Archive for Filipino

Cloak Of Shame

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by hangingbridge

Even Ms.Universe Fourth Runner-Up Venus Raj’s triumph or Charice Pempengco’s role in Glee or Pacquiao’s world title will not be able to redeem the country’s honor from what former police officer Rolando Mendoza has done to tourists visiting our country and from what our incompetent government officials has failed to do on that ill-fated 23rd day of August, 2010.

The dust of the hostage aftermath has not yet completely settled down but the bits and pieces of facts are beginning to paint a clearer picture of what transpired that day. It was all premeditated by Mendoza.

The now infamous Mendoza travelled early morning that day from Tanauan, Batangas to Manila which was around 3 hours ride. Carrying with him were weapons, blank placards and pen. The drama started 9 ‘o’ clock in the morning when the hostage-taker boarded his pre-selected ride to Libingan ng mga Bayani (but opted to hold his mission in Quirino Grandstand). He chose a tourist bus to take him where he intended to go. And as the world now knows, the tragedy ended nine lives, including that of Mendoza’s and probably also ended Filipinos’ relations with Hong Kong nationals.

The underdog has no good excuse for what he has done especially now that everyone knows it was all in his plan. Mendoza has been alluded to be someone who was honourable to his work and has been a victim of injustice in our social system when he was mistakenly charged for something that he claims he has nothing to do with. As Filipinos try to analyze what has led this upstanding citizen to commit drastic measures to gain back his lost compensation, I am still not convinced that he was that good of a citizen, much more a former man of law.

Some of those directly involved in the hostage-taking states that Mendoza was asking around a million Pesos to finally compensate his lost pension. Was it all about money? Was it his aspiration all along? I’m quite certain it wasn’t to clear up his name because to take a number of lives hostage wouldn’t do him any good on that aspect.

How many times have people, not only Filipinos, taken lives in their own hands just for money? Countless of times. In this country alone, crime rates are mostly because of financial reasons to be able to provide the needs that most of our fellowmen lacks – even the basic ones. My problem with Mendoza was that he had caused all this tragedy because of pride and probably, money. It was not because he was already dying of hunger.

If he wanted to get a message across, he could have surrendered and not taken any life at all. After surrendering, media will do its job to peel everything on its way to get to the core of things – a review of his misjudged case. I think he already sensed it when he saw the crowd and media coverage he was getting. He already knew he got our full attention. He was being interviewed until almost at the end of his shift as a hostage-taker.

Why did he chosoe a group of tourist to vent out his anger over the government? The tourists can do nothing about his problems. They probably didn’t understand even when he explained himself to them. The twenty-five passengers of that bus was looking forward to a relaxing day travelling all over Manila. It was very unfortunate for them that they were chosen to sacrifice their lives for something they don’t understand. It has been an unspoken rule throughout the world that tourists are not to be harmed in the country they are visiting. In return, they are not supposed cause mischief in the country they are visiting.

When real tourists take interest to visit the Philippines, it is a big deal. For the past decades, “tourists” are mostly military men, men who condone prostitution in the country, foreigners who have business interest in the country, international social workers and so on. It is only recently when people come here to enjoy themselves with what the country has to offer without the need to damage our self-respect.

I am personally fond of visiting Hong Kong and has been there thrice or four times now. I have enjoyed all of those trips even if the bus tours they offer go to almost the same places each time. Even if Filipinos work there as housemaids or equally undignified (for some), it is rare that citizens of Hong Kong will treat tourists badly.

After the tragedy in the Hong Thai Travel bus transpired, I’m in no disposition to travel anywhere in Asia. There is both shame and fear that once they knew I was Filipino, they would probably give me a hard time. How can a Filipino go around Hong Kong or China when we have clearly done harm in a number of their citizens? We can all sense their loathing over Filipinos after what happened. Hopefully, they would come to know that we, ourselves, are embarrassed by what happened. And even if the people directly involved in the hostage-taking last August 23, 2010 are trying not to own up to their mistakes, the nation feels truly sorry for what has happened.

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Airport Security

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by hangingbridge

It is no wonder why international ports do not trust our local security.

