Sept 7 (Sept 8 dito)

So here I am after my first day and night in the Philippines. Actually, I’ve been here for less than 24 hours, but on the go ever since I got here. First off, 22 hour long plane rides are no fun. But, this one was not soooo bad. I slept for hte majority of it and they had some good movies – Akeela the Bee (i actually had to stop myself from craying at the end. wow, how emo), x-mean 3, umm, i don’t rememebr what else. I also sat next to a Cuban woman who married a Chinese guy and now she teaches Spanish at the university of Taipei. She was pretty cool to talk to, and it was nice to have some Spanish before diving into the Tagalog world.

So here’s the outline of my day:

about 11:45 – arrive at airport. Uncle Nene, Ate Shirley and Tot, the driver, are waiting for me. the song on the car radio is usher.

We are joining hte motorcade to celebrate the feast of La Virgen de Peñafrancia in a couple of hours, so we have some time to kill. We drive around for a little bit and our first stop is jollibee so i can wash up in the bathroom. Then we go to the supermarket to buy some juices and I feel like everyone can tell I’m amerikana, but I think they were just staring cause that’s what they do here.

Around 3 (i think) – we hear mass woutside City Hall of Mandaluyong, which is a town in metro Manila. After mass there is a procession to the association headquarters. Me and Ate Shirley walk half way and then go back to teh car and hope Uncle Nene doesn’t notice It turns out he cheats too and gets into the car shortly after we do.

Around 5? (I have no watch nor cell phone haha) – we go to St. Andrew’s church in Makati (the city known as hte business district in metro manila) to hear a quick welcome ceremony for La Virgen. As the icon is processed through the church we throw flower petals and yell “Viva La Virgen!”

Around 6 we pick up Ate Ikke from her job in Makati. I take a Nap as we Struggle though Manila rush hour traffic.

I have no idea what time it is now, we stop by Uncle Nonoy’s House in Quezon City. He and Auntie Remy recognize me right away. Kuya Boy and Kuya Ray are there also.

We stop by Uncle Bebing’s house, which os only a couple blocks away.

Went abck to Uncle Nene’s House in Novaliches where Auntie Siony and Kuya Edgar are waiting It was a pretty long drive. Take a shower finally and it feels amazing. Have dinner and show them some pcitures, watch tv, look at mags of pinoy celebs, chit chat, call my dad, sleep around 1.

The Day in More Detail: (the juicy part)

As i disembarked from the plane I met a guy, we recognized each other because we both boarded at Newark. His name is Andrew and he lives in Jersey City and goes to Rutgers, sophomore. He is also staying in Novaliches, small world. Maybe I’ll call him to hang out, but he is younger than me so it’s a no go int he romance department.

At the airport, Uncle Nene met me and then we went outside to the car where ate shirley and toto were waiting. toto i guess is our driver, although that sounds demeaning to say. Here, people who work for you are very much treated like family, treated i would say like junior/younger members of the famile. yes, that take direction and speak with a lot of po’s (in Tagalog,y ou insert po into a sentence to signify respect), but they are also involved in conversations and take/dish out teasing just like everybody else. They are also always hearing the famous “kumain ka na ba?” (did you eat yet?).

By the way, for you non filipinos, “kumain ka na ba?” is never the last thign a person says. This is a typical conversation you will hear several times a day:

“kumain ha na ba?” (did you eat yet?)
“Opo. Kumain na ako” (yes I ate already)
“Meon tayong siopao, ispageti, ano pa..ano gusto mo? bumili tayo” (We have pork buns, spaghetti, what else…what do you want? we’ll buy it)
“Huwag na, ok lang ako” (don’t bother, I’m ok)
“Anong kinain mo?” (what did you eat?)
“Daming pagkain sa aeroplano” (there was a lot of food on the plane)
“Nako, kumain ka pa! Ah, inom, ano gusto mo?” (Gosh, eat more! Oh, to drink, what do you want to drink)
“Meron akong tubig dito” (I have water here)
At this point they have already eft to go to the store and they come back with an assortmetn of bottles for you to choose from. And it goes on and on.

