Santol

Once in a while I will post photos of our local fruits as they come in season.

Two days ago, we harvested santol from our backyard tree.  In english it is also known as a sour apple.  It is very sweet but what I don’t like about this fruit is that its fibers get stuck to my teeth.

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Non Event

My birthday came and went.  Most of the people who matters in my life remembered the day and either sent an sms greeting or called me up.  There was no misua (chinese noodles for long life) on my birthday, no gifts. No Facebook greeting too since there was no reminder for my “contacts” 🙂  I had a cake courtesy of our supplier.  It was just like a regular day.

I was with my family. I was doing something that still excites me.  My health concern cleared up.  And I had great se*.  It was a good regular day.

So I am well into my 4th decade and life is still good.  I see no need for a big celebration on that particular day.  In fact the last time I had a birthday party was before I got married.  O’s cousin asked me where the celebration would be.  I told him I was too cheap to treat them out  🙂  For the past 5 years, O and I have pooled the money we would have spent for a party to fund our scholarship program in our alma mater. 

I don’t quite know why people should treat others out to eat when it’s their birthday.  I find more joy knowing that the money I will spend will go to a worthy cause rather than to my friends who can afford to pay their own meals.

 

Institutionalized Inefficiency

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We opened a business outlet in this very small town about 170km away.  The only bank available in this small town is Land Bank of the Philippines, a government bank.  I hate government banks.  So inefficient and no customer service at all!  

But what can we do?  No choice.  

Most commercial banks would allow us to bring home the documents needed to open a savings account and then return the filled up documents back to them.  But this bank said they could not let the documents out of their premises.  We had to go to their branch 170km away or we could visit the nearest Landbank branch from me and then they would facilitate everything inter branch.

And so today, I visited a branch near our home that I knew would not be busy.  I approach their new account section and this lady quite sternly replied that she had never heard of such a thing that I was saying.  Stern lady said I had to personally go to the branch where I want to open an account.  It pays to be persistent though because after repeating myself for the third time, the lady compromised by saying that she could call the manager of the far-away branch and see what they could do.  Although some commercial banks now transact business regardless of which branch you keep your deposits, many in this country are still territorial.  If you open your account in a certain city, encashment of checks or deposits or withdrawals in another city/town will incur a fee or worse – not allowed at all.

Anyway, I wait while the stern lady calls the far-away branch.  Then she brings the phone over to me since the manager of the far-away branch wanted to talk to me.  After a short interview and clearing of some details, they compromise by allowing me to use this local branch’s documents but then I had to meet with the manager who luckily would be visiting our city tomorrow.

And so I fill up the documents.  In the space of present address, I write my address.  In the space for permanent address, I write same as above.  As well as with the business address.  But no, another lady who was very meticulous told me I had to write down the address again and that Same as Above would not be acceptable.  Sigh.  So I write the address 3x.  The zip code, the country 3x.  And I had to sign all erasures.  

Finally I thought we were all done.  Then she pushes the stamp pad to me and tells me I need to put my thumb marks.  I asked her; I thought thumb marks were only for those who could not sign their name?  No she says, it is required.

When I relayed this thumbprint requirement to Pin (who has worked in a commercial bank for the past 26years), she expressed surprise.  She said it is the first time she has heard that a thumb print was required together with signatures.

Anyway, I was willing the meticulous automaton look-alike lady to hurry up with her perusal.  Every moment she opened her mouth, I cringed and had to control myself from making an impertinent remark.  No point in antagonizing them.  It is a government bank after all.  They probably don’t care if I take my business elsewhere.

Finally finally, we were out the door.  Sheesh, like pulling teeth – I told O.  If there were a phone survey to ask how the service was, I’d give them the worst score.

Sigh, but you never win with the government.  

A Real Man

So many sayings and quotes being shared over at Facebook, I rarely comment. But this one, which listed 23 qualities of a Real Man stirred up something inside of me.  It was a lot of crock and I suspect written by a romantic woman or by a very religious person.

Honest, Not afraid of making mistakes, Treats service personnel with respect, takes care of his kids – these were some of the qualities that I agreed to.  But telling the worst truth than the best lie?  Is romantic?  Says what he feels?  Those are BS.  Bs peddled by women’s magazines.  

I for one do not agree to the worst truth.  If truth will hurt, sometimes it is best to be quiet.  What purpose would it serve to tell a man that his face looks like the surface of the moon when he asked if the facial treatment has made his skin smoother?  What purpose to say that a man’s child lacks intelligence?  None at all.  Best to highlight a feature than tell the whole ugly truth.

And to be romantic?  Gaaa.  Romance is overrated.  What is important is commitment.

