videos that make my day (& hopefully yours)


IT’S BEEN quite a while since I bugged you, and anytime that happens I’m a little guilty.  Bugging you through my bloggy posts has been such a part of my schedule that when a situation like now intervenes, as in, lack of time and my laziness conspire to prevent me from saying anything more than a few paragraphs, I feel rather incomplete.

Instead, may i just share with you a few videos I’ve seen here and there that make me (1) marvel at the beauty of life and living; (2) so thankful of where I am now  at this point in my life; and (3) make me proud to be a Pinoy, no matter what happens?  You may have already seen one, two or all of them, but still and just in case, here they are.  No commentary planned (but you never know) :

(2


if the video doesn’t grab you, give it a minute or two.  We are so lucky with our fitness and health that we inevitably take it for granted.  We need to be inspired, ironically enough, by those who are “special” and need to go above and beyond the usual effort just to be taken seriously.  Galing-galing, diba?

Who sez Pinoys are the only ones good in creating tearjerker ads?  I don’t know who the advertiser here is, and what product or service they sell, but if you don’t shed a tear after watching this ad, you’ve got a heart of stone. 😉

And lastly…

I confess I hadn’t heard of  the group Blake, or their concerts back home, but I’m sure that after doing THAT (pointing above), they’ve earned thousands of adoring fans in the Philippines!

thanks for reading (and watching)!  Thanks and acknowledgment too to the YouTube posters!

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getting lost in your own backyard


all colorful, all beautiful, and all Southeast Asian.  Thanks to asean-community.tumblr.com for the pic!

all colorful, all beautiful, and all Southeast Asian. Thanks to asean-community.tumblr.com for the pic!

[ Note : We could only share in the triumph vicariously, but hearfelt congrats just the same to the Men’s Basketball Team of the Philippines also known as Smart Gilas, for a job well done.  Onward to the World Championships! Advance happy anniversary and more power to the KASAGIP Charitable Trust of Wellington, New Zealand! ]

WE ARE separated from our neighbor states by land and sea, but we are linked by more than just a bit of culture, cuisine and language.  Diplomats and politicians like to say platitudes like these often, but it’s truer than you think.  We look, cook and talk a lot like our Malayan cousins down south, our Indochinese relations eastward and of course, the great unifier of culture and takeaway, the Middle Kingdom in the north.  There are a lot of similarities that cancel out the differences throughout the Southeast Asian region, but the root causes and origin of these similarities, ultimately, are those who call themselves the pride of the Han race, whose mission and vision is to invade every country on the planet via cheap manufacturing and sweet and sour sauce.

But enough of hackneyed cliches and media stereotypes.  I’ve told you more than once before that one of the many gigs we’ve done is cleaning houses, and a couple of these happened to be owned by immigrants like ourselves.  At the same time, you’ve heard me mention many times that I’m quite taken by fellow Southeast Asian migrants (to New Zealand) but even more by the latter who also have Chinese ancestry.

The surface signs are obvious : looks, language and food preference.  Because Pinoys have more than a few ml’s of Chinese blood running through their veins, it’s common for us to be mistaken for Chinese.  But the same is true with Malaysians, Indonesians, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Thais, Laotians and Burmese.  And the reason is obvious: after centuries of assimilation with the local inhabitants, the Chinese have imprinted themselves on numerous cultures, absorbed the best and worst of the host countries they’ve migrated to, and have produced a fusion of multiple subcultures that for lack of  a better term, I’m describing as Chinatownization anywhere and everywhere.

patis (fish sauce) looks, smells and tastes the same everywhere in the SE Asian region.  Uncanny!  Thanks & acknowledgment for the pic to iexplorevietnam.com :)

patis (fish sauce) looks, smells and tastes the same everywhere in the SE Asian region. Uncanny! Thanks & acknowledgment for the pic to iexplorevietnam.com 🙂

Just look at the food.  Nearly every home I’ve visited either to clean or as a guest has a 20-kg bag or sack of rice in a corner of the kitchen.  They invariably have instant noodles in the pantry, use nearly the same condiments, and favor the same veggies.  They have a kind of universal fish paste (bagoong) as well as fish sauce (patis), the kinds that produce aromas that Kiwis don’t appreciate too much, in their respective kitchens.  You would be forgiven for mistaking for your own kitchens those in various Asian immigrant homes, given the parallel smells, sounds and sights.  The ginger and oyster sauce, hissing of the sauteeing kawali (woks) and the blending of rice and corn with sauces heavily flavored with soy sauce, sap vinegar and tamarind are almost uncanny.