I’m sure a lot of what I wrote is gramatically incorrect (and I’m just waiting for marco ot correct em). I’m trying to get in a lot of practice here. Simple phrases, i can get by, but it’s hard for me to express emotions or deep sotries. And my grammar is all over the place. Oh well, my relatives were not expecting me to know any tagalog at all, eben to understand, so when my Ates tell people “marunong siya” it feels really good. Marunong in this context just means “she knows” but the word also is used to mean wise or generally knowledgeable, so i can pretend that what they mean haha.

Ok so from the airport we drive around for a bit and then basically go straight to mass. Hah how appropriate. Uncle nene is a member of the eboard of some Bicolano group, which is funny because he’s not from Bicol. These next four days they celebrate the feast of La Virgen de Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol. There’s a bunch of masses and celebreations, fireworks, food, etc. The image they venerate is cool because maria and Sto. Niño are really dark. One would say they’re dark like filipinos, but the first Peñafrancia image was found in Spain, so I dunno.

Talagang Social butterfly si uncle Nene. He has so many friends. He’s a lot smaller than I remember (last time I saw him i was 4 and he was visiting the states and he got kinda fat and now he’s really skinny). What’s awesome is that he’s really really strong. He’s in his 70s now, maybe 71? but he’s bery busy. very involved in this organization and the medical Mission. He climbed onto the pickup truck to secure the image of la Virgen no problem, and jumped off hte pickup in his shiny boots like it was nothing. He’s super cool.

We went to St. Andrew’s church for hte welcome ceremony and then fo to pick up Ate Ikke from work. I’m starting ot get really tired now. Manila traffic is no joke man.

Afterwards we visit Uncle Nonoy in Quezon City. He and Auntie Remy recognize me right away, last time I saw them was when they came to the states, I think I was in middle school at the time. They look a lot older and are missing a lot of teeth. Uncle Nony has been ahving some health problems laetly, but he’s been recovering and God willing he will continue. It was kinda hard to see him like that, the summer he spent here he was very very strong, c0oking every day and going to the racetrack every night. That summer we both stayed at nanay’s and he was my kasama sa bahay because everyon eelse was working. Auntie Remy is the same her, very loud haha. Last night the moon was really birght and she got kinda emo saying that seeing the moon like that makes her happy, like hte world is going ot be ok and eventhough they don’t havea lot fo money they are happy. Kuya ray and Kuya Boy were also there, but i just woke up and we didn’t talk much. Uncle Nonoy and Auntie Remy say anytime I want to go anywehre to just call and Kuya Boy can take me around.

Then, we go to Uncle Bebing’s house, a couple blocks away. he has a storefron and his house is behind it. It’s maybe 10 or 11 at this time, and everybody’s just sitting in front of their houses talking. Uncle Bing has a big stomach, but hte rest of him is skinny, haha. He wakes up his son, Yanyan (he said heather agve him that name when she was 4). Yanyan is 17 or 18, finally someone to call me ate! He was wearing an oversized fubu shirt and basketball shorts. Maybe he’s hte one i saw in Auntie nene’s pictures waring a white t and big chain. I wanna talk to him about hip hop. I also met jon-jon who is the son of my mother’s cousin, but i dont know which one. We’re gonna go back to QC on saturday to hang with them. Saturday is uncle bebeing’s anniversary and we promised to have lunch and dinner at his place. Across hte street from uncle bing’s in uncle nene’s old place, which i remember! wow it looks so much smaller now, it’s like when i was talking to auntie nene and she told me about her visit to bugason, their hometown, last december, and how walk ing ot the places she used to go, when she was small it felt like they were walking forever, and now it’s only a skip.