For once, I left a comment on this friend’s post.  I simply said that it was an overly idealistic description of a real man.  And trying to fulfill this ideal would only lead to an early death.

Let a man be a man.  Let him drink if he wants to but in moderation.  Let him swear or evade housework.  Let him forget birthdays if his memory is really bad.  Don’t label him less of a real man.  It is enough that he treats the world and the people around him right.  No need for all the fluff that Hollywood romance foists on us.

Practise Makes (Almost) Perfect

My first baptismal godson got married last Saturday and again I was a godmother.  This makes it the 3rd time.  I was much more comfortable this time around, compared to the first and second times.

The first time, I followed the motif set by the bride.  Although I liked the gown I had made for the occasion, in hindsight – it looked so old-fashioned and typically the kind of gown you wore to a wedding.  I had my hair and make-up done professionally.  And I didn’t like the results.  My make-up was too dark and my hair too fancy.  I didn’t look like me.

The second time, still a good godmother toeing the theme of the bride, I again had a gown made specifically for a godmother.  This time around I did my own make-up but still had my hair done professionally.  I requested no fancy hairdo.  I still didn’t like the result.  The hairdresser did my hair in the latest fashion then of super straight hair.  And although it was down, it was too stiff from all the hair spray she used to straighten my already straight hair.  Nope, didn’t enjoy that second time too.

This time around, I decided I would buy a ready made gown.  A gown that I could and would wear again even if I were not a godmother.  A gown not necessarily in the exact shade of the bride’s motif but I would find one very close.  And I decided I would still have my hair done professionally but I would insist that it be loose and with not much hair spray.  I did my own make-up.  This time around, it was almost perfect.  My cousin, the groom’s mother (and all my other cousins in fact) commented that my hair looked so ordinary.  Like my usual hairstyle.  No bouffants, no curls that is so in fashion nowadays, just my usual hairstyle.  I just smiled.  I liked it that way.  I didn’t want to look different than I normally am.  The day was almost perfect.  

Except I forgot to bring a fan to the church.  The wedding was held mid-afternoon and it was sweltering.  I had a shawl in the same shade as the other entourage as a concession to the bride’s motif but I didn’t put it on at the last minute.  Too hot!  

Next time I will remember to bring a fan.  But all in all I was happy this time around.   I can’t wait for the next time because now I know what I want and I know what works for me.

Image  A quick photo for my album before leaving our hotel room for the church.

 

 

In The Dark

There was a 2 hour power outage a while back.  We have a genset but we didn’t immediately turn it on.  It’s a common occurrence in our part of the world.  Which is one of the reasons I am not so big on this so-called Worldwide Earth Hour – where everyone is enjoined to turn off all lights for ONE hour on the last Saturday of March.  For a country where earth hour is enforced at least once a week and where many parts of the south have power outages up to 8 hours everyday, this first world initiative is a joke.

Earth Hour is only good for those countries who waste energy and who have reliable power 24/7.

Anyway, the first few minutes of the power outage, we listened to some music on my laptop.  I attempted to sing along but I remembered what eldest son told me the last time I sang.  He asked me what they did wrong that I had to punish them with my singing.   Sigh.  Kids…  So I sang softly.

And then when that got tired, they started playing hide and seek.  They asked me to turn off the computer lights so that the room would be really dark.  They had a good 30 minutes of fun.  It was really nice to hear their laughter.  They would’ve went on but we decided to turn on the genset so we could do the bathroom stuff.  Then they spent several minutes playing with the candles outside and deciding how to snuff out the light.

All in all it was a good night despite the power outage.

Doing the Civic Thing

O and I went to the COMELEC (Commission on Election) office this afternoon to reactivate our voter’s identification which had been deleted because we failed to vote in two succeeding elections.  Imagine our chagrin last year when we went to the polls in the local elections to vote for city mayor and couldn’t find our names.  We were disenfranchised!  Disappointing.

This week was the start of registrations for new voters and reactivation of voter’s id for the next elections in 2016.

It was the first time I’ve been to the COMELEC office and it is kind of dingy.  But at least there was a system.  It was quite orderly.  We arrived around 1.45pm and were done before 4pm.  We didn’t have to have our photos and biometrics taken because surprise surprise!  the last application sometime in 2003 or so was still in their system.  Quite amazing.  And I thought those data were lost since I never got my voter’s id after that registration.  Here’s hoping this new round will finally produce IDs.

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It was very humid as we waited for our names to be called.  I could smell rain.  The air was heavy.  And it did rain after an hour or so.  Just a slight drizzle.  It stopped after another hour or so.  I love the smell of the world after a short rain.  Everything smells clean and fresh.

