Monday, April 16, 2007

My Grandfather Was a Janitor

On occasion, I'm required to put in a few extra hours, if not to make up for coming in late, than to meet, in true government lingo, my desired levels of achievement, i.e., quotas. I've stayed late often enough to have become familiar with the custodial staff's names and schedules. They're a friendly bunch, and most of them have been here since I started working for this department four years ago, so they know me by sight if not by name. Many nights I find myself the lone person in the office, and the squeaky sound of the custodian's cart, the hum of the vacuum, and their puttering around the office somewhere beyond my cubicle, become comforting noises.

One night not too long ago, after I bid the last of my coworkers goodnight, I found myself alone again, with nothing but the hums and beeps of my computer and other office machines to break the silence. Burying my head in yet another file, reviewing numbers and reports, I barely registered the jangling of keys and the familiar clatter of someone pushing a cart into the office. What did catch my attention was the whistling of a familiar tune. I remember being very impressed by the clear and skillful whistling and thinking there was only one other person I knew who could impress me with their whistling skill. I remember feeling some chagrin as I remembered that person, and made a mental note to check up on him soon as I had not seen him in a while.

I listened carefully to the melody, trying to place it. It sounded like a classical piece of music, but words were coming to me. As I picked up the tune, I returned my attention to my work, letting the vague lyrics play out in my head as the custodian continued to whistle. For some reason the melody was tugging at my heartstrings, and I grew wistful. Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I continued to read file notes, while I idly tracked the custodian's progress in my mind's eye. The distance of his whistling told me he'd gone into the conference room. I guessed that in a no time he'd emerge and make his way around to my area of the office. He was still whistling the same tune as he drew near my area and the words flew stronger through my memory, growing louder as I remembered .

" to love you, till the stars burn out above you, till the moon is but a silver shell...No other love..."

"Hey!" I exclaimed, before I could catch myself. "I know that song!" The whistling stopped abruptly and I realized I probably just scared the person with my outburst.

"Someone's der?" a voice called out, and I frowned in puzzlement at the accent. The regular custodians I was familiar with were Heather, Chico and Lenny, Caucasian, Hispanic and African-American respectively. This gentleman's accent sounded distinctly Filipino.

I called out, "Just me!" and I heard him make his way to my cubicle. I waited at my desk, ready to apologize for startling him. I was right, he did look Filipino at least. A short, wiry man, with graying hair and dark, tanned skin. I placed him at about early to middle to 60's, but I've learned when it comes to Filipinos, they're one of two things: they're either really older than they look, or really younger than they appear.

"Oh!" he said with a start as he spotted me. "I thought there's no longer anyone here anymore!" I smiled at his quaint English, correct, even if overstated.

"I'm sorry, if I scared you, I should've said something when you walked in," I apologized. He waved his hand and shook his head as if to say I hadn't scared him.

"You're a hard worker. You're working very late," he started conversationally after an awkward silence.

"Oh, I'm just finishing up some work. Please don't let me hold you up. The other staff always just go about their business." He nodded in understanding and raised his hand again, this time apologetically, as he stepped away. I winced internally, knowing I had sounded dismissive. I still had a lot of work to do but I was compelled to let him know I didn't mean to be so abrupt.

"Uh...I enjoyed your whistling. You're very good!" I called out.

"Did you say you know the song I was whistling?" he asked as he pushed his cart back to my area.

"Yeah! I mean, yes, it was my grandparents' theme song," I explained. "'No Other Love', right?"

"You're very smart to remember it," he smiled. "Does your grandfather sing it to your grandmother?"

I gave him a sad smile and shook my head. "Not anymore. My grandmother passed away a few years go."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," his voice was full of sympathy. "Are you pull Pilipino?"

Acknowledging why the melody made me sad had sent my thoughts another direction for a moment. Mentally shifting gears, I was a little slow to reply. "Pull Pilipino?" I repeated silently to myself. "Oh! Yes. Both my parents are Filipino. I was actually born in the Philippines."

"Oh, really? I am asking only because your last name is Miller," he nodded at the nameplate on my cubicle. As I silently predicted his next question, he asked, ""What is your family name?"

"DeGuzman, on my dad's side, Salonga on my mom's side." I replied. I answered his next question before he could ask. "I was born in Paniqui, Tarlac. I left when I was three, so I don't really know much about the Philippines."

