Uneducated and Dumb Filipinos – Really?

OK, I got your attention with the title – good!

I am on several Philippines expat forums and one thing that seems common is the disdain by some expats for the intelligence and poor education of Filipinos. Americans, Brits and Aussies alike tell story after story of the stupid people they encounter on the streets, in stores, and among their wives’ family members.  Interestingly, they rarely mention their wives’ intelligence – that would make them stupid. Guys even quote worldwide IQ statistics. I am often appalled and it pisses me off.

I could easily think that in a developing nation like the Philippines, everyone is not gonna be a rocket scientist with a fistful of college degrees. Yet my experience is that most people I meet are reasonably intelligent and educated.

I could easily think that in a developing nation like the Philippines, everyone is not gonna be a rocket scientist with a fistful of college degrees. Yet my experience is that most people I meet are reasonably intelligent and educated.

I recently got the chance to test Philippines education up close and personal. Janet and I were in Alcoy for our wedding party. After the entire neighborhood had their bellies filled with lechon and general eats, it was time for fun and games. The games were the type of outdoor activities you’d be unlikely to ever see any more in the U.S., where playing is by definition an electronic indoor activity.

In my household, once electronics took hold, going outside ended. I have a large backyard and the biggest oak tree in our neighborhood but when I would suggest to my kids that they go play outside, their horrified comment was “there are bugs back there.” I fenced the yard and added a patio and grill. “Let’s eat out back tonight,” I’d suggest.

“You barbecue dad, and bring the food inside. There are bugs back there,” would be the reply.

So, just the fact that Filipino kids actually play outside is a plus in my book and shows very good sense. The games at the party consisted of a piñata-like game with little kids bashing for candy, a challenging game climbing an oiled bamboo pole, etc. A girls dance group performed. At each activity candies and prizes were generously given out. There must have been 40-50 kids, from toddler to middle school age.

Dash for Candy
Dash for Candy

The entire neighborhood took part in the activities. The men set up a sound system for music and a mic for the MC, Janet’s sister Jonna, to run the activities. Finally the mic was handed to me. “What should I do?” I asked Janet.

New Husband Runs the Contest
New Husband Runs the Contest

“Do the game Show Me This,” she advised. A simple game, I asked for the kids to show me a common object or piece of clothing and the first to produce it got a piece of candy. I spent what seemed like an eternity going through every clothing item I could think of, as well as items you might find in a pocket or on a child’s person. The kids were loving it – not just the candy – but the fact that the foreigner was running the game. I ran out of ideas and yelled to Janet, “What should I do now?”

“Test them,” she ordered.

OK, I thought. This should be interesting. I started out slowly with simple addition and subtraction. Remember, I was quizzing them in a non-native language. I quickly went to more complex addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I couldn’t fool them. I tried square roots. Nothing phased them.

So, if math doesn’t do it, I’ll move on, I thought. Geography, world leaders, a bit of history. Nothing stumped these kids. Question after question and I couldn’t beat them. It was frustrating. These were children from a poor neighborhood and I am an educated first worlder; surely I should be able to fool them.

On one of my forums a debate raged that Filipinos did not even know how many centavos make up a peso. The answer, just like pennies to dollar is 100, except you have to realize that as useless as we consider a penny, a centavo is equivalent to 1/44th of a penny – so they ain’t used often in the real world. Yet some expats considered it a sign of stupidity that some Filipinos didn’t know the answer. So, I smugly asked the kids, “How many centavos in a peso?” thinking I had them fooled. “One hundred,” they screamed back.

Exhausted, I ended the session with a question I knew they would all answer, “Who’s the greatest boxer in the world?” “Manny Pacquiao!,” they screamed and we threw handfuls of candy at them.

