Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where was I (part 2)

These are fully functional homes of the farm workers. They live here. Their living room extends all the way outside.

When I said these are fully functional homes, I mean they live here, cook and sleep here. And make babies here. Notice the slippers in their hands instead of on their feet?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Was I (part 1)

My bff flew from Manila and drove us to Negros island to visit Chat's family. We stopped at this roadside eatery.
Chat's father and cousin

And now for the menagerie

Sunday, February 20, 2011

News you can use

When I go to the mall or grocery store here in Cebu, I never fail to see a white man walking hand in hand with a brown girl. (If she wasn't brown you'd think she's his grandchild.) And almost always the man looks like the kind where if he was your neighbor in America, you'd want to give him the number to Meals on Wheels, or something like that, just to be nice because he looks so helpless. And so old. Or, you'd go to the FBI website looking for his mug shot in the child molester section. But I know, at least here in the Philippines, that as long as the white man's wallet is in good shape, the rest of him can fall apart.

Why is it that men seems to always have an advantage over women like, read this one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Wishing and Thinking

1. Chat is the how and why of my life. On days when I'm not sure how I could go on and why I should go on living, she's the reason why I could crawl out of my hole. Chat is very witty, very funny and very wise for her age. And very generous with her money. I wish I made a dozen more of her.

2. I wish Filipinos here in the Philippines would learn to queue. But more than this, I wish that the men would stop draining their main vein on anything that resembles a wall. Behind my crib, I have two coconut trees that survived my parents. One of the trees is now in palliative stage, suffering from too much uric acid-rich-pee from this jobless neighbors of mine. (Thank God, they don't use computers or they'll know I talk about them, but if they do use computers they're too lazy to google me anyway)

3. I'm nostalgic of the old days when mangoes had one color when they're ripe---and that's reddish yellow. And you didn't ever wonder if they're sweet----because they were all sweet when ripe. I think Japan ruined it when they started asking us to export our mangoes. Two favorite words of Filipinos: Import/Export. We love anything "imported," like, jeans, bags, perfume and white husbands. And we "export" our best: the best mangoes, the best squids, and the best nurses. The malnourished squids and pale mangoes get to stay for the locals to eat.

4. I wonder if the Korean's exodus here in Cebu is good for Filipinos in the long run. In the short term, I see the benefit; I can now get authentic kimchi here in the island. But in the long term, I'm not sure, because unlike the Japanese, Korean men bring their own bedroom utensils from Korea and they seldom spawn with the locals. Which makes me ask the question: If Japanese men find our women attractive, why don't Koreans feel the same way? Not that we need anymore foreign sperm donor besides the Americans, but, it's never good to put your eggs in one basket. Don't you agree?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do you have to be dirty?

In less than two weeks here in the island I finally caught something---and it's not crabs or syphilis, (can you still get those?) but it's this annoying dry cough. One thing you'll notice with the locals is that most of them are always either trying to clear their throat or suppressing a cough and when they do cough you'd want them to cough out their whole lung and replace it with a clear one. I know it's a mean thing to say, but if you hear me now, you'd say the same thing about me.

I am trying every herbal remedy I can think of so I don't get worse, but I blame our neighbors over the fence as the cause of my malady. There's about a million people living there in an area the size of my apartment in Dallas....they're like their own country minus the flag. Their number one product is kids and the word "work" or "ethics" applied only to their long dead parents. They follow no rules and they fear no one and nothing, not even dengue fever --or they'd try to clean that sewage in the middle of all of them. Humans will adjust and adopt whatever he's exposed to, but my question always has been: Do you have to be dirty if you're poor?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Local remedy

Because of my upbringing, I stay away from doctors and medicines as much as I can. I grew up with my parents using bark, roots and leaves of plants to cure our illnesses. In the US, I was introduced by a Chinese friend to use this Lohan fruit for sore throat and I can tell you it works. Since I arrived here in Cebu, I have been dealing with a sore throat so I went to buy some Lohan and here it is. I boil the fruit then let it simmer, and when it's cooled I store it in the fridge. You drink it cold, but I prefer it hot, so I reheat it in the microwave. You can also buy them in cubes, the one on the left and just drop it in your hot cup of water. By the way, it is 300 times sweeter than coke, so I add a slice of lemon on mine.
Here's a page about it from Wikipedia.
Cultivation: It is grown primarily in the southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi (mostly in the mountains of Guilin), as well as in Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, and Jiangxi. These mountains lend the plants shadows and often are surrounded by mists; because of this the plants are protected from the sun. Nonetheless, the climate in this southern province is warm. The plant is rarely found in the wild and has hence been cultivated for hundreds of years.

Records as early as 1813 mention the cultivation of this plant in the Guangxi province.[2] At present, the Guilin mountains harbor a plantation of 16 square kilometers with a yearly output of about 10,000 fruits. Most of the plantations are located in Yongfu County and Lingui County, which in China are renowned for the extraordinary number of centenarians. This is sometimes attributed to the consumption of this fruit and the unspoiled nature. The locals, however, believe in their calm lifestyle and simple diet.

Longjiang town ("Dragon River") in Yongfu County has acquired the name "home of the Chinese luohanguo fruit"; a number of companies specialised in making luohanguo extracts and finished products have been set up in the area. The Yongfu Pharmaceutical Factory is the oldest of these.

[edit] Traditional usesThe plant is most prized for its sweet fruits, which are used for medicinal purposes, and as a sweetener.[3] The fruits are generally sold in dried form, and traditionally used in herbal tea or soup. They are used for heat stroke, sore throat, chronic cough, and constipation, and are reputed to aid longevity. The fruit is also used as a natural sweetener in the treatment of diabetes and obesity.[4]

Not abused but abusive victim

I just got back from a trip to the office of Philippine Immigration. In the taxi on the way back home, the driver was listening to this radio program where people would call in for advice. One caller was talking about her abusive and very controlling boyfriend, where she said right off that their relationship has lasted more than it should because she "understands his being abusive." He will not allow her to have any contacts on her cell phone, he told her to quit Facebook and she has to have his approval every time there's a family affair that she needs to go to. OR....he threatens to leave her. When she does anything that he does not approve, he threatens to leave her.....and....guess what she said: "Everytime he threatens to leave me, I drop on my knees in front of him and beg him not to. I've always done that because I love him."

I arrived at my destination before the host was able to give her counsel, but I know what my counsel would be to her: I would tell her to tie a rope around her neck and jump off the bridge.
There's no hope for her---who does that crap anymore? Kneeling before a man, begging him to not leave you, because you disobeyed him for being on Facebook? I understand the psychological dynamics of an abused victim, but come on now-- on your knees begging an abuser to stay? That's too colonial. Can't she at least think of something more in line with Facebook generation? You know, when I see kids that are so rotten, my impulse is to discipline the parents. And so with this caller, I feel like slapping her across the head, maybe she'll wake up and realize that there's nothing wrong with the boyfriend--it's her head that needs to be examined. What you tolerate, you will continue to get.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Of cats and boats

Can you spot my American grandcat from the Filipino one?

The boat we took to cross the first island.

The other boat we took to cross to Iloilo.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Land tripping

Friday morning I woke up feeling adventurous, and by that I mean, I felt that I could tackle my anxiety. So Jordan and I got on a taxi and headed for the bus terminal at 6 a.m. to cross to another island called Negros Occidental, from there we would cross again to Ilo-ilo.

At the bus terminal we decided to take the minivan, they call it V-hire --meaning a passenger van. There were 17 of us packed like sardines, I could hardly wiggle my legs. The fare was 100 pesos each, (2 USD) compared to the bus which costs about half. The advantage of taking this minivan is that it gets to your destination at least 40 minutes faster than the big buses. Duration of the trip: 1.45 hours.

In spite of my mounting anxiety, I kept pushing myself because I wanted to conquer my anxiety attacks (and not the other way around) plus, Jordan was so excited to do this trip, because this boy hasn't been on a boat or a trip this long. The last boat ride deposited us on the dock in Ilo-ilo at 4pm., so it was practically an all day travel.

To those of you planning a land trip to Ilo-ilo from Cebu, here's the route:
1. Bus or minivan to Toledo City pier terminal --costs P100 -duration of travel 1.45 hours
2. From there you take the boat and cross to San Carlos city in Negros Occidental --costs P170 per person. duration of travel: 1.45 hours
3. There's a RO/RO ship that you can take if you have a vehicle with you... Ro/Ro means roll on/roll off. The first trip leaves at 7:30 in the morning and I think 3 more after that. The fare for the vehicle is quiet costly, around P1200 including the terminal fee.
4. From the San Carlos pier, take a tricycle to the bus terminal and get on a Ceres bus to take you to Bacolod. Make sure you take the bus that goes via the Don Salvador mountain, it's a 2.5 hour ride. If you take the Escalanted route it would be at least 4 hours. The Don Salvador mountain vista is breathtaking, but the winding road up and down the mountains where the tires of the bus are practically on the edge of the cliff was all I could take. Cost: p135.00 per person
5. From the bus terminal take a tricycle or taxi to the boat terminal. There's a boat that leaves every hour to cross to Ilo-ilo. I had a promo fare of p225.00 per person if you buy a roundtrip ticket, otherwise it costs p370.00 one way. Duration of travel: 1 hour on a fast craft

I talk about the breathtaking view of Don Salvador, but I have no pictures of it because I was barely alive trying to manage my anxiety and the fear of the deep plunge---this is why on the way back to Cebu I took the bus with wings. The plane went up and down just like 40 minutes flat I was back in the island of Cebu. By the way, Jordan didn't have any ID with him so he was not allowed to fly, so I put him on the overnite boat, a 12 hour ride and costs p650 at the boat terminal or p700 through a travel agent.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

On being an entrepreneur

I woke up this morning and found this entrepreneur---peddling various foods. And as you can see, he is really peddling--using a bicycle and a side car which he will use later to transport people. The pot contains chicken boiled with cabbage which costs 25 pesos (5o cents in usd) for 1 piece of chicken.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cebu eating

I have been enjoying the cool weather here in Cebu that I haven't used my airconditioner since I arrived here. The downside is that the sun hasn't been out from behind the dark clouds. I went to lunch with some friends yesterday and my friend Tom keeps calling my attention to this door mat at the entrance door.

When I am here in Cebu, I normally don't seek out restaurants that serve American foods but after a month, I start to miss the good cuts of meat, as in steaks. And Tom being American who lives here now, is always on the lookout for restaurants serving authentic American foods. This restaurant we ate at yesterday is located right in front of Banilad Elementary school, it's called The Ranch. They serve good steak and pretty much "everything there is good" according to Tom. The owner who is also the cook came from California who opened this restaurant 7 months ago, and has a good following already. So next time you're in the island, check out this place.

I finally had to spend the money and bought a dining table because I got tired of eating and doing my chopping on the side of my computer desk. Really, this is not a dining table for midgets, it just looks like it.