"That was a long time ago then," was his next comment. Before I could figure out whether or not I should feel insulted, he asked, in that Filipino fashion of making a statement into a question, "So you must not understand the language anymore."

"Tagalog, I can understand. Ilocano, not really."

"But you don't speak either languages," he stated the next question.

"Hindi po gaano. If absolutely necessary, I can stumble my way through Tagalog. Ilocano, I only know a few words, and they're not really the good kind." He laughed in complete understanding.

We kept up our conversation for a few minutes, in a traditional Filipino effort of trying to find mutual acquaintances. I don't remember the names he rattled off of the places he lived and people he knew, but he soon realized we wouldn't find a connection with my limited knowledge of Philippines' geography, though he claimed to be familiar with my family names.

In a span of a few minutes, I knew practically his life story. In the Philippines he owned a fleet of four tricycles with his sons. His one daughter married a sailor now stationed in Bremerton, and was able to petition him and his wife a few years ago. Essentially, the lure of States was too tempting, and he left his home and business in the Philippines to become a janitor in America. His American dream is to bring his sons to the States, but the money he is sending them is helping them sustain and grow their business to include a jeepney. His wife was a teacher in the Philippines. Now she babysits the neighbor's children.

He realized he had been doing all the talking while I just asked simple questions. He then asked me about my job as he stayed busy, his movements efficient and automatic as he emptied wastebaskets and replaced the plastic bags in the cubicles around me. I politely encouraged him to speak Tagalog when he struggled with his English. Occasionally, I threw out a few Tagalog phrases myself, as I explained what I did for a living, and he made noises in reply that sounded impressed and appreciative.

"Oh, you must be very smart to have such an important job," he nodded encouragingly. I grinned and quietly pondered if maybe I was doing some overstating of my own. He talked as he worked. Sometimes as if to himself. "Alam mo, natutuwa ako pag meron akong nakilala na Pilipino na katulad mo, na magaling, at mabait pa kahit lumake dito! Ewan ko ba kung bakit, pero yung ibang Pilipino - makita lang nila kayo ay janitor lang, ay ayaw na nila makahalabilo sa'yo. Maski 'hello' man lang, ayaw." He paused, "Siguro, kung gusto ko, pwede ako maging bus driver or taxi driver. Pero, nakakabuhay ang trabaho ng janitor."

English translation: "You know, I'm so pleased when I meet Filipinos like you, who are not only good at what they do (?), but nice also even though you grew up here. I don't know why, but there are other Filipinos who, just because they see you're just a janitor, they don't want to socialize with you anymore. Not even a hello. Surely, if I wanted to, I could be a bus driver or tax driver." The last sentence made me think. "Nakakabuhay ang trabaho ng janitor." Did he mean, being a janitor enlivened him or did he mean he made a good living as a janitor. Or that being janitor brought people to life. I think any translation we come up with fits well.

I could only reply with an understanding "Hmmm" not quite sure what to say. But his comment brought a story to mind, and I smiled inwardly at the memory. It was a story I'd heard of Tatay asking my cousin Elvin and my older brother Jonathan what they wanted to be when they grew up. This was when both boys were still in the single digit ages, with Kuya was still speaking Tagalog more fluently than English.

Elvin quickly replied, "I want to be a doctor!" Kuya was slower to reply. When prompted again, he said shyly, not quite able to pronounce his "r's" yet, "Janitol, po."

I've always interpreted that story in a way most people may not have seen it. Most would just chuckle at the contrast of aspirations. But I always saw it, if very idealistically I must admit, as Kuya's way of telling Tatay, "I want to be like you, Tatay."

Because that's what Tatay was. A janitor. I know that wasn't what he was in the Philippines. I know Tatay takes great pride in his career in the Philippines. But I wonder if he knows he should take just as much, if not greater, pride in what he was here in the States. Because I do.

I have to admit I know embarrassingly little about my grandfather. I know he's a gruff man of few words. I've always found him hard to approach, but once I got over my awkwardness, he is easy to talk to. He's usually so stoic and formal, keeping a straight face even when he tells a joke. To see a smile on his handsome face and to see him genuinely laughing was a surprising pleasure. It's even more of a delight for me when I'm the one who's able to make him smile or laugh. Just as I do with my dad, if for some reason I couldn't view the full benefit of his smile, if I could just see the creases in his cheeks, it was good enough for me to know I had made him smile.