It doesn’t stop there.  Many faiths encourage and enjoin their believers into a stable monotheism, but the lines seem to blur in the Far East.  And nowhere is this more evident in their houses.  Either Christianity or Buddhism is usually dominant but don’t be surprised if both are respected and the text or image representing another or more religions is present.  This is often because the spouses practice different religions and neither expects the other to change.   A sort-of functional ecumenism follows for the children, who hopefully aren’t coerced into either faith.  Again, this may not be that common back home in the Philippines, but how often have you seen Catholicism and non-denominational Christianity coexist in Pinoy households, or altars to different deities set up in different corners of Chinese Filipino homes?

Finally there’s a remarkable contrast I observed in these houses, first because of the similarity with ours and second because it is shared by quite a few immigrant countries across the board : There is not much priority placed in fixtures, furniture and appliances, but more than the usual comfort zone is invested in education and the mind.  I have seen one home where the carpet is threadbare and the sofa set from a secondhand shop, but the books , PCs and iPads reminded me of a small library.  There was also more than the usual number of examination guides, prospectuses to universities and study helps designed to help the students in that abode get ahead in every which way possible.  Needless to say, the members of the family in that house were honor students and matriculating in the top universities not just in Wellington but in New Zealand.  Under the watchful eyes of both Asian parents.

With a few variations, I saw the same in two other homes, with funds for luxury deprioritized in favor of the future of the kids.  It’s almost as if the migrants are making up for lost time in their adopted countries by heavier investment in skills and training.  Hard to argue with that, right?

Thanks for reading!

for this kabayan Pinay mom, can the timing be any better?



Dominion Post[ Note : My bisor thought she was Polynesian, the Quality Assurance manager thought she was Maori, but one look at the smile on today’s front page (
above) told me the subject below was one of ours.  Mabuhay and maligayang pagdating Nicolas Javier and congrats and job well done  to the proud parents Rea and John !]

FILIPINOS, MALAYSIANS, Taiwanese and everyone else in the region must have gotten it from the Chinese.  We all love to start things with a bang.  Witness the Armageddon-like fireworks we all indulge in at New Year’s Eve; the countdowns in multi-media megaevents (well, everyone does it the world over) and the huge parties and celebrations that no one can do without.

We also like to start our major events auspiciously, like the Chinese do.  Remember the rush to have babies during the Dragon Year of the Chinese astrological calendar?  How about doing everything to have a baby born of the eighth hour of the eighth day of the eighth month, eight being a particularly lucky number in the Asian universe.

And lastly, how about having a baby born during a particularly eventful day, the Apollo 11 landing for example?  I know at least one Pinay named Aldrina, who was of course named after Buzz Aldrin, only the second man on the moon after Neil Armstrong.

You therefore can’t get any better than our kabayan who starred in Wellington‘s Dominion Post today.  She gave birth during the scary  6.5 magnitude earthquake last Sunday, and only two days before the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, more popularly known as Prince William and Princess Kate and third in line to the British throne.

So within a span of TWO days, that’s TWO major events coinciding with the said birth.   It was even reported in the local paper, and remember at the time the latter wasn’t even aware that the royal baby’s birth was imminent!  This means one event was auspicious enough.

This is one of those posts where I don’t have to say much, I’ll just reproduce the Dominion Post story below (entitled Baby’s start to life shaky but worth it, says mom) if you don’t mind :

(July 23) NEW mother Rea Javier might just be the only person in Wellington who was oblivious to Sunday’s earthquake.

The combined effects of epidurals and a tough labour meant her focus was elsewhere.

“I think I felt the quake but I had other things on my mind,” she said from her bed at Hutt Hospital yesterday as she cradled her son Nicolas.

He is already being called Quake by his young cousins.