————

The other day Janet was on the phone with her family. Seems that her youngest sister got a small fish bone caught in her throat. It was Sunday and with no clinic opened in Alcoy, Janet insisted that her mother take her sister to the doctor first thing Monday. Her young sister was resistant. Was it because she was afraid of the doctor? Nope. It was because as a fourth grader she had never missed a day of school and had no intention of doing so now.

It may not be a scientific survey, but in my experience Filipino people value education and knowledge quite highly!

Meet the Parents

Janet and I were preparing for our first meeting. We’d known each other online for nearly a year but hadn’t met. I’d proposed that she meet me in Cebu City the previous December when I was preparing my first trip to the Philippines but she turned me down cold. I was honest and told her I intended to meet several of my chatmates during the trip.

Her response was right to the point. “I don’t want someone who just wants to ‘collect and select.’” Frankly, up until that conversation the notion of “collecting and selecting” sounded like a pretty good thing but I understood and respected her point of view. Unlike some Filipinas, she was not willing to give up her values just to meet a foreigner, no matter how guapo.

In another posting I’ll get into the details, sordid as they are, about how that all turned around. The main point is that by the summer of 2012 we’d decided to meet. By then I knew enough about the culture of the Philippines to be unsurprised when Janet proposed that we spend part of our time together traveling to the small town of Alcoy, Cebu and meet her family.

I’d been in Cebu City before. A metro area of about 3 million I liked it, despite the pollution and mad traffic. But Alcoy had nothing in common with Cebu City, other than the provincial address. From Cebu City, Janet and I took a non-aircon bus for the three hour drive south to Alcoy. It seemed to take most of that time just to get out of the metro area, but once we did it was a different world. The highway hugged the coastline and many of the towns that we passed had wonderful views of the ocean. But none were as beautiful as Alcoy. The further we traveled south, the more I saw what I viewed as “real” Filipinos, with the attendant chickens, roosters, cows, and goats on the side of the road. Vendors constantly climbed on the bus, carrying Costco-sized bundles, hawking their food treats. Janet munched on a bag of chicharon; pork rinds. It was a different world from Manila and Cebu City.

Prior to arriving, Janet and I suggested to her parents that we take the family to a local restaurant for a meet and greet. Janet’s mom would have none of that, insisting we meet at the family home. This terrified Janet. “My home is very poor,” she repeated dozens of times over the weeks. “Are you sure you want to go there?”

“Of course I want to go there and of course I want to meet your family,” I told her, loving the fact that she was being both protective of me and her family. But as a traveler who loves the road less traveled I built in my mind an image of poor, provincial Philippines and couldn’t wait to experience it.

Her fear about my meeting her parents was equally intense. “They are very old,” she’d say often.

“But you told me they’re younger than me,” I reminder her.

“Yes, but they look much older. They are just poor Filipinos. You’re a very guapo foreigner,” she threw in, already knowing how to divert my attention.

Once in Alcoy, getting to her ancestral home takes a little doing. We found a motorized trike willing to take us there easily enough; he probably sized up the rich kano and figured a big payday. We exited the highway and bumped downward along a dirt road, passing gaping children, not used to foreigners in their neighborhood, cows, pigs, and the ubiquitous roosters. Even at my small size, I banged my head on the tiny trike’s crossbeam several times as we hopped along. All the while I wondered to myself, “just how bad will the house be and what will the family be like and how should I react.” I reminded myself that I’d spent time in a mud hut in Kenya and shanties in Tobago, so I could take anything.

Lechon anyone? The sign was made to welcome me the 1st time I visited Janet's family.
Lechon anyone? The sign was made to welcome me the 1st time I visited Janet’s family.

The trike stopped with a jolt. On the side of the house we were facing was a large banner, “Welcome Dave Weisbord,” with photos of me and my family. Many of Janet’s family members were outside waiting for us. In a blur I was introduced to everyone. All I could think of was how touched I was by the welcoming banner. Lunch was already set up with the pig next to the table and chairs. The banner was magically whisked inside and hung over the soon to be devoured pig.

