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Today is day 4. Later on we are going to Manila Cathedral for the big Feast day of Virgin de Peñafrancia, so I might have to make this quick. So, on day 2, SHOPPING!! wooo. I went with Ate Ikke and Ate Shirley to SM North EDSA. Though this may be completely corny, the longer I stay here the more I see the connection between this trip and PCN haha. Just like Aaron’s reaction, this mall is…HUGE! It’s quite overwhelming actually, there are more buildings and shops than you could possible get to in a day. Also, I would HATE to be a salesgirl over here. My cousins were really sticking it to the salesgirl, asking an assload of questions and repeatedly asking for discounts. It’s really different than the US where everythign except a car is sticker price. So that’s why my parents are like that. So yeah, my Ate’s did the vast majority of the talking. We just told people that I was from Iloilo and self conscious about my Tagalog. So, I still have a lot of work to do hehe. The good news is, I GOT A NEW CAMERA. The samsung digimax 430. It’s so small and pretty. I paid 3000 pesos (about $60) for a 1 gig memory card, which hurt a lot, but total i paid a little over 10,000 pesos, or $200, so it’s not so bad.


me f-ing around with the camera’s features. Ate Ikke is my model.

yesterday we went to Uncle Bing’s house for lunch, it was his and Auntie Vicki’s anniversary, 29 years. Uncle Bing cooked soooooo much! All seafood too, crab, shrimp, fried lapu-lapu filet, sinigang na hipon (shrimp sour soup) oh my GOD it was so good. Then, we went to Uncle Nonoy’s house for a visit. I showed both Uncle Bing nad Uncle Nonoy pictures of everyone in the US and their reaction to everyone was to laugh and say “OH! Look, very old na!.” At Uncle Nonoy’s house we ate more – snak snak lang. I must say though, the chicharon was the best I’ve ever had.

Kuya boy and Auntie Remy and me

Then we went to SM fairview. Mall walking is a serious sport here. Yan yan is really into hip hop, but his favorite is nelyl and he wears grills! ohh nooo! it’s cool though, to have someoen to call me ate finally. i bought him a fitted yankees hat from ny, a real one that i seriously searched fo rtoo, and he seemed excited. i gave him some money too for a fubu shirt, fubu manila is really nice. yay i’m an ate!



ate ikke and Yan Yan. the camera flashes twice so it took a while for both of them to be looking.

Ate Cecil and Yan yan. speaking of which, my nephew Gian (who’s older than me) is goin to have a baby. i’m going to be a LOLA. omg.

After SM we came back to Ucnle Bing’s and ate more of course! Lechon! (roasted suckling pig) chicharon bulaklak (fried prok intestine), mechado (meat and vegetables with a tomato-based sauce), hipon (shrimp), sinigang hipon (sour soup with shrimp), lumpiang shanghai (fried filipino eggrolls), it was all so good.

Ate Ikke, Kuya Ray, Auntie Vicki and Julia (ray’s daughter) in the corner. Of course, the first thing to go is the balat (skin).

Julia, so cute!

Then, after we ate, it started to rain. Tropical rain. Auntie Vicki was excited to show me the baha (flood). Sabi nila Welcome to the Philippines! haha

This car was stuck in front of Uncle Bing’s house. Soaked to the headlights. I’m not sure if it was to make sure they couldn’t get out on their own, or if it was to wait till the water was high enough so that they would get paid more, but Uncle bing na dyan yan pushed this car to higher ground for 1000 pesos.

look how big those drops are!

Yan yan soaked to the ankles

even the roaches searching for higher ground

within a half hour the water was past the store front and up to the front door. Uncle Bing said they had never had a flood where the water actually went into the house

well, it did last night. we were scrambling to get things off the floor, and the dog peed and pooed next to me! haha, too bad i didn’t get a picture of that.

15 minutes, the water was ankle-deep in the house



even uncle nene, who had come from church, was wading through in his dress pants and barong


but we are filipinos, and the eating must continue


even the roaches couldn’t escape

another 15 minutes, the water was up to the bottom step

so, we went upstairs to wait until the water was low enough for us to clean up an drive home

Kuya Ray’s kids, Kim, 17 (she’s a scholar in UP. does she look exactly like leni or what! haha the same indifferent smile and everything) and Julia, 7.

Me with them and their mom, ate Joy.

We got back to Uncle Nene’s house after 1. Kuya Edgar and Auntie Siony called us maala haha.

Happy Anniversary!lol

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.

I wrote this at the airport:

Tuesday Sept 5 2006, 11:46 Pm

So I’m sitting here in the airport waiting fot the plane to board and I can honestly say that this has probably been the longest day of my life. i went to bed last night at 2, woke up this morning at 7:30 because I was too excited to sleep. I’m finally doing it. i’m finally going. I’m finally going to lay my eyes on the otherland, step on the soil my fathers stood on, eat of the same earth where my ancestors lived and died and are interred. Walk above their bones. Ok, that’s emo. But growing up in a place where I have always felt on some level like a foreigner has left me with serious baggage. I am sooooooooooo excited! Thank God, a million thanks to God. It is about time I get away from new York. Lately I’ve noticed myself getting, well mean, and I’m talking about a LOT meaner than Usual. I find myself just not caring about people anymore. Someone says hi in the street, i don’t care. sit and look gross and mean and rude and I don’t care because those peopel wil probably not remember who I am an hour from now. Last week I walked straight past kids selling lemonade on my street. This has to end. But of course, after 17 years of living here, there are things about New York I will miss, many of which I experienced on my last trip in today. I know I will love my city even more when I come back here. In the meantime, I’ll think about today:

1) IFA
2) my subway
3) seeing tourists wander aimlessly around soho and knowing that I am not one of them
4) when all the tourists disappeared from the streets today just ebcause it started raining a little
5) the guy ono Lafayette who told me “ma, you got a juicy butt”
6) hip hop everywhere all day every day
7) the smell of the grime
8) having walk rage when people don’t know how to stand to one side on the escalator
9) dancehall music
10) on that tip, west indians (if my mission is not looking like it will be successful, someone might have to send me a Jamaican)
11) free condoms
12) tall guys who think it’s cute when I can’t reach stuff and help me out
13) Spanish everywhere, and different spansihes
14) wades on my feet
15) the accent. i suppose i could listen to myself speak, but it just wouldn’t be the same

As opposed to my usual angry rap, I been all about the quiet storm lately…. Maybe i’m trying to make up for my recent lack of romantic prospects haha.

