Tag: Philippines

Vote For Change Tomorrow, Philippines!!!

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As Socrates had intimated, POLITICS, is a dirty business, where honesty has no place.  Perhaps it has something to do with a politician wanting to please everybody, which of course is an impossible task.  That is where little corruptions are born and grow into huge injustices, detrimental to the people the Government deemed to protect.

Vote For Change Tomorrow, Philippines!!!

Tomorrow, Filipinos can have their say and elect whomever they wish to become President and Vice President of the Philippines.

Binay, Duterte, Poe, Roxas & Santiago

Binay, Duterte, Poe, Roxas & Santiago

They can choose from five presidentiables.

Jejomar Binay   Of all the candidates, Binay is the most professional one.  He has mastered the art of self-promotion. He gives away little goodies wrapped in plastic bags embossed with his Binay name (in case you forget who gave them).  He is forever campaigning.  He never misses a chance.

Unfortunately, Binay has a very murky history.  He expects respect and first class service duly given to his children, who are also in public service, even when it meant  bending rules and regulations.  It sounds like Binay thinks that  if you are in charge you are somehow above the law!

There were plenty of alleged corruption issues that have surfaced against himself and his family as well.

The issue that really annoyed me the most was his alleged air-conditioned piggery.  While majority of Filipinos are living below the poverty line, Binay’s pigs are living it up in the lap of luxury before they are carted to the market.

Rodrigo Duterte  I am not sure whether he is a rough diamond or just plain rough 😉

From out of nowhere, Duterte has become the front runner candidate a la Donald Trump.  This is really no surprise because of his platform.  It really touched the very core of most Filipinos wanting real change; desperate for a real change.

Duterte said that within few months of becoming a President, he will rid the Government of corruption.  He will use maximum force, which sounded like summary killing, especially to drug traffickers.  He will also eradicate the unbelievable traffic in Metro Manila.  A constant source of grief and stress to workers, students and tourists.

As much as his intentions are well and good for the promotion of good government, Duterte comes across as rather uncouth, a lecher, tactless and disrespectful.

When he was a mayor, an Australian woman who worked in Davao jail was raped and killed.

Duterte was heard bragging: “I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.”

He also had to apologise to Pope Francis I for cussing him because Duterte was inconvenienced by traffic for five hours during the Pope’s visit to the Philippines.  There was an uproar from Roman Catholic Filipinos (You don’t want the Pope being called ‘son of a *****)  The Pope very graciously told Duterte that he need not worry about it.

Grace Poe Llamanzares  Grace Poe Llamanzares or simply Grace Poe is a neophyte.  I would hazard a guess that some of those who would vote for her are really proxy voting for her dead adoptive father, Fernando Poe, Jr, the king of Filipino movie industry.  The late Fernando Poe, Jr also ran for presidency, which he lost, but according to conspiracy theorists, the election was rigged.

It should be easy for Grace to run but her candidancy has been mired in controversy as well.  Firstly, she acquired American citizenship,  which she gave up only recently, she is also married to an American citizen.  It would not be good to have an American as the First Gentleman.

Another issue is the controversy of her birth. The rumours that Ferdinand Marcos was her real father refuses to die a natural death.

Grace has not really made a great impact yet in the senate, her Freedom of Information is still lagging in the bottom annals of ‘to do list’.

Something positive for Grace is that her name gives her justice.  She is graceful. 🙂

Mar Roxas  Is the proverbial born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He was born into a very well to do family.

Ordinary Filipinos don’t really take to him.  His empathy appears to be sadly lacking, which was made more prominent during the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) disaster.  Despite images of Filipinos suffering from the heinous effect of the calamity, shown to the world audience, where thousands lost their lives, Roxas was insisting that the point of contact was the local rather than national government as per protocol, ergo, nothing really to do with him or PNoy.

Plus point, his wife would make a pretty First Lady, although she had an alleged history of assaulting a maid. LOL

Miriam Santiago  In my book, she is the best candidate.  She is erudite, she is funny & she has a good history in the senate.  She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and she knows the nooks and crannies of the corridors of power.

The only thing that may make people to think twice about voting for her is her health.  Miriam is not a well woman.

