Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Saturday, Hilary Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States...I think she will win! It is about time for America to have a woman president. Other countries have had their share of women as presidents. The Philippines already had two.
The last two days, I had been working in my mini-jungle. Finally today I was able to finish trimming the trees that were affected by the cold onslaught. Today the weather was very pleasant, the sun was bright and shining but also cool enough to gather some sweats. We have been eating some cherimoya and still have a dozen more on the tree. I had to cut most of the guava trees branches and hoping that by springtime it will bushy again. I am trying to make them grow lower. I am not expecting abundant fruits from them but that is alright...we always have plenty of fruits and most of them end up as candied and dried, then go to the freezer...for later use as for my chutney preserves.
Kai will be here tomorrow! Macadamia nuts, his favorite nuts are on hand. Umma said while we are having our dinner that she will prepare some oatmeal for him and cherimoya later. I am not sure what to prepare for him for lunch yet.
This is all I am going to blog here tonight. I am going back to some of the "UMPHA TELL ME YOUR MEMORIES" to edit and add some more items that just came to mind this weekend.
For some reason "Publish Post" has an error and can't publish the blog. I will just save this as "Draft' and will try again. They must had been doing some maintenance.
I am trying again to publish this blog....

Friday, January 19, 2007


It is still cold outside...at least I am sure that my plants are going to make it this Spring...only the leaves got hit and they are dry dry-crisp right now. I have a big job tomorrow trimming.
Wednesday morning when Kai and Tisha arrived, I had been stoking the fireplace. I know that Kai would love to see the fire since we hadn't had the fireplace lit since the same time last year. I had some twisted newspapers for him to throw in the fire. I have to hold him while he aims at the fire. Sometimes he missed, but there was Umpha to the rescue.
Every time he comes on Wednesday, I expect him to have his "Turtle" backpack. In this he carries his favorite toys, or any toys of the day that he favors, but mostly his cars that he is very much attached to.
I was told that he cried real hard in the park when his playmates decided to go home earlier. He does not want them to go home. Umma had to explain to him the the situation and was able to calm him down. I think he is beginning to get attached to other kids, because he is practically by himself with Tisha all day. With the cold weather, Tisha can't bring him to the park as often as he would like.
My time with him is usually after lunch...we play or watch TV together. He still likes to jump all over me, riding on my back or when we are laying down just, sort of play house under the blanket. He bumped my head last week, hard that he felt it too. "it is ouch!" That was what he said. Pretending I have an "ouch" too, I told him that he gave me a "bokul-bokul" on my forehead ("bokul" in Tagalog is bump - "bokul-bokul" is bumpy). So he kissed my forehead and I kissed his so the "ouch" will be gone. Last Wednesday, he bumped me but very gently and said; "I "bokul-bokul" you Umpha." He kissed my forehead and said; "it's gone now." He remembers the words and even told Tisha when I put him on his car seat...very retentive boy. Once in a while I will tease him. I will pretend that I burned my fingers or I hurt my elbow...he will be to the rescue! He will kiss the supposedly hurting area so the "ouch will be gone."
There are more questions from the "UMPHA TELL ME YOUR MEMORIES" that I can answer, but won't do it on this entry. I think most of the questions will be related mostly during and after WWII and my years in the US Navy. I am still gathering my thoughts lately. I think this will be interesting to recall them and let Kai learn them later. I am sure that Tisha does not even know about some of my experiences from back then.
Lately we have been going to the Marine Corp Base, Miramar for movies at the Bob Hope Theater. The movies that they show there are newly released that one can see in the local movie houses, for $7.50, senior discount rate. At the base we pay only a $1.00...isn't it a bargain? We saw "DeJa Vu" last night which was shown before but we missed the earlier date showing. Next week, I would like to see "Apocalypto." The base was formerly, a Navy Air Force Base, but gave it to the Marines to use. They have an outside Airplane Museum open to the public for free. Once we brought Kai there with us to see the different Marine airplanes...he really enjoyed that one because he really could get close to the "very big airplane." The second time he was with us and passing the Airplane Museum (which is visible from the road to the base), when he saw the airplanes, he commented: "we have to go there again." We did not go there again but went to the Exchange...which we seldom use because sometimes it is cheaper in the local stores. We buy only big things to save paying the tax. Everything at the Exchange does not required any taxes.
This week I had been making some "Hopia," A Chinese version of a round turn-over. There are two layers of dough to be prepared, placed on top of the other, rolled and shaped as that of the puff-pastry method. The filling is peeled mung beans, boiled and mashed, I add vanilla extract - not normally in the recipe, sugar is added to make a paste like consistency...this takes me two days to cook because I don't want a quick cooking time...afraid to burn it. This paste is wrapped in the dough, shaped into rounds, brushed with egg yolks and baked for 25 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheits. I made four dozens and most of them were frozen. They sell for $1.50 each at the oriental store. While in the mood of baking I made extra dough for "empanadas." We had some left-over Italian sausage (without the casings) in tomato sauce...added some diced carrots, garbanzo beans and white raisins, simmered to reduce the sauce and was wrapped like a turn-over. This is for snacking!
This year we were really sated to the gills with persimmons. I had found a recipe for cake and have made them twice now. I have some in the freezer of the persimmons for later use. Twice we went to the Escondido "roadside market" to buy them. We discovered that place while we are driving on the way to the Valley View Casino. Mind you, we don't gamble! We went there to see the place and also the case maybe, was we that had a free lunch coupon to be redeemed there. For a regular price of $12.50, the buffet lunch is worth the long drive there. Of course our lunch was free. Their spread is very sumptuous - you name it and they have it. They have ethnic food like Vietnamese and Mexican. Desserts must be a hundred or so that one can choose. I gorged myself with king crabs from Alaska and prime roast beef. Ah! crabs that is one of Kai's favorite food.