Husband John said : “Rea was foggy with all the medicine and she was just focusing on the labour.

“I was definitely scared.  We didn’t know what was going to happen, but the hospital staff were very reassuring, they said nothing’s going to happen to the baby.”

The quake, at 5.09 pm, caused the hospital lifts to close down for half an hour and delayed getting Mrs Javier into theatre for a caesarean section.  But, at 6.42 pm, Nicholas was borh, weighing a healthy 3.3 kilograms.

“Everything was worth it in spite of what happened,” Mrs Javier said.

She and her husband moved to the Wellington suburb of Newlands from the Philippine capital of Manila, about five years ago.

Mrs Javier said that, although they had experienced quakes in their homeland, they were nowhere as intense or as frequent as in New Zealand.  (Woohoo!)

Thanks so much in advance The Dominion Post and its reporter Mr Matt Stewart, and may the Pinoy community continue to add to the New Zealand population in a spectacular way, timing-wise!  Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

Thanks for reading!

even for shortchanged migrants, NZ continues to improve work outcomes


[ This is probably the most scatterbrained post I’ve done, but I just wanted to put my thoughts onto paper soonest.  The news video above is dated, but the content is almost exactly about the problems addressed below.  Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading! ]

I’m simply awful in transferring pictures and other graphics to my YLBnoel site, so I’ll just enumerate a previous stat mentioned in a news feature program recently. In a study of cultural differences on how employees from different countries expect to be managed, the Philippines emerged near the top (of 100+ countries) of cultures that want to be told exactly what to do, with our workers scoring nearly 100.  The higher the score, the more the culture desires to be micromanaged, so to speak.

The funny thing is, at the bottom of the list, scoring nearly zero, or prefer to be left alone to do the job the way they do it, are guess what?  My hosts the Kiwis of course, whose individuality and inventiveness combine to make them the best employees to leave alone as soon as you tell them the job description.

Without even looking at the complete list I know that  co-leaders with Pinoys are other Asians like Koreans, Thais, Singaporeans, Taiwanese and of course, Chinese.  Because we are such a hierarchical society, we take word-for-word whatever instructions our bosses and supervisors give us, and prefer that we are given the complete set of steps on what to do, as opposed to other cultures that immediately conceive of a variety of ways to do the job.

Talking about other nationalities, it’s relatively easy for a Pinoy like me to pretend that we’re from other cultures just for the fun of it.  I think I’ve told you before that I started out in Wellington successfully pretending (for a month at least) to be a Vietnamese flatmate of Pinoys whenever friends visited, just to stop them from asking too many busybody questions.  In various times I’ve also been taken for a Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, Korean and almost every other Southeast Asian national, which isn’t too surprising, since, I belong to both the Malay, and Chinese family of races and I’m fairly certain somewhere up in my family tree is a sly Spanish friar or lecherous Cantonese merchant.

Unfortunately, the various Asians that I look like and represent in my appearance and culture share something else with me besides appearance.  As mentioned above, we repose such high respect  in our bosses, supervisors and employers that we seldom if ever  question their decisions, orders and instructions, no matter how unsafe, dubious or illegal they may be.

Nearly every week in New Zealand media, you hear of migrants and work visa holders working for less, much less than the legislated minimum wage, working under shocking conditions, and occasionally being forced under threat of trouble with the authorities to work for no pay at all.

In keeping with its reputation as a labor- and migrant friendly country, New Zealand has expanded its migrant protection laws to sharpen penalties against migrant worker exploitation,  with punishments to include lengthy jail time, fines and possible deportation for employers who are themselves migrants, as reported in a recent article.

For example, if a potential employer knows that someone is in desperate need of a job, and the time on the latter’s work visa is running out, such job applicant has little choice but to accept a job offer, even if the wage rate is below the minimum required by law.

I admit that I’ve been in a position like this when I was unemployed, my work visa was running out and my scarce reserves were running low.   A dairy owner offered me NZ$7 an hour (below the floor rate of $12) for work that believe me, made me work for every cent.   Sadly, it was the knowledge of my desperation, and the fact that my employer couldn’t care less if he was paying me five dollars less than the legal rate that was the reason the situation and many others like it continue to exist in New Zealand today.