To vote for her, you have to make damn sure to vote for the best vice- president to take over from her.

 

Tomorrow, cast your vote for the candidate that can embody your truths, your ideals and hopes.

Always remember, YOU DESERVE WHO YOU VOTE!  YOU PUT THEM THERE!

 

 

Mount Mayon Volcano

Mount Mayon Volcano

When we visited the Philippines in 2013, we travelled around some of the northern provinces of  this wonderful scenic nation. We did not have time to visit the southern provinces; we did not get to visit Albay in the Bicol region, home of the magnificent Mount Mayon volcano.

Mount Mayon is an active stratovolcano which dominates the surrounding countryside. It is 2,463m (8,081ft) high.
Mayon paintingAt a street market in Manila, around Quiapo, we bought a painting souvenir of the volcano. I liked the vivid blue sky in the painting, which now hangs proudly on our bedroom wall. We looked at the painting and resolved to visit the real volcano on our next visit to the Philippines.

 

We returned in February 2016, and based at the family home, we travelled extensively around the northern & south of the  Philippines and one such trip was to Bicol.

We hired a SUV and a friendly helpful driver/guide for a day’s tour  and travelled up a steep twisting road to just above halfway of Mount Mayon.

On each corner of the long winding road, there was a sculpted Catholic Cross to ensure safety whilst driving.

We stopped off for a nice lunch at a friendly deserted restaurant, the weather had closed in and it was quiet, misty and rainy. The top of the volcano not far above us was a shrouded with cloud. The view of the surrounding countryside was amazing then the mist cleared occasionally.

We looked at the observatory and museum which had a slide & movie show about the volcano.

Mayon hid her glory in a cloud cloth for the rest of the day

The next day from our hotel room, nearby Mayon unveiled and we saw the awesome symmetrical cone at its summit shining in the morning sun.

I grabbed my camera and took some photos. Later we did a tour of the countryside and visited the

Cagsawa ruin.

Mayon was a superb backdrop.

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Mayon is active and last erupted in 2006 and the next eruption could come anytime.

With the excellent zoom on my camera, I managed to photograph the cone and vapour gassing out, which looked like steam mixing with passing clouds.

Mayon cone

Mayon with its renowned perfect cone, photo by PH Morton

As we boarded the domestic flight plane back to Manilla, we took our last look at Mount Mayon and had realised our wish to see one of nature’s wonders.

Mount Mayon

 

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)

NAIA, Photo by PH Morton

NAIA, Photo by PH Morton

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)

 

While on holiday in the Philippines, we visited quite a few places far and wide; from end to end of the country.

Several times, we found ourselves at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to catch our flight provided by either the flagship, Philippine Airline and sometimes the slightly cheaper, Cebu Pacific.

What I can say is that, it was shambolic and organised chaos each time.

We had a delay of upto a couple of hours for all our flights!

Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were very clear that the faults were in no way in their corner but from the NAIA itself. Apparently, there were just too many flights, much, much more than NAIA’s traffic control can comfortably cope with.

When we went to Palawan via Philippine Airlines, they had to announce in their tannoy for any volunteer willing to postpone their flight for a latter one as it seemed they were overbooked. never heard of such before!

Also some of the domestic airports charge an additonal fee, which is called airport or travel tax; we had to pay at a counter before boarding a plane.

Where does this tax raised go?

Certainly not in maintaining the airport such as improving the largely inaudible tannoy systems as well the often poor condition and inadequate numbers of toilets (comfort room) especially for women.

We guess the so called taxes raised would ultimately end up ‘lining the pockets’ of corrupt officials as seems to be the practice generally.

No wonder, NAIA is in the top 10 worst airport in the world, it just can’t handle and provide good service on time, especially on its national flights.

Additionally, not a long time a go, it came out that there were numerous incidents involving what infamously became known as laglag bala.  This heinous activity involved criminals being allowed to take over some baggage checks duties, which put fears to every decent Filipino and foreign travellers to and from the Philippines.

These criminals would choose the vulnerable and some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to victimise. The modus operandi was to plant bullets to their target’s luggage. They would then give their victim a choice of being taken to the police to answer for  ‘supposed’ crime or pay the fine of up to P50,000 ($1065) and get on their plane on time.