Monday, January 15, 2007



The news carriers brought nothing but cold news everywhere in the country! A massive winter storm moved eastward across the central US bringing snow, sleet, ice and flash floods, killing at least 25 people and like Oklahoma, was declared an emergency. More than 100,000 people without power on Sunday.
In spite of the blankets that I placed on top of my papaya trees, the leaves suffered some damages from the night frosts. My guava trees are affected and so are parts of my cherimoya trees. They will survive! It is only the outside leaves that were affected.
In the state of Missouri the weather claimed 8 lives. 300.000 people lost power. In Kansas, 5 people were reported killed in weather related accidents and one person was poisoned by carbon monoxide exposure. Texas, to the south, has more than 6 inches of rain caused flash flooding with dramatic high water rescues. Floodings are reported in Arkansas and Louisiana...18 inches snow in Colorado.
A record-braking cold weather even hit the Pacific Coast state of California, where mild temperatures usually prevail all year. In central Los Angeles, the thermometer dropped to (36 Fahrenheit) this morning; a record-setting temperature not felt in the city for 75 years...icicles hanging off tangerine trees in the Central Valley near Fresno, a rare sight in the state. California oranges, lemons and other produce worth as much as half a billion dollars were likely ruined. This will be expensive for the consumers for this produce.
So far, there is no major disaster here in San Diego, but this weather will give a us something to ponder...Wearing socks is not enough! I can feel the draft here in the TV room. Before I go to bed, I turn on the electric blanket to high and turn it off when I am inside the blanket.
I can't remember any popular hit songs from my youth. I love music but music doesn't love me. My sister while in high school, she played different string instruments except the viola and violin. She belonged to the "Centro Escolar Rondalla Ensemble." Her main instrument was what they call "Laud," almost similar to a guitar but with a longer handle. She plays the piano too. I think in my heart I would have liked to learn how to play music. I just did not have time those days. Later, my brother Wilfrido started to tinker with the piano and this brought him to other countries playing. He is living in Lanzarote, Canary Island today after several stints in Germany. The last time we visited him, he and his wife now run a restaurant and his synthesizer is still there with him.
The Philippines was not by-passed by American recording artists of the time. I had the chance to attend to most of them...not because I particularly liked the artists but because they were "pro bono." I hung around with radio stations' announcers and staffs, that I just got to tag along for the rides. My sister was a radio soap opera villain in those days; "Ang Sepulturero sa Lumang Simbahan," (The Grave Taker of the Old Church). In those days, I even had an autograph book with signatures of those artists that I can't remember who they are now. American actors like Charles Heston, Tyrone Powers, Burt Reynolds, the former husband of Dinah Shore (I can't recall the name) were all in that book. I have no idea where that autograph book is now. It was not important for me because I was never star-strucked in the first place. We visited local movie studios too.
Anybody that was from different countries were strange to us. Every Indian looking person is a "Bombay." There were several male Indians peddlers those days. They carried big bundles of blankets, mosquito nets, towels and other materials and they peddle them house to house. They are the "monsters" of the children because mothers threatened the misbehaving children that they are going to give them to the "Bombay," and they will be wrapped inside the bundles that they usually carry on their heads. I found out later that they are not "Bombay" but Singh, a minority tribe in India. The Chinese are a different story...I think they were prejudiced and abused by the Filipinos the most in those days. They are mostly poor immigrants from rural China. They are the most industrious people and patience was their virtue. Practically every corner of the street block, you would see a "China man Store." They sold everything! You name it and they had it. There is limerick about them; "Inchek beho,' tulo laway, sago uhog" literally translated as "Stinking chink, saliva drooling, nose dripping." Bad...bad ...bad! These are the poor China men that immigrated to make better life for their families in rural China. Some of those that didn't have stores, plied the streets selling hot tofu curds with hot syrups, or bought empty bottles to recycle them. Some have restaurants and bake shops. There are also shops that manufacture tin wares. I like the "apaw" (crispy rice bars) factories. You can have a big bagful of trimmings for one centavo (2 cents)....it was really a lot. The Chinese have been a big influence in the country.
There were some rich ones that immigrated in the Philippines. They left China because the empire fell down. One of those was my grandmother's cousin's clan, the "Qou Ong Hin." They have an edifice in Manila...I do not really know what was their business...but they are rich! She had a "ginger foot," bounded with strips of cloth when she was born, to resemble lotus roots, and a sign of nobility in China those days. She waddled like a duck when she walked. I loved that woman! I think I had a special place in her heart. She was always glad to see me.
I have another grandmother of Chinese descent, "Lola Edang," the wife of the first Filipino Commissioner of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Pedro Guevara. She lived in Washington DC during those days, and only during her late years came back to the Philippines. She enthralled us with her accounts of her stay in Washington DC...because she had the chance to hob-nob with the elites and nobilities during those days. One particular case was an event that she attended with the ladies in their regalas, the gowns are with trains and they let them down to sweep the floor. The Filipina formal attire those day have long trains, but they have a way of holding them on their waist..."When I saw the trains are sweeping the floor, I let mine go too! Besides, I have a longer train than most of them." We all clapped our hand to give her kudos and for her spunk.
There are also Japanese people there. Most of them have "soda parlors." I don't think I had any contact with any of them. Later when the war broke-out, we found that the Japanese that were there were sent to the Philippines as spies and map makers, which was usefull for the Japanese army invasion of the Philippines.
Weird person...there is "Kandepa," the town lunatic. She was harmless, but for the kids, she is a "persona non grata." Some of them even wet their pants when she was close enough.

