Category Archives: Blogette

What to Do About Crime – Cultural Differences and the Bolo

We live in a “nice” neighborhood, but it’s urban. It’s one of the attractions; it’s a pleasant, slightly upscale area that’s close to downtown and all the action. So it’s not unusual for homeless people to wander up our street.

The other day a young man, clearly stoned and/or psychotic, stopped in front of our house. He was yelling and screaming, flipping the bird, tore off his shirt, etc. He walked onto our porch and then back to the sidewalk a couple of times. My wife is watching him like a hawk. I’m watching too but I’m mostly amused. Finally he hits the For Sale sign in front of our house with his fist. He grabs the flyers in the box, crumples them up and throws them in the street. Apparently he doesn’t want us to move 🙂 I call 911.

A few minutes later a policeman arrives. We watch (as do the rest of our neighbors) as the cop talks to the young man. I know the drill; the cop can and will do nothing. I talk to the officer who as expected explains that unless he sees the guy committing a real crime he can’t arrest him. He asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital and the guy said no. That’s all the cop can do.

In the meantime our next-door neighbor arrives and she is hugging Janet and is crying. Janet is not crying; Janet is pissed. Why can’t the police take him away or at least allow her to bolo the guy. The young man continues to wander aimlessly and the officer talks to him again. He eventually agrees to be taken to the hospital.

I explain the realities to my pissed off wife. The streets and sidewalks are public; you cannot keep people from using them just because they don’t live there, even if they are stoned, drunk, crazy or all three.

I think of when and where I grew up. It was a suburban neighborhood. There were no drunks or crazies wandering that neighborhood. Vagrancy laws back in those days ensured that people who did not “belong” were kept out. Of course that often meant that anyone who wasn’t the right color was also kept out.

Janet simply does not understand the insane nature of the United States. Our next door neighbor is a construction contractor and has a few pick up trucks. One or two are often parked in front of our house. Janet is incensed. I’ve talked to my neighbor, a nice guy, and he tries to keep them from my house, but after all, the streets are public and I don’t own the spaces in front of our home. I suspect that my lovely wife thinks that the bolo to a couple tires might solve the problem.

I am not sure what my point is or if I have a point; it’s just interesting to see the cultural difference. In the Philippines I suspect Janet would threaten the young man with a bolo (and she is very skilled) and he’d run off. She’d complain to the barangay captain about the neighbor’s trucks or take the law into her own hands. Needless to say, Janet loves Duterte.

I understand her attitude. I pay plenty for my house, am annoyed by the homeless wandering through, and the inability or unwillingness of the police to lock them all up. But I also understand this is the price I pay for living in a nice place close to the action; as well as the price we all pay for freedom (or what we believe is freedom).

It did make me nostalgic for a time when the cops could act differently. I explained to Janet that the freedom we have in the US does not only impact home owners, but in my heart I wouldn’t mind taking out the bolo myself.

Jeepney vs. BIL – the Accident!

Yesterday morning I received a disturbing text from my wife, Janet. Her older brother, living in Cebu City, was hit by a jeepney. Now most people in the Philippines know what this means. Jeepneys, and most everything else that drives in the Philippines, are dangerous as hell. And pedestrians don’t act much safer.

“How is he?” I asked.

“He’s in the hospital. He was hit on his feet; not deadly, but bad.”

The day was spent with all the family members calling and texting back and forth and with each round the seriousness of the situation became worse.

“Well he’s a tough guy, ” I told Janet. “We will hope for the best.”

“They just got a text from him saying he’ll be having a surgery or stitches,” Janet told me. I had to wonder about that comment. Surgery might imply a serious injury, broken bones from a foot run over by a speeding, careless jeepney. I like my BIL and joined the family in their communal worry.

By the time I arrived home I was expecting to hear the worst. My BIL, the next to the oldest of the kids in the family, had recently moved from the provinces to Cebu City and Cebu City has been known to eat provincial residents alive.

Janet was on the phone and it became clear she was speaking to the victim himself.

“Well?” I asked after she hung up.

“He had 8 stitches.”

“8 stitches? I thought he was in the hospital waiting for surgery  and it was bad.”