Such was our frustrations with the airline/airports NAIA delays, we decided that it was better to use road coaches to reach destinations even if it meant 10-hour drive instead of a much shorter journey via air travels.

It is not only domestic flights that are affected. Our flight home via Doha was delayed nearly an hour due to NAIA’s inability to cope with air traffic. Thank goodness, there was a 3½ hours stopover in Doha, enough to swallow the delay from Manila.

We do have to acknowledge the friendliness of the staff and some customer service at the NAIA. The airline staff were very helpful, friendly and stoic in putting up with the moans and complaints of passengers due to  the delays, etc.

Poor travel experience is such a shame as the Philippines would get more tourists to see its many wonders if not for the poor NAIA performance, which sadly shows no signs of improvement.

A complete revamp is much needed, no doubt about it.  Perhaps it should start with going back to its old name – Manila International Airport (MIA).  It had a better reputation compared to the jinxed Ninoy Aquino’s bloody history.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) – A Shamble

Bahay Kubo – Nipa Hut

A real bahay kubo at the Banaue Rice Terraces, Photo by PH Morton

A real bahay kubo at the Banaue Rice Terraces, Photo by PH Morton

Bahay Kubo – Nipa Hut

There was a time when all I dreamed about was to live in a little nipa hut and sing songs all day, while my otherhalf was strumming the guitar.  That changed quickly as I grew older. 🙂 LOL

(My husband asked me “Where would you put your clothes, shoes and handbags?!!!”) 😉 He has got a point.

Bahay Kubo is a Filipino children’s song or nursery rhyme, if you like. This song is certainly sung from the laps of our mothers. I have to say also that often Filipino adults nostalgically sing and/or hum it too. In the modern Philippines, bahay kubo is not what everyone dreams of anymore; most aspire for huge house, the bigger the better.

Having said that, there are plenty of Balikbayans who are engaging architects to create mansions which incorporate a bahay kubo style.

anyway, let us sing Bahay Kubo:

Bahay kubo, kahit munti
ang halaman doon ay sari-sari
Singkamas at talong
Sigarilyas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani
Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka meron pang
Labanos, mustasa
Sibuyas, kamatis
Bawang at luya
Sa paligid ligid
Ay maraming linga

…………………………….

Rough translation of the above:

Nipa hut, though really tiny
there are variety of plants
Jicamas and aubergines (eggplants)
Winged beans and peanuts
Green beans, mange tout, flat green beans
Winter melons, courgettes (zucchini), bottle gourd and squash
And there is more
Daikon radish, mustard greens
Onions, tomatoes
Garlic and ginger
And all around
is surrounded by sesame seeds.

hahaha, that is rather a torturous translation. Kindly let me know if anyone of you has a better version of translation. 🙂

hahaha

Jellied eel – a traditional Eastend Recipe

Jellied Eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel – a traditional East-end Recipe

Peter had been wanting jellied eel  – made to a traditional East-end recipe, for ages.

On his birthday, just before Christmas last year, he had his wish granted at Manze’s pie and  mash & eel shop (known as shops as opposed to being called a restaurant or cafe). The shop is adjacent to the Chapel Market in Islington North London.

We visit Chapel  Market around Christmas time every year for our fresh vegetables, meat etc., for the festive family meals.

Anyway,  it was rather lucky that Manze had not run out of the eel delicacy yet when Peter enquired as usually eels are off the menu by lunchtime!

Jellied eels are served as a side dish to  pie & mash.

The traditional pie  is normally made of suet based pastry pie containing  minced beef. The  mash  is mashed potato.

The delicious green tinged liquor served as a gravy with pie & mash  was traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels,  but nowadays mainly from the parsley used with cooking of the jellied eels.

Peter said he enjoyed the jellied eel but I am not too sure as I think I saw his face turned rather green at some point. 🙂

When I was still a little girl, eels were quite a delicacy in our province in the Philippines.  It was fun trying to catch them because they were so slippery; it was almost impossible to catch them without a net. The eels used to live in dykes around our ricefield.