Tatay left the Philippines just a few days before I was born. I didn't "meet" him, until he came back to visit. Although I have pictures of us together when I was a toddler in the Philippines, I wasn't truly aware of his role in my life until I came to the United States. And then I knew him as a disciplinarian, the one who spanked me when I leaned out of the second story window of the small, two-bedroom apartment we shared with him and Nanay in San Francisco in the mid 70s. I knew he took naps regularly in the afternoon, and one day when I was lonesome for the mom and dad, I felt I hardly ever saw, I cried myself to sleep on his and Nanay's bed, and woke to find him snoring beside me. It's a comforting memory to this day.

He and Nanay were constants in our young lives, with Nanay preparing our lunchboxes and Tatay driving us to school, picking us up and attending my field trips and Kuya's special assemblies. I wonder how many of my cousins share this kind of memory.

I never really understood what he did for a living. I remember he worked in a hospital, and I remember he collected cans. I don't quite remember where they all came from, but I know he was forever crushing them in the kitchen, and his Chevy Nova never lost the sweet sour smell of the bags of cans he recycled. It wasn't until I was much older did I realize what value recycling those cans held. They supplemented an income he was gladly and unselfishly sharing with his family, here and in the Philippines.

I wonder how much it cost him to come to this country and put himself through the humbling physical labor of cleaning after others. Did he hone his talent for whistling like this man, his music his only company, after the "professional" people had left the building. Did he ever feel the rejection that this custodian spoke of? Did he ever feel belittled by his own countrymen for earning an honest wage as a janitor?

I watched the old man dusting and vacuuming, and I wondered if his sons in the Philippines knew how hard he worked. Then I thought about Tatay and I wondered if I've shown him enough or at all, how grateful I am that he put family first before his pride? Have we, the family he helped bring to the States, given him enough credit for working so hard so we could taste the "good life" on both sides of the ocean?

Memories have been haunting me since meeting this unassuming stranger. Did I ever thank Tatay for driving me to school when my parents couldn't? Did I remember to hug him and thank him for being with me on field trips because my parents were working? As a teen, instead of bemoaning a pair of jeans ruined by a spot of bleach, why didn't I see it as his way of taking care of my brothers and me? I'm grateful for the time Peter and I had him to ourselves for nearly a year, for I did learn more about him and his side of the family, but to this day I still feel a greater opportunity was missed. When he set out to establish a new life with a new partner, even as my heart broke, I let him know in a letter that I was happy for him. With a letter in reply, he eased the pain I didn't think I let him see, by telling me how much he'll always love my Nanay. Even as he sought to retrieve some happiness for the remainder of his life, with his letter to me, he sought to eternalize the happiness he once had.

When he was hospitalized late last year, even in his weakened state, he still made an effort to make us laugh. He entertained his visitors and charmed his nurses and hid his fear for when he was alone. He's been a constant and reliable pillar of strength for the family for so long, it's so hard to realize and accept that he's old and needs us as much now as we've always needed him.

I know myself well enough to know that this email won't change my nature. I am envious of those who can easily demonstrate their affection, for I know Tatay is a person who thrives on it, even as he remains brusque and stoic. I'll keep to myself just I normally do, undemonstrative, but always hoping people just know how much I care, for that is one of many traits I inherited from Tatay, along with his eyes and his formal face.

I'll continue to wonder if Tatay knows how proud I am of him. And I'll continue to wonder if I'll ever be brave enough to tell him. Maybe I'll surprise both of us and tell him one day. Somehow.

As for the kind gentleman who cleaned up after my coworkers and me that night, I haven't seen him since.

The last thing he said to me as he moved on to the next office was, "O, sige. Baka magkita tayo ulit. It was nice meeting you. You're the kind of young Filipino who make me proud. I hope my granddaughter grows up to be like you." I was flustered by the compliment, and for a while could only smile speechlessly at him.

But I finally did manage to say something.

I told him, "My grandfather was a janitor."

The look of understanding we exchanged held more than words could say. My eyes, I'm sure, were thoughtful, while his eyes were not only gratified, but triumphant.

