What's this about?

Ladies and gents our story begins with our author who one day packed up his bags to spend the next 5 years of his life on some tropical island far far away. This land is not like any place he has ever been to before. There is no telling of what he may encounter during his stay there but one thing is sure he is going to be in for one crazy adventure. And this is where you get to read about it.

What you say?

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Readers beware!

The stories told here maybe appear larger than in real life and at times may even appear outlandish. However, all actual events are in fact real (well, most of them). What may appear as a distortion of reality to some may only be due to the author's perspective of the actual events. Some say he is just not right in the head.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Contradicting Filipino Personality

Today I had to give a report on the Filipino personality (the ones in the Philippines). After I had given it people were kind of quiet. Maybe what I had to say wasn't what they were expecting. Maybe I should have realized that Filipinos are not that comfortable being directly confronted. Then again I'm not exactly a Filipino. I'm and American-Filipino an I call it like I see it. So if you're wondering what I had to say in this report it kind of went a little something like this.

The Contradicting Filipino Personality

Love for the Family but none for the country

The way I see it the family is a very important social unit for Filipinos. It provides a source of emotional and economical support. Elders are regarded with much respect and the younger generation is expected to be obedient with almost no objection. Family is expected to come before self and so at times there maybe a lot of self-sacrifice especially on the part of the younger generation. However, this makes them a very tight and close nit group. The family circle is also just not limited by blood but extends to in-laws and close friends making them one bigger unit.

Another aspect of the Filipino family I have come to notice is their warm hospitality. Step in to any Filipino home as a guest and you'll notice how they will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. They may not even have much themselves but they'll give you the best they have in order to make you feel comfortable.

On the opposite side the focus on one's family may hinder the love for country. Taxes may go unpaid and regulations may be broken for personal need. If laws are put in place that appears as a hindrance to the people they may not be so easily followed. Sacrifices can often be seen for the family but not for the country.

Some people I have talked to have a feeling that things are not going to get any better here that they might be better off else where. The number of people exiting this country opposed to the number of people migrating to this country is kind of evidence to that predominant feeling. The current out pour of nurses from this country maybe viewed as a source pride to some but this country cannot keep it up. There is a serious "brain drain" occurring in this country that is taking away would be doctors and other professions that are needed here to keep this country running more sufficiently.

"But what can one person do about these things?" I hear this often as well. I find it strange however when that same one person will try so hard to make their guest feel so important in their home." Thecountry is an extension of your home; it doesn't just stop at your door. People seemed to have for gotten that here.

Church going and commandment breaking

The church is another important factor to the people. Religion can be seen almost in all aspects of daily life here. As the largest Christian nation in Asia it may be obvious as why their practice is taken in to the workplace, school, and even politics. Almost no event is held without a prayer and so many people can easily take quotes from the Bible.

As the second (I was corrected on that) most corrupt nation in Asia, the 11th in the world. It is kind of obvious that not all the laws of the Bible are exactly being followed. This maybe more of a representation of the economic situation here than of their religious beliefs, none the less it is quite striking.

Things that have really surprised me here is number of adulterous husbands. I have often heard people talk about their affairs freely, of course not in front of their wives however. Well not most of the time. Seems like some of these church goers may have fell asleep when the sermon of the 10 commandments came up.

The church here is also very advent against premarital sex and the use of contraceptives. The alarming growth in population is kind of indicative that at least one of these rules is being followed but maybe not the other. I had a hard time trying to figure this one out. To me they were already going against the church when they decided to commit premarital sex so why didn't they just go ahead and commit the other little sin in getting a condom? It maybe be explained by the fact that having sex can go on indiscreet with only the participants knowing of it however buying a condom at the local drug store involves a third party. In doing so they risk the chance of being caught by a third party and a possibility of having their and their partner(s) reputation being damage. How they are viewed by their peers is very important to Filipinos.

I can take a joke but not from you

Following that it can be seen that their pride is very important to them. When one may not have much they can afford economically it is the one thing that's there. So people may become a little sensitive when it may seem like another may be openly offending it. (Maybe I should have paid a little more attention to this point before I gave my report. Lol. Oh well)

Knowing that I find it interesting how friends can so easily joke with one another on topics which to me as a foreigner maybe a little sensitive. For example one of my classmates is openly teased about her weight and her skin tone. In the US comments regarding physical appearance would not fly, especial when they're aspects that they can not change like skin tone. However, she takes their comments so light heartedly (at least on the outside) and that's a common trait to see here. Seeing it from the outside what you have to understand is that the people here don't have malice behind their words so it is not taken personally as an attack on them.

The one constant

The one thing I have come to see that holds so true here is the Golden Rule. "The one with the gold makes the rule." As long as you have the money you can get away with almost anything. Money is often more important than pride. You will see doctors take a step down in status in the hopes to work elsewhere as nurses with higher pay. Students prostituting themselves to pay for tuition. No more does the saying "everyone has their price" seem more true than here. If you look at their economic situation however I don't see how you can blame them.

One biological goal that most people cannot avoid is the drive to survive. If there is one thing that Filipinos do so well, it is finding a way to survive. If they don't have something they will make do with what they have. They will do whatever is necessary to make it, in the hopes of finding a way out. To ensure a better life for themselves.

I mentioned a few other things but this thing is getting long. Anyway, this was basically the gist of it. Now some of my peers might have viewed this report as being a little harsh or over critical. However, that really wasn't my intention. To me it was the truth of what I saw. Though it may have seemed that I have focused on the good versus the bad, that really wasn't the issue. As a foreigner trying to understand the actions of the Filipinos here, may bring about some conflicting ideas. As I stated I think that once you get an understanding of how these actions are in fact not so contradicting you will then have a better sense of who the "Filipino" is.

In kind of going along the lines of this topic...
I think that people everywhere are basically the same in a sense. As they struggle to survive they all search for a sense of happiness and feeling of security in their lives. The only real difference from one culture to the other is what defines these values and the current state (economical, psychological, etc.) in which people find themselves to be under. However, I think you will also find that given the exact same circumstance people from anywhere will ultimately take the same paths in order to achieve these goals.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The final stretch

I can't study here in my dorm or maybe it's just that I don't want to study here. I know I have mentioned this before and actually I'm getting tired of writing about it but even more so I'm getting tired of trying to struggle with it. The funny thing is that when I was at my friend's house in Manila, sitting there in front of the TV while reading my biochemistry class I felt like the stuff was actually seeping in to my head more so than any other time that I have been trying to study here in my cell. So I don't know if it's the distractions here or just the environment. At this point I think it's almost psychological. I know I didn't exactly like it when I first came here but I never thought that I would have to like it here either. I guess coming to hate it here though was a different matter.

In all fairness some other things have gotten better or maybe I've just gotten more used to them. If there has been garbage in front of my door for the past three days because no one has bothered to come to pick it up and the cats have now scattered everything about I don't well on it. I just ignore it. When I find something extra on my plate I just push it aside or eat around it. I have also come to realize that asking people to do things around here is pointless so I have been saving more of my time by just doing things my self. Like changing my broken door handle. When I do get a chance to finally move in to that other dorm room they have been promising to me since last October I know I will have to be the one replacing the broken door knob and also the dirty torn-up toilet seat as well but I have accepted that... well kind of.

I got one just more quarter left to see how things go. To see if things change or if they stay the same. To see if there is still a reason for being here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My one night...

It's was late and I couldn't think of any place were we could go to do it. A hotel was definitely out of the question. There was basically no other choice so I decided to just take her up to my room. And there we were just me, her and my bird (the myna bird). I didn't know exactly where to start, it's been a long time, but as I looked into her eyes she took the initiative and told me "so how does the kidney keep blood from entering the urine?" Well I guess that was actually more of a question but I still had no clue. I know we just went over the kidneys last quarter, so maybe it wasn't really all that long ago but I couldn't recall anything. I started pulling out physiology books and she started to surf the internet. After about an hour of trying to figure out the ins and outs of the renal system she managed to finish her assignment.

As we sat there I could sense she didn't want to leave quite yet. It were as if there was something more on her mind, somthing that she wanted to do. I was right. Looking into my eyes she spoke softly and told me "I will help you clean your room." Yeah, I know my room is kind of messy but... but... Well I guess I have no excuse it's just messy. All of the sudden she grabs the broom and starts sweeping up. Feeling a little embarrassed I try to tell her that I'll take care of it later but there's no stopping the girl. Eventually I just give in and let her do her thing. By the time she was done the clutter on my desk was clear and even my pillow and bed sheets were changed. Don't shake your head at me. I tried to stop her.

Anyway after somehow coming to stand there face to face in the middle of the room I thought she deserved at least my thanks but before I could say anything it looked as if she wanted to show me a little bit of gratitude herself. I always thought that the girls here were conservative but as she reached into her pocket and pulled out that little piece of plastic she changed my whole view. What are they freakin' missionaries? She pulled out a plastic CD cover with a CD of gospel songs and gave me a pamphlet entitled "Christian?" to go along with it. I've been down this road before and it didn't work then and I'm pretty sure it's not going to work now. We can't all go to heaven and I've learned to simply accept that fact. For some reason though I couldn't exactly tell her that at the moment, so instead I thanked her and showed her to the door.

May sound a little crazy but it's all so true.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ssh... Secret...

Ever time I see her... I freeze and find my self stumbling upon what to say. I know she'll want to talk but... The things I know I just can't simply say. I hate my self for having to be this way. Though, I try to tell myself it's probably better this way... But then how come it never seems that way?

Ok, got stop this post from sounding all too emotional... Filipinos can't keep any kind of secret. Everyone knows this too. You go to lunch with some Filipino in Luzon and you tell him a secret that he can't share with anybody. By sun down Filipinos all the way in Mindanao will be talking about what you just said. So why do I got to be the one person in this country to actually "keep" a secret? Well, I guess it's because this ain't the "don't tell tita I sold the goat for a case of San Miguel" kind of secret. This secret contains the kind of the drama that people write about in movies where the plot has so many twists and turns your head is still left spinning after you leave the theater.

A lesson in...

I got my shifting exam back for gross anatomy today. I managed to pass it but by just barely. As I sat there wondering how could I do so poorly I tried to recall what I did that night before the test to prepare for the exam. That was when I remembered I did absolutely nothing. That night before the exam, when I probably should have been studying one of my dorm mates was giving me a lesson on Filipino courtship. When she was thru I never knew I had so much to learn. It was such a wealth of information that I kind of forgot all about gross anatomy. So for the few of you out there wondering how to get your self a hot Pinay I'm here to share with you what I've learned in examination form.

So there is this fly Pinay you have been thinking about for sometime. When you see her in the hall you give each other a wave hello and exchange a smile. You may have even been successful enough to get her to join you at Jollibee's one day. However, you two don't really know each other that well but you got the feeling you would like to make her your girl. What do you do?

A. Continue to ask her out but remain cool without seeming to giddy over the fact that she has agreed to do so. This way you keep her guessing about your true intensions and she doesn't come to realize that she's probably the first girl to have ever agreed upon seeing you again who wasn't locked up in some cage.

B. The next time you see her you just be straight forward and ask her "how much will it cost for your services?"

C. The next time you see her you tell her how much you like her by letting all those emotions you have been bottling up in side just spill out. Then after doing so and recomposing your self to the best of your abilities you ask her "may I now court you?"

C. – If this were the States, telling a girl how much you really like her "I like you, I like you a lot" would be considered a very big no-no it's perfectly fine here and in most cases the preferred way to start off your "courtship". If you were just try to wine and dine your way into the girl's heart with out actually telling her about your true intentions you could just be wasting your time. Before most Filipina girls are willing to get involved they are expecting you to "show them the money." I'm not I'm not talking in that prostitute kind of way. So answer B is out. (Then, again that's not unless you're the type to frequent the local gentlemen's clubs.) This way they now know that you are now willing to begin the trials.

Letting a girl know that you are really interested in them puts you in a bad position whether you're in the States, the Philippines or anywhere else. Even if she does decides to give you a chance by not telling you to hit the road right then and there. By confessing to her how you feel you have placed yourself at her mercy and have set things in motion that can't be stopped. You will now be put thru a trial. So as you attempt to prove that you can come thru her trial by fire unscathed what can you expect?

A. Things will not change much between you except for the fact that you will be required to spend more time and money on her. For example you will treat her to the movies and maybe dinner, buy her flowers and either call or text her at least once everyday. Then after one week (remember they are conservative) she will tell you that she loves you signaling the end of your trial.

C. You will be basically left up creek with no paddle to try and find your way into her heart. She wants to see how much you two were naturally meant to be or if you have e.s.p. Due to all the stress of trying to figure out how to please her because you obviously don't have e.s.p. or she's either putting up some kind of psychic force field, you will have to undergo major gastric bypass surgery.

B. The 'friendship' you have established with her will change drastically and you will now learn the true meaning of "turning a cold shoulder". Hey, it's you that said you like her, not the other way around. So it's up to you give her a reason to get with your looser ass and it better be good.

D. B & C

D. – Well it's definitely not A. 1 week? Psssh. I have heard stories of 1 to 2 years! Filipina girls are usually ultra conservative. So if you are going to court a girl expect to be in it for the long haul. Don't expect her to be all that warm to you while you are courting her either. Even if she did like you she can't let you tell you or even let you on about it. What makes her happy, what makes her sad will be all up to you to figure out on your own without even so much of a peep from her. (Never could figure out why girls everywhere do this. It's not like we are X-men and can actually read minds thru e.s.p. Gives us some kind of clue!) Eventually you will succumb to some sort of stress related disease but thanks to that third job you got to fund all expenditures you should be able to afford the cost of the surgery just in case she leaves you.

So you survived the trial and finally managed to woo your way into her heart. Congratulations on obtaining a girlfriend whom you probably don't even have one clue about. I mean her real personality probably isn't anything like what she has shown you while you were courting her, right? Well, at least you hope not.

Now I'll admit at times I like to take risk. I some how ended up in this country after all didn't I? However, I'm not that much of a gambler. If I can't see the light at the other end of the tunnel I'm not just gonna keep on walking hoping that it's actually there. I'm gonna turn back the other way around. I guess that's one of the reasons why I'm gonna stay single in the Philippines for a long time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Trust me, there's no need to tell me

"Oh, so you are by yourself here. You don't have a girlfriend. It must get really boring and lonely for you..." For some reason a couple of girls have come up to me and have basically told me something similar along those lines. Ok, you know what? Maybe it does get a little boring and lonely at times but you don't need to remind me of it. I guarantee you I'm quite fully aware of my current situation. Thanks. Sheesh.

Anyway, it's not like I'm really all that lonely. I'm a grown man not some little mamma's boy. I can handle being by myself. I just can't be locked up in a little room like some animal. All I need is to get out once in a while, especially from here. Then I'll be just fine.

There is no need to reiterate the 'not having a girlfriend' part either. Yes maybe it would be nice to have someone you could depend on for company. Especially on those long vacations where I'm just sitting here in my concrete cell by myself while everyone else is busy with their family or significant others. Even if we couldn't go out all that often it might be nice just to have someone I could count on for support. Then when things go wrong maybe they wouldn't seem so bad. It would also be nice to have someone to speak to face to face once in a while. Instead of some myna bird that hasn't even learned how to say one word yet.

Then again, what am I talking about? I must be going crazy. At least no myna bird will ever criticize me or nag me about "why don't you always call me?" Because I'm a busy man. I'm in med-school not pre-school. I got things to do. Plus, girls equal money. You pay for her dinner, maybe some flowers, her movie tickets, her day at the spa. I'm not rich. I don't got a job here. I'm eating cheese sticks for breakfast that should tell you something. And I don't need someone who always wants to be so close to me or holding my hand as I'm walking around either. It's hot as hell out here. The extra body heat is not going to help. Learn to keep your distance, woman.

If I really need someone to talk to I'll call up one of them psychic friend hotlines. And if I need just a body then I could always take up that governor on his offer of some young thing who's as he says "never been touched, never been kissed." No, no, no. I'm just kidding about that last sentence. I'm not about to do something that will have me spending my first few weeks once I return back to the States in some jail cell. So no need to start calling the CIA agents on me now. I'm already tired of living in the cell I'm in now.

Anyway, like I was saying I don't need no one or no body...
I'm just fine with the way it is now...
Just me and my bird...
No, really I am...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

No more freebies

After the start of the New Year my free meals have disappeared. Up until now my breakfasts have consisted of a cup of yogurt and stick of string cheese. I wonder what happened. Maybe they didn't like their Christmas present. But you know what, breakfast is the one meal that I have said I would pay for and have been paying for.

Attack of the cockroaches

I just walked in to my rest room and I can still smell the fumes of Raid in there. The can says it would dissipate in around 15 minutes. It's been over 2 days already! I wonder if they were talking about 15 for minutes for each spray? Then maybe it would make some since. I probably emptied out half the can in that restroom.

A few days ago I spotted a cockroach about 2 and half inches long in there. Instead of normally just stepping on it (they are not really that fast) I decide to pull out the Raid. I got him square on with a full blast and it didn't do anything. I must have sprayed him at least 5 times before he finally started slowing down and keeled over.

As I was chasing him around in my little square bathroom I discovered he wasn't alone. There was like a family of them, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces. They were coming out of the drain and a corner in the shower. It was like some sci-fi horror movie. And just like Anakin did the Sand-People in Episode II, "I killed them! I killed them all! They're dead, every single one of them!" Yeah, I'm a killer. Before you know it I'll probably end up becoming the Filipino Darth Vader.

As you have probably already deduced I used a lot of Raid in the process. Even up until yesterday the fumes were strong enough to knock out another cockroach that I saw lying on its back twitching. One thing that surprises me though is that after a few hours after I had started the massacre the ants went back in there like it was nothing. I on the other hand was still getting dizzy off the fumes just sitting at my desk. I probably lost a few layers of my cerebral cortex that day.

"There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you."

Mr. & Mrs. Villar

Last Monday on the 2nd of January Dale and Juvi Villar held their wedding ceremony at the Fernwood Gardens in Quezon City. They had a nice ceremony in which I had the honor of participating in and in which quite a few people showed up including a couple of governors. One former governor even offered me to go out and pick up 16 and 14 year old girls after the wedding reception. Then he offered me his niece to take back home to the States. See it is true that Filipinos are hospitable people.

Anyway, before I get carried away let's get back to Mr. & Mrs. Villar.

I've known Dale for a long time. I've been there when he first got drunk, when he got picked up by the cops in a gang fight, when he almost drowned at Venice Beach, when he started to think he was going crazy because me and Al pulled a joke on him... Ok so not all of the times can be as pleasant as this one but it's going to be hard to top a moment like this in his life time. I just want to say congratulations on your second marriage hopefully it will last as long as your first. (They already had their civil wedding before hand, this one was the church wedding.) I wish you two the very best and that you may have the family you have always dreamed of. So, Dale be a good husband to her. Well I shouldn't even actually have to say that. I know already that he's a good man, Juvi. Sometimes he's actually more like a kid but then again he's bearable.

May you both grow old and happy together.