Saturday, January 13, 2007



This blog is getting to be fun...even before I go to sleep, I try to recall those years gone by. Memories of my childhood vividly comes to life again. While laying down to take a nap "schools" have come to mind. Since I don't really nap anymore these days (just lay down to rest), with closed eyes, the old scenarios of yesteryear became real again.
I had mentioned about my first encounter with schools...and will not repeat those moments here. The schools I attended:
Paco Catholic School
Paco Elementary School
Lucban Elementary School
Mandaluyong Elementary School
Centro Escolar University High School (for Boys)
Philippine Dental College
I was grade three when WWII broke...transferred to Lucban Elementary for the 4th grade. I can't remember what happen then because suddenly I was not in school anymore but enjoyed the free roaming and gallivanting time in the city with friends. After the war, we lived in Mandaluyong; a suburb of Manila. Then and there started a nightmare for me. My father enrolled me in school as grade six...with the rational that I had to recover the lost years of not going to school and also not being left behind by my same age contemporaries.
The medium of studies in the Philippines is English. We were still a Commonwealth and will not have our Independence from United States till later. We don't have the same system like here in America. Primary to Elementary is six years, no junior high school. From six grade you go to regular high school. The hours are long, not like here.
The subjects that we have to study in elementary were;
LANGUAGE - learning the basics of the English language, the subjects and predicates of a sentence. How to use adjectives, adverbs, verbs etc.
READING - we are assigned to read books and learn comprehensions.
SPELLING - of course this is words of the English language
ARITHMETIC - numbers all the way.
HISTORY - those days, American history
TAGALOG - the national language of the Philippines
HEALTH SCIENCE - good manners and right conduct
INDUSTRIAL ART FOR BOYS AND HOME ECONOMIC FOR GIRLS - boys learn how to make usable things for the house and girls are taught the basics of cooking and sewing.
In High school "Language" became "English," "Arithmetic" became "Mathematics." Industrial Arts became PMT or Preparatory Military Training. The girls still have Home Economics. "History" was about the"Modern Times and the Living Past." "Spanish" is added with the "Tagalog." In high school, we have several teachers that specialize in each subject.

Sports that are played in school were basketball and sometime softball.

Extracurricular activities were rehearsals for plays or musicals...sometimes an operetta for the school anniversaries. I can't remember any field trips at all.

Everything was focused on study, study and study by the book.

There are no "bullies" in the school. If there was one, I had not met any. Most of the kids were well behaved or at the very least they will deal not only with their parents but the principal as well.

In primary and elementary, since both are public schools; don't require uniforms.

In high school, khaki pants and white shirts was the uniform of the day in school. The girls in high school wore a specially designed white inform with pink pippings on the sailor collar and a pink tie.

I am not good in math. It just won't stick in my head how those "X's," " Y's" and other symbols work together and finding the sum of "Z." I barely passed that subject even when I was in college taking physics and calculus. That's for sure I was not to be an Einstein.

I love to read. After school in high school, I didn't go home right away but would stop by at the USIS library. I discovered this to be a better library than the local one we had. The books gave me the chance to fantasize about different places, and gave me the chance to learn earlier about many things that school never taught us. We always had a newspaper everyday. My father liked to read detective and western novels in paperbacks. We had quite a collection of them and I eventually started reading them. His favorites were Zane Grey's books. He read other books...I read "Forever Amber," the "Decameron's" and "Don Juan"(thought it was very racy then), "The Three Musketeers," "Count of Monte Cristo," "Madame Bovary" to mention a few. I have a collection of comic books, "Captain America," "Plastic man," "Batman and Robin," "Superman," the "Submarine man," and other superheroes of the comic world...amazing that few of these heroes still exist today.

Centro Escolar University before the war was exclusively for girls. My father enrolled me there when they opened their doors for the boys. At that time I hated being a high school student there. I was ashamed to tell people where I went to school...because when I told them, they would give this look that would say: that's a girl school. I had no choice but finished my high school there, being one of the boys who graduated there first. I guess, because I hated that school, I did not excel academically in high school...but did graduate. As time passed by, I was able to have my AA degree (pre-med) there too. This was different. I was able to pick up pieces here and there and did well. I excelled in subjects like anatomy (I was given the nickname of "Mr. Grey" the author of the textbook we were using). I had two semesters of "body anatomy' and later took "head and shoulder" when I shifted to dentistry. I was good in Chemistry, Psychology, Physiology but not in Trigonometry and Calculus...my menaces. In dental school, I made the best tooth replicas from soaps...that was my first sculpting class.

I always looked forward to holidays and the school breaks when my time was my own and wouldn't belong to school for a while. I spent the weekends roller skating at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and sometimes we'd go to Quezon City public park for this...roller skating the whole afternoon.