Written Jan. 30, 2002, before Tatay's 86th birthday. He returned to the Philippines a year ago this month after turning 90. On his 90th birthday, the family had a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to him and let him know how much he was loved. I'm glad we took that time to do so because Tatay passed away on August 15, 2006. But since he passed away & was laid to rest in the Philippines, I feel like I haven't had my chance to say goodbye properly. I still feel like he's alive, waiting for us to visit. I post this today in honor of his memory.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Relatively Speaking

I've discovered an added benefit to being married to an "Americano." Gareth is always asking me questions about things I've long taken for granted as being "just the way it is." I've always liked learning more about my culture, but there have been times when it was easier to just answer his questions with, "I don't know, Gareth, I didn't grow up in the Philippines." But even I am not satisfied with that answer, as true as it is. So, in a way, Gareth has forced me to be curious about my culture again and find the answers to his questions, thus finding answers to my own questions.

I came across this article by Ambeth Ocampa entitled, "Relatively Speaking." One of the things I'm most proud of in our younger generations is the continued use of the appropriate titles of respect. I just love hearing the words "Ate" and "Kuya" from Jaylen and Trystan when they talk to Nikka or Deric. It was interesting to find out about the Chinese origins of Kuya, Ate and the Spanish origins of Manong & Manang, and other familial terms. I don't know how accurate some of the facts in this article are, but it was still quite illuminating. It's a little long, but still worth the read. Hope you enjoy, and please feel free to comment on it!


Relatively Speaking by Ambeth Ocampo

Growing up is a difficult process and psychologists say that in a family of three, it is the middle child who has- trouble coping. The eldest is given much responsibility and the youngest all the attention. Thus, the middle child should give in to the bullying of the eldest and the whims of the youngest. He wonders why the toy he always wanted is given to the bunso as soon as it whimpers, or why the bunso is never scolded as harshly as he is. The middle child wishes that he was older than the teasing brother and nagging sister.

All these factors come into play in a child's development and despite all the theories of Western psychologists like Dr. Spock, there is more to kinship in the Philippines than meets the eye. There is more to kuya and ate than simply a term with no equivalent in English. Beneath it lies a whole sociological structure.

E. Arsenio Manuel's Chinese Elements in the Tagalog Language traces the origin of Tagalog words loaned from the Chinese. For example, the familiar kuya which everyone believes to be Filipino is actually the joining of two Chinese words or syllables ko (elder brother) and a (a word which denotes kinship). A (kinship) and chi (elder sister) is the origin of the Kapampangan atse, or atsi, meaning elder sister from which the Filipino ate is derived.

In some Philippine homes which retain a strong Chinese influence, family members address each other in specific terms which denotes sex and the seniority of a family member up to the fourth degree. Some of these terms have been used in such a way that the user believes the terms are Filipino. Kuya is always reserved for the eldest brother, but in Philippine usage, the term is used to mean an elder brother, but not necessarily the eldest. This is the difference between Philippine and Chinese usage. The second (di) brother (ko) is simply called diko. Names and nicknames are not appended to the terms because they are 'self-explanatory. Third (sang) brother (ko) is called sangko; and the fourth (sti) brother (ko) is called siko. For the females, ko is simply replaced with chi which means elder sister, thus the eldest sister is the ate or atse; the second (di) sister (tse) is called ditse; the third (san) sister is the sanse; and the fourth (si) sister (tse) is called sitse.

It would seem that Filipino does not have the equivalent kinship terms, but the sociological implications of kinship is the same as the Chinese. Elders are to be respected at all times, to the point of kowtowing. The youngest in the family is seldom punished; instead, he or she is tolerated to the point of being spoiled. Brothers are given priority over sisters: Sisters serve their brothers.

The amount of deference and authority accorded a brother or sister is in direct proportion to his or her age. The older he, or she is, the more respect and authority is accorded to him or her. Isn't the eldest -brother the padre de familia in the absence of the father, and the eldest sister the surrogate mother when the real one is absent? In some families, inheritance is divided according to age, with the eldest getting more than the rest, or at least having first crack at choice properties. More often than not, inheritance is determined by one's closeness to the donor-parents, but favoritism in a Filipino home is connected to a child's sex and age. Fathers usually dote on daughters more than their sons, who, get their share of lopsided attention from their mothers. The unico hijo or unica hija, only boy or only girl, is also the favorite of both parents, but the proceeding rule still applies. Generally, the spoiled brat almost always is the youngest in the family. This family closeness and the intricate structure built on authority and age is one facet of the Filipino psyche which is very Chinese, and it goes deeper than just the kinship terms.