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

The dykes were so clean, that you can drink from them if you are desperately thirsty but we used to go up further afield to the waterfall, which sourced our farm.

With a feat of engineering, my father was able to harness the water directly from the waterfall using a course of bamboos which carried the water not only into the field but to my mother’s huge water clay jars as well, giving us fresh, cool drinking water.  The taste was definitely better than any bottled mineral water that are on sale nowadays.

Anyway, I digress!  When we caught enough eels after much screaming and hilarity, my mother would salt them liberally to remove the slime and then she would cook it with sprouts from vines (not sure of the name of the plant, will find out) growing near our farmhouse which give a very sour taste; perfectly delicious.

Eel is delicious eaten hot but I am not too sure about cold jellied eel.  I couldn’t really comment too much because I turned down Peter’s generosity to taste his eel meal. 🙂

Anyway, he said it was good and that is good enough for me.

If you happen to come across some eel to cook here is the recipe for the jellied eel.

INGREDIENTS:
900g eel
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
Juice and zest from a lemon
handful of fresh herbs such as parley, thyme an coriander, chopped finely
Fish stock – 600 ml (1 pint)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Bouquet garni
15g Gelatine

Method of Preparation:
1. Skin and bone the eels but do not cut them up. Lay them on the table, skin side down and sprinkle with grated nutmeg, a little grated lemon zest and the chopped herbs.
2. Cut the fish into pieces about 4 inches long. Roll up each piece and tie with strong cotton or fine string. Put the stock, vegetables and bouquet garni into a saucepan and bring to he boil. Add the eels and simmer very gently until tender, for about an hour.
3. Lift out the fish take off the cotton or string and place the eels in a basin. Measure the stock and make up to 450 ml (* pint) with water.
4. Add the gelatine to the lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine, then add this to the hot stock. Stir until completely dissolved. Strain this over the fish and leave to set.
5. Turn out when cold and serve with a green salad and sliced gherkins.

Made in Manila

As many know, Filipinos work in most countries in the world.  Wherever they work and, certainly in the UK, Filipinos are regards as hard working, reliable,  law abiding, unobtrusive and friendly.
Many are overqualified (being university graduates) for the work they do mainly in domestic service.
To prepare these maids made in Manila can enrol in an academy, which would train them in anything housekeeping.
Many came to the UK as excellent trained  nurses and carers. Not so well known is  that the Philippines has excellent technical colleges & universities and  produced many computer technicians, programmers and coders who use their expertise around the world.
These workers, the carpenters, engineers, nurses, teachers and domestic helpers alike are known in the Philippines as  OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers).  They send millions of pounds to their families back home and contribute greatly to the national economy. Many international companies now outsource services to the Philippines too.

Trainee maids learning to cook

 Maids Made in Manila

Stephen Sackur, a BBC correspondent has recently posted an interesting article about these workers &  the growth in both the economy and population in the Philippines. Here is the article.

The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia – but there aren’t enough jobs to go around. So every year the government teaches thousands of people the skills they need to get jobs abroad.

When I arrive at the state-run Housemaids Academy in Manila morning exercises are well under way. A squad of uniformed cleaners is poking feather dusters into all corners of the sitting room. In the kitchen trainee cooks are immersed in the finer points of salad preparation.

The academy has the feel of a soap-opera set – each room meticulously dressed to ape the reality of a grand residence. Below stairs is a classroom filled with old fashioned school desks. Here, I’m told, the trainee house servants take lessons in hygiene, respect and personal finance.

The Philippines government schools tens of thousands of maids, chauffeurs, mechanics and gardeners every year, with the express purpose of launching them into long-term service abroad.

For the state it’s a win-win. These economic exiles – there are are currently some 10 million of them – send back foreign currency which is the lifeblood of the Filipino economy. And the extraordinary exodus of labour acts as a safety valve in a country struggling to provide home-grown jobs for a population rising by more than two million every year.

“We are proud of what we are doing,” one of the trainee maids, Maria, tells me. “We are national heroes.” That was a phrase first coined in a government propaganda campaign, and it’s clear that the 20 young women now gathered around me – all immaculately uniformed and polite to a fault – desperately want it to be true.

