So I'm stuck inside babysitting all my cousins. Fun Fun Fun.
Anyway, seeing as I'm cooped up for the foreseeable future I thought I would share this advert with you.
When it is raining hard in the Philippines, people leave their houses to have a 'shower'
All is calm...ish
It made me think about the knife culture back in the UK. I'm not sure as to which is worse, the offences here fuelled by legalised guns, or the killing of young people due to their ignorance regarding the dangers of knives. I think that to try and quantify either is an attempt to quantify evil, and as far as I'm concerned this is not feasible (in terms that will satisfy our understanding of it).
But what do I know?
So, instead of going straight home, I acquiesced in accompanying my cousin on a walk down C6. C6 is basically a long road (still under construction) that connects mainland Manila to Antipolo. It's a road that crosses Laguna de Bay and provides easy access to the Province (countryside). There are a few makeshift houses on the Bay with fishermen and local tradesmen living there.
C6 and Laguna de Bay in the background
We had only walked half an hour when we decided to turn back. Only a few minutes had passed when we were met by my uncle. He said that it was dangerous for me to be wandering around with my camera, even though I disagreed saying that there were no people about.
We didn't make it to the church (we were running a bit late - Filipino style) so went straight to the house instead. This particular day was swelteringly hot, and even with several fans set on maximum revolving speed, the atmosphere felt airless.
There is no such thing as eating a little bit of food (by choice) in Filipino culture, as proven by the fact that despite there being caterers with food to feed a hundred people, there was also food cooked by the owner of the house.
I don't have much else to say apart from that it was hot. Really hot. Oh and the food was very good.
Here are a few photos:
Baby Samantha was the one baptised. Is it just me, or does it look like that the wrong baby was given to the parents at the hospital? Or maybe even imported from another country?
The traditional throwing of money and sweets after the priest has blessed all the rooms of the house.
L-R: Second cousin Glydel, Kuya Noel, Jennifer, Tito Lover, Andre, Tita Jean.
Kuya Noel is 35.
You can tell by just looking at him I'm sure.
Upon arrival I noticed that rather than looking like a place where people try to break away from their alcohol and drug addictions, it looked like a resort. I wasn't able to take a photograph from within the camp, but I did take some on our way there. The mountain you see below is Mt. Arayat.
Who would have thought that I would be checked for AH1N1 (Swine Flu to us Westerners) at a rehab camp and not at the airport? Anyway, once we (including the 7 children) had entered the camp, we were greeted by my Kuya (a term used to address male relations older than oneself). For someone who had been taking drugs for 38 years and had only been admitted into rehab for 10 months, he looked quite well. He had put on weight from the last time I saw him (which was a year ago when he was leaning back over the ledge on the second floor), his eyes were a little bit more focused compared to the darting-dilated pupils I remember, and he could sustain a sentence without any added sound effects.
The children were asked to go and play whilst some frank discussion took place. The clichéd 'If you don't help yourself then I can't help you' monologue was recited by my gran, whilst the rest of us sat and listened.
We were then taken on a tour of the camp. Men and women are placed in different dormitories to the North and South, with a large basketball court separating the two. As if the scenery wasn't enough, there were cats, dogs and hybrids of chickens and ducks (I don't know what they are called, and no I am not joking). All this with Mt. Arayat looming beautifully over the camp. The only thing that was missing was a swimming pool.
After our tour, farewells were finally exchanged and 'take care's were dutifully returned. On the way out I could not help but notice that my Kuya looked somewhat resentful. His earlier remarks had been rather nihilistic and even though he only has two months till he is released, his face portrayed a sorrow and resentment only capable of someone who is harbouring a deep hunger - One for the outside world and its vices.
On a lighter note, I fondly recall something my five-year old cousin said on our way back home. What he said (to one of the children) was so silly that I cried with laughter:
Sino ka ba? (Who are you?)
Oh Stephanie, alam mo, once upon a time kinain ka. (Oh Stephanie, did you know, once upon a time...you were eaten)
Not laughing? I guess it was one of those 'you had to be there' moments.
This video is a year old but I saw a performance on a Filipino talk show just the other day and was surprised by how mature she sounded. Here it is:
She is only 17. What could you do when you were 17?
I had just about mastered imitating Stitch's voice (from the Disney film). What an achievement that was!
The same goes for the theory of evolution.
Just the other day my cousin had an 'assignment' regarding the evolution of humans from apes. My aunt was beside him and I asked her - knowing that she is a Baptist - whether she believes it or not. She answered me with such conviction that I thought it best not to question her any further.
'Of course I don't believe in it. To say that it is true is to say that the Lord does not consider us to be special. To say that, is to say that we were apes!
It's written and that is why I believe it. Some other Christians choose what to believe but it is in the Bible and so I believe it to be true.'
So I thought to myself, 'What right do I have to say that she is wrong (according to what I believe)?'
It is not for me to judge whether she is right or wrong; at the same time I know it would be useless for her to try and persuade me (and the other way around) to believe otherwise. A quote found on Fr Erik's blog (consequently found on Father Z's blog) sums it up pretty well:
If you do not believe, then there cannot be dialogue, but only debate. The truths of our faith are not open to debate.--Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
(Posted by Fr. Erik Richtsteig Links to this post)
Each to their own I guess.
Our first stop was Manila Memorial. My gran wanted to visit the mausoleum of her sister, and with an entourage fit for the Pope it was quickly cleaned and cleared. No help was offered by the children, who were enjoying themselves cartwheeling across graves and dancing next to Jesus. Yes we were in a cemetery, but the visit was more of a jovial family gathering rather than one of sadness. That's not to say that no tears fell whilst we were there.
We then went off to eat at Max, which is pretty much the Filipino equivalent to Nandos. The lady's face, when she saw the children swarm through the door, was priceless. After an hour of gluttony and plate licking (not by me) we embarked on a 30 minute drive to Luneta Park. More food, the bouncing of balls, some fireworks and a train ride later we finally went home.
Shattered. Now. Bed. Ciao.
It may sound like fun and games but trying to give change to the customers unearthed my inability to count. If it wasn't for my uncle I probably would have given away half of the earnings. Not to mention my Taglish (Tagalog and English). At times I got so frustrated that I resigned to speaking English, which seemed to confuse me more than it confused the customers.
'Ilan po?' (How much would you like?)
'Lima lang' (Just five)
'Pa pir...p..pirma.....Can you just sign here, please?'
'Good afternoon, just walk to the right to find your seat ma'am. Oh, the mask? It's nothing. Just health and safety. No need to worry, ma'am.'
If that wasn't bad enough some of my fellow passengers had them on too. Their reason - 'I'm just feeling a bit under the weather'. A bit? A bit, my bum.
We (my grandma and I) finally reached the house (after being stopped by the police), only to be set upon by my cousins. At four years old one tends to get excited easily and my cousins are no exception. They were so enthused by my arrival that I was set upon like a pride of lions to a gazelle. I was pinched and slapped, and even bitten. Really.