While there is a title reserved for the eldest child, there is also a Chinese term reserved for the youngest boy, totoy. Literally translated, it means "foolish son" and is an endearing term for a small boy. From this comes the Filipino variations: ato, atoy, toto, and ito. This isn't just a term, however. It is also a license to be mischievous. Isn't the bunso the center of attention and the test of one's patience? If the bunso breaks something or does, something wrong, he or she is punished but never spanked or scolded as harshly as an elder sibling. The rationale for this is that the bunso should be given a chance because "he is young and doesn't know what he is doing." (Gen: Boy, isn't this the truth?)

THE LATE NATIONAL ARTIST Guillermo Tolentino agrees with Manuel regarding the Chinese kinship terms adapted into the national language, but in his book, Wika at Baybaying Tagalog, he proposes many interesting etymological theories on Tagalog kinship terms.

Kapatid is the joining of two words ka and patid, meaning cut apart or disconnected from a common point. The Kapampangan term for kapatid-kaputol is more graphic, since it denotes a portion cut from something. This graphically shows that a brother or sister came from the same womb or the same mother. Kapatid/kaputol make one thing of the umbilical cord from which we are cut at birth. In the old Philippine script, the symbol for ka means "to join together" and is said to represent the two pieces of bamboo joined together. It is interesting to note that kapatid only means a pair, while magka-ka patid (doubling ka) means more than two siblings.

People in the city whose minds have been poisoned by anticommunist propaganda think that Ka Lucas and Ka Millie are Leftists in the New People's Army or members of a militant labor union. Ka does not only means "to join," it also is a prefix which denotes brotherhood. Perhaps it can be seen in the same way that Russians use comrade. Ka is the shortened form for "kapatid na " plus a name, say Lucas, which thus becomes Ka Lucas. Kaka, a word for deference, is reserved for the eldest in the family, be it a brother or sister. Tolentino connects this to kakang gala, which is the first extraction of milk from grated coconut. Kaka without the name or nickname of the person means that he or she is the eldest in the family. The younger sibling attach ka to the name of their elders to stress age and consequently; to show respect.

Never does a Filipino address an elder, much less a parent, on a first name basis as Americans do. To hell with Doctor Spock! Respect, for elders is part of Asian life and it shocks many Filipinos to see American children pat their parents on the back and call them by their first names. A child who does this in a Philippine household [would] be beaten black and blue for being disrespectful. Corporal punishment, though, is varied due to the belief that a child should be hit only on the buttocks or on the hands. Don't we hear stories of children made to kneel on rock salt or mongo beans?

If you don't use kuya, ka or kaka, you can use manong for an elder brother or elder male, and manang for a female. This term frequently used by the llocanos comes from the Spanish hermano (brother) and hermana (sister). Centuries of Spanish domination have left many loan words in our language. Lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother) were derived from the Spanish abuelo (grandfather) and abuela (grandmother). From this the variations came, like agwelo, agwela, lelong, and lelang.

Tolentino's hypotheses are made more interesting by his research and treatise on the word "poon", the word for "lord," which is the source of the familiar .word for respect. "Opo," is said to be a contraction of "O-poon," which shows deference to a lord or master.

The term for grandfather, apo, is a contraction of ama-poon, and the word for grandmother, impo, comes from ina-poon. The grandchildren, or apo, comes from anak-poon. In his day, Tolentino was ridiculed for these theories, but half a century has passed since his book was published and no one has come up with alternative etymological theories. Tolentino could have been right all along.

NEPHEWS AND NIECES are treated like one's own children in Philippine society. Only one term covers the children of brothers and sisters, nephews or nieces-the word pamangkin which is supposed to have come from the phrase "Parang naman akin" (like my own).

This is bolstered by the fact that some people refer to uncles as tata, tatang, or sometimes, tatay. Aunts are called nana, nanang,or inang. The difference here is that if you simply call somebody tata, you mean your real father. If you add the person's name to this, you mean an uncle. Thus, ang tata ko is not the same as ang Tata Pedro ko, because the former means "my father" and the latter "my uncle Pedro." An uncle is referred to as an amain. Uncles and aunts are called by their names with a prefix to show this relationship. Amang Gorio and Inang Ester are said to have come from inaaring tunay na ama/ina.

One's family grows through intermarriage, but one "extension" which does not require consanguinity is through baptism when people become kumpare and kumare. By being the godfather/mother of a child, you become cofather or comother to a child and you are morally obligated to take care of the child in the event that the parents cannot do so. The godchild is thus referred to as inaanak. The godfather is called ninong, while the godmother is called ninang, both from the Spanish padrino and padrina.