Any traveller who comes from Philippine territory has to be thoroughly searched again and again once they reach their destination. The Philippine passport becomes a red flag in relation to the packages the traveller is bringing with him or her.

There are non-stop flights from Manila to LA and back. There are also some flights which have one or two stopovers between the two cities. I have flown to a couple of times and have familiarity with both types of flights.

When I was a teenager, I flew straight from Manila to LA. When I reached the customs department, my baggage did not just go through the x-ray machines but was opened by the personnel himself. He had his, probably filthy, rubber gloves go through my personal belongings. Finding nothing worth questioning or throwing away, he left it opened and in disarray for me to arrange and close them again. By this time, I thought that I have to brace myself every time I pass the US immigration.

Another flight proved that it didn’t happen every time. I flew once again from Manila to LA but this time, I had one stopover in Japan. As I recall, it was a two-hour stopover in Narita Airport. There, everyone has to go through tight security even if you’re not really entering that country. Everyone, including those who are just changing planes has to go through their x-ray machines and the hands of the personnel. Baggage are opened and inspected as well. Eventually, we flew to LA. And once the airport customs knew that we came from Japan airport, they didn’t bother opening our luggage.

Just recently, a Philippine government official was detained in Hong Kong for allegedly “drug trafficking”. Congressman Ronald Singson, son of the infamous Chavit Singson, was caught with 26 grams of coccaine when he entered Hong Kong airport. He left Manila bringing the package with him. Speculations on how he was able to take it out of the country and fly across to Hong Kong ended when a video was shown last night on the news. The video showed how he was treated by airport security. He was treated like a common public official, as expected with our local security. They didn’t even bother to have his luggage scanned in the x-ray machine. And he did not even pass the metal detector.

Security personnel in the country should start paying attention once again. This incident verifies the fact that they lack the sense of responsibility and initiative to do their job and to do it well. They should be the one to know that there is no special treatment despite the “badges” displayed in front of them – especially by government officials. No one is exempted by the hassles of airport security no matter how high up you are in the social ladder.

To be fair to our local security, I also have to cite that almost the same, but not as serious as this, happened in one of the U.S. airport (after the 9/11 incident). Special treatment was given to Britney Spears in one of their airports. Have you experienced having to throw your water bottle before you enter a certain part of the airport? Well, I did. And for someone like me who values clean drinking water, it is hard to see personnel throw it in the trash, along with my body creams and cologne bottle, and toothpaste and a lot more. I couldn’t complain and I can only cringe at the act. Everyone has to comply. Well, a TV show called TMZ showed that Britney Spears was able to bring with her her Big Gulp drink as she passes throught the metal detector. And no one bothered to take it out of her hands and throw it in the trash can. Of course, nobody would think that there is something explosive in her drink. But still, the remarks were not kind with the airport personnel who let her have her drink.

I wouldn’t mind discrimination practiced in airports. Although the word “discrimination” may be objectionable, it poses necessity. Security must discriminate prudently in cases when it is impossible to search every nook and cranny the traveller brings with him.

When I was to leave Philadelphia airport just recently, I went through the body metal detector and my luggage went through the x-ray machine. When I was asked to pass the body x-ray machine, I refused because I told the personnel I was pregnant. The personnel said that it was safe for pregnant women. I still told them that I don’t want to risk my baby’s health. The personnel was a little irritated pointing out the note beside me that says it was okay for pregnant women. I wanted to tell the security that the sign will still not guarantee my child’s safety. So what they did was ask a female personnel to put on her gloves and start examining my whole body – head to toe.

If they could do that to a pregnant woman in the States, why can’t they do the same thoroughness with the our government officials, celebrities and the like here in the country?

When I reached our Centennial airport first week of August this year, I was reprimanded by the customs because I was talking on my cellphone like most of the travellers were doing. Due to the early landing of the plane, travellers were calling whoever is picking them up to come earlier than expected. Well, the customs personnel was irritated at me for speaking on the phone, instead of looking at him read my disclosures on the arrival card. Of course, before I even knew he was irritated, I got off the phone to give him my full attention but it didn’t matter because he was already annoyed as I approached his desk.

