Tag Archives: US

Stateside Again

I always look forward returning to Illinois. The travel time provides plenty of time for reflection. I recently left my job as a supervisor for a big IT company in Taguig. I was growing tired of all the phony non-sense. I decided to take a long furlough—and, yeah, get fat and travel with the little money I have in my pocket.

We almost missed the connecting flight in Hong Kong because we had to go out (we took two different planes) and clear immigration, get our bags, then go back in. The immigration officer warned us that we might not make it. And just when you needed to hurry things up, the bags came out late! After having it tagged and checked in we started running. We had less than an hour to check back in for our Chicago bound plane. And just when I thought I cleared the most difficult hurdles I was greeted by these snob check in staffs who chatted with each other while I was drenched in sweat from running and the doors of our Chicago bound plane about to shut its doors on us. We had to plead them to hurry up and ask the ground crew to wait for us. The whole thing felt like we were in that show called Amazing Race. I had connecting flights in Hong Kong before but only when you’re pressed for time that you appreciate the distance that you have to walk (in my case run!) and how big the airport is, well, at least there’s an interesting story to share aside from the usual complaints like getting stuck in your seat watching movies for more than half a day.

Chilling at O’Hare

These long haul flights would be easy if only I could get good sleeping hours. The closest I get are these short naps which makes my head hurt—bumps, even the slightest, wakes me up easy. So the in flight entertainment menu is my best friend. We were flying over the great pacific northwest around 2400 Manila time. My brother lived in Washington state in the 90’s. He would tell stories of his nature adventures and the X-Files scenes shot near where he lives. The Pacific Northwest area is so unbelievably vast. Some believes that some early type of humans still roams it freely. My brother’s now in Florida where I plan to see him next month.

I was told that cold weather has arrived earlier than expected. My jackets, all hand-me-downs, was, well, handed down to others. I have to endure the little layers I have in me but I’ll most likely buy new ones or ask for some hand-me-downs to save money. My relatives here takes me to the local outlet stores for cheap buys. It’s almost thanksgiving, I’m sure there would be some good bargains around.

That’s Sam the American Bulldog. In Wisconsin hunting for cheap jackets.

We arrived in O’hare around 16oo local time. Temperature was below freezing, around -3 C. No surprise there and it’s getting colder as winter gets closer. We have to wait for three hours for our pick up ride which gave us some ample time to eat a Bigmac. They are gradually getting smaller each year—must be cost cutting I dunno. McDonald’s omnipresence in Illinois is because they started their innovative business ideas here, one of their first concept stores is in Oak Brook. I saw this restored diner styled restaurant two years ago. All the neon lights are on but there’s nothing there but memorabilia—it’s a classic Americana relic. I was told that the Oak Brook offices is also the headquarter’s for the fast food chain operations and where they train their employees to complete “Bachelor of Hamburgerology”. I’m not kidding—they really have that. I would be reminded of this place whenever I would see its address on the sachets of iodized salts I would get from McDonald’s in Singapore and other places.

We would later dine in Royal Buffet. This resto is very popular among Filipinos and Asians in general. They serve lobsters and king crabs which is what I look forward to because they’re expensive back home— strange because you would think that because we’re surrounded by water seafood would be cheaper. Here you pay $20-30 for everything—eat until you tap out. One thing you’ll notice in this kind of places is that people are on the large side, which is cool because they all make me alright. I don’t stand out around here, I blend in well!

 November 21-22, 2014

Chicago

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We were invited to watch boxing tonight. Guess who’s on? Who else. Manny Pacquiao.

This is the first time I attended  a pay-per-view house party. Filipinos here has been organizing these simple get-together since Pacquiao started dismantling the opposition. It’ a phenomenon that would continue until this boxer retires. No Filipino, even the president, could equal his charisma and popularity. Hollywood actors and millionaire athletes lines up to have a picture with Pacquiao. I can’t believe that this is the same kid I saw fight in a boxing event in Mandaluyong. Who knows how little he got paid then—that American guy he played around tonight is a millionaire now.

The house we visited is somewhere in Bartlett, owned by a newly wed couple. They’re working as Physical Therapists. There’s a lot of Filipinos in this profession here. If I followed my brother’s wishes, who sent me to college, I would be one of them here. I was on my 3rd year in Physical Therapy before  I was kicked out. I didn’t took it seriously.

The fight was a snoozer. It was the food that I enjoyed. We brought lechon kawali, which we bought from a Filipino deli not far from where we stay. Others contributed: lumpia, binagoongan, empanada, mechado, palabok and some soft cakes.

