Saturday, December 31, 2011

On this side of the fence....

In Dallas it is noontime on Saturday of December 31, while here in the Philippines it is now the new year....2012 is here. I'm sitting here trying to survive the neighbors firecrackers and all the noise from their noise making machine... which of course include the Karaoke.

Over the fence, 4 families live in one house, the size of which is not bigger than my crib. The last time I counted there were at least 19 people in that house. Miraculously, 3 people in that household really do have a job, and because of Christmas they get bonuses. And guess what they think that bonus money should be for? Well, one bought a karaoke machine, the other one bought these huge ugly looking boxes of speakers which they call "sounds." The 3rd one didn't get much so he just bought booze to go with the "sounds." And you know that not a day goes by that the "sounds" are not producing a sound to my torment.

Tonite, to bring in the new year they brought out the ugly boxes out on the street just outside my gate on the public street and all 821 of them partied like a rock star. I went out and chatted with them for a bit until I could not stand the "sounds" anymore. Just for the hell of it I asked one of them what their plans for the new year, if any. (I badly wanted to hear that building a toilet actually crossed their minds, if only to flatter me.) "I plan to quit my job end of January." "How long have you worked there?" "One year but it doesn't pay much." "And what are you going to do?" (I badly wanted to hear that he would pawn the ugly boxes and the karaoke and use the money to build a toilet) "I don't know." He said it like he was sure of his answer.

I've made a vow not to let anything raise my blood pressure so I just excused myself and went back to my crib and blog, resolute in my plan for the new year. For the year 2012, I want to do only one thing; kill the inventor of Karaoke. (If he's still alive.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Island trip

I went to check out my piece of dirt in the island of Camotes and this is the luxury boat I took. It's a 3.5 hour trip.

Approaching the port. And you can tell we're in the Philippines just looking at the people waiting for their family.

Trying to decide which trees to cut and which to keep.

Whatever country I've been to, historial sites and museums were never on my list of things to do. It's the public market I live for. And today I got lucky because it's the towns' market day.

Pure unadulterated tobacco.

Rice cakes in each purest form; fresh coconut milk and ground rice.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life goes on....

Give me the power to create a fever and I shall heal all diseases -Hippocrates

The day before Christmas I woke up not feeling right, but I was cooking for my nephews and niece so I had to work through it. With the neighbor's firecrackers and my throbbing headache I was about to postpone Christmas..... and life. On Christmas day, I lasted until after 1 pm then I had to tell everyone I am going in to my cave and won’t be coming out until the middle of next year. My headache felt like I had tumor in my brain and my throat burnt like fire in hell with temperature hot enough to burn my bed. (But not hot enough to ignite my neighbors and stop their homemade cannons and firecrackers)

Today, it feels so good to feel good that I did some weeding in my garden then I disinfected my crib, mopped the floor with bleach and sprayed Lysol. But having a fever is not necessarily all bad; the heat will kill all the bad bugs and strengthen the good ones, but a prolonged one is something to be concerned with so I hope that was it. I sure need the cleansing and strengthening of my immune system because with my “rugby team” I am exposed to head lice and all kinds of diseases. Before I left, my friend in the States told me to make sure not to come back with head lice. “I am sooo afraid of them, they're disgusting.” She said this with a contorted facial expression. “ What about TB or hepatitis, is that ok?” I said.

Anyway, what really makes me feel more healed is to see that my squash seeds have sprouted.
And my papaya now has it's first sign of fruit. Life goes on as you can see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the little things

This morning some man was at the gate calling my name. I opened the door and it was the courier guy with a box in his hand. I signed for the box ,but the receipt had nothing on it showing where it came from, only my name was readable. I was so excited and my hands were shaking in a hurry to open it. When I opened it, I was overcame with emotions.....I cried and could not stop myself. (I thought Lexapro is strong enough to numb me, oh well, it must be old age.) Not really. It's little gestures like this that topples me. My friend all the way from America had her sister mail me my favorite pastry. I had to stop crying so I can swallow.

Did I say I hate Christmas? Strike that from the record.


One day at a time...

Chat told me the other day that I need to find another hobby after I told her of my frustration with the parents of these street kids. She said, “Why don’t you go bum around Europe?” “Europe? That’s just geography, because I am bumming around already.” And I must really look like a bum, because today, after I came out of the pharmacy to get one of the boys (who was waiting for me outside the door) some medicine, the guard asked me if the boy was my son. “Yes he is.” I said, while I made the boy pop the pill into his mouth in front of the guard.

Because it has been raining a lot lately and the weather is colder at night, almost all the street kids are having a fever on and off while constantly coughing and spitting phlegm. I get angry, frustrated and heartbroken, because I feel so inadequate to help with their physical illness but mostly because I know that more than anything, they need to be emotionally coached to get past the hurt of being abandoned. Here’s one typical example: Rio, is 14 years old. His father was killed when he was 10. A year later, his mother started living with another man who is a drunk and beats them up. Rio then run away, and began living on the street. Every week I see him and the other street kids, and every week he says the same thing, “you forgot about me already, did you?”

Last Sunday, he told me he is saving some money so he can go back to the province where his uncle lives. I told him I will take him there or pay for his fare if he promise to start a new life and not come back to the city. But first I had to talk to his other uncle who works here in the city, because there’s no use sending him to the mountain if he is not welcomed there. True enough, the uncle said they don’t want the responsibility. “He only finished 2nd grade.” I asked him if he would reconsider and talk to the other uncle; I appealed to his conscience. “How can Rio start a new life if no one will help him, and how can someone deny him another chance at a decent life?” Well, today I put Rio on the bus back to his province. I told him that if he promise to do good and stay 3 months, I will go up there and celebrate his birthday with a cake, and I will enroll him in school.