The Spread
The Spread

Wave after wave of people came in for the food; the adults including the guest of honor first, followed by kids, neighbors, neighbor kids. Janet is one of ten children and I was amazed at how efficiently people came in and out and were fed. I am sure 60 people came to eat and gawk at the foreigner.

At the Family Home
At the Family Home

I am sure 60 people came to eat and gawk at the foreigner.

As for the house that I had built up in my mind as part of a shanty town; it was modest but clean and comfortable. It wasn’t really that different from an American home; a couch and chairs in the living room, as well as a small TV and videoke system. The dining room was well set up. There were several electric fans which actually made the home cool, despite the mid-day heat. The porch was the main hangout for the kids and young adults and each time I was invited to sit there a flurry of pictures were snapped, everyone wanting to be photographed next to the kano.

Of course there was no indoor plumbing and I was told by Janet to avoid using the outhouse. Thanks goodness that at my advanced age bladder retention is still – well retained.

And what about Janet’s elderly parents that I’d been led to imagine were on death’s door? Both looked healthy and vital. I took Janet aside.

“I don’t know what you were talking about. Your home is perfectly nice.”

“But it’s poor.”

“And your parents. You made it sound like they were on their last legs. They look their age; younger than me.”

“But you’re more guapo.”

“Anyway, I like it here.”

After everyone had been fed, her dad brought out the Red Horse and we had a glass or two together. I asked to talk to her parents. With Janet and her younger sister translating I explained to them where we would be going on our trip and what we would be doing. I assured them over and over I would take very good care of their daughter. While they did not speak much English it was also clear that they understood it well enough. I asked if they had any questions. By now I wasn’t just talking to the parents. The entire family had gathered, neighbors were leaning in through windows. At least 40 people were listening intently. It was like one of those old Paine Webber commercials; when I talked – Filipinos listened.

Her dad calmly asked about how I would handle the differences, the difference between my being rich and Janet being poor. He had clearly thought out what was his greatest concern. I started out by gently correcting him. “Well, the truth is I am not rich.” But I immediately realized the foolishness of such a statement. Any way you look at it, by their standards, I am rich. All I could do was assure her dad that like all couples we would talk and resolve any differences.

Her parents seemed satisfied so I looked around and asked if anyone else had any questions. They all giggled and the Visayan flew. Finally, her brother asked in English the $64,000 question, “So, are you getting married?” Everyone laughed and cheered.

I asked him, already knowing the answer, “Are you a gambling man?” He nodded. “Well, there are no guarantees yet but in my country we would say that it was a good bet.”

More cheering and laughter. I had passed the first test!

The Dried Fish Issue

Filipinas nearly universally love dried fish. Their foreign husbands universally hate it. The smell of cooking dried fish is worse than that rodent that died under the hood of my car decades ago, and since in those days I never popped the hood until the oil light came on, I didn’t discover it until the stench was so great I nearly passed out driving.

The smell of cooking dried fish is worse than that rodent that died under the hood of my car decades ago…

I asked Janet why dried fish smells the way it does. “They dry it in the hot sun.” And probably don’t bring it in from the hot sun until it’s turned to leather, I thought. OK, so now I understand why it stinks though not why Filipinos dry it that way.

Even more interesting to me is Filipinas husbands’ hatred of the dried stuff. Every culture has stinky and disgusting foods. Certainly the origins of haggis are far more nauseating than dried fish. Kimchee brings me near to barfing. Among many stinky cheeses, the king is Limburger, a cheese which only Curly of the Three Stooges could love. From my own culture, there’s gefilte fish, which I love though it’s basically made from the cheapest, nastiest fish that can be obtained.

Let’s not even talk about liver, a stomach churner when cooking if ever there was one. Yet my mother made chopped chicken liver on holidays and I could consume any given quantity spread on crackers, as if it were candy.