Everything is made more complicated by the "extended" family. In Philippine society, even children of close friends are treated like nephews arid nieces. In order to stress this closeness children, especially in mote modern society, are told to address friends of their parents as tito or tita. Both from the Spanish tio meaning uncle and tia meaning aunt, these later gave rise to tiyo or tiyong, and tiya or tiyang.

Some of Tolentino's plausible but seemingly unbelievable etymological theories include the following:

Half-brothers or half-sisters are called kapatid sa ama or kapatid sa ina, which clearly specifies the source of the relationship, whether it be one's mother or father.

Cousins are called pinsan from the child talk pisan, which means samasama or altogether under one roof. This refers to many Philippine homes where families all live together in the same house, literally under one roof, pisan, so when one clan lives together, everyone, from the grandfather to the cousins, see each other. In more urban places, large families are in "compounds" instead of one house. The addition of "n" to pisan is accidental according to Tolentino, but he says that it could mean pininsan, Thus resulting in pinsang buo (first cousin), pinsang makalawa (second cousin), and pinsang makaitlo (third cousin).

When a woman (babae) consents to marry her boyfriend (lalaki), they are "joined" by matrimony and so their parents by this marriage become related. They become in-laws, or magbabalae. This union between man and woman is the cause of the relation. Babae plus lalaki results in balae, which is the term for the parents of one's son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

The parent-in-laws are called biyanan, or now spelled as biyenan. The father-in-law is called biyenan na lalaki and the mother-in-law is called biyenan na babae. Tolentino says biyenan comes from biyayang binayaan; loosely translated as blessings which were given away. This has reference to the parent-in-law's children who are believed to be biyaya, or gifts from heaven. When the parents give their consent and blessings to the marriage, they give up their child, their biyaya, which, becomes their biyayang binayaan. Perhaps this explains why stereotype inlaws or biyenans like Dely Atay-atayan in "John en Marsha" are cranky to each other. It was difficult for them to give up their "blessings," or biyaya.

The manugang is the daughter- or son-in-law. To be more specific, manugang na babae is daughter-in-law and manugang na lalake is the son-inlaw. Tolentino says that manugang is connected to biyanan in that the parents give to this person their "blessing" or biyaya (their child) with whom they are free to live, so manugang comes from the phrase maalam umugit ng biyayang binayaan. The complicated etymological analysis delves into ancient Philippine script and is as complicated as the phrase itself.

Before marriage, the groom or bride always fishes for "a second opinion" from friends and relatives. It is said that when, they ask their brothers what they think of the prospective husband or wife with "Pakakasalan ko ba si. . ? " (Should I marry him?) The swift reply is "Ba ayaw!" from which comes the term bayaw to mean brother-in-law. It does make an interesting story, but it doesn't give any clues to the origin of hipag, which means the sister of one's spouse. (Gen: Could it be she said, "Hindi ako payag!"?)

More complicated is bilas, which is the husband of one's sister-in-law, or the wife of one's brother-in-law. This complicated term for brother-in or sister-in-law stems from the root word nagkaPILA-S or "peeled. from," meaning that, you are related to people who are "connected to each other by :blood."

Some of the terms we seldom hear except in old Tagalog reruns on afternoon TV include anak sa Iigaw, which means a child born of lovers who did not get marred. Anak sa pagkadalaga is the child of a rape victim, or a woman who is not married. Anak sa tabing bakod is the child of a promiscuous, woman who doesn't know who the father of her child is. Last is all-too-familiar putok sa buho, the child whose parents are unknown even to its foster parents. This has reference to the first man and woman in Philippine legend, Malakas and Maganda who came from nowhere but a split bamboo.

From all of these, we see how rich and complicated the national language can be. If we can take more time off work to analyze Filipino words, we will probably understand our lives, our families and ourselves better.

(27 April 1986)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No "Otter" Love

My grandparents' "theme" song is "No Other Love" and watching this video reminded me how simple it was for them to show each other love, just by holding hands. I miss them. I know they're holding hands in heaven.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Must Love Dogs..and Cats

Thought this was cute. Have to save it for posterity.

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary:

8:00 am Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am Walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm Wow! Watched TV with my master! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


Excerpts from a cat's diary:

Day 683 of my captivity:

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape... In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. Ioverheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released -- and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded! The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. The captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.......for now....