilled) promise.

Guess how I celebrated discovering this nugget of self-discovery?  I uncovered a tub of ice cream I hid in the furthest corner of the freezer, half a liter bottle of Regular Sprite (not diet or Sprite Zero) that nobody wanted, heated up one-plus servings of gooey lasagna that was part of my baon the next few days, microwaved leftovers of the last two days (rice, igado, kaldereta etc), brought out banana slices, apple slices and macadamia-corn-flakes cereal that I missed for breakfast (the only healthy part of this orgy) and demolished, ate it all.  Everything on the enumeration just gone by.

It’s no excuse, but my blood sugar was low, just missed both lunch and breakfast as I had to accommodate an overdue run around the block, I wanted to reward myself for the run, but I only realized the cringe-inducing and disgusting nature of my deed, as usual, after the last grain, crumb and drop had rolled down my throat.  Sa huli ang pagsisisi.

You’ve probably guessed that I’ve been guilty of these acts throughout most of my life.  I’m not only a binge eater, I pig out on midnight snacks.  I eat way too much sweets, I love salty chichirya, all the junk food that a person like me is supposed to avoid, and my only excuse is I deserve a little break every now and then.

The only problem is now and then is too often, a little break has become too regular for me, and I simply can’t continue to eat with too much sugar and too much salt in my daily diet.  As it is, there’s already a proliferation of sodium and sugar in an average of six meals of the male Pinoy, daily rice intake itself is already the molecular equivalent of half a dozen teaspoons of sugar, with the only difference being that you can’t pig out on sugar cubes.  The way I’ve been brought up, the media and information culture I grew up in, and my predisposition to certain foods will almost surely consign me to hypertension, Type B diabetes, cardiovascular illness and a host of other related conditions before I reach the last two decades of my life expectancy.  And there’s no other way to put it : it has a lot to with my sugar and salt addiction.

thanks to donenrique.blogspot for the pic !

I won’t mention the deleterious effects of the said chemicals C12H22O11 and NaCl, because you all know it, it’s just that the intelligent part of our brain shuts down when confronted with gorgeous pastries, glistening french fries, caramel frapuccino, and colorful kakanin.  For thousands of years, the scarcity of food and our unending struggle with the elements has taught our bodies to evolve fat-retaining properties and sugar-containing systems, a self-defense mechanism gifted to us by God and nature.  Because of the plenitude of food afforded by science and the industrial revolution, we don’t need to keep extra food in our bodies anymore.  We don’t even need to hibernate anymore.  But because eating is always pleasurable, because we are by nature lazy and hate to exercise, and because the instinct of food business is to make us continuously addicted to its ever-changing products, fourteen percent (14%) of the world is now obese, one in three Americans are grossly fat, and one in five New Zealanders are unacceptably overweight.

self-explanatory. thanks to ehow.com!

Now, being addicted to both sugar and sweet isn’t too bad for me; it is one of the few addictions that are socially acceptable in the modern world.  Even being obese is not so bad if you can bear the stares and snickers behind your back, witness the stats on fatness the previous sentence.  The only snag in the stitchwork in my personal case is that I’m on the brink of senior hood, when middle-age spread (or bilbil that won’t go away) takes a herculean effort to counteract, when the occupational hazards of eating everything in front of you ( I am to please ) begin to show up in the form of various diseases and when the cheques your body wrote during the wildness of your decadent youth are coming back to haunt you for encashment, with interest.

The bottom line is that like many of you similarly placed, the urgency of common sense and self-preservation has coerced me into giving up most of my addictions.  Tobacco was the easiest habit to pick up but the hardest to break.  Alcohol made for good conversation, but through the years you just realized that throwing up too often wasn’t that hard to give up.  And funny cigarets altered a lot of your ways of thinking but didn’t do you too many favors being perceived as a normal person, so that wasn’t too hard.