Durian
Durian

In fact, dried fish is not even the worst smelling food in the Philippines. First there’s durian, the only food illegal to transport in some Southeast Asian countries due to it’s odor; a fresh fruit, not fermented or dried, durian’s stench is such that it can hit me in a large market hundreds of feet away and knock me flat. I’ve tried it and all I can say is that it does taste better than it smells, but so probably did that dead rodent in my engine compartment.

Balut
Balut

Then there’s balut, considered a delicacy in the Philippines. A duck embryo, it’s boiled alive and eaten in the shell. Yum. I don’t know how it smells since I’ve never gotten close enough to find out – and I’m keeping it that way.

So really, dried fish has a long way to go in the disgusting department. Yet the guys always are repulsed. I know many who won’t let their wives cook it even if they aren’t around. Two of my friends decided they would be men about it; meaning problem solvers. Like me, they’re engineers (of sorts) so I’d expect nothing less. They bought their wives electric frying pans, so the wives could cook their dried fish outside. They figured if the women want the dried fish badly enough, cooking out on the porch in zero degree winter weather is a small price to pay. I questioned the knight-like qualities of one of the princely husbands, who said, “I told her when we married that there would be no dried fish cooked in the house. Hey, I bought the electric frying pan, didn’t I?” Good point; perhaps I’m being too hard on my friends.

Janet understands our Westerner view of dried fish and tries to accommodate me. She opens the windows and doors and turns on the kitchen fan when she cooks her fave dried fish, to no avail. My teenage kids complain. “Go play in the backyard if it bothers you,” I tell them, knowing that as modern teenagers they haven’t played in the backyard since the Bush administration.

As a fish lover, I’ve tasted dried fish and it’s not as terrible as it smells. So really, I don’t mind too much when Janet wants to cook it. I’m only appalled when Filipinas eat it for breakfast. How, I wonder, can you possibly start the day with such a stink. On the other hand, Filipinas consume pork for breakfast, hot dogs, and spam, so dried fish isn’t too far of a reach.

I had figured my friends as unusually tough on their wives until we returned to Alcoy this spring. I rented a small apartment from a German man. He’d built two apartments behind his very nice home. And at 500 pesos/night ($12) the price was certainly right. But upon entering the apartment’s kitchen, the sign said it all…”Sorry, we cannot allow cooking Dried fish!”

No dried fish
No dried fish

Apparently, I’m a bit of a pansy when it comes to the dried fish issue.

A Tale of Two Pigs

Lechon
Lechon
Lechon after 10 minutes
Lechon after 10 minutes

Last year after proposing to my now wife, Janet, I accompanied her to meet her parents in Alcoy, Cebu. Her family is sweet, provincial, huge, poor as to be expected, and welcomed me every time I have been there like I have rarely been welcomed in my life.

I sat down and explained that I wanted to marry their daughter. This was no surprise to them, as Janet had been keeping them up to date with our plans and our efforts to obtain a Visa, but I wanted to do the formality thing. Their only question was why did we have to marry in the U.S. I tried to explain the K-1 Visa process with Janet translating. Since I barely get the convoluted U.S. procedure myself, I’m not sure they understood but in the end gave their approval. Part of that approval was contingent on our returning the next year for “the party.” The wedding ceremony could be done elsewhere, but “the party” was a family necessity.

As we prepared for our spring return to Alcoy I asked Janet what she wanted for the wedding party. I proposed that we could have a nice event at the small resort, the Bodos Bamboo Bar, better known locally as the BBB. Janet passed the proposition to her mother. “No way” I was told. Mom insisted that they host the party. The main reason was that the party had to be for the entire neighborhood and most of the people from their barangay would feel uncomfortable with the luxury that was the BBB and would not attend.

I asked Janet to make a list of the foods she wanted and approximate costs and discuss it with her mom. Lechon was at the top of the list.

In the Philippines, pork is ubiquitous and lechon is king. Lechon is an entire roasted pig, similar to what I had seen at a Hawaiian luau. The crispiness of the skin is what Filipinos seem to love most. I’ve enjoyed it too but as a Jew, don’t have the feeling about the food that Janet and her fellow Filipinos have, and certainly would rest better if I didn’t have to see the pig snout snorting and eyes glaring at me as I gobbled its crispy skin.

In the Philippines, pork is ubiquitous and lechon is king.

In the Philippines, ceremonies are measured not by how many people will attend but by how many pigs you have. A “three pig” event means you are a big shot politico or a rich Kano. Since I am neither we budgeted for a two pig wedding party.

The first pig would be for the lechon as tradition requires and the second pig would be for what Janet described as “chop chop” which I gathered was anything else that required pork.

“So, they just go to the market before we arrive and get the cooked pigs?” I asked naively.

“Oh no. You can buy lechon but very expensive in the market by the kilo. Better to just buy the whole pig and feed him.”

“Feed him? The actual pig? Where?”

“They will bring them home and feed them for a few weeks. Pigs require lots of grain.”

“Of course, “ I agreed. “Because after all they’re – well – pigs. But really it’s an imposition. Your mom shouldn’t have to have pigs in her home.”

Janet laughed. “They won’t be in the home silly! They will be tied up in an open area.”

“Of course,” I again agreed. “That’d be the way to go. So, when the time comes, does your dad, you know,” I said hesitating and squirming, “slaughter the pig and cook the lechon.”

“Of course not. The guy is hired. It’s part of the deal when you buy the pig. He comes the morning of the party and…” She slowly performed the slitting the throat motion and I made a mental note not to ever piss her off too badly.

Her parents spent a couple weeks searching and couldn’t find two decent pigs. This seemed to me to be weird in the Philippines; like not being able to get beef in Texas, craft beer in Portland, or an Elvis impersonator in Vegas. But it was explained that it was fiesta time and summer in the Philippines and so pigs were at a premium. Nonetheless, two were eventually procured and brought to the family compound. We breathed a sigh of relief.

As a Jew, my notion of what’s involved in raising pigs is – well – limited. I figured it was just a matter of throwing feed and getting out of their way. Not quite. Janet explained that there were regular baths that had to be given, daily brushing, and of course clearing away the inevitable massive quantities of poop produced by the young lechons-to-be. Her mom and dad did most of the work, assisted under duress by a couple of the teenage kids. I knew by the time of the party that the effort of the family would be extensive and while Janet’s presence might be worth it, I doubted that mine would be.

But then disaster struck. About ten days before we were scheduled to leave for the Philippines, Janet started receiving reports that one of the pigs was ill – vomiting.

“I think they may have overfed him,” she speculated.

“Pigs are pretty used to gorging themselves. I think the pig should have been able to handle it.”

Despite my encouraging words Janet and the family were panicked. Her dad stayed home one day instead of attending the annual fiesta, where he was scheduled to have his prized rooster involved in the traditional cock fighting. At least the rooster benefited from the pig’s illness.

I found out later that Janet’s mom had told Janet, “Don’t tell Dave,” assuming that I would blame the family for their care of the pig.

“I would never blame them!” I told Janet.

Actually, Janet was the one who was into the blame game, still assuming that they overfed the pig.

“I am sure the pig will be fine. Just a touch of the swine flu maybe,” I said, suppressing a giggle, while my Filipina wife stared glacially.

There was no consoling Janet who called home multiple times that day to get an update on the pig’s condition and prognosis.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” I asked soothingly. “There’s still another pig.”

“We need two for the party!” she insisted. In America, brides fill small claims courts swearing that the catererer or the baker or the dressmaker ruined a wedding. I guess it’s the same the world over; in the Philippines the pig broker can ruin the wedding.

The next day I received the tragic news that we’d been dreading; the pig died. Janet’s father actually took the pig to the lechon guy to have an autopsy performed. They take their pigs pretty seriously in The Philippines. They discovered an enlarged heart causing heart failure. “I’d have a heart attack too if I knew I was gonna be cut up in a week,” I offered.

Janet and her mother cried over Skype. I tried to be supportive and reminded myself repeatedly to be somber and not crack up.

“Sweetie, it’s OK,” I assured her.

“The party will be ruined! We will have to get another pig. I told my mother to find a small pig and not to overfeed the one that is alive.”

“How will they buy the replacement pig?” I asked, always the pragmatist.

“My mother said that the family will manage.”

“No way,” I proclaimed. “I’m not having your poor parents go broke buying another pig.”

“Why not – the first one was their fault,” she proclaimed.

“It was not their fault!” I said, exasperated. “Animals die. People die. Someday I will die.”

“I won’t overfeed you,” she assured me.

So 4,000 pesos was sent and another, smaller pig was obtained. The disaster was averted. Ten days later we arrived in Alcoy to prepare for the celebration. Janet went to the family home the day before to help with the preparations and perform the ceremonial singing videoke till 3:00 AM ritual.

She returned the next morning and proclaimed, “The pig is small.”

“You told them to get a small pig,” I reminded her.

“No, the one for the lechon – it’s too small.”

“But you told them not to feed it much.”

“It’s too small.”

Fortunately, the wedding party went off without a hitch; the food and games were a big hit. The next day I posted pics on Facebook as I routinely do.

Chasing Candy
Chasing Candy at our Wedding Party

Janet received a note from one of her best friends back in the US. “Hope you had a great party. I’m sure it was fine – but the lechon looked a little bit small.”

Almost Newlyweds

I am a newlywed – for the 3rd time. My wife Janet is on her first. It occurred to me that it might be fun if I documented some of our adventures. I’m American; born and raised in Philly; living in Portland, Oregon for the past forty years. Janet has no conception of what forty years is. She’s from Alcoy, Cebu in the Philippines. Spent the last five years working and going to college in Maasin City, Leyte. She graduated – I didn’t. There’s one stereotype busted!

My friends in Fil-Am marriages talk about the differences in culture, language, religion, and just life view. But talk is cheap and conclusions are tough to come by. But the stories are funny as hell.

So let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way, shall we. I’m 61 and Janet is 26. So add age difference to the culture, language, religion, and life view differences. Also, she’s pretty hot; I’m pretty much not; so add that to the mix.

I’m a writer and sometimes funny. If you’re David Sedaris they call you a humorist; me they call a wiseass. So that’ll be my view in this blog. Sure I’ll be informative from time to time; but mostly entertaining. Join in!

“My Nose is Bleeding”

When Janet and I were engaged and spending hours daily chatting online or video camming, she would periodically express exhaustion and blurt out, “my nose is bleeding.” As a protective, soon-to-be husband I advised her get a wet wash cloth, lean her head back, and apply pressure. After all I had two kids and despite general parental incompetence did know what to do when a child had a nose bleed.

She’d look at me like I was nuts. She’d say her nose was fine and not literally bleeding, but her “nose was bleeding.” I didn’t get it but then again I didn’t understand lots of aspects of Filipino culture, such as why my lovely wife-to-be would be caught dead with a mope like me. I tried to keep such thoughts to myself.

She’d say her nose was fine and not literally bleeding, but her “nose was bleeding.” I didn’t get it but then again I didn’t understand lots of aspects of Filipino culture, such as why my lovely wife-to-be would be caught dead with a mope like me. I tried to keep such thoughts to myself.

“I am sorry, darling. I don’t understand.”

“I am exhausted from speaking English,” she responded.

“I see. And that gives you a nose bleed. Sometimes nose bleeds are stress related,” I assured her, again drawing from my vast parental expertise.

Again she looked at me like the idiot kano she knew me to be. “My nose is fine. My nose is bleeding is what we say in Visayan.”

“You mean it’s an expression?” She nodded. “Where does the expression come from?”