After he reprimanded me, he asked what was in my luggage. I told him my laptop and clothes and some food. He gave me back my passport and let me pass. What kind of security was that? Was he really doing his job? I wouldn’t really like the hassle if he asked me to open my bags and inspect everything and leaving me alone to arrange it again. But what if I carried with me illegal items from whereever I came from? Talk about slacking and paying attention to the wrong things just so he could impose his superiority over the traveller. A big difference between the Centennial airport and the Philadelphia airport.

It takes a village to make improvements in the security standards of our country, not just our airports. And it wouldn’t take modern and expensive technology to make it happen. It would only take diligence and great prudence in the part of our government workers. But what would it take to make them work like that? I wouldn’t know.

Last Letter to My Parents

Posted in Affairs of the heart, family with tags , , , on July 28, 2010 by hangingbridge

I was asked to send them a letter explaining my plans because no one at home or here could understand why I wanted to go home so bad.  This is written in my native tongue and I didn’t bother rewriting it in a language most people would understand.  I have to express myself as bluntly as I could and there’s no other better language than the one I’m capable of conversing with.

This letter is a plea for freedom in my part – from the good life other people can give me – and not the good life I could afford to give myself.  This may be the last letter sent to my parents – who are very good people, God bless them always.  Because I don’t know if they would like to hear from me again once I gain that freedom that I would have to pay dearly in the near future.

I’m plunging into the unknown, that is, my future – with nothing but a baby in tow.  I know this is going to be doubly hard since someone now is depending on me.  I am very scared myself but I have to start somewhere and sometime.  Now is a good time as any.

My baby would probably get mad at me for not letting her or him have the good life.  But she has to understand and appreciate what I could give her should be enough.  Because her or his grandparents is not obliged to give her a better life.

At this point, I pray that I have the chance to let my baby know all these things in the near future.  At this time, I’m afraid that my baby has already gone through a lot for the past month or so. I feel that she is also suffering when I’m stressed out.

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Mommy Daddy,

Gusto ko lang po na maging ON THE RECORD na hindi ako ang nagplano na pumunta dito at manganak na katulad ng sinabi sa akin ni Mommy na ikinagulat ko kasi baka yun ang sinasabi niyo sa ibang tao. Ang sabi ni mommy, kaya daw kayo nagka-idea dahil ako daw mismo ang pumilit na pumunta dito. Sinabi niya na narinig mula sa akin na mag TNT ako dito nung bumibili ng ticket para sa akin. Nasabi ko lang yun dahil open date ang kinuha pabalik.

Nung araw na paalis sa office at bibili ng ticket si mommy, narinig ko ito kay Ms.Jane kaya pinuntahan ko si mommy sa mesa niya at sinabi ko na baka pwedeng next time na lang. Sabi niya hinahabol daw niya ng murang ticket. Pero nasabi din niya na ang presyo na yun ay may dalawang araw pa na ganun ang presyo. Kaya pinipigilan ko pa ring bumili. Nung hindi mapigil, sabi ko sasama ako at nun gusto ko ng sabihin sa kanya ang condition ko bago pa siya bumili ng ticket. Kaya lang si Ms.Jane isinama pa niya at hindi na ko makapag sabi dahil andun siya sa tabi ni Mommy.

Nung araw na nagusap sa guest room, sinabi ko sa inyo na bubukod na lang ako. Kaya lang ipinipilit niyo na pumunta ako dito. At bumili na rin kayo ng ticket ni Daddy nung araw na yun. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang plano niyo para sa akin pag pumunta dito dahil wala naman kayong sinabi. Basta lang dito nyo ako pinatapon at gusto itago. Pumayag ako nung huli ng sinabi ni daddy na ipatatanggal sa trabaho ang tatay ng bata at gagawan pa ng kaso.  Naisip ko na kung yun ang mangyari, hindi na talaga namin kakayanin na bumukod dahil wala ng pang suporta ang bata.