My first girlfriend (puppy love) was when I was in grade two. There was this classmate that lived somewhere on the other side of the railroad tracks that I mentioned previously where we'd wait for the train. We walked to school together and went back home together too. She would be upset if going home, I will be with other boys instead and she made sure to tell my mother when she passed our house. I wonder what happened to here...huh! I did not have any girlfriend in high school, although some of my friends started to "bloom." I was a late bloomer and did not have a girlfriend until I was in college...her name was Alice. I was never serious in getting involved like most of my friends. I don't know why in those days, but thinking about it now, I am sure that I wanted to do something with my life before getting serious and get tied up in matrimony.
I had a riff with my father...I quit school and traveled. I lived with my maternal grandparents for a while. I went to Guam and worked at the Air Force Base for three years. Back to Manila, I was uneasy and decided to joined the US Navy in Sangley Point. It was tough joining...your are given written test exams that I found out later were very biased...I found out as a culture shock that those American "kids" in my company were dumb as could be. Out of 37 who took the exam, I was one of the five that was accepted that day. Sometime, I will relate some of my experiences while in the Navy.
My mother ran a dress shop and my father went to their dental office (shared with his eldest brother, my grandfather was deceased then). Even though we always had a maid, my mother did the cooking. She would send the maid to the market with a list of what to buy for the days' meal. We were taught to clean house, do our beds and sometimes even iron our favorite clothes to wear on a certain occasion. Being the eldest of a sister and four brothers, the burden of taking care of them was put on my shoulders. My brothers were practically my wards. It was not always a happy home. My father was a womanizer "par excellence." Thou at times I urged my mother to get rid of him...divorce was not common and the church does not sanction that. So, here we are "other woman" after another, my mother will ask me to come with her and together we will confront the "other woman." My mother had cracked many faces of those women with her shoes (similar to the wedgies in fashion lately, but the shoe was entirely made of wood and they were heavy)....the affair would end but would resume with other women as time passed by. I know that I have other siblings somewhere as the result of his womanizing. In spite of that, I think it was a normal Filipino household.
The chapter of my child is almost done now. I will come and edit them once in a while when something comes to mind. I am sure that there are some events that I have missed but it will come eventually and I will log them here.

Friday, January 12, 2007



I am writing this because I am sure that Kai will actually read this blog some day. His response will be interesting but I am not sure if someday he will be able to tell me personally. I think it will be interesting...After he finishes reading this, he will know the reason.
Kai came into our life for a reason, a season of a life time. And we know which one it is, we knew what to do with him. I believe that when someone like Kai is in your life for a REASON, it is to meet a need we have expressed. Kai has come to assist us through a life. He may seem like godsend and he is. He is here for the reason we need him to be. Then, without wrongdoing on our part or at an inconvenient time, he will grow to be his own and we must realize that our needs have been fulfilled, the work is done. The prayers we sent up have been answered and now it is time to move on.
Kai came into our life for a REASON because his turn has come to share, grow and learn. He brought us an experience of peace or to make us laugh. He taught us something we have never done. He gives us unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But I am sure that only for a SEASON.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Our job is to accept the lesson, love him and put what we learned to use all of the time in our relationship with him and in all areas of his life. It is said that love is blind but with Kai it is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being part of our life, whether you are a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