“I don’t know – it’s just what we say.”

“Does it have anything to do with nose size?” I had already noticed that Filipinas are obsessed with nose size and shape. They consider their noses, which tend toward the short and flat to be unattractive, whereas they believe that Western “long” noses are superior and coveted. I have never had anyone compliment me on what I view as my too Jewish of a nose but even before I met Janet I’d received numerous compliments from Filipinas regarding my long nose. It was months before I understood what they were talking about, assuming at first the interest in my long nose to be tied into the Western stereotype of the size of the nose equating to the size of another part of the anatomy. I would just thank them for the compliment and agree that it was “pretty damn long indeed.”

It took many conversations but finally I pieced together the idea that the girls generally hated their noses and loved our noses and it had nothing to do with the Jewishness of my nose, nor the size of that other anatomy part. I was a bit disappointed yet excited that one of the things I had always disliked about myself seemed so attractive to Filipinas. For that matter their short noses were very cute as far as I was concerned. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The same can be said of skin color. Mine’s white (very white) and pasty. To quote the old Woody Allen line, “I don’t tan – I stroke.” This made me as a teen decidedly conscious of roaming the beach where I reflected light like a bright white beacon.

Conversely, I discovered that Filipinas generally hated darker skin, especially if it’s on them. This leads to a booming industry in the Philippines designed to sell every Filipina umbrellas, sun screen and skin whitening products. Many Pinays carry umbrellas on the most beautiful and sunny days and they all use some whitening product apparently designed to turn them into pasty white Jews. The products don’t work and I have had many discussions bordering on arguments, trying to convince Janet that I love her dark skin and to please don’t think it ought to be lighter. My arguments make no sense to her since “everyone knows that white skin is better!”

And in the Philippines she is right. Actresses and models all look nearly Caucasian, billboards are Photoshopped to remove any melanin from the color of the billboardee. Many of the girls I spoke to online were unabashed in expressing their excitement at the prospect of having a long-nosed, white, blue eyed baby – and apparently having it with me.

“I can provide the ultra white skin and long nose, but forget the blue eyes,” I told Janet. “Just because Paul Newman had them doesn’t mean the rest of us do.”

I’d see Janet staring incredulously through the screen. “Who?”

The point of all this is that just as we Americans are delighted yet mystified by Filipino culture, they are equally mystified by ours. Janet’s English is excellent but American conversational English is a different matter. She’s much too nice or at least too embarrassed to admit she doesn’t understand something.

“It’s dollars for donuts,” I told her recently.

“Are you going around the corner to get donuts?” she asked.

“No baby – not what I meant.”

“How many dollars for the donuts?”

“No, no. It’s just an expression.”

“Oh, I see. What does it mean?”

I hesitated and finally said, “I have no idea.”

“Well, the next time you go around the corner, I want one of the ones with cream inside.”

“Will do.”

Katy Perry Don’t Play Cribbage

Janet wants to learn an American card game and I am teaching her Cribbage. OK, Cribbage is English but we’re basically all Kanos.

We’re sitting at the coffee table in our living room. “Music,” she commands. I fire up the Apple TV which streams my iTunes library. I select Shuffle Mode. Now, I have about 6,000 songs in my library: 90% jazz and 10% old rock and pop from my misspent youth. I also have about 20 songs I downloaded for Janet. What are the odds that the first song that plays over the TV and music system is by Katy Perry?

At that moment my 18-year old son walks in, looks at his 61-year old father playing cards with his 26-year old wife, listening to Katy Perry. He musters all the cynicism his 18-year old psyche can generate, says, “Really?” and walks off.

Clearly I need to have a conversation with my son about what men will do for women.

Bohol

Images from Bohol including Alona Beach, Chocolate Hills, the Bamboo Bridge, and Virgin Island.

Humorous, irreverent, occasionally informative look at a newly wedded Fil-Am couple

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