“He’s home now. But he had to wait in the hospital a long time to get the stitches.”

I began giggling.

“Why are you giggling?” Janet demanded.

“8 stitches. You made it sound like it was a critical injury.”

” 8 stitches is serious; he’s in pain. And no one really knew.”

I laughed louder and Janet glared at me. By now if you’ve read this blog long enough you know I have a warped sense of humor.

I giggled more and my wife looked at me like I was crazy and sadistic.

I am of course sure that my BIL’s 8 stitches do hurt but by the time I was told of the outcome I was imagining an amputation or major life-altering surgery; you know, a Filipino version of Tiny Tim. Instead my BIL decided he needed to return home to Alcoy – so that his mother could take care of him.

I suppose that the takeaway here is to wait until the outcome is sure before you start worrying about the family drama. In short, it’s more fun in the Philippines, even when you hear about a family injury.

 

“Happy Wife, Happy Life” – or Maybe Not

“Happy wife, happy life.” This and it’s corollary, “When momma’s happy, everyone’s happy,” are cliches we’ve all heard a hundred times and as with all cliches you hear a hundred times, at some point they become meaningless and we just nod our heads idiotically at their assumed wisdom.

OTOH, if you have ever been married to an American woman there is something about the aforementioned cliches that scratch an unfortunately itchy place for the average American man. There’s an implied threat to the cliche – that is, what if momma ain’t happy?

That’s why when Janet seemed to throw out said cliche last night over dinner I did a double take. After all, I hear often from men married to Filipinas to watch out for the Americanization of their lovely brides. I’m usually not too paranoid about this alleged problem but as I say, I did take notice.

“What was that you said, baby?”

Janet repeated, “Happy life, happy wife.”

I let her remark soak in and then began giggling.

“Why are you laughing?” she asked.

“The actual quote’s the opposite,” I said, telling her the real cliche and then asked her what she had meant by quoting it.

“Well, when the family’s happy, the wife is happy,” she replied.

“Exactly!”

A classic example of the difference between Filipinas and we Americans.

 

The Disadvantage of Your “Child” Bride

I know there’s lots of drama and plenty of outraged moral judgment when it comes to marrying a younger Filipina, but here’s a problem I never anticipated.

For the past week Janet has been complaining about her fingers. They swell and get itchy after she works. The first day I had to nearly force her to take an Advil (she hates medicines) which did the trick in relieving the swelling. I assumed she’d just been overdoing it at work.

Janet works hard and I am very proud of her. She recently was promoted to Asst. Manager in her department and I believe the recognition was directly correlated to her outworking most of her American counterparts, who are in the main, entitled and lazy. I won’t say they are also dumb, because that would be insulting 🙂

So it certainly occurred to me that she had overdone it at work and she never complains. She routinely cuts or burns herself at work. At night she shows me her wounds like a badge of honor. At first I was appalled, later I just assumed my young wife was a bit of a klutz, and finally I grew to accept the almost daily marks demonstrating her hard work and perseverance.

So, when she complained about swollen hands I didn’t much worry. Janet was mostly upset about the fact that the swollen fingers would not allow her to wear her wedding ring and joked that someone might assume she was “available.”

But on Friday she called me at work. The fingers were much worse. I decided to come home then and told her I would pick up some Benadryl on my way. The itchy finger symptom made me think of allergies.

Sure enough her fingers were more swollen, there were some lesions on them and they were itchy as hell. Topical Benadryl cream relieved some of the itch but by Saturday morning she asked to go to the doctor. We had tried to determine whether she was using latex gloves at work, since Dr. Dave was still diagnosing an allergic reaction, but were unable to get a confirmation one way or the other. So off to the clinic we went with me still thinking that some kind of allergy would be discovered.

No docs were working at the clinic on Saturday and we got a young, but competent sounding Physician’s Assistant. “I don’t think it’s an allergy,” she said. “The blisters are a dead giveaway. It’s a virus.”

Janet got scared but the PA reassured her. “Every American child gets this virus and once you get it you are immune.”

I reminded the PA that Janet had never been an American child.

She continued, “Sometimes it’s on the hands, feet or inside the mouth. Since it’s a virus not bacteria there’s nothing to do but get through it. If the Benadryl or Advil help great. Otherwise it should go away in a few days.”

We were relieved it wasn’t an allergy to latex and Janet was glad she could return to work but a bit embarrassed that she had a child’s disease. The literature the PA gave us about it constantly referred to what the parent could do to relieve the child’s symptoms. My child bride kept slathering on the Benadryl cream for a day or two before declaring success.

On Monday I returned to work. The friendly, young barista (maybe 21) at the cafe always asks me about how my weekend was while she makes my mocha. I told her the story about my wife with the childhood virus.

“How old’s your wife? ” she asked.

I didn’t hesitate, “Twenty six.”

We both showed remarkable control: she didn’t blink and I didn’t crack up.

BTW, other than this recent incident, I have yet to find any disadvantage to having a “child bride.” Hopefully Janet hasn’t found much of a disadvantage to having a childish husband.

I crack up the Social Security office

As an addendum to yesterday’s blog about babies and funerals in the Philippines, I spent the afternoon on the phone with the friendly people at Social Security. Since I am turning 62 this week, even though I will not yet avail myself of my Social Security retirement benefit, it reminded me that I had a couple questions.

I’d called Social Security once before and in both cases found the help I received excellent, especially considering it came from US government workers, generally considered about as friendly as Kim Jong Un after watching “The Interview.”

The previous time I spoke to a very nice woman, but this time it was a guy and somehow I can speak a little bit differently to a guy.

I asked him several fun questions, like what my 15 year old might receive if I die, and how I could keep her from just pissing it away at the mall.

Finally I said, “I am remarried to someone a bit younger and she wants a baby and I want to understand my options.” The man on the other end of the line starts giggling. I start cracking up also.

He said, “You’re a lucky man.”

“You have no idea,” I replied.

He continued, “I’m about to turn 50. My partner’s 61.”

“So you’ve done the opposite of me,” I said. “Good for you. It takes all kinds.”

“You’re a lucky man,” he repeated. By now we were laughing our asses off.

“Let’s just say that when I hit the milestone birthday I am about to celebrate my age will be the exact opposite of my wife’s.”

“Damn, you’re a lucky man!”

Later, when I related the story, Janet told me that I was just bragging and I suppose she’s right. But I got to figure that most people call Social Security out of sadness, desperation and with tales of woe. Me? I cracked the guy up. I thanked him for his help and agreed that in retirement I will be very very lucky.

 

 

Tell Us Where to Go

OK, that title was a great setup line and I am not interested in being literally told where to go. Since you’re not my kids or either of my exes, you don’t get to do that.

However, Janet and I are very excited. Last night we booked our flight to return to the Philippines. We will be there for three weeks  from April to May!

So now I am giving you, dear readers of MarriedaFilipina, an opportunity to tell us “where to go;” your favorite place in the Philippines and why.

Our trip will have 3 pillars: family, travel/fun, and future living. Regarding family, we will spend about one week in Alcoy, Janet’s home town, 3 hours south of Cebu City. I know she misses her family terribly and I look forward to seeing them also. They have always been wonderful to me and the energy surrounding family get togethers makes me soar.

The other couple weeks we want to spend having fun, exploring, and checking out spots to live in in our dotage (coming much faster for me than for Janet).

Other than our plans to be in Alcoy, we also will spend part of our time (perhaps just a few days) re-visiting the Dumaguete area in Negros. I really liked what I saw of Duma and Valencia last year, and would consider it for that for that upcoming period of my dotage, so any other recommendations in that area or surrounding Negros areas would be considered.

Janet of course believes that life in the Philippines starts and ends on Cebu, and so any recommendations on Cebu island would be eagerly appreciated. I am considering a stop in Moalboal for the snorkeling and Janet has talked about the falls in Badian.

Where else? There are over 7100 islands in the Philippines and I am open to exploring any or all of them. Let’s see – if I visit 100 islands a year I can see them all by the time I turn 133. Sounds like a plan and your help is appreciated.

 

 

 

 

The Joys of Saving Children and Piglets

Janet just told me this quick story and it struck me as funny and sweet in a weird way, so I thought I would share it. She has been very concerned about the upcoming typhoon Ruby and checking in with her family often and instead of panicking this is the story her mother shared with her today.

The family is large and diverse and three young ones are still living at home. It seems that her younger brother wanted to go out. Janet’s mom gave him a strict time to come home. Naturally, being a kid, he lost track of time and didn’t come home. Either that or he was having too much fun to care about mom’s rules. She went looking for him and ended up at the local Internet Cafe, where the youngster was playing video games. She had a look on her face and a stick in her hand and Janet’s brother knew what that meant and took off at top speed.

Mom was not about to run after him and calmly walked home still prepared to discipline her child. When she arrived he was there waiting for her with a big smile on his face.

“Why are you smiling at me?” mom asked.

“So that you don’t beat me,” he answered.

She cracked up laughing and the beating was avoided. Sounds like it was a good lesson for both of them.

——-

As anyone involved in the Philippines knows it’s typhoon season. While we now wait for the big one named Ruby, last week a somewhat weaker storm hit. Despite it being much weaker only dumping rain in Janet’s former hometown, the water ran off the local mountain and flooded much of her neighborhood. The rushing water was over 5 feet high. Roosters and pigs floated off and even a carabao was seen being washed away. Janet’s ate, her older sister, had recently begun raising piglets. One of the piglets was caught in the rushing water. Janet’s older brother, who’s a pretty cool guy and I would like to get to know better, doing his best impression of John Wayne, made an impromptu lasso and lassoed the piglet as it washed by to what would have been a certain death. Pigs are priorities in the Philippines.

You Too Can Blog for Fun and Profit

I’ve been blogging for something like 5 months and have been having a blast doing it. As a sometime writer I knew I would enjoy the writing process. What I didn’t realize is how much I would enjoy the reactions.

Friends, relatives and co-workers are reading  Married a Filipina. They comment to me often – sometimes even positively. And I’ve made plenty of new friends who find and friend me on Facebook. Of course to some of the Filipinas who’ve friended me recently I have to say, “Sorry, I am happily married :)”

So now is the time to share the joy, so to speak. Are you married or in a relationship with a Filipina? Are you a Filipina married or in a relationship with a kano? Do you have a funny or fun story to tell, a perspective to share, a point of view, a gripe? Well I want to hear it and I am sure that other readers of Married a Filipina would love to hear it also.

So, if you would like to contribute, we want you! Contact me here on the blog or on FB. And BTW, don’t worry about your writing skills – I never do.

 

Stories of Kano Idiocy

I wrote a little while back about “Uneducated and Dumb Filipinas – Really?” attacking some negative stereotypes. I am on several forums where stories of Filipina idiocy are routinely posted. In many cases it strikes me that the idiot is the kano who has no idea how to act in a foreign country. Acting the fool or acting like an Ugly American can only get you in trouble in a developing nation like the Philippines. Here’s my current favorite one:

“When I visited the Philippines two years ago, the first thing I did was head to the mall to buy a cell phone. I thought that it would be a simple matter to pay with my credit card. Boy, was I wrong!

You know that strip on the back of your credit card, where you’re supposed to sign it? Well, instead of signing it, I always write ‘Ask for photo ID.’ This makes it less likely that some thief will be able to use my card.

So I try to pay for my cell phone with my credit card, and the bimbo salesgirl says that my card is no good, because there’s no signature on the back. I tried to explain to her that what I put on the card was even better than a signature, and that if she would just look at my passport, she would see that I really was the owner of the card. She wasn’t buying it, though. I tried explaining to some of her co-workers, and they too insisted that I had to have a signature on it. I thought about asking them to let me speak with their manager, but I thought, “the Hell with it, I’ll just pay cash”. After all, I was a representative of the USA, and I didn’t want to do even more damage to the reputation of Americans among foreigners.”

So the guy in question not only doesn’t sign his credit card, as he’s obligated by the credit card company to do, he puts in a ridiculous amendment and then thinks that the Filipina sales clerk is an idiot for not accepting his card or his explanation.

Anyone else want to share similar stories about themselves or others? I’ve got a story about my own idiocy that will be posted shortly. Stay tuned.