Hindi ko alam kung madali sa ibang tao pero sa akin, ang hirap ng lagay ko dito. Mas madali sana kung maintindihan ko ang halaga ng US citizenship na gusto niyo ibigay sa bata. Ang nakikita ko lang e problema sa mga darating na buwan kung tatagal pa ako dito. Kinatatakot ko din na baka makasama sa bata ang napakalungkot na pagbubuntis na ito.Kaya sa tingin ko kelangan na ko umuwi.

Eto po ang plano ko before pa umalis papuntang US

1. Bumukod

Naintindihan ko po kung bakit gusto niyo ako itago mula sa ibang tao. Kahit po sabihin niyo na inaalagaan niyo dignidad ko, ang nakikita ko lang po ay inaalagaan niyo ang pride niyo bilang magulang. Ang pinaka simple po na naisip kong solusyon ay bumukod sa inyo. Kaya lang po ang pagpapadala niyo dito sa akin e lalong nakakagulo ng isip.

Una, hindi ko po alam ang lagay ko dito. Kung may nakuha man na doctor, wala naman pong insurance na makuha. Kunghindi niyo iniisip ang gastos, ako iniisip ko. Pero nabanggit na rin ni daddy na malaki na ang ginagastos nung nasa California pa lang. Alam niyo po ba na kahit gumastos kayo ng malaki, ang babagsakan ko dito ay charity ward or semi-charity pa rin. Kahit sabihin niyo na America ito, hindi ko alam kung gano ka-safe ang pagpapaanak dito kung charity ka. Kung dyan ako sa Pilipinas manganak, yung konting ipon ko e magkasya pa rin sa “package” ng Medical City. Compute ko na dati yung gagastusin kung dyan ako manganak sa Pilipinas.

2. Maghanap ng trabaho

Nung panahon po na sinabi ko sa inyo, maliit pa lang po tyan ko. Balak ko na mag apply noon dahil may tatanggap pa sa akin dahil hindi pa naman halata. Ngayon na medyo malaki na ang tyan, hintayin ko na lang lumabas ang bata bago ako makahanap ng work.

Ito po ang ine-explain ko kay mommy na kung dito ako manganak, hindi ako makakatrabaho. Until lumabas ang bata, wala ko gagawin kundi maghintay dito. At pag lumabas ang bata, hintayin ko until pwede na umuwi ang bata. At ayon sa mga andito, pag 6 month old na daw ang bata saka ko lang siya maiuuwi. Halos isang taon kami dito kung papayag pa ko mag stay dito sa US kung saan hindi ako pwede makapagtrabaho at makapag ipon. Again, gastos niyo na naman.

Pansamantala, kung maka-uwi na, aasa muna kami sa kinikita ng tatay ng bata. After manganak, magtulungan na kami sa pag suporta nito. Alam ko na madaling alipustahin ang kinikita ng tatay nito. At kung ako magtrabaho sa iba, siguradong hindi ko rin naman kayang ibigay sa bata ang maibibigay niyo. Pero ngayon po, yan ang sa tingin ko na dapat naming gawin.

Yan lang po ang plano na maibigay ko sa inyo. Sundin ko ang mga kondisyon na gusto niyo ipataw. Kung ang sinasabi niyo na cut-off e pati komunikasyon sa inyo e mawawala, wala po akong magagawa dahil yan ang kagustuhan niyo. Pag uwi ko po sa Manila, direcho na po ko dun sa tatay. Kasi alam ko, hindi ako pwede magpakita sa mga tao dun sa Acropolis. Kay Che ko na lang ipakuha yung baby fund na nasa caja de hierro at kung ano ano pang ipon na andun (except yung mga alajas kasi iiwan ko yun lahat).

Humihingi ako ng apology sa sakit ng ulo na nadulot ko. At sana kahit konting tiwala mula sa inyo na baka sakali, kaya ko naman kahit papano na bumukod. Madali sa iba kung sila ang nasa posisyon ko na piliin ang masarap na buhay na may pera. Kaya lang po, hindi naman yun ang hinahanap ko dahil hindi nyo ako pinalaki na maluho. Pangarap ko rin naman na may buo akong pamilya katulad niyo.

Pandesal

Posted in food with tags , , on July 14, 2010 by hangingbridge

The best breakfast for me consists of warm and buttered Filipino Pandesal and Coffee.