“It can’t be easy leaving your families behind,” I suggest.

“We have no choice,” replies Evelyn, an elfin figure no more than 5ft tall. “I have a baby at home but no way to support him. The wages I earn in Kuwait will mean my mother can raise him.”

Many of the other trainees nod in sympathy – almost all, it seems, are facing the prospect of separation from their children for at least three years, possibly many more. Their reality will be prolonged servitude in an alien culture.

The mood in the academy has darkened. Half the young women before me are now weeping.

Trainee maids learning to clean
Trainee maids washing clothes

Alongside the remittances of overseas workers, there’s a new phenomenon keeping the Philippines economy afloat. It’s known as BPO, business process outsourcing – you could call it the rise of the call centre economy. More and more Western companies have moved their low-cost back-office operations to the Philippines.

“We’ve overtaken India,” Dyne Tubbs, a manager at Transcom call centres, boasts as we survey her army of Filipino telephonists handling calls on behalf of a UK parcels delivery company. It’s midnight in Manila, 4pm in London and the phones are red hot, as they will be until dawn.

Call centre

“British companies love us because our English is not accented. The brightest graduates from our universities fight to get a job here. We only take the smartest kids. And after we’ve finished training them they even get your British sarcasm,” says Tubbs.

One third of the Filipino population is under 15 years old. The country may have found a unique niche in the global economy but current rates of economic growth, though impressive, will not sustain a population projected to double from 100 to 200 million within 30 years. Which is why Jane Judilla may just hold the key to the Philippines economic future. Jane isn’t an entrepreneur or a politician, she’s a reproductive health worker who spends her days in some of Manila’s most squalid slums.

Manila

Thanks to a law pushed through by the government last year, she’s now permitted to offer the poorest Filipinos free access to condoms, the contraceptive pill, even sterilisation for women who want it. The Catholic Church, which commands the loyalty of 90% of Filipinos, fought the initiative tooth and nail but the clerics lost.

Judilla introduces me to Sheralyn Gonzales, a whey-faced woman of 30 with 10 children and another on the way. I ask Gonzales whether she’s happy. “I’ll be happy when I’ve had the baby and can get sterilised,” she says. “My eldest has dropped out of school, and we can barely afford to educate the others. I tell my children to have two kids, then use contraception.”

If the next generation of Gonzales’s heed her advice their country’s future is promising. If not, tens of millions of young Filipinos may find themselves stuck in a poverty trap, still dependent on overseas labour as a means of escape.

Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

All institutions are prone to corruption and to the vices of their members.
– Morris West (Australian Novelist 1916-1999)

Here is an interesting BBC news item, we hope the Philippine leadership take note and act upon speedily as would any upcoming Presidential hopeful in 2016!

Despite President Aquino making his own comments about the Catholic Church in the Philippines, more importantly, the  Pork Barrel PPAF, Napoles etc scandals still persist despite promises from Filipino leaders to deal with!

We hope His Holiness’s words will be heeded !

Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

 Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

Pope Francis waves to the faithful from his Popemobile as his motorcade leaves the Presidential Palace for the Manila Cathedral Friday, 16 January 2015 in Manila, Philippines.Pope Francis travelled to Manila’s Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in his ‘Popemobile’ on Friday

Pope Francis has urged Philippine leaders to end “scandalous social inequalities” and corruption during a welcome ceremony in Manila.

On the first full day of his five-day visit, he called for politicians to show commitment to the “common good”.

But President Benigno Aquino responded that many Catholic clergy had been silent about the abuses conducted under former President Gloria Arroyo.

And he said some clergymen were now too quick to criticise him.

“In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticise,” he said.

“Even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin.”

The pontiff arrived in the majority Catholic country on Thursday and is due to travel to the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban on Saturday.

The centre-piece of his visit is an open-air Mass in Manila on Sunday, which is expected to attract millions.

The Pope is on a six-day tour of Asia. Earlier in the week he visited Sri Lanka.

‘Voice of the poor’

Well-wishers line the streets to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis in Manila on 15 January 2015 The Pope received a rapturous reception as he arrived in Manila

Speaking at a welcome ceremony in the presidential palace, Pope Francis called for leaders “to reject every form of corruption, which diverts resources from the poor”.