It’s eating and eating food that’s bad for you (but which tastes so good) that is the addiction nurtured by a lifetime of bad habits, and therefore takes the remaining portion of your life to undo and change.  That’s why, beyond all common sense, after eating food that could have fed three people, I’m looking forward to Chinese takeaway dinner  with the obligatory MSG, secondhand cooking oil and food coloring all around.

Thanks for reading !

the five people you meet in the barangay


FOR SOME time, a very long time in fact, my passport was the only acceptable means of identification that I had while in New Zealand.  I suffered such a deathly fear of being accosted by policemen / constables as a newbie work permit / visa holder in NZ (despite the fact that I dared not consider any intention of pursuing any criminal activity) that, just to prove my legal status and that I was a productive contributor to the NZ economy, I carried my passport on my person at all times every day, every week and every month for more than a year, even when I was doing such mundane activities as reporting for work, buying groceries or even jogging around the block.  Yes, I was that paranoid, perhaps remembering scary stories of OFWs in the Middle East and domestic helpers in HK, Singapore and Malaysia.

It was only when a fellow Pinoy told me that hindi naman kapatid, unless you are a recidivist offender, you will not be harrassed and questioned about your migrant status, and even then you will never be summarily deported without your side and your defenses first being heard by a court with due notice to you.  Such rights, so rare and precious in kingdoms and autocratic states, are as natural as the air we breathe in democracies like New Zealand.

Such quirks and similar anecdotes like these I can only remember with bemusement, but when you think about it, we Pinoys bring to our adopted lands facets of our quirks and character that are difficult to forget and dispose of, probably because they are such an important part of our personalities as Asians, Pinoys and hardy migrants that have made such an impact in First World host countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US.

Below are only a few stereotypes of the Pinoys I have seen in my big little community, the profiles strike me not so much in their attributes but by the way they remind me of home :

The joinerIndependence Day celebrations?  His kakanin booth is there.  Misa de Gallo and Christmas gatherings?  They’ve never missed a dawn Mass.  Flood victim fund and relief goods collection?  Always first in line to volunteer.  If there’s a group to be joined, an event to be staffed, or an activity to be scheduled, you can bet your bottom peso that Ginoo and Ginang Joiner will be there, for no better reason than it’s there to be joined.  You may or may not always like their busybody ways, their tendency to sometimes get in your face, and their preoccupation to give out unsolicited (especially migrant) advice, but you can’t question their sincerity.  They always want to help their kabayan, and if in the process they make a little extra money, make a new friend and expand their network, why the heck not?  That’s the joiner for you.

The zealot.  The zealots belong to a subset of the above group, except that they tend to focus their activities on, you guessed it, religious activities like Novena Masses, special activities of the Filipino Catholic community like block rosaries, novenas and visits of church officials like bishops, monsignors and healing clergymen and women.  There are also other groups like non-denominational Christians, JIL Fellowships and simple Bible study groups that meet in members’ homes, but the common denominator is : their devotion and dedication to what they do is total, they welcome new members (non-Pinoys probably) but adding to their group size is not essential; the preparation is ultimately for the next life.  You can’t help but admire these people, because their cause is unseen and their goals intangible: saving souls and reaching heaven.

The gossip.  Truthfully we all have a bit of the gossip within us, YLB certainly no exception, and the Pinoy community wherever the milieu teems with gossips with multi-senses alert for the latest news, and in turn ready to spill to the nearest gossip-receiver.  Not all gossip as you may think is negative, and gossip per se is not bad, it merely reflects the vibrancy and willingness of Pinoys to connect, interact and network with each other, the juicyness of gossip being the coin of the realm.  It only becomes dismaying when negative and personal, particularly false and character assassinating items are circulated without regard to families and feelings involved.  Character defects, family problems, even the veracity of whether an altered appearance has anything to do with cosmetic surgery,  all are fair game for the gossip, and as they say, bato-bato sa langit, ang matamaan wag magalit.