Completing the ignominy of many situations addressed by the new laws is the reality that migrants themselves take advantage of naive and newly arrived migrant workers who make the mistake of trusting one of their own.  Again, even in our own Pinoy community, we have an unscrupulous few who have taken money from our kabayan for shoddy service without batting an eyelash.

Longer jail terms, stiffer fines, and even deportation for migrant offenders are the sharper teeth of the new laws protecting exploited migrant workers.

Let me just say that the economic slowdown and continuing recession has not made our adopted country the ideal place to work overseas.  But it’s still a great place to work in, as long as I work hard,  and follow the conditions in my work visa.  Every effort is made by government to protect worker rights and migrant rights.  The least we can do is to use these laws to make the work experience here fruitful and worry free.

why we’re grateful to Joe & Linda, 54 years and running


a young Joe & Linda more than half a century ago, with toddlers Tim and Donald, and Father George Lalliberte who married them only a few years ago. Your loyal blogger was probably still a bun in the oven ;)

a young Joe & Linda more than half a century ago, with toddlers Tim and Donald, and Father George Lalliberte who married them a few years back. Your loyal blogger was probably still a bun in the oven…

I THOUGHT the day would never come, but it jumped up from just around the corner, and now it’s here to stay.  I have now reached the age where my children, intelligent and discerning as always, have in so many words begun to reproach me from the things I never made accessible to them.

Here are just a few examples.  At least two out of the three (Panganay, Ganda and Bunso of course) have inquired why they never had piano lessons; one has rebuked me for not enrolling at least one of them in a Chinese Filipino school (I attended one), and a right-brained child has asked why nothing was ever done to spur or trigger their creative side/s.  To all these I furnish a motley group of excuses : economics, nurture vs nature, and all that bull-bleep, but I know deep down I have failed them in a thousand different ways, so that any success they have reaped is despite and not because of my pasang-awa parenting.

Chalk it down to a kinder, less selfish generation, cheaper tuition and simpler extra-curricular options, but I cannot say the same for my own parents, who made available a lot of things I didn’t pay forward for my own kids.

Early elementary, mom and dad enrolled me in a summer art class.  When I didn’t show any promise, the following year I attended badminton sessions and was encouraged to learn racquet sports.  And all through my youth (not that it helped) a piano teacher visited me weekly and I learned a third language in an excellent Chinese Filipino school that rivaled many of the best Metro Manila schools across the board.

...and a more recent pic with Dad (center, seated) Mom (to his left), Tita Lily (to his right), my brother Tim and his wife Joy (standing, extreme right) and Mahal (the stunner with the long hair)

…and a more recent pic with Dad (center, seated) Mom (to his left), Tita Lily (to his right), my brother Tim and his wife Joy (standing, extreme right) and Mahal (the stunner with the long hair). I don’t know who the white-shirted guy is, sorry 😦

My folks weren’t the showiest type when it came to hugs and kisses, but were right there when it came to advice and support, which as you know pre-teens and teens need tons of but won’t always admit.   It didn’t stop them from exercising stern discipline and  strict accountability, but as all good parents, they combined affection and hard knocks in a smart combination of tough love.

Best of all, they showed me, and a lot of people my generation, that you could sweep someone off your feet in a whirlwind romance and yet stay with that someone for years and years without losing the thrill of love.  Some people call it being soulmates and lovers, and other people call it commitment.  My folks just called it marriage.

...still photogenic after all these years!

…still photogenic after all these years!

As of yesterday (6th June), my folks have possessed all of these traits 54 years running, raising first five hard-headed but respectful sons, then helping seven grandkids, scores of nephews, nieces and cousins, and now dozens and dozens of people through catechism classes, community centers and livelihood groups to which they belong.

Through it all, they have relied on many comrades, but most of all they have relied on each other in the journey of life, towards happiness and contentment.  I’m extra proud as their son to say that they’re already there, and will always serve as my models for self-sustaining love.

Thanks for being in our lives Joe and Linda, and happy happy 54th wedding anniversary from a grateful clan, Mom and Dad!  Love you always!

belated happy birthday Oscar “Oca” Gomez Jr !


Oca and the love of his life Mari.  Is that Bruce Lee's statue in the background? :)

Oca and the love of his life Mari. Is that Bruce Lee’s statue in the background? 🙂

If there is one thing I remember about my friend from university Oscar Oca Gomez, it is that he was passionate about almost everything he did.  About his politics, sports (which he wrote a lot about), his interests and best of all, women who happened to catch his eye, he never held back an ounce of feeling or a spark of sentiment.  He was either non-responsive or all in, never in between.

Whether it was exuding full confidence in the Philippines (he never understood why skilled and talented people ever left the country), covering the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons for the Philippine Collegian sports section (we were lucky enough to be part of the student body when UP won its only UAAP basketball title) or being son, brother  and later husband and father to the family he loves, Oca has always given 101%.  Still does, I’m sure.

I haven’t seen him for so long now that I’m afraid we will almost not recognize each other when we finally do meet, with only the memories of presswork all-nighters, UAAP games and passionate discussions about life and love to remind us of the wonderful life in Diliman that we never appreciated then, but will always treasure.

We are grown men now, parents of children who are almost full-grown themselves, and we have nowhere to go but late middle age.  Only the memories of our youth, maybe the passions that inflamed us then, and the joy of seeing the successes of our children (and grandchildren) will keep us young.

That, and maybe a reunion with friends of yesteryear.  Thanks for the memories Kuya Oca, and it will certainly be a treat to see you one of these days.  Belated happy birthday and warmest regards to your gorgeous wife Mari, and beautiful kids Gio, Fiona, Cheska and Francine!

into each life some rain must fall


satellite images showing the onward march of debilitating New Zealand drought this year.

satellite images showing the onward march of debilitating New Zealand drought this year.

WORST DROUGHT in 70 years declared the paper here in Welly.  You can’t get any more eloquent than that.  The Philippines may have its problems, it may be a daily overdose of drama back home and more than half of us live below the poverty line, but few problems are more urgent and gamechanging than the consequences of weather extremes, and this definitely qualifies as one here.

I have three memories associated with the extremes of weather, the most recent of which was when it rained for two days straight and then some some ten years ago, cutting off first our subdivision, and then our little group of houses from the rest of the subdivision, which was already cut off from the rest of the world.  What little provisions we had at home were all but used up, and we relied on radio news to find out when we would rejoin the world.

"thank you master, I will guard your house for life." :)

“thank you master, I will guard your house for life.” 🙂 thanks and acknowledgment to backwoodshome.com!

When we were brave enough to venture out after a maya returned with an anahaw leaf :), we saw cars floating in miniature ponds, swollen streams and streets that were rendered impassable because the latter were even lower than the already-low main street of our subdivision.  Our row of houses was fortunate enough to be sitting on the higher areas, but many others were not so lucky.  Furniture, appliances and everything of value sitting on ground floors were damaged beyond repair, and this among many was the harvest of one of the more brutal storms that decade.

Another strong weather-related memory was an unlucky combination of a suffocatingly hot summer and the power crisis somewhere between the late Cory Aquino and early FVR years.  It was so hot you couldn’t even move, and unmercifully there was no power during much of the day for either electric fans or if you could afford it, air conditioners (we couldn’t).  It became fashionable and quite practical to purchase backup generators for the home and industrial ones for businesses, hospitals and the malls.  The only good thing I remember about that time was the 50% discount on ice cream; practically given away by blackout-conscious shopowners who didn’t want an inventory of melted sundaes and popsicles messing up their freezers.

it happened again in the Central Luzon-Metro Manil area July 2010, thanks and acknowledgment to okasaneko.wordpress.com!

it happened again in the Central Luzon-Metro Manil area July 2010, thanks and acknowledgment to okasaneko.wordpress.com!

Two things I actually welcomed during that water-starved and blackout-weakened summer were (1) going to work where the offices were at least air-conditioned before the power outage was scheduled, and (2) the monsoon rains which brought a welcome relief from the blistering, exhausting and sweltering heat of the dry, dry summer which incidentally I always identify with Semana Santa where either you meditate in the city or vacation in the beaches.