What a balmy day in San Diego again today...It looks like Mother Nature in her fickle mind does not know what to give us. In spite of that, I think we are very lucky as not to have snow-bound highways and communities like they have in Colorado and elsewhere in the East Coast. It was predicted that it will rain today and tomorrow but we will have some sun for the playoff of the Chargers and the Patriots Sunday. Not that I care, I am not a sport enthusiast. Putting the Chargers' loss in perspective...once again, San Diego sports fans have had their hearts broken by a local professional team. But let's keep our perspective - this was not a lost opportunity to find a cure for cancer, not a lost of opportunity to feed the hungry children of the world. It was after all, just a game - a game owned, coached and played, for the most part, by millionaires. The reality is that whether won or lost, the outcome would not have changed our lives in any significant way.
The memories I am going to write here will the continuation of my childhood. I find this enjoyable...remembering those yesteryear's of my life. We didn't have television, just a radio. Although we always had bicycles that my father used, I never did learn how to ride a bike...sound funny? It did not matter to me those days. As we lived on the main street of the city where buses and the electric tram came and went, plus the horse drawn "caromatas" and "calesas." Going places was not a problem. We walked! I started riding the electric trams and buses when I was seven years old. My father would deposit me on the bus or train and away I went to visit my grandparents in Pasig. It was a big fuss about that because some people thought I was too young for that adventure. As I grew older and bolder, I used to ride the trams without paying my fares...When I'd see the conductor coming, I go to the other side of the car thus avoiding to pay. I could jump from the train while it is moving. I could ride the bus all by myself and go to Tanza, Cavite to visit my paternal relatives there...and that was a long ride. Yes! We lived close to the main train station...When I was a bit older, there was always three of us that went together. We would wait somewhere far from the station but close enough that we knew the train would slow down going to the station. The trains that we targeted are the ones that came from the provinces and carried cargos of sugarcane, coconuts and other commodities on the open cabooses to be sold in the city. We would all jump up on the train and get what ever they have... just enough sugarcane for us to munch and coconuts to crack...to pass the day.
The first movie that I remember seeing was a Shirley Temple classic. I don't remember the title but those days Shirley Temple was very "big." When I became a little bit older, I was allowed to see movies on the weekend. I enjoyed the "Mark of Zorro." My friends and I fashioned swords from split bamboo poles and did a mock sword fight in the street. I remember at one time, a group of kids from another district came to our district and a sword fight was arranged. It was a sight to behold...at least no one was injured. The cartoons of those days were "Mickey Mouse," "Betty Boop," "Felix the Cat" and some others that are very classics if you happen to see them on TV.
I didn't have too many toys. The one toy that sticks in my mind was a scow boat that when a short stub of a candle is placed somewhere in the boat, it would activate the propeller and run on water. We made our own toys...Milk cans were saved to make cars and boats that you could pull with a string. We made kites from bamboo sticks and Japanese tissue papers. We folded newspapers into a boat and let then float in the gutter or in the river if we had the chance to be near one. As a child we were not allowed to play with regular cards...that is a no-no! Gamblers had bad reputations and especially my grandmother, opposed the idea that we played with regular cards. So we saved and hoarded bubble gun cards (they were like those that we have today with mostly comic characters on it) The game "Pitik" was the game to win or loose your cards. Two guys would bet on each others' cards by placing two cards on top of one's thumb and the next finger, flick the card in air, and then wait till it hits the ground. Two cards with either both of the face side or the back side lands at the same time...you win. "Tunbang Preso" (topple the prisoner) is another game where a can is utilized. The can was placed on a certain spot on the ground and with the approved distance of the players one would try to topple the can by throwing a flat stone directly to the can. This was always played by several kids at the time and the "it" preselected by the means of "jack and poy" (like scissor and stone game). The "it" was responsible for placing the can in its place when toppled. A good "pamato" (a flat stone the size of one's fist) was a must and we were always on the lookout for such stones. "Tatsing" is game similar to (spelunker). Sea shells was also a big part of some of our games. We collected soda pop caps for this game. We played hide and seek at night. This gave one a big chance to hide himself in the dark and avoid being the "it." A bicycle wheel rim without the spokes was very much coveted. You could have the envy of the other kids in the block while rolling it on the curb with a long strong wire curve at the end to maneuver. These are mostly boys games. The girls have their own games. We amused ourselves with simple things. Going to the mountains or hillsides to climb trees and pick guavas, tamarinds and berries. We'd always carry a packet of salt when we'd go fruit picking. The fruits always tasted better with a dash of salt. We went to farms that just harvested the crops...whatever was left we picked. The sweet potato farms after harvest a week or so were the best and when it rained, sprouts would come out and you could be sure that there would be a sweet potato for you to dig and cook on an open fire. We went fishing with just a bamboo pole and a safety pin. Catching frogs in the rice field brough us some frog legs "Tinola" with green papaya for dinner. I don't think I can cut the head of a frog these days. It was easy then without any qualms ...that's the only way to remove the skin.
When we were staying in Makati; the dress shop across the tram station, we had a white mongrel named, of course "White." I had been bitten by a dog behind the knee when I was young and I think this gave me a phobia and didn't care for any dog that much. I had to have rabies shots because in the Philippines a dog is a dog and very seldom pampered like here...One could not be sure if the dog that bit me was rabid or not, so I had to have the shots . I think they were several shots that I had to take. By the way, the dog was killed. It is amazing that the pot bellied pigs have been a rage here recently. I had one when I was young. Her name was "He-Chang." It was black and she knew her name. She was a good pet...but ended up being slaughtered and up on the dinner table.
CHRISTMAS - Being brought up as Catholic, I think now, Christmas was celebrated in the Philippines as part of the church's ploy to ensure the validity of the religion. The church knew that the Filipino people love "pomps and pageantry" and they used that to their advantage. Nevertheless, Christmas was not like Christmas as we have today. There was not much commercialism then. The Filipino houses had their "Parols" (lanterns made of bamboo sticks and colored tissue paper) that were hung on the window. They almost looked like the "pinatas" of the Mexicans, but they are in the shape of stars to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. This was one project in schools that all the students in the Industrial Art class would do. Gifts were not as lavish as we have now. Christmas trees were seldom seen in the house during that celebration. Pine tress grow in the mountains of Baguio, the summer capital of the Island. The fun of the holiday begins on the first day of Christmas with the "Misa de Galo.'' People will brave the morning chills going to church when the cocks are starting to crow for the start of nine days novena before Christmas day. The funnest thing here were the food stalls that would line the street of the nearby church. They catered early breakfast treats, like "Bibingka," rice cake cooked in a terracotta dish, lined with banana leaves with charcoal embers glowing on top and below the dish. "Puto Bonbong," a combination of purple rice and sweet sticky rice, milled and ground, dried to remove most of the moisture, placed in a small bamboo, and steamed on a special cooker until done. Both of them are accompanied by freshly grated coconut, brown sugar and sesame seed. The drink is always "Salabat"or a sweet, piping hot ginger tea. There are other goodies to be bought and expected that one will buy something to go, for the people that did not go to church. Christmas Eve is the "Noche Buena" when a feast of after the midnight mass was celebrated. Hot chocolate (a real one from the trees - no Nestle; "Hamon de Punda, " similar to the Virginia Smithfield ham but this one is from China; whole stuffed boneless chicken with force-meat; beef rolls with Chorizo, the Bilbao and other things. Dessert is always "Leche Flan" and "Halaya," purple yam cake. Oranges, apples, grapes and the assorted nuts are imported. ..these items will come from my "step-grandmother" second wife of my paternal grandfather. She maintained a stall in "Divisoria," wet market in Manila. There were always chestnuts served. "Tikoy" (mooncakes made of sticky rice) came from the Chinese where my father bought his gold and other dental needs.