Drove to Uncle Nene’s house in novaliches. It’s quite comfortable, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. My parents provided most of the money to have this house built, and it’s good. Ate Ikke, Ate Shirley and Kuya Edgar all live here too. We eat and Auntie Siony is surprised I know hot to kamay (eat with my hands) haha. i like it here, i feel very much at home. there’s even hot water. I share a bed with Ate shirley. Uncle nene says nobody’s allowed to speak english so that i learn tagalog quicker, but he’s already broken his rule several times

today ate ikke is off from work. ate shirley works as a freelance interior designer so her schedule is always felxible. we’re going to the mall (woohoo) so i can buy a digicam and some clothes, being that i brought liek 3 shirts and 2 tank tops onle. Then we’re going to UP Diliman, I think Uncle Nene thinks i’m definite on going, but i’m not really sure. Anyway, the semester stats in november, so there’s time. This morning is so nice. I took coffee and pan de sal on the porch and can hear roosters crowing and the vendors singing their pregones (that’s spanish but id ont know how to say it in tagalog or english). “gataaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” (milk) and the ever popular “baluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut” (duck eggs). I dont remember much form the last time i was here (i was 4) but i definitely rememebr sitting on the porch with my dad at night hearing “baluuuuuuuuuuuuut” and seeing the balut vendor emerge from the darkness into the porchlight, and then my dad buying like 2 dozen at a time. Naku, it’s only 9am who’s eating balut now?

Random Reflections:

The first thing everybody says when they see me is “you got fat.”! On;y ate shirley sais “tamang tama lang” (she’s just ok). Butit’s not so bad i guess, they say it so nice! I think there’s something lost in translation. “You got fat” in Tagalog is “tumaba ka,” which has more of a connotation of “you gained weight.” At least,t hat’s what I’m telling myself. Anyway, I’m planning ot lose weight here, though it’s going to be harder than I thought because we’re in the city. Anyway I’m planning on eating a lot of fish and rice and fruit, so i’ll be ok. but hte chicharon might hurt, lol.

I am so frikkin excited to eat all the tropical fruits!

Jeepneys are the coolest thing ever. I didn’t know there were so many! When i get my camera I’m going to take as many pictures of jeepneys as possible.

I didn’t get bothered at the airport. My family spent so much time briefing me as to what to do and say when porters come up to me insisting to take my bags or hte taxi drivers start harrassing me. I was even prepared for the customs agent to nudge me so that I could slip them a $5. No one approached me and the customs agent signed my slip without asking anything. maybe I’m not so Kano after all hehe.

Teh heat doesn’t really bother me so far. I think yesterday it was aroubd 31-35 degrees C. After spain, where it was 40 a lot, i think i can deal here. Anyway, sweating should get rid of my fat haha.

There are teeny houses and shops right next to skyscrapers and mansions. I was kind of expecting tat after seeing it in jamaica. But i think it’s more pronounced here (at least than negril, idk about kingston) because it’s more cramped.

Everybody says i look just like my mom, except auntie Remy and I think Auntie Siony who say my eyes and nose are like my dad. haha they just stare at me and look amazed and say “talagang muka ni esot” (wow, it’s really esot’s face)

Culture shock #1: yeah, Manila traffic is no joke. And what they say about how there’s no real traffic rules and people just go, true also. What I wasn’t expecting is that all the streets are so narrow and windy, and there’s barely any sidewalk, the houses o right up against the street. It’s like New York, though, in that people unfearingly walk right intot he middle of the street and drivers stop for them

Culture shock #2: The construction workers only wear tsinelas (slipper). I saw 1 wearing sneakers, None of them have workboots. People in the grocery, store, anywhere, they all wear uniforms. The construction workers have no uniforms or hats or anything.

Culture shock #3: I was most unprepared for hte fac tthat you have to bring your own tissue to the bathroom. No one ever mentioned that ever. I’m sure I’ll forge tot do so a multiple times and that’ll be gross.

I really like it here.