Some of my favorites:

Prince – Can’t Stop Writing
Angie Stone – I Wish I Didn’t Miss You
Maxwell – Whenever, Wherever, Whatever (possibly my favorite love song ever)
Maxwell – Softly, Softly
Maxwell – Lifetime
Prince – How Come U Don’t Call Me (muuuuch better that alicia keys you silly people)
Jill Scott – A Long Walk
Jon B. – They Don’t Know
Jill Scott – Love Rain
Tyrese – Lately

So last night i went to lotus with my dear rosario. what a loverly haterfest! there were so many gross people, old people, gross old people, and tourists (which deserve a centemptuous category of their own). I thought Lotus was supposed to be exclusive, meaning there would be attractive people there! wtf!

Last night exhibited many examples of typical mistakes made that prevent the non-whorish, non-desperate, not too drunk to process information girl from having a really good time. So, some tips for the would-be club-goers:

If you are over the age of 45, and you look over the age of 45, do not try to grind up on me. It’s disturbing and I might vomit.

If you are of an appropriate age and hygeine, don’t just grab me. I don’t appreciate random guys just dancing on or near me or grabbing my waist or just bumping into me. Whatever happened to asking a lady to dance? If a guy asks politely I will almost never say no, because that’s just as bad manners as rubbing your pelvis against a stranger’s behind without his or her consent.

And If I do agree to dance with you, don’t hold my hands or start putting your face against my face or neck, or try to get me to hold on to you tight, or start heavy jackrabbit thrusting right away. I’m here to dance with you, but I still don’t know you, I’m not trying to find neither an emotional connection with you nor have vertical sex. If i’m feeling you, there’s always the chance that some of that might happen: eventually. So read my signals and don’t force it. I’m not your girlfriend.

And even if I dance with you for a couple songs, please do not start spitting lines like “I miss you” “I love you” “I want to marry you” “I’m going to call you candy because you’re so sweet” “I really want to know you” et cetera, et cetera. It’s just weird. If you wanna talk to me, hang out, talk, but please, casually! Chances are just because we danced for 2 songs we’re still not soul mates.

And unless you are ridiculously attractive, I mean, ridiculously (and even then it’s still iffy), the first words outta your mouth when you approach a girl should not be “Can I have your phone number?” There are a plethora of other first lines that could potentially work: “What’s your name? Nice to meet you, I’m ____” “Can I buy you a drink?” “Would you like to dance?” “You have nice hair” Whatever, but the key is to establish some sort of familiarity that could get me to the point where I’d still be willing to talk to you tomorrow. Unless you’re feeling reciprocated love at first sight (key word: reciprocated), chances are just looking at you is not gonna make me interested in you blowing up my celly at 2AM when you’re drunk and horny.

And if you are a tourist visiting new york, it’s really not cool to roll up in a club 10 deep all wearing matching I
All of this, the crowd, the lask of room to dance, the ugly people, all of it may have been bearable if only the DJ wasn’t utter trash. He played, except for perhaps 3 or 4 positive outliers, bad music. A lot of medium tempo-southern shit basically no hit songs or danceable beats. The DJ was basically on the “I’m gonna play a lot of underground shit so I can prove how hard I am” tip. I saw a girl go up to him, presumably to request reggae. After talking to her he played 1 dancehall song and then followed it up with slow chill reggae, great if you’re drinking a beer on the beach, bad if you wanna wind. Not only that, but he didn’t cut. This upsets me more than anything. The whole purpose of dj-ing is to play the parts of the song that people like. The roots of hip-hop djing come from DJ Kool Herc – by many accounts the inventor of turn tableism and hip hop as a music form – who would loop the break beat. You don’t play the intro and outro to a song. You don’t even play all the damn verses – the way to keep a party hype is to keep changing shit up so it stays exciting. What this dude was doing – what he was getting paid to do was to basically put on a cd (or mp3’s on his fancy little mac – what happened to skill with vinyl? that’s how I learned back in the day) and put on the cross fader. I could do that shit my damn self.

yo….let’s go back to hempstead.

Me: hey, listen, if i’m going to be honest…(and sorry if i’m overthinkin this)
Me: i’m kind of bothered that youdidn’t invite me to either of your birthday parties
Me: and i understand that you may feel uncomfortable
Me: but i hope it’s not cause you think i’m trippin or that you need to protect me or anything like that
Him: ok you’re buggin
Him: huh
Him: it’s not my get up
Him: it’s my boys shorty
Him: she rented the damn section
Him: her and her rich ass
Me: so why wouldnt you say that instead of letting me think theres some problem
Me: what if i said to you “i’m having a party”
Me: and thats it, no invite and no explanation. i wouldn’t do that to any of my friends.
Him: not my problem if u assume that
Him: all u got to do is ask
Him: instead of assumin’
Me: well thats why i’m saying this, but i wanted to chill for a sec because of course i’m going to react
Him: well chill
Him: it’s not my get up
Me: i understand

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. ok, all confusion officially deaded. and this is why i’m single.

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