Gift giving was not the norm back then. A child or a kid could go visit their Godfather or Godmother and expect to be handed a few coins. I never did go to any of them. I guess I was a rebel and nonconformist then as of today that I thought doing that was stupid or like an imposition.
This is the time I liked the most. We could buy fire crackers and meet the New Year with a bang. As a kid with my friends we'd scour for a fat bamboo pole and make it into a cannon. The concept was like the old cannons that has been used in the olden days. We'd make a hole somewhere below between the segments of the bamboo tube ,which was propped on something sturdy, put kerosene inside, do some hard blowing and light it from the hole. KABOOM!!!
Since the Philippines was still a Commonwealth, we celebrated the 4th of July with lots of firework displays. The ones I have seen in the States are not as good as what I experienced back then. Of course there was a parade too.
There was no card to give...Mothers were honored by the children by pinning a corsage on their chest. Pink flower (Kadena de Amor) if one's mother was alive and white flower if deceased. Father's day was not celebrated then.
No egg hunts, no Easter eggs and no chocolate Easter bunnies. The celebration is again another church affair centered on the Resurrection of Christ. We were told that when we hear the church bells ringing, we have to jump to grow tall...another one of those old wives myths!
As far as Memorial Day, I can relate this to the "ALL SOULS DAY" and "ALL SAINTS DAY." "TODOS DE LOS SANTOS" is a big event in the Philippines. Like in Mexico, people start to clean the graveyards, white wash the tombs to honor and remember the dead. We have a special cemetery in Manila that the Chinese -Filipino use. There you can see elaborate mausoleums and tombs. Some of these are big, complete with all the accouterments of a house. During the celebration, people will bring food, candles, mahjong sets and tables to play. The locals in the regular cemeteries will bring flowers and candles. They will stay all day and through the night in vigil. This is the time to visit friends and at times, it was the time for lovers to elope...especially those where the family does not approve of the woman or the man to be the right person to be included as family. "TODOS LOS SANTOS" is the time to raid somebody's chicken coop and steal one of the their chickens. I did not steal a chicken but I must admit I was accomplished in stealing a duck. We cooked the duck and ate it. This is equivalent of trick or treat but the trick was done without the knowledge of the victim. Also at this time a group of children will serenade houses; expecting some coin handouts. If the owner of the house did not give them anything, the children would have a song that will depict the owner as a very stingy person for all the neighbors to hear.
There is no; Armistice Day, Labor Day, and we didn't have Thanksgiving day too. There are only a few Holidays that we celebrated those days. I guess that was different among the Americans that lived in the Philippines at that time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Today is the day for Kai to spend the day with us...
The first thing that he noticed was the absence of the Christmas tree. He commented that he wants Christmas to come back. Some explanation later, that Christmas and Santa Claus went home to North Pole and will be back sometime later satisfied his laments. This was a repeat of the Halloween celebration.
Umma had to go to a meeting with her former classmates to proofread the souvenir book of their reunion. This left Kai and I to make the day worthwhile. I intended to bring him to the park, but the weather was not really that good for strolling and playing outside. We stayed home and I spent the day mostly interacting with him. He brought with him his magic writing pad and spent a bit of time writing his name and drawing. I left him by himself for a while to cook the Italian sausages that Umma bought but he came to the kitchen and asked to be put up the counter. "I want to watch you cook" that was what he told me. He was sitting besides the microwave oven and I asked him what button is for popcorn. We had a new microwave oven, different from the previous one we had...he was able to pinpoint on the spot where it is. I was thinking that since it is a new one and different he will hesitate and look where it is. No way Jose! He got it in a Jimminie-cricket.
He continuously ate the whole day. After Tisha left Umma gave him rice crackers (ate two of them) with chocolate milk. He saw the shoe string potato in the can (Pik-Nik) and he asked me to open and started diving into it. Lunch time, I made him french fries, ham and apple slices...finished that. This was the time when we were in the TV room, watching "Charlotte's Web" on HBO. After that we switched channels from "Cartoon Cartoon," "Diego Go Diego," "Blue," "Tom and Jerry," back to HBO "Family" and then watched "Batman," the animated version. While I was sitting next to the computer, he would come behind the chair, climb on my back and we ended playing piggyback ...my poor back! We lay down, covered ourselves with blanket and play "house." Umma came home and we are eating the "pastillas" (milk candy) I made. At first I let him taste it. "I like it" he said, so he ended eating five of them. Before that he saw my Butterfinger bars, took one and let me open it. He ate half and gave me the rest. All this eating was washed down with water or milk and the yogurt drink.
Tisha came about three. Kai was not ready to go home. He tried to ignore his mother and not even looking at her. When Tisha went to the living room, Umma hug him and told him that it is time to go home and will see you next week. He hug and kissed Umma and said; "I miss you Umma, Umpha." He really look sad. I can say that it was worth being with him for the day...we are sure that he enjoys being with us. As usual he wants me to carry him to the car. He kissed and hugged me...but with a complaint about my moustache that he calls "sharps."
One more thing...while sitting on my lap in front of the computer, he reached for my medicine, opened the cap, took one caplet. I asked him what is he doing...answered me that "you have to take your medicine. I have to put it in your mouth." So I took it since I haven't taken my daily dose of my maintainace pill for hypertension. This is one thing that I am sure he will not take and think that it is candy...he was taught at the early age what are medicines. He has a favorite medicine for his "boo-boos''..."the white one"...that is either the "Katialis" (a cure all compound from the Philippines) or Neosporin. He does not like the "Skin Shield," colloid based antiseptic because it stings. Of course, Band Aids have to be administered too...big or small, does not matter.
He saw some loose coins on the table next to us. "Umpha, money"! He took it , got down from my lap and went to the living room where his "alligator" bank was and deposited it. This always happens every time he see loose coins laying around. Sometimes I wonder how some kids came to swallow coins....??? Not Kai, "I have to save it."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