the fanatic.  Anything to do with sports, particularly basketball, is the focus of the fanatic, and he seeks to transfer his enthusiasm for the same from TV and multi-media to tournaments during special Pinoy occasions, like Queens Birthday, Labor Day Weekend, and similar events.  Used to be, basketball was the main attraction first, second and last, but in recent years, badminton, volleyball, golf and other ball sports have been used to generate competition and interaction between Pinoys of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and other cities in New Zealand.  Needless to say, the same sports fanatics will be seen in these sportsfests year in and year out, first as participants, then as organizers and patrons of future sports fanatics like themselves.

the organizer.  Then there will always be the leader and alpha-male / female stereotype who will organize Pinoys into geographical, professional and interest groups, no matter how small the town and no matter how small the Pinoy community is.  They see it as their obligation as natural leaders to share their skills, energy and enthusiasm with others, with of course the side outcome that they will lead whatever enterprise they create.  Since they provide the boat, the bait, and train the fishers out of men, shouldn’t the organizers decide how the fishes will be distributed ?  They do everything from start to finish, draw up the incorporation papers, schedule the meetings, pick out the worthy causes and goals to pursue, and in the end is it so outrageous that they claim the credit?  As long as good is being done, and everybody’s happy, then give the medal to the worthiest performer, diba?

There will always be other stereotypes and many of us are probably a combination of one, more or all of the above.  These I gathered from my humble experience in Auckland and Wellington, but these categories will look familiar anywhere in the global Pinoy barangay.

Thanks for reading !

the last weekend of winter with Ganda & Bunso


not only did Ganda, Mahal and Bunso have fun, they also managed to look awesome and cool 🙂

I’M NOT one to indulge in psychobabble or armchair psychology, but I can’t resist self-diagnosing : if you’re anywhere being a half-decent Pinoy (or otherwise) parent (notice I didn’t say good parent, that’s presumptuous), you can relate to my saying that your kids are the only persons on this planet before whom you never need to put on appearances; by nature and/or whether you like it or not, you are simply yourself, nothing more and nothing less.  Among the many reasons for this : It is good for their mental health and yours; they already know (or are on the verge of knowing) you very well from head to foot; you can’t deny your true self to the people of whom you are a part and will always be a part of you, long after you have left this life.

Having said that, I once again had a chance to affirm the above law of the universe after spending a tiring but fulfilling weekend with Ganda and Bunso still intoxicated with the afterglow of permanent resident status ; a window of sunlight, showerless rest days, and snow on Mt Ruapehu certainly a confluence of pleasant events to greet recent happy events in our family.

The unintended sidelight of all these was that despite all my attempts to sound sage and ready to dispense with wisdom of the ages, my daughter and younger son saw me for what I am : an excited father just as thrilled to see his kids enjoy life, irrepressible youth, and the rare milestones of successful migration.

their first-ever sightings of snow as young adults, the sled rides and ski lifts over snowed over hillsides were all highlights symbolic of their new lives as NZ permanent residents : in just a few weeks their daily routine of waiting and idleness had turned into frantic paperwork and countless details that needed to be furnished, added and confirmed.  The wintry respite was a much needed break not only for the budding New Zealanders, but also for their parents, who had not shared a day off together in over two weeks.

In between, the much needed interaction surfaced not just between generations but also between would-be travellers in different stages of the migrant journey.  Ironically, Ganda and Bunso were far ahead of me, a guest worker, in our common quest to become NZ citizens, though I would unconditionally be happy for them in every goal they attained.

And on the ride home from the winter wonderland,  if ever I thought that I remained the ageless dad from whom they would owe their looks, Bunso hit me with the joke-of-the-day : natatakot ako tumanda Papa, kasi nakikita ko sa yo magiging hitsura ko.  The punch line was brutal, but at least the smile was disarming.

Whether or not his joke penetrated any vital organs, such frankness from Bunso would serve him well as NZ resident for years to come.