These simple gatherings and food brings Filipinos closer in this part of the world. These things makes up for those days they long for home. We are 8000 miles away—the only connection to home and country are these simple get-together and Manny’s pay-per-view boxing.

November 22, 2014

Chicago


The Week for Thoughts…in Singapur

While waiting at  the bus stop a few days ago I overheard this old man, his English heavy accented (imagine Rex Navarette skits), conversing with a child that spoke to him in typical Singlish. Their brand of English that at first is difficult to understand, but once you get the hang of it, becomes easy to follow — even learn.

The Filipino professionals that came to Singapore in the last 10- 20 years now have their families here. They’re also sending their children to local schools. And these children are rapidly integrating into Singaporean society. I could no longer distinguish Filipino from local sometimes. It’s quite fascinating, how children adapt to their environment almost effortlessly.

As Singapore updates their immigration policy (substantially cutting back on foreign labor) these Filipino-Singaporean generation (from the 90’s up to present) would most likely be the first and only big wave of Filipino immigrants here — subsequent Filipino migration would likely become less and less as years go by. Singapore is expected to adapt stricter measures to ensure the core population don’t get completely diluted. People like me would one day come home but these Filipino Singaporeans would stay and help build their country’s future.

The pioneer of Filipino labor here are the “Domestic Helpers”. These DH’s in fact was here long before the so called Filipino professionals started coming in the 90’s (when Singapore broadly opened its door to foreign workers). Some of them arrived in the island as early as the 70’s. Around the time the economy was starting to pick up and the Singaporeans needed people to look after their children while they help build their modern Singapore.

These Filipinos live a hard life. Out of desperation to support their family leaves country and family behind. Breaks my heart whenever I hear fellow Filipinos look down on these hardworking Filipinos just because they toil in the lower rungs. I suspect that this attitude must be some form of a psychological defense mechanism. We abhor the image of what our nation and her people has become – we disrespect our own because we have little respect for ourselves. We forget that their condition in life is the result of our collective failure as a nation.

I respect these people because my mother worked as a housemaid for rich relatives in Manila in the 60’s. She would recount to us her children how difficult that life was. She did it so she could support her siblings in Negros (they were orphaned very early in life). Fortunately, she was treated very well. The lady of the house, Manang Lolet, wife of the founder of Cafe Puro, was the one that taught her how to cook. I know because once I asked her to teach me how to prepare “achara” (pickled papaya) and she reminded me that it was Manang Lolet that taught her. I then asked what else did she taught her and she just laughed. I guess that means a list too long to enumerate.

I’m not sure if there has been any study made on the economic impact of  Filipina DH’s here in Singapore. I’m sure their service had some positive effect on the local economy back in the day because their presence allowed Singaporeans parents to work. And not only this, I believe that most of them also helped educate young Singaporeans. A friend of mine told me that not only did their Filipina “maid” improved his English, she also helped the brood with their mathematics and other homework (she also learned to cook Teochew dishes from his grandma and this friend remembers well how they all cried at the airport when she left for good). I asked if she happens to be a teacher back in the Philippines, he said no, but he was certain that she had a college degree!

Once I spoke with a Chinese Singaporean cab driver who married an Ilonga that worked before as a Housemaid here. His family, wife and daughter are in Iloilo (I forgot what town). He plans to retire in the Philippines and become a full time “rice farmer”. He said he owns two vehicles that carry farm produce to be sold with the help of his “tatay” . Recently, this man bought a “small rice land” as “investment”. The guy also built for himself a two storey home with his extended family occupying several rooms. As for his daughter, he intends to enroll her in a Chinese school in Iloilo city. I’ll never forget these words from him, “here I am poor, but in the Philippines I am a rich man with big family!”

The frigate Intrepid, one of 6 in service for RSN. The exhibit was an oppurtunity for the local population to see their Navy up close. There were also booths inside the vivocity mall displaying Navy equipment  Most popular among the kids are the real guns that they can hold but not fire of course.

This afternoon we went to see a Singapore Navy stealth frigate berthed in the waters near vivocity for the public to see. They’re trying to drive up local interest in military careers especially in their navy which is a vital military institution for them. A powerful navy ensures protection of their maritime interests. Remember, they have one of the busiest sea port and shipping passages in the world. My brother, a retired US Navy, told me that the Malacca straits (not that far from here) to this day is littered with pirates. He said that their ship would be put on alert every time they pass this body of water. I remember looking it up because I can’t believe that we still have pirates in this part of the world today. Turns out that’s true!