This afternoon I scanned all the questions and found out that the idea of answering them here will be better since there are questions that do not apply to me. Coming from the tropics, there are many questions that will be left blank...example: we don't have snow in the tropics, so I can't have my first "snowman." What is the norm and standard here in the United States will be not be the same as in the Philippines. What I am going to do here is try to tell you as much as I can about me while in growing up.
I think I was about five years old when I had my first experience of what a school is. In those days there is no such thing as preschool yet. At this time we are still living in Pasig. I remember that my mother planted some papaya trees on the side of the house. In front of that house was a very tall "rimas' tree (bread fruit). Another tree besides that was a "dalungian" (another type of bread fruit but with seeds). The first one is good cooked in heavy raw sugar ("panocha"), candied and air-dried. The latter was picked young and cooked with pork and shrimps as a vegetable dish, but when they are very mature, the seeds are boiled with salt and can be eaten as a snack....Back to schooling, five days a week, with some of the neighborhood children of the same age we attended a "one room" school which also served as a "capilla" (Chapel). We walked all the way rain or shine to that place. There were times that the unpredicted rain would drop down on us on our way home. We would scurry to any house with banana plants and would ask the owner if we could have some fronds to cover our heads...and soon we were on our way home. This is one of those fun moments because we would remove our wooden shoes, walk bare footed and no puddles along the way were missed. The chapel is made out of quarried stone, looks old and does not have good lighting . There we are taught the "ABC's"; which I already knew and practice writing. What came to stick in my mind was the little brown seed (ipil-ipil) from the acacia pods that we used to create an art piece.
By the time I was six years old we relocated to Manila with the insistence of my paternal grandfather. My parents were able to get a house in the heart of the city; the district of Paco. There my mom opened a dress shop. I was sent to a Catholic school this time. I can still remember those "huge" Belgian nuns. Those days everything looked very huge to me....funny isn't it? This was my first school encounter. Since I know how to read and write at that time, I took the tasks of whatever my teacher would give us nonchalantly. My papers always came back with big red "A's." By the time the school year was ending, every afternoon, I was sent to another building with a lot of other students from different grades. There we are sealed and our names are called. I was told that when my name comes up, I will stand and go the the Mother Superior who was seated on the center stage. I have no idea what was happening. After several days of this happening, I asked my father about it; every time I went to the Mother Superior, she would pinch my left chest. It was not until later that evening, I made my father very proud of me. The Mother Superior had pinned a medal on my chest shirt...with the announcement for, "HIGHEST IN EXCELLENCE" award. How naive I was them and took it like as if it does not matter! The medal was treasured but was burned and melted among the ruins of our house in Paco.
I think it was a hard time for the family. The only income we had in the house was coming from the dress shop. My father was going to school to be a dentist like his father. I am sure now that money was short and why I was enrolled in the public school. It didn't matter to me school is school. I was always at the top of the class and I had no idea of the difference. I was in third grade when WWII broke out. My sister started going to school too. She would come out earlier than me and she would wait for me in the playground, then we would go home together. School in the Philippines was a whole day affair. We have one centavo, equivalent to two cents American money as our allowance. We'd go back to our house to eat lunch, and then back to school again until about 4:00 o'clock. Bullying is unheard of in our school those days. We can play with the neighbor children until supper time. If we have assignments, it was mostly reading. By the way, my father graduated from Philippine Dental College and came out as the "topnotcher" in the board exam among hundreds of examinees.
By the time I was in fourth grade the school system in the Philippines included Japanese language. We are taught the basics. Every morning there was an assembly in the playground for the singing of the Japanese national anthem followed by calisthenics. I can't remember what happened...suddenly I was not in the school anymore but had more free time to play and gallivant with some of my two other contemporaries. We went to the beach, and went to other districts in the city which was a very daring thing to do because the young inhabitants of any districts were very territorial. One can be beaten by just your presence in their places. We were able to avoid that and were never beaten at all. Since our house is situated along the national highway, I considered myself not belonging to any "gangs." Most of the "gangs" are those that lived on different district side streets of the city. My friends and I avoided those places. We spent our time mostly at the beach, which is not quite near to Paco, so we just ambled and walked to get there. On the way we always visited the Paco Cemetery...a remains of the Spanish era...played hide and seek among the dilapidated tombs and crypts. The beach does not have sands but boulders all along the boulevard that leads to the Manila Hotel, to the Port of Manila and the walled city (Intramuros). We'd catch small crabs (talangka) in the crevices of the boulders or dig with our foot while in the water for some clams to eat. I can say now that it was a very simple way to spend time and have fun at the same time. We did not ask for anything else. I still remember faces of my friends then but can't remember their names.
I was in Pasig, in my grandparents' house when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because it was the town fiesta...I remember that people started to "evacuate" some place they think the war will not reach them. I found this very funny today because in their simple minds, they tried to save themselves of what they did not know. So, another adventure in my life was evolving. This will be elaborated more when I start the blog of my youth during the war.
When Manila was declared an "open city, meaning that it could not be bombed by the Americans, our relatives from Pasig "evacuated" and ended up in our house. The dress shop was closed then and our front where the shop was became a store for everything. It is more like a grocery store. Since we are close to the train station where unloading of commodities from the provinces occurred, we catered to the vendors or as we called them "viajeos" and the store evolved into an eatery. We sold coconut, and "maruya" banana and sweet potato fritters. Yes we fried coconut wedges which were called "kastaniyog." I helped my mom with cooking and did some buying in the market or in some speciality places where I can get steamed rice cakes...We have to resolve to eating rice cake because there was a scarcity of wheat flour to make bread. Remember, this was during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Every thing specially rice was hard to come by. We are lucky that my father can bicycle his way to Cavite, where they have some rice field and he will come back with half a sack of rice once a week. That was a long way to cycle back and forth but it was done. The amazing thing was that the sack of rice was able to pass by any Japanese sentries along the way. It was said that his uncle, the patriarch of the Arayata family (he is related to the mother of my father) possessed a power coming from an amulet he owned and with prayers and probably some chants and drawings written on a piece of paper, he would put that inside the sack to be "invisible" from eyes of the Japanese. Sometimes you have to believe on those (amulets) "anting-anting." At present I have a few pieces of the amulet that my father have. I collected and saved them after he died in Canada. It is now encased inside a skull and is a piece of art that has been displayed in an art show as part of my "Amulet Keeper" series. Anything like the rice was usually confiscated by the Japanese for their own consumption. One had to be careful in every way. The Japanese soldiers had their ways of intimidating the occupied people. One had to bow to any Japanese soldier you meet or you will be slapped and there would be nothing you could do about it. At least there was not many soldiers in Manila. Their barracks were mostly in the suburbs. The best part of this war for me was the experience of just being there during the time. Last week on the History Channel, they were showing "Dogfights." For those who do not know what a "Dogfight" is, it is a battle of two planes (Japanese and American) in the air. It was a deja vu for me. I have seen many "Dogfights" in those days..and the American planes always downed the Japanese planes! My grandfather's house had an "air raid shelter." They dug a big "hole" for the family to fit in just in case there is an air raid. It was under the big mango tree and the dirt that was taken was put on top as the roof....How naive can you get! Bombs can penetrate that....thank God nothing disastrous happened. We all survived the war. All of our family members were together when the Americans liberated the Philippines except my father who was with the guerrillas somewhere in the province. All American soldiers back then were called "Joe." I don't know why...! I think "GI Joe" was coined in the Philippines and remained as the basic handle for them throughout the world.
My mother and I went to Manila to see what was left of our house. We poked everywhere...nothing was spared. I remember my mother saw her wedding gown intact among the ashes of the armoire, but it deteriorated when touched. In the kitchen area the gas range was a heap of a blob. The gas range was my mother's pride and joy. We are the only one in the block that had one...a four burner stove and an oven. My mom loved to cook. One of the baked good I still remember was
"Araro" (arrowroot flour cookies) that melted in your mouth. What I really like to remember about that range was it was fueled by natural gas, we have a "contador" (meter counter box) but the difference here is that we had to put some coins in a provision box with a slot...I think a ten centavos would last for quite a while. Then every month a collector would come and collect those coins. I don't think my siblings had any idea about this. Most of then were not born yet and Wilfrido was still very young then.
The big green "prasco" bottles where she keep olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce became like blobs of emeralds among the ashes. Manila was burned down! One could walk the streets and see dead and burned Japanese soldiers. Funny that I am able to recall them now and to think that it did not give me any aftermath trauma. I guess when a child is gradually introduced to war and its atrocities, one can be tough and will be able to face the future. That's how I feel. I was watching a movie on the UCSD channel. It was a Japanese film about a Japanese soldier's hardship during the war in the Philippines in 1943. The film was made in Japan. I have heard about it... that the Japanese soldiers became cannibals, eating their soldiers that died to survive, but the movie was the one that gave credence to the fact. It was a good black and white movie with emphasis to one soldier that wouldn't eat any of his comrades. Yes, war is HELL!