The bakery in my neighborhood in the Philippines serve this sweet-smelling creamy bread  by 6 in the morning.  The bakery starts making these soft bread 2 hours before.  I’ve always thought only those who are motivated enough can get up that early.  The baker must know how his bread affects the breakfast table, especially in my home, and the family who eats on it.  He must have an idea of how I prefer to eat his bread over buttery pancakes.

This year, pandesal has a special meaning for me.  It is those contained in brown paper bag that is delivered at our doorstep early morning.  My boyfriend who calls me as early as 6:30am to ask if I want some of it delivered.  He buys with what little money he has in the bakery and ask it to deliver at my door.  Once he tells me it’s on the way, I go downstairs and prepare for my bread with a cup of coffee.

If you purchase it locally, it only costs US$0.05.  I purchased it here in California for $0.70.  And I heard from relatives that it costs more in New Jersey.  (That’s why before I head to New Jersey, I’m going to have pandesal every morning.)

Now that I’m thousands of miles away from home (yes, I’m on the other side of the world), pandesal takes me back – lessens some of my homesickness.  A couple of cents more to pay for a single piece is worth it – even if I’m so tight in cash right now.

It’s a poor man’s bread, if you ask me.  Well, that would be the case if you buy it locally.  Because it is so cheap, even the poorest of the poor can afford it somehow.  Or the not-so-rich can buy it for the poor when they have some extra money to spare.  I’ve been eating this bread since I was a kid.  And I heard that we didn’t have much when we were younger.  My family belonged to the category of the poor.  And now that we are somehow well-off than most people, we still eat pandesal and brings the same kind of “happiness” in any other meal – pricey or not.

I remember the movie Ratatouille.  A person can find happiness in the simplest things like the dish ratatouille or in my case, Pandesal.  There are so many things that you think you need to have.  On the other hand, some don’t really know what they want.  It’s either your driven or not, to go after your own happiness.  For those who don’t know what could make them happy, they find reasons to live by to make their lives not as empty as it is.

Happiness lies in a little appreciation of what is served in front of you.  This applies to both the poor and not so poor man.  We don’t need to be served a fancy dish.  Sometimes, all we need is a hot cup of coffee and warm bread to get us through the day.

Knowledge or Creativity?

Posted in On Top of My Head with tags , , on July 7, 2010 by hangingbridge
I’d rather have creativity rather than knowledge.

I’d like to think that creativity is common to those who are presented with life’s challenges (both simple and complicated) without a previous basic knowledge. It’s more common to toddlers who find ways to get their simple goals. It’s not that common in adults. Creativity comes out of bits and pieces of what man has. Creativity lets man come up with something great from something so common.

Knowledge somehow boxes people’s mind. Somehow, knowledge makes some people very close-minded. Most adults live based on what they know. They don’t live by what they really want to be and somehow, hinders them to reach their full potential.

I’d rather be creative any day. Great things can come from someone as common as me if I was creative enough.

Yes, Skin Color Still Matters

Posted in Health, Humanity with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2010 by hangingbridge

The day before I was leaving for the States, I passed by the drug store to look for (skin) firming lotion.  I looked for the aisle for skin treatments and found myself in a pile of whitening creams and lotions.  Everywhere I looked were different brands and promises of whitening the skin in the shortest possible time.  I was in a hurry at that time so the sight of all the whitening creams worried me.  I didn’t need any of them.  I needed something to save me from the impending stretch marks in the coming months.  So I took a little more time to scan the line of lotions and found me a big bottle of (Jergens) firming lotion.

This took place in Manila, Philippines – my hometown.  It is a sad fact that despite the fact that Filipinos are educated beings, they find beauty in fair skin.  And not only that, they see a status symbol through skin color.  It is very shameful but I have to admit that my people base their impression on a person based on the amount of melanin you have.  The more melanin you have, the less likely you are well-off in life.  Very stupid criteria, if you ask me.