You would be surprised to know that even though Singapore’s considered the richest in South East Asia, the biggest navy in the region belongs to Vietnam. And they don’t plan to scale things down. They’re projected to spend most of their military budget buying more submarines and ships. This explains why they have courage to stand up against China;s bullying in the West seas. We’re also vocal, too confrontational at times, but this posturing has more to do with the guarantees Uncle Sam gives us.

I think it’s time for us to imitate our neighbors. We should stop this modernization with US hand-me-downs (my goodness, last year we receive a WWII ship! c’mon! you kiddin’ me!). The Singaporeans build corvettes and patrol vessels — why don’t we negotiate with them? It doesn’t matter if takes time to modernize as long as military procurement are wisely made. Lets skip making more concessions in exchange for free and discounted used arms. Our neighbors managed to modernize their navies without any external funding and assistance – let’s learn from them.

1st – 2nd week, March 2013


Creative Heritage Project

Now, I’ve seen Mcdonalds’ first concept store in the US but this easily tops that. This building is even older than McDonalds.

A Mcdonald’s restaurant operating inside a colonial era mansion in Bugis. That’s a great concept. A meeting between US pop culture and 18th century colonial Asia.

Now that’s a Mcdonalds.

I’m dreaming that we Filipinos would one day share this enthusiasm over heritage buildings. Heritage links us to our beautiful history and gives us a sense of identity. Something that is clearly missing in our materialistic society today.

We’ve become a people in a constant state of forgetfulness.

We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve what’s left of our past. They deserve to be reminded.

We have these fine examples of modern conservation. Singapore appears to get it. Here old shops and homes are put up to use. Why not embrace this kind of approach? After all, money can only last so long, history, now that’s forever.


Seeing Wrigley Field

Although not a basefull fan, I instantly recognized Wrigley’s when we passed by Addison earlier this week. I wanted to go down from the vehicle but it was raining. With temperatures well below freezing getting wet isn’t a good idea not unless you wanted to become a popsicle.

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This baseball park was named after the bubble gum business man who created juicy fruit in the early 1900’s. Aside from this and the parks role in the movie Blues Brothers (where they listed the Chicago Cub’s home as their address), I know nothing more of this storied century old baseball park.

I thought it strange that Filipinos never liked what Americans refers to as their favorite past time. Considering we absorbed everything America fed us during their time in our country. I guess we don’t have the patience to sit and watch the long innings. We get easily bored. We like our sports fast phased. This perhaps explains why we prefer boxing and basketball. We would’ve enjoyed American football too but we’re way too small for it and the tropics is no place to be wearing those thickhelmets and tight uniforms!


Ron Paul: What If?

I hope my relatives in the US supports this guy and people like him. America needs to take back their country. Bring it back to what it was before it engaged in imperialism. If this guy was alive when the American government had leaders contemplating on taking over countries from Spain (including us) he would have opposed them just like what many great Americans did then. Unfortunately, the powers that wanted an empire won.

The America today is not the America their founding fathers had in mind. ts baffles my mind why most Americans look at people like Paul and dismiss his non interventionist and liberal views for being out of this world? I’ll tell you what is out of this world — America policing it — its time Americans wake up. Your country could no longer keep this up.

The consistency of this Ron Paul fella is unbelievable. Americans should look into what this guy has been saying all the years. He never flip flopped on issues – whether they’re popular or not. I always tell my relatives that most politicians are crooks if not smooth talking car salesman. They love Obama because “he’s gonna bring everybody (US military) back home (US)”.

Where are they now? Not only did Obama didn’t kept his promise, he expanded the wars!

Its strange that I’m talking about American politics here but since the stability of that country affects all of us, it does not hurt to study and read about what’s going on there. They’re economy is that big – it shakes everybody. Just like if you wanted to understand what happened in our country during the Spanish era, it’s not that bad to brush up on Spanish history as it gives you an idea of the prevailing political and economic conditions at that time.

Ok, too long an intro – here’s Ron Paul’s speech:

What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interest?

What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?

What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?

What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan is directly related to the hatred directed toward us?

What if someday it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair tradeoff with the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistanian, Afghan people are killed or displaced?

What if we finally decide that torture, even if called “enhanced interrogation technique”, is self-destructive and produces no useful information and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?

What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?

What if all war-time spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?

What if we finally see that war-time conditions always undermine personal liberty?

What if Conservatives who preach small government wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?

What if Conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?

What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?

What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?

What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?

What if a military draft is being planned for for the wars that would spread if our foreign policy is not changed?

What if the American people learned the truth, that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security, that it never changes from one administration to the next?

What if war in preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?

What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?

What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?

What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?

What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded?

Nothing.

But what happens if my concerns are justified and ignored?

Nothing good.


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