Thanks for reading !

pinoyness in the neighborhood, pinoyness in the workplace


[Note : Methinks we forgot to use half our brain Monday blogging, when we started to blog precisely about the closing ceremonies of London 2012 because of the Seventies and Eighties hits popularized by musical icons like Queen, Spice Girls, Pet Shop Boys and Madness.  For sure there were present day hitmakers like One Direction and Jessie J but it was the fond memories brought by the bands of yesterday, especially the timeless hits they sang.  It’s not too late I hope for us to admire the Olympics in all its climactic glory anyway? Happy batch birthday to the Hon. Cleto Villacorta from your one and only kabatch! ]

AT THE risk of sounding brain-numbingly repetitive, I’ve heard over and over again from the White Man and the rest of the global community that Pinoys are one of the easier races to get along with, but as always there is flip side to this : as soon as two or more Pinoys get together, this cosmopolitan-ness and bonhomie likelier than not disappears and the tendency is to circle the wagons and look inward.  At this point, Pinoys still remain friendly and personable, but given the choice, would rather circulate and congregate among themselves.  I suspect I will generate a bit of controversy with this simple statement, but first, not only is it a natural reaction among races, to look after their own kind first, but second, the experiences I’ve gathered come from the migrant milieu, where it’s common to ask for and seek a helping hand from your countryman when you’re vulnerable.

Nowhere is this is truer than the workplace in foreign lands.  One of the few Kiwis (let’s call him Vin D recalling the Fast and the Furious speedster) I know has had a peculiarly opportunistic vantage point to not only observe how Pinoys as a group behave but also how they do so in an alien environment, e.g. in the NZ milieu, as his Pinay girlfriend was lucky enough to find a job albeit in a Pinoy dominated resto :

everyone becomes a kinsman/woman.  What’s up with the “Kuya” and “Ate” Vin asks, being acutely aware of the meanings of the words he heard in a visit back home.  I tell him that initally, in any Pinoy workplace the values of treating everyone like a family member is imported from the home, and it becomes logical for each worker to call older colleagues Ate (older sister) and Kuya (older brother).  But sometimes this form of respectful salutation extends even to those not much older than oneself, because the honorific may also be used for senior staff and superiors in the totem pole.  So much so that the workplace becomes one big extended family, and even non-Pinoys like Chinese and Koreans may become honorary aunts, uncles and cousins.

Your business is my business.  But if you remember the advantages of having everyone so close to each other at work the way relatives are, you also remember how it drove everyone crazy : everyone in the family kept tabs on each other and reserved the right to poke their noses in everyone else’s business, which might work in a household, but not as well in a workplace.  Whether you like it or not, when there are more than a few Pinoys in a work place, you get to see your workmates’ warts, zits and moles.  Secrets seep out like water in an overused sieve, and gossip is freely traded whenever work slows down.  No intimate detail is too sacred for the hot topic of the day, and I wonder if Kiwis are as liberal with their discussions as we are.  We don’t really care so much that familiarity breeds contempt but the fact that being busybodies has become so imbedded in our culture.  I know this is not a pretty picture I paint for my Kiwi friend, but it’s quite accurate.

you laughing at me laughing at you. And lastly, I guess all nationalities are guilty of this to a certain extent from time to time, but there is never a dull moment when Pinoys are working together spread over a small area, particularly because of their tendency to laugh at and make light of what they see as the strangeness and quirkiness of other races.  Whether its the perceived thickness of the tongue, the sharpness of the body odor or way white men ogle at Asian women, Pinoys never lose the opportunity to point out how different other people are from themselves, little knowing that the very people they observe also notice their naivete and insularity, at how we could fail to imagine that there exist cultures vastly different and diverse, and yet capable of appreciating each other regardless of their disparateness.  Believe it or not, but we noyPis never look funnier than when we get together laughing at other people.

