Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wedding or Marriage

The bride and the groom could not stop kissing after they exchanged regurgitated vows and we could not wait for them to be proclaimed husband and wife so we can proceed to the reception. So we can eat their food and guzzle their liquor. They honeymooned in an exotic island --so exotic that even the parasite that landed them in the hospital had an exotic name, but no worry they're in love. Sugar booger remember, in sickness and in health. Yes, I do. They ride on the rainbow. And then life hits them in the face. With twice the emotional upheaval as the preparation for the wedding, they're now scrambling to postpone the divorce. And hopefully stay alive in the process.

The above is a typical scenario of a typical life cycle of a man and woman in heat --which soon turned to hate. And what's even sadder is when they end the relationship obsessed with destroying each other. I knew of a woman who went to sleep comforting herself with a prayer for her ex-man to come back crawling and begging for her to take him back. "And I pray that he gets leprosy and be so broke." She says. Well, I can't help but wonder. "And would you take back a man with melted ears and zero bank account?" "Oooh, it depends." She raised her nose up in the air. It depends? Depends on what? If he still looks good minus his nose? Or how low he's crawled and how good he can make you feel by his begging?

At the start of a relationship we use words like, "he's the greatest, he's so good to me I won't know how to live without him." Then we find that we'll die if we remain with him--the ideal soon becomes an ordeal, so off we go and find a new deal. And there the cycle begins again. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm just jaded. But really, I still believe in love --that you should not give up on love, because love will take you to the finish line-- even if it makes you end up looking like this.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's all a big deal

I woke up this morning with the neighborhood kids all calling my name, they're ready to go to church with me, they said. I don't do kids, but off to church we go.
They were determined to have fun, so I thought I should too. I told them we're going to start a rock band. They didn't understand what I meant....but I do....hmmmm.In this part of the world, everything is a big deal. Just look at our garbage on top of the garbage with wheels.
In Dallas, Chat hates their homeowners association more than facial hair, while I simply hate frogs more than anything---especially when they don't turn into a prince. Or when they park outside my door like they're part of my decor.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's a cat, it's a pig

Finally, I am done with my commercial bread baking class. We learned recipes for breads intended for a bakery that would cater to the masses ---not for an upscale clientele. It's the kind of bread I was used to when I was growing up. For our final day bonus recipe, our instructor gave us the recipe for "lechon bread" and showed us how to shape it--- a "roast pig" bread. I just could not make mine look like a pig so I told my instructor it's a cat. "If you stare at it long enough it could pass for a pig" my instructor said after she chuckled looking at my bread.
Here she is showing us the steps.
She's right, the more I stare at it, you can psych yourself to make it look like a pig. (you can laugh out loud here)But then again, I'm not sure because it also looks like a catfish.
We did about 14 recipes, but all of us were only excited about this pan de sal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I once told you that I was looking forward to arriving at 50 because I felt that when a person turns 50, he or she is entitled to get ridiculously crazy or charmingly insane without having to explain. And really, no one should be questioning that because we have paid our dues.(however much that is) So when I turned 50, I milked every opportunity to go insane and my only explanation is that "because I want to." Now that I'm way past 50, my new obsession is this ugly, scrawny, why-did-you-stray into my life cat. Yesterday was the second day of my baking class and I got very anxious sitting there, I didn't want to stay because I wanted come home and be with "my cat." When I came home, here he was oogling at this cuter-than-him baby cat. Don't ask me where this baby cat came from...there's thousands of them here.

I really am bored with my baking class because it's too long..6 hours a day for 4 days, but I go because I look forward to the lunches they serve. The first day it was grilled pork belly, so even though I don't really want to go today, I will because I don't want to miss lunch. Ok, so I'm ghetto.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baking Class

Yesterday was the first day of my baking class. Three more days left. The lady in the red apron is the teacher.I got bored and sleepy the first 3 hours, I only woke up when we started baking and I smelled the bread coming out of the oven.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Double my meds?

Chat says it is very difficult raising a parent. So I behave. I take my meds. My anti-psychotic meds. Because when I misbehave, Chat threatens me and says things like: I will double your meds and disown you. Well, am not so worried about that part, it's when she ends her sentence with, "and then I disinherit you."

I have a love-hate relationship with medication. The word "pharmacy" in Greek means poison. And yet I religiously take mine. Religiously-- meaning, when I remember them. I don't really suffer from depression, but my real malady is my anxiety attacks which is triggered by anything that I perceive as stressor to my perceived ordered and comfortable set-up. A friend dying or a changed schedule will send me on a tailspin just the same. Three ways to handle anxiety attacks; take anti-depressants on a daily basis, take a sedative at the time of the attack or winging it on a prayer. The first one is the most effective unless you want the 4th option which would be Mr. Cuervo or Mr. Beam. Then there's the fermented grape juice.

Monday, May 16, 2011

You're in a hurry? Go somewhere else...

I can't believe I've been here in Cebu for over 3 months now and I haven't done much in terms of pleasure trips or pleasurable activities. Unless you consider construction work pleasurable.