It was a good date.  O and I talked lots and time passed quickly.  My one complaint was that my date didn’t even offer me drinks!  

Our COMELEC office sign is sponsored by a paint company  😀

 

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Not Connected

I recently read an article about reasons for not replying to emails.  The article scoffs at reason number#3, “I could not check my email account”.  The writer goes on to say that in this day and age where almost everyone has a smartphone, that reason wasn’t going to fly.

Well, excuse me.  That reason is applicable to me.  I may have a blackberry but I do not have a data plan.  And of what use is a smartphone if there is no internet connection?  I am just much too cheap to enroll in a data plan and simply rely on wifis.  My smartphone is used only for texts, calls, taking photos and as an alarm clock.  

During our family vacation last month, I was truly unable to check my email account.  Even my Facebook and wordpress accounts.  The rare times that I was able to get wifi access, Yahoo blocked access to my email account because I was not logging in from my usual log-in places.  I botched my security questions and that was that.  I had to wait til I got back home to be able to check my emails.

So there.  Not everyone is connected all the time.  I’m not.  

I Wonder What The Child Was Thinking

I had wondered why one of last year’s scholars did not apply for the next school year.  Well, today her mom came to my office bringing her two daughters, one of which was our scholar.

She was just starting to talk about her problems when tears started to roll down her face.  I tried to change the topic to stem her tears by focusing on her daughter’s education and to stay away from her other problems.  But she kept going back to her dire straits and pretty soon she was crying complete with little sobs.  I noticed her 12yr old daughter looking at her mom, a concerned look on her face and her eyes also moist.

I wonder what was going on through her daughter’s mind, seeing her mother crying in front of a stranger.  Almost begging.

Which she did not have to.  Previous scholars always have an edge in our program.  I told her to just submit the requirements.  She didn’t seem to hear me and kept on talking about her financial problems and asking for my help.

Frankly I don’t have much sympathy for the mother.  She is one of those that I feel destiny has marked for a difficult life.  I believe that even if she won the lottery, her life will still be difficult.  Her other daughter who was only in kindergarten last year, she could have easily transferred to a cheaper school.  That would have eased her burden tremendously.  But no, she only thinks that her daughter should also go to this expensive private school and now she is in arrears with the tuition.

I gave her my son’s old books so she wouldn’t have to buy.  But she still spent money because she had those pages with answers photocopied and pasted the photocopy over the page.  Some people just covered it with correction fluid or a pentel pen.  That would’ve been cheaper.  Sigh, as I said.  Some people just have this knack to make their lives more difficult.

I hope her daughter will come out of this with determination to make the most of her life.  I can only hope that it was not too traumatic for her; seeing her mom like that with a stranger.

No Divorce

Antonio, my Brazilian penfriend’s husband was aghast when he learned there is no divorce in my country.  He was lost for words.  Speechless.  Disbelief.  But how could that be …  What if both parties can’t live with each other …  What if … – he could not finish his sentences.  He could only shake his head.

There is no divorce in the Philippines.  Although there is an annulment process, it is costly and long.  And generally one party has to be an offending party.  The most common reason given by both parties as reason for the voiding of their marriage is psychological incapacity.  Some of the other reasons include:  no parental consent for underaged parties, non-consummation of the marriage, impotency and non disclosure of a sexually transmitted disease to a partner at the time of marriage.  As you can see the other reasons are pretty straight forward and difficult to manipulate.  Even having a third party in your marriage is not an acceptable reason to end a marriage.

But psychological incapacity, ah that is such a nebulous term.  And this vagueness is where the majority of my countrymen has pounced upon to file an annulment of a failed marriage.  A relative’s spouse signed an affidavit stating he was a habitual drug user since the time of marriage even though he wasn’t.  Being a drug user and therefore not being able to fulfill certain spousal duties can be categorized as psychologically incapacitated.  That was the loophole my relative and the spouse exploited.  Their annulment process took close to a year and that was amicable.

The people we met in Esquel (Argentina) were similarly aghast.  Our foster son’s mom used it as an ice breaker when she would introduce us to her friends.  

“This is Jen.  My son stayed with them for 10 months last year.  They are from the Philippines.  And there is no divorce in the Philippines.”

Definitely that would start the conversation going.

It doesn’t seem so odd to me.  I have grown up knowing that one is married for life even if later in life, the couple would have separate lives.  Some of my acquaintances are separated from their spouses.  Some have gone the annulment way and remarried.  But you are only allowed two annulments.  So the third marriage will have no out.

It was interesting to see the reactions of people from other countries when they learn there is no divorce here.  All of them raised their eyebrows, even my penfriend’s  parents who have been married almost 50 years.

None nodded in approval.