He said it was a Christian duty to “break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities”.

The Philippines, like many countries in Asia, has corruption issues.

Corruption activist group Transparency International put the Philippines at 85 in its latest Corruption Perceptions Index, level with India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Under Mr Aquino, the Philippines’ record has slowly improved.

Mr Aquino suggested the Church had not done enough to fight corruption under Mrs Arroyo, who is facing charges of plundering state funds and election fixing.

“There was a true test of faith when many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalised, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which we are still trying to rectify to this very day,” Mr Aquino said.

Filipino Catholic devotees gather outside the Manila Cathedral as they wait to celebrate a mass with Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines, 16 January 2015Many people began waiting outside the cathedral in Manila for the Mass in the early hours of Friday
Pope Francis, left, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III stand together during the welcoming ceremony Friday, 16 January 2015 at the Presidential Palace grounds in Manila, PhilippinesPresident Benigno Aquino (R) hosted a welcome ceremony for the Pope at the presidential palace on Friday.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo, Philippines

The Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo, Philippines

The above photos were taken by Peter when we were in the Philippines in 2013.  Our Philippine holiday was just coming to an end so we were on a hectic hunt for Filipiniana souvenirs to take home to remind us of our wonderful 4 weeks stay over Christmas and New Year in my home country.

Anyway, Quiapo is the ultimate nest for Filipino-handmade goods.

It was so nostalgic and enriching to meander and promenade around Quiapo again, my haunt when I was still teaching at the Technological Institute of the Philippines.

Being a good Catholic girl, full of superstitions and guilty feelings,  (When I was younger, I used to confess to sins that I had not done because I had to confess something, I would then be feeling guilty for lying and confessing something I had not done but I would reason to myself that at least I had something concrete to confess for my next confession and so on and so forth 😉  Of course I was far from perfect, I was actually pretty horrid as a child but at that age you are in denial of your nastiness! LOL), I would go to Church after my class to give thanks for my new pair of shoes, new handbags, new clothes and just about anything new!  Apparently if you go to Church and give thanks for your new things, they would last longer!  I would go to Quiapo Church 3 or 4 times a week.  I just wanted to say how Quiapo Church was important to my growing up as a young lady of meagre means (spent all my salary on clothes and accessories.  It was hard keeping up with fashion in the 80s on a teacher’s salary!!!)

Okay, enough nostalgia!  I am not really sure how Peter felt about the hype during the feast of the Black Nazarene.  It was a hodgepodge of activities around the church of Quiapo and along Rizal Park.

Unfortunately or fortunately we were staying at Hotel H2O in Manila which was behind the Quirino Grandstand, where the Feast of the Black Nazarene was being held.  It was pretty strange to see.  People came to celebrate by the hundreds of thousand or even a million.  The throng of people, patiently queuing to get their turn to be near the Nazarene was something to behold.  And yet you can see armed policemen and soldiers roaming, mingling to keep order.  They were rather off-putting as they were armed to the hilt with the largest guns I had ever seen.  I was thinking that there was something not quite right about it.  Religion and firearms should not go together, ever, never!

Though I grew up in the Philippines, I had never been to a vigil to celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene, which was what those people with their rosaries were doing.  I would actually want to do it one day, something for the bucket list to enrich my soul and spirit. 🙂

Me & My Doppelgänger

My Doppleganger

Me & My Doppelgänger

 

Having seen this spooky effect photo of myself, taken by Peter while taking a walk in the park, it reminded me of a ghostly story when I was a young girl. As it is Halloween, I thought I would recount it here.  When I was twelve years old and living in the province of Marag, Luna, Kalinga-Apayao, Philippines I was told that I had a doppelgänger (spooky double).

It happened when we, my girl classmates, went to the town of Luna to attend a Girl Scouting jamboree.

We stayed at our teacher’s house in the town and as she was my cousin I was sort of given a relative preferential treatment.

All the other girls stayed downstairs and I slept in the bed upstairs.

It was a hot and humid night and it was hard to sleep because the restaurant nearby had a very noisy clientele.  Filipinos seem to sing even with the slightest provocation. LOL

Despite the uncomfortable temperature, I fell asleep all the same.  I was young then!!!