There was a local actress years ago who got linked with a certain Fil-Am celebrity.  Critics of the showbiz world would say that the Fil-Am fell in love with a housemaid.  Housemaids in this country isn’t as dignified as it is in other parts of the world in that they earn so little for such hard housework.  They are the uneducated daughters of the poorest of the poor.  The critics derived this “housemaid” nickname due to her morena skin.  (Morena – brown/dark brown skin).  Sadly though, the couple didn’t last long.  The Fil-Am found another morena-skinned woman. 

Morena is equivalent with poor and uneducated unless proven otherwise in this country.  The morena needs to dress up in expensive clothes or ride expensive cars or should be speaking in fluent English.  This is how “silent” racism happens in this place.

Philippines is a Chinese-infested country like any other country in the world.  They are the privileged beautiful people who occupies most of the rich 5% of the population.  Somehow, if you have a two or three-letter word for a surname, you probably belong to this 5% and is likely the fair-skinned Chinese people.

The TV Ads are shameless these days.  There’s a line uttered by a fair-skinned actress regarding the Skin White product.  She says “…makes your skin whiter and stays white…”  or something like that.  If I was born black, I could have been offended.  There are tarpaulins hanging along the streets about glutathione or metathione products which makes a melanin-blessed strong-looking woman turn into a white “gentle” looking one. 

I don’t understand why the governing body don’t censor these insulting ads.  It speaks of racism.  If they are against violence then they should start with the disturbing brain-washing ads.  Once we see the color of the skin as a criteria to judge a person, impending injustice may ensue in the future.

Paintings Found in Singapore’s Art Museum

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , on January 1, 2010 by hangingbridge

Last two hours before flight PR 504 heading back to Manila, my brother and I were still roaming the streets of Singapore.  We were supposed to go to Sentosa because my brother has never been there.  But it was really warm outside and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to roam the park in that kind of weather.  I tried to look at the city map to see if we could go somewhere else where it will surely be cooler than the outdoors and found the two museums that was just a few blocks from one another.

City Map

Both allowed us to take pictures only if we don’t do flash photography.  I was very happy to save the images of the paintings and the museum itself to share with others.

It was Singapore but the Singapore Art Museum had many Filipino paintings more than others.

Clever Tunnel

Eternal Tunnel of Books.

This was located at the foyer in the 2nd floor of the museum.  A few people really paid attention to this display because it wasn’t impressive enough.  But it was a good thing we were more curious than the rest of them because this was one clever piece.

Eternal Tunnel of Books

You can just take a sit whenever you feel like it (thanks to my brother who took this shot)

My brother took this candid shot of me when I just had to sit down to rest.  There was only a few people seen inside the museum so it was pretty quiet.  My brother and I were the only one making noises and taking pictures.

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

SAM

The colonial facade of the museum.

I personally thought that they should have Filipiniana facade instead of the colonial white one they had.  There were so many Filipino pieces (along with a few Mexican and Chinese pieces) that I thought it was a Filipino museum.  It’s a good thing Singapore has taken good care of some of our heritage.

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Maid In Bataan by Amorsolo

Maid in Bataan by Fernando Amorsolo.

Enchanted Family Tree

Enchanted Family Tree (??)

One of the dioramas

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One of the disturbing pieces encountered

One of the disturbing pieces I’ve encountered in that museum.

We just had to take a picture of this quote on the wall

We just had to take a picture of this quote on the wall

Self Portrait painted by a Zobel

Listening to Some Age-Old Music

The Linen Room

More Old Music

The Old Cinema Room

This room was covered with red velvet.  It made you feel like you’re in a theater rather than a cinema.  There were three projector screen which was playing one movie in three different angles.  By the way, they were showing a horror flick.  It wouldn’t be very comfortable if you were alone in this room.  Besides the horror flick, the room was relatively dark except for the red orange glow.

Going down a wheelchair-friendly slope

Your own personal tour guide

Before entering the Singapore’s Living History (portion of the) Museum, they give this big iPod-like gadget with a set of headphones to hang around your neck.  Each room of the museum has a certain number on the floor in which visitors will punch in this gadget and voila, you hear your own tour guide.

It wasn't the Smithsonian but it wasn't bad at all.

It was no Smithsonian but it wasn’t bad at all.