Monday, January 08, 2007



Last year, Tisha gave me a calendar with questions on every page. I had set it aside because I am sure that it will be such an undertaking on my part to try to remember and answer all the questions. The pages are 5"x31/2" and if I am going to write my answers the page will not be enough. A whole year of questions! I decided that the "blog" format will do justice and I can save it on CD for later reading and enlightenment of Kai...so here we are...
I was born Friday, March 3, 1933. The 62th day of the year in Georgian calendar. There are 303 days remaining. I was born at my grandparent's house in Makati, Rizal, a suburb of Manila (now part of Metro Manila) If I remember my Mom told me that I was born at night. I was delivered with the help of a midwife and those days they don't have to licensed. I still remember the house because most of my early formative years were spent there. I still remember that the house is by the Pasig river. The house is typical Filipino house with nipa (coconut palm frond leaves) thatch roof, the flooring is of bamboo slats but the walls are of wood sidings. Typical of houses then, it is above the ground and the front door entrance has a veranda attached to a concrete wide stairs with big terracotta flower pots (no plastic pots then) of hydrangeas and assortments of other flowering plants.
I am a Pisces...with the traditional traits, IMAGINATIVE and SENSITIVE, COMPASSIONATE and KIND, SELFLESS and UNWORLDLY, INTUITIVE and SYNPHATETIC. On the dark side, ESCAPIST and IDEALISTIC, SECRETIVE and VAGUE, WEAK-WILLED and EASILY LED. According to my mom, someone (like a
horoscope reader) told them that I will be ARTISTIC in all the things I will do in the future