I've sworn to myself that I will never want to buy, sell, rent or do business here because I don't want to have to deal with any offices with the word "government" attached to it. And also because here in the Philippines, the people have no sense of urgency, (which, of course, to some degree has some merit in itself) and I equate "slow" with laziness. After several months dealing with business owners, store clerk, construction workers and electricians, I have concluded that the word "urgent" applies only to other people but not Filipinos-- it matters not if they're waiting for a jeepney or a kidney transplant.

I had to demolish an old shack.
Now what do I do with this open space?Uhuh... use it for this. If there's one thing I'd like to wish, it would be that I can go back in time when I hated cats.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whatever sells...

Man peddling star apples.

Fixing a flat tire for the pedicab. The pedicab transport people at 5 pesos per person, about 10 us cent.

When I was growing up I sold everything, cigarettes, peanuts, vegetables, but I've never tried going around selling goats.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When I was hungry.....

Last Saturday, we had teamed together with Jacob Ong and his group to do another feeding in the island of Olango. They provided the physical food, my group provided the spiritual food. I didn't come with the group so I had to take the pumpboat by myself.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Yes sir, No sir.

Twenty-five years ago, my first real job in America was in a law firm and I would never forget what my boss told me when I used 'sir' before his name. "Ritchie, don't call anybody "sir" or ma'am, because that would automatically put you in a subservient position." Well, I'm here in the Philippines for 3 months now, and it drives me crazy that everywhere I turn I hear "sir" or "ma'am" as if that's a persons name in itself. I can't get myself to feel comfortable calling anyone besides their first name and it makes me cringe when I am addressed other than my first name.

Someone says I'm too Americanized and I say, so what's wrong with being practical? Filipinos are title crazy, we all know that; what with, Attorney this, Engineer that, Mr. or Mrs. so and so. Aren't we just too drunk with ourselves? Come on, calling someone sir or ma'am is not being respectful--- it's being colonial. Otherwise, why are you not addressing your maid who is the age of your grandmother, "ma'am" and address your old and hunchback driver "sir." Sometimes we have to ask ourselves why we do what we do and as my black co-worker used to say when she was unhappy with our white boss: "We're not at the plantation no mo' so I ain't doing that."
And you say that all I do is find something to complain about. Well, that's true, so you can call me crazy, just don't call me "ma'am." Ok?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Of Cats and....

When I was growing up, we always had animals around us; we had dogs, cats, goats, cows and carabaos. And if you consider frogs and big house lizards animals we had plenty of them too. I never felt a connection to any of them except for the carabao that I used to ride on. So it is safe to say that I was not an animal lover like most people are. So when I heard people talk about their pet dog, or their pet cat like they're their kids, I'd roll my eyes and say under my breath: "You're 1 french fry short of a happy meal."

I didn't even fall prey to Chat's constant nagging for us to have animals in the house when she was young. Then she got married and that gave her license to do whatever she wants, in her house, right? So my misery began. I fell in love. With her cat. I've never known such pure joy until we had this snotty, stubborn, you'll-do-what-I tell you, cat. I won't tell you how many times I've cried when he was sick, how many nights I'd lay awake wondering how that cat managed being alone when Chat was out of town on business. Needless to say, I missed him so bad when I left Dallas to come here in Cebu.

And now I have this new source of misery and joy. After being here for 3 months, I began to get attached to this stray cat who attaches himself to me. He sits and waits at my door and talks to me, then he'd follow me around purring. And unlike Chat's cat, this one here considers me his family and not a member of his staff. (You see how I now sound like those people I talked about?) So last week, when he stopped eating and won't move or talk to me anymore, I got despondent. I had my helper wrap him up in a towel and we took him to the vet a few houses down. He was fine until we opened the towel to reveal his eyes. He clawed his way out and ran-- faster than last year's winning race horse. While the doctor and I stood there helpless. I went home and felt like the world had collapsed on me, that I had no more reason to live for. I didn't see him until two days later. He showed up at my door healthy and feisty. And as I am writing this he's at my door trying trying to claw his way inside. He's purring and I am happy.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Forgive if you want to live

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

When my newspaper guy delivered the paper this morning, he didn't say good morning or anything, instead, he pointed to the headline and said: Osama is dead, Osama is dead. And he said it with such jubilee in his voice. I told him the newspaper is wrong, because I saw Osama at the restaurant with other bearded men eating pork barbecue and drinking San Miguel beer. He then said: "I thought you'd be happy because you're from America." I then got serious with him and explained why no one should rejoice over someone's death, even if he's the enemy. My reasoning is this: If someone killed one of my family member and the killer is caught and made to serve prison time or put to death by lethal injection, that is never going to make my dead loved one alive. Nor does the punishment sufficient enough for me to feel satisfied that justice is done. Besides, there is no real justice here on earth, period.

I am always reminded of this woman whose family, all 8 of them were killed by her estranged husband. Several years later, she was asked if she was able to forgive her ex-husband. Her reply was immediate: "Oh, I had to forgive right away because I do not want him to own me too." That is wisdom. Hatred is never the solution to anything.