In the meantime, I don’t allow myself to worry too much about tomorrow because I am not guaranteed that I will still be alive when tomorrow comes. There’s a greater chance that I will be bumming around Europe than Rio graduating elementary school. But then again, who knows?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I get by With the help of my friends

Yesterday, with the help of my friend Tom and his church staff and Mcdonald's (JY Square )donating the burgers, my "rugby team" and my writing girls had another fun day of games and food. The Gaisano chain of grocery stores also donated the space in their parking lot with free electricity even.

See these 2 women? One is pregnant the other one still nursing a 7 month old. The pregnant one has 2 kids on the street while the one with the 7 month old has 3.
The pack in my hand looks like a pack of juice, but it's not, it's a rugby pack that the boy in green (to my left) was keeping under his shirt. I feel so frustrated because adults are selling these sachet packs to these kids. The short term effect is that it suppresses hunger, but the long term effect is of course a fried brain.The boy in red snitched on the boy with the glue satchet and I tried to coax him to give it to me. But after they ate, he came up to me begging me to give it back to him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lunch for my vagabond friends

Yesterday was the Christmas lunch for my rugby team. (rugby-sniffing street kids) We're boiling water to make spaghetti and because we had 4 kilos to make, I thought I'd save money on electricity and do it outside. Looks like I need basic training in building a fire. Santino, Jordan and Jack. Preparing the spaghetti, filipino version. We held it in my backyard.

I had them tell their story of why they're on the street and what their plans are in life. They tell of what they want to become, but no plan on how to achieve it. For now, their main goal is to get more money so they can have an "exchange gift."
This boy Alex, said that his parents moved "to the north" without telling him so his friend's mother took him in and they're both now on the street. My patience was tested after they were pumped with sugar from the cake and the candies, but the highlight was when they started telling me that the spaghetti wasn't tasty. "Put more ketchup" at least 2 of the boys said it in unison, "we don't really like it." What do you mean you don't like it? Well, at least they were honest. I told them it's my first time to make the flip version and thanks to them, I will now know how to make it next time.

Friday, December 09, 2011

I splurged

Well, I finally took the plunge. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, pawned my kidney and bought an oven for my use here in Cebu. It's more than what I've a budget for, but who cares, if all I buy is for what I need and not for what I want, what kind of life that would be? Here's the baby.

And here's the trial run---fudge brownie.
Am planning to make cookies and brownies and get these 2 boys to sell them. After I successfully get the grimes out of their body and make Jack stop sneaking out and telling me he went caroling when I know he went to sniff glue.

My space is too cramped, everything is in my living room, but I should not complain, at least I'll have something to dream about; when I get rich I'd move to a house with a kitchen twice the size of my house.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Teaching them how to fish

I can understand why women would kill themselves or the "other woman" because of their obsession over a man. (Though I doubt that there's a man worthy of my premature communing with the worms underground or of me being behind bars serving a sentence without a period). What I can't understand or relate to, is how it is to be addicted to drugs or alcohol.

So when Jack wanted to leave yesterday so he can go back to the street again, I could not see his side of reasoning. He gave me all kinds of excuses, but I knew it was so he can inhale glue again. I told him he's free to stay or leave for good. After 2 hours he came back and said that he realized he wanted to be with us after all. But I knew he had his fill of glue. This morning, him and Santino woke up early. I had them prepare the soil for gardening and prepare their own food. I could teach them to use my kitchen and the stove, but I want them to be self-sufficient and be proud of accomplishing something decent for themselves. They're proficient at stealing and begging but that's not something to be proud of, I told them.

a ;>

My little and big FRIENDS

It's my 5th day here in Cebu and the stores are buzzing with Christmas songs and Christmas merchandise. And the spirit does make you feel like....buying. But I have to be sensible in my spending because I have these hungry boys to feed.

Although Chat is the sole supporter of my efforts here in Cebu, I am so blessed to have the kind of friends I have. In Dallas, my friends wanted to help in every which way they can. One friend offered to buy peanut butter or macaroni and cheese for me to bring back, but since I didn't have the space anymore, offered at the last minute to give me her few bucks. The gesture meant a lot to me, considering that she and her husband have their kids college loan to tackle and she just had a big hospital bill. And here in Cebu, I have my friend Tom who has been a big help in teaching these kids. He is a big influence in Jordans' life when I left Jordan with him 6 years ago when I went back to the US. And this time while I was gone I dumped on him these "rugby sniffing" kids. And I use his space. And patience.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

here I go again...

Ok am here in my crib in Cebu again. The flight with Korean air was not as pleasant from before. Although I find it offensive when people who knows to speak English prefers to talk in their native language that I don't understand around me, I normally am not bothered by it as much as other people are. But last night with the flight attendants and the pilot speaking almost incomprehensible English, my fallophian tube was stirred up more than necessary. I asked one of the atttendants if there was an American pilot in the cockpit, and with her barely audible voice and incomprehensible accent, I could not discern anything. But she smiled incessantly though. Smile is good. But totally useless when I need to know if it's time to jump or stay bowed down close to my arse.

Anyway, 3 months ago before I left to go back to my apartment in Dallas, I sprinkled all the seeds I had from the papaya I was eating and also some okra seeds I bought at the market. Then I also transplanted some of the plants the locals think are useful for home remedies.

The highest shoot is called "atis" it will bear edible fruits that is quite tasty but we can boil the leaves for stomach ache or for indigestion.

This is a very prolific plant called 'kalabo' and again, you can boil the leaves for colds and cough and to reduce fever.>

Then here's the okra. Even with the neighbors helping to eat them, we still have plenty on the vine, which I am leaving to dry in the stalk so I can use the seeds to plant.