I want to impart these pearls of wisdom to my Kiwi friend little by little, in doses and teaspoons, but I get the feeling that he is already discovering our little quirks, faults and charms, via his girlfriend’s workplace stories and whatever else he discerns from you, me and the rest of the barangay.

Thanks for reading !

spontaneous & naive pinoy observations on London 2012


WE’RE  A Pinoy with Chinese roots, and it’s no surprise that we love Chinese takeaway, appreciate various aspects of Chinese culture, and applaud performances and feats where not only Chinese but Asians outdo and outperform opponents in the global stage. (By the way, you don’t need to be Chinese to appreciate Chinese takeaway 🙂 )

What we don’t appreciate is the fact that the Chinese side don’t take in a sportsmanlike manner the disqualifications and decisions made against it during the 2012 Olympics.

Call us naive, but given the expert, superhuman and very professional way the Brits have administered the London Olympics, the gazillion-and-one details that needed to be attended to, and the ultra-scientific and fair way rules have been enforced, there was simply no way that a sinister and concerted effort was made to make the Chinese fail or look bad, as was implied by sources identified with China.

And really, given what the Chinese sports establishment is prepared to make their youths and athletes endure, almost certainly describable in other countries as torture and unacceptable at the very least, the former should be the last to claim innocence and clean hands when the issue of underhandedness at the highest levels of sports competition is discussed.

Secondly, after watching (albeit sketchily) London 2012, with a heavy emphasis on the closing ceremonies, there is little doubt in our mind that a country like the Philippines can host an event of Olympic magnitude.

It would take probably half a generation to prepare, the country’s defense budget for around five years, but it’s not impossible.  The facts are smaller countries with less populations than the Philippines have successfully staged the Olympics, the investment amount required is formidable but attainable, and the can-do spirit and hospitable attitude of Pinoys are raw but powerful assets that will go a long way towards the fulfillment of a goal like hosting the Olympics.

The rewards expectedly are enormous.  In two weeks, Great Britain has shed its image of a lethargic former world power clinging to past glories.  It has by itself rejuvenated its national economy, and the positive effects will be felt for at least the present generation.

It’s a distant, pie-in-the-sky goal, but certainly a worthy one for a country as humbly placed as ours.

Thanks for reading !

confronting & bowing to my 3 headed hydra in Metro Manila


thanks to theleafsnation.com for use of this pic 🙂

[Thank you for stopping the rains, especially in Marikina, Cainta and other low-lying areas, Lord.  Please help Pinoys recover soonest. ]

THE ENDLESS monsoon rains, stranded helplessly without a ride home, and a vaguely hopeless feeling that one would never be able to help the people who truly needed it.  This was the three-headed hydra of immutable, timeless classics that mocked me over and over again last time I was back in my hometown, with an unexpected bonus: I was stung by the hydra with each of its heads in one day.

The vaguely hopeless feeling I got when I finally kept a promise to Mom to visit my Ninang (godmother) K, something I knew I wanted to do but dreaded doing: I dreamt I saw her at her pitiful worst, in a most decrepit state, weak, dirty and uncared for. (Mom had done her best to extend help, but she had her own problems.) She had no words for me but moist, accusing eyes that seemed to say : now that I need you, where are you?

When I approached the familiar door of her tiny apartment, it was even tinier than I remembered: she had sublet the small flat to at least two or three other tenants who neither saw or wanted to see her regularly, despite the fact that their rooms were less than a couple of meters away from her own.  The sight of Ninang was even worse than imaginings of my nightmares: she looked like a disheveled gray-haired doll with patchy skin, soiled diapers and a bedsore here and there.  I could not bear looking at her.

Her first few words were : ang init-init dito, gusto ko nang mamatay. (“It’s so hot in here, I want to die.”) A few moments later, I realized she was waking from a bad dream, but the reality was not much different.  Her adopted daughter was in and out, shared what little earnings she made but not without berating her for being a burden.  My little offerings of fruit and a little cash seemed puny next to her giant dilemmas of perpetual aches and pains and undying discomforts.