The last memory is that of our very own drought back home (a year or two before Y2K), where literally the ground turned to dust and every breeze threatened to mutate into a sandstorm, the soil cried out for moisture and leaves turned orange, yellow and finally into brown, months before harvest time.  I don’t think anyone would say I’m exaggerating, but it was a good ten months before anyone saw a drop of rain that year, and considering that the Philippines receives so much rain on an average year, the drought must have been catastrophic for agriculture, not to mention industries and manufacturing that need agricultural products as well.

Here in our part of New Zealand, it will take a good number of years to recover from the drought, and the dairy, beef and lamb and downstream industries have been all but written out of medium term planning until they have been properly resuscitated, rehabilitated and nurtured back to life after literally drying out from the drought.

Because the Wellington region (as opposed to Wellington City) is relatively compact and everything, including water consumption is easily measurable and desperate times call for desperate measures, government, media and every usyusero has understandably become OC over the issue.  I overheard my favorite deejay broadcast optimistically that due largely in part to the total effort, weekly consumption has gone down from 128 million liters to 120 million, truly mindboggling both in the amount saved and the dedication to monitoring the figures. (imagine the time spent counting those liters!)

Daily radio broadcasts here remind us that all outdoor activity requiring water, washing of cars, etc. have been banned until further notice.  Only the most crucial water needs like bathing, cooking and drinking are allowed now, and for good reason : for Wellington region, water has been free to household consumers for the longest time, and everyone wants it to remain that way, most of all Asian migrants like Your Loyal Blogger.

Thanks for reading and Happy Easter to all!

when see hear & speak no evil won’t do : confronting nega press on phils


34513ACCEPTING ALL the opprobrium that I expect will be flung at Your Loyal Blogger kabayan, I admit that I’m as non-partisan as non-partisan gets.  Despite matriculating at the so-called bastion of student activism (true only during the early Marcos years) and apprenticing under the school paper, I hold no strong worldview and just want to live out the rest of my years earning my bread, enjoying sparklingly entertaining books, living long enough to see my grandchildren and playing Tri-Peaks Solitaire.  And maybe filling in the blanks in this DIY and user-friendly blogsite.

But like many non-partisans out there (whether or not you admit it) I love my country, and still feel a lump in my throat when a countryman/woman does well in the sports / cultural / scientific fields and chafe at the worn points when any of us Pinoys, individually or collectively, fall into shame or disrepute.  Within our circle and among ourselves it might not hurt so much, we after all know each other cheek by jowl and can’t deny our warts and moles.

To strangers and outsiders though, it stings through and through, knowing that other peoples and races know of our faults and inner rots.  It hurts even more when, seeing but not understanding, they only see the results of our complicated cultures, hierarchies and histories.  Like any other tribe, Pinoys are the product of their assimilations, subjugations and contradictions.  Can we explain why we are Catholic, modern, pro-American, anti-American, Islam, autonomous, secessionist, protectionist, populist, elitist (and sometimes a combination of some, most or all of the above), and never seem to be able to decide what we are?

Most of all, we are onion-skinned (I know I am), when we hear of negative press about the Philippines overseas :

How do we explain this in one paragraph?  Muslim rebels engaging in the kidnap-for- ransom industry can do as they please because they are the proxies of military, police and political officials in the South.  The warriors of Islam are actually slaves of the almighty dollar, who know only too well that dangling a sword over captives from the First World is the surest way of earning foreign exchange, without forgetting of course that their  bemedalled, khaki-clad and high-handed masters claim their share first…

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center.  thanks to tv3news.co.nz for the pic!

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center. thanks to tv3news.co.nz for the pic!

This will take a little more than a paragraph, but still I will try.  Because many of our statutes are remnants of an era where civil and criminal laws had the same purpose, specifically the protection of the propertied and the landed, we often punished the commission of crimes against property as severely as those of crimes against persons.  One of these is fraud or deception, which to this day is punishment-wise on a level with attempted homicide and serious physical injuries.  Another special crime is illegal recruitment, probably because so many Filipinos want to go abroad to earn money.

The result?  A visitor unfortunate enough to be caught committing both those two crimes will probably rot in jail for the rest of his life, like the Kiwi pictured above.  It’s so hard to explain that it’s not just the NZ$5,000 owing to the Pinoy duped but the fact that through sweet enticements and trickery, such an amount changed hands, that caused the New Zealander to languish behind rusty bars, but the law is the law.  That, and the fact that just returning the money will effectively restore the status quo.  It’s that bizarrely simple.

[our friends overseas might also want to remember that the amount is about half a year’s pay for many of our kabayan back home, not that we’re nitpicking but it does make a bit of a difference for a family of six or seven struggling to make ends meet. ]

Surreal, inexplicable, upside-down bizzaro-type situations like the above two happen everyday in the Philippines, yet Pinoys like myself blush and grope for words when the rest of the world finds out about them.  What to do, what to do?  At this moment I’m not sure, but one thing I do know.  Instead of aping (pun intended) those three chimps covering their eyes, ears and mouths, we would do better to confront, verify and spin these facts, and indeed show them our true (Pinoy) face, nunal, kulugo, and balat, moles, warts and all.

Thanks for reading!

girls’ night out


THE ABOVE ad is 99% tongue-in-cheek, but it rings with a bit of truth.  Men like me are effectively handicapped and disadvantaged without our better halves, not because we are inherently useless and disabled, but because their efficiency and dexterity dooms us to a life of dependence and vestigial extremities (when it comes to cooking), not that we mind a lot.

I already had two left hands save for boiling water and boiling eggs before Mahal arrived in NZ, but it got worse because every time I tried to help her in the kitchen, she just rolled her eyes and said magsaing /maghugas ka na lang ng pinggan Mahal.  That’s how awful I was.

So Saturday evening when she went on those very rare girls’night out, I was left with an embarrassment of riches : leftover sinigang, leftover tocino, leftover crab-flavored empanada-like pastries, day-old KFC, actually anything else I might like, as she asked me well in advance what I might want for dinner.

Her dabarkads parried my iuwi nyo sya nang maaga (come home early) with bukas nang maaga namin sya iuuwe (OK, early tomorrow morning) 😦 I took this half-seriously, as they were going to seriously celebrate a much-deserved furlough from their kids (every one of Mahal’s posse has at least a kid; one has three.)

I had so much to do, I didn’t know where to start.  Finish A Game of Thrones so I could start with A Clash of Kings; rearrange my Batman action figure collection; run around the block where we just moved in to check out the sights; take a nap so as to catch the NBA rerun on the Maori channel, the list didn’t end.

***               ***              ***               ***               ***

Before the last minute of the first hour past Mahal’s departure time, I already missed her.  We hardly shared any quiet time anymore, especially the last month.  Combine me switching to a new department, our moving house, and erratic work skeds, and although we share a roof, a bed and soap/shampoo, I saw and heard next to nothing, nothing that was worth seeing and hearing, from esposa hermosa.  She prepared my baon, did the laundry, woke me up and lullabied me to sleep, but we hadn’t exchanged innermost thoughts or fondest dreams lately.

The sad part was I didn’t realize this till I was totally alone, staring at a bland CSI show and listening to white noise for the last 30 minutes.  You can be alone without being lonely, but try telling that to newly divorced spouses, widowers and househusbands who haven’t seen their wives for some time.  Just the sound of her voice, her puttering around, and her constant attention to you makes it all worthwhile.

She promised she’d be home midnight, but she deserves a little more down time with her girls.  No one knows it better than Your Loyal Blogger.

Have a good time Mahal.  And come home tired, but happy.

belated happy birthday Evelyn Cheng !


IT WAS great to see you again at the 30th anniv reunion, after so many years, at least 20 if I’m not mistaken.

Esposa hermosa remarked how young-looking you all were, and you deserved special mention of course.

I told her what an achiever you were in elementary school, and how you continue to serve your high school contemporaries by being a batch officer.

What we didn’t know was that you also migrated faraway lands, to Australia coincidentally (and so close to NZ) and now enjoy the best of the Philippines and Down Under by shuttling between your two homes.

So sorry for the late greeting, sorry too that we failed to make it to your birthday bash, regards to the family, and many happy returns !