The next morning my schoolmates asked me who I was talking to outside last night? They said they saw me go out and was heard talking to someone.

This was so spooky! I told them that I did not go down after I went to bed. I would have been too scared to walk around in darkness. I never had a history of sleep walking and would have been noisy.

We were all rather spooked because they all saw me and yet I was sure I stayed in bed all night and my cousin/teacher Manang Tessie,  who was sleeping in the other bed near mine ( I was nearest the window), said she would have heard, woken up & seen  if I’d left my bed as I needed to climb over her bed to leave the room!

But my schoolmates maintained that they saw me.  Strange that!!!

Bayong

Growing up in the Philippines in the 80s, the last thing you would want was a bayong as a school bag, or as an accessory. It would have been such a reputation suicide to be seen carrying a bayong. 😉

In the 80s, a bayong would have been a shout-out and a label of being someone prom da probins (from the province); as being provincial and definitely lacking in sophistication, which was the last thing you would want when meeting loads and loads of new people for the first time.

Students, during my time would have opted for fashionable and, if available and affordable, something made from abroad, stateside (i.e. from the USA or abroad). Never mind that some of these foreign made bags can be rather inferior, to say the least.

Having said that, I suppose, the old style bayong was not very attractive. They were of natural fibres from palm trees. Though woven beautifully, they were not prettified. No ribbons or embellishments were added, no buttons, intricate handles and the bayong did not come in different colours. They were just ordinary box-type bag, useful to carry when going to wet markets to buy fish, fresh meat and vegetables.

Bayong was just too native and screamed naivety and even ignorance of life, the life in the neon-lit and cosmopolitan Manila.

But when I went back home a couple of years ago, I fell in-love with the bayong and can’t get enough of them. I bought five of various sizes home and would have gotten more if I could carry them back to London without paying excess luggage at Manila airport!

I bought my first bayong in Tagaytay. It was raining at that time and as we did not bring umbrellas, we thought we would treat ourselves with those funny, cute hats which were proudly and snazzily displayed in vivid colours, designs and sizes in the mini-shops in Tagaytay. As I was doing a bit of rummaging in a shop, I found a beautiful bayong, half the size in height of the classic bayong. Unfortunately, one of the handles had come off so I did not buy it, but at that moment, I knew I had to possess a bayong. With my entourage of my beautiful Filipino family, we went from shop to shop, buying souvenirs after souvenirs, but I couldn’t find a bayong 🙁 Luckily my Auntie Glor, with her keen eyesight, saw a bayong and that was that, I had to  get it. My family were so lovely indulging me but I got the feeling, they didn’t really understand nor get my desire & feelings about the bayong.
Call it nostalgia if you like 🙂

A few days later we went to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, where Hannah’s beach resort is located. A fantastic place, I have to say. Lots to see and even a lot more to do. Little tinderos (mini merchants) would walk the street selling their wares. One was selling bayongs. I have to say I was able to get four bayongs for P1400 (pesos) which is about £20 because of my great bartering skills, LOL. Seriously, a good buy & great value for money.

I don’t really use them much in London, only once in a while, not because I think they are not sophisticated or well made but because I have so many bags. One day they will see the light of day in London again when it is their turn! So many bags, so little time.

My favourite story about bayongs was that of Carlos Bulosan, who was an Ilocano born in 1911. Apparently at the age of 17, he migrated to the USA with just a bayong (filled with Filipino delicacies such as bagoong, fermented fish and burong talanka, pickled small crabs) and a small matching tampipi (suitcase woven from palm leaves)

Many say that Carlos Bulosan was barely literate when he first arrived in America, but he went on to publish important and influential books written in English in America!

In fact Carlos Bulosan said it first part of one of President John F Kennedy’s iconic speeches did a few decades later.

“But we must not demand from America, because she is still our unfinished dream. Instead we must sacrifice for her: let her grow into bright maturity through our labors. If necessary we must give up our lives that she might grow unencumbered.”
– Bulosan (America in the Heart 1943)

Ask not what your country can do for your. Ask what you can for your country.”
JFK, Speech 1960

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