I pleaded being late to a prior engagement and places to go, people to meet but in truth I felt helpless just beholding her vulnerable state.  I didn’t know which was worse, knowing of her continued days of lonely suffering the remainder of her life, or knowing that unless I struck the Lotto jackpot or became an iPhone Apps gazillionaire, I would never be able to help her avoid the inevitable final dramas of life : growing old, sick and alone.

all for the love of education…

As if I was being punished for leaving my Ninang just like that, a deluge of the Great Flood-like proportions greeted me just a few seconds outside Ninang’s door.  Giant raindrops and abyss-like gutters and potholes pelted me and swung me left and right as I vainly tried to get to the main road.  In around 20 minutes, I could no longer see the concrete of the narrow roads that only an hour ago were as dry as dust.  I ran to a rusty eave of an old two-storey the side of Pedro Gil, and without thinking I instinctively knew I would not be able to hail a taxi for at least an eternity.

Even my conservative estimate was proven wrong.  I stayed under the Chinese water torture of the rusty eave for about 90 minutes before a taxi driver hesitantly idled beside me, and it was only because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic.  I was drenched split-end of hair to tip of toenail and instantly shivering in the nippy cold of his air-conditioned cab, but he didn’t immediately understand when I requested that the aircon be switched off.  When I insisted that the thermostat be lowered at least, he reasoned that the resultant warmer air inside would cause the windshield to fog up, and so I shivered in the traffic jam that was to follow, between Paco and Galleria.

Believe it or not, the rain did not stop for the next few hours.  People around the streets, the city, the region did not seem to mind.  Children were dancing in the rain, adults continued to eat kwekkwek, fishballs, adobong mani and kikiam from ambulant vendors in the seasonal torrent, the rains a necessary evil that cooled everybody down after the microwaving sun.

By the time we reached Mandaluyong on Shaw, the floodwaters were cascading from all over and drowning engines apace.  Only the hardy jeepneys and ever-present Toyota Tamaraw FX (utility vehicles) were enjoying the monsoon, cars everywhere else were sputtering and dying.  I myself was approaching hypothermia, but dared not complain lest the taxi driver kick me out of his vehicle.

Something had distracted a lot of Metro Manilans from the traffic jams, monsoon rains, and the mundane dramas of their lives, a sixth-sense told me, and a luckless commuter like me confirmed it : Midnight Madness in Glorietta, Annual Sale in SM City, and mall-wide credit card discounts in Trinoma, all held on the same Friday the 13th (bad luck for everyone else).  What a surefire formula for heavier-than-usual traffic Metro-wide.

By the time I reached Galleria to meet with esposa hermosa, I was trebly guilty : guilty from shutting out Ninang from present worries, guilty of pushing away monsoon rains from future worries, and guilty of being nearly rid of the famous Metro Manila traffic that never stopped driving me crazy in years past.  But it wasn’t over: in less than 30 minutes I was still going to look for another taxi to bring me and esposa back home to Cainta.

Thanks for reading !

belated happy birthday Kirby !


Kirby with batchmates during our latest reunion last July 14th. He is the distinguished looking gentleman in the suit in back row.

belated happy birthday (4th August) to batchmate Mr Kirby Hartigan-Go !

IF IT’s true that quiet confidence speaks loudest, then Kirby was definitely one of our most confident contemporaries in high school.

In his words, gestures, academics, and leadership skills, the strength of his conviction carried the weight of someone far beyond his build, the wisdom of elders far beyond his years.

But even these meant little next to the conviction of his faith, a badge he wore proudly then and to this day.

It has undoubtedly paid dividends to him in this world, but he gives more weight to the rewards in the next.

About that belief, we have every confidence, you can be sure.

Belated happy birthday Kirby, sorry for the late greeting, thanks for serving as one of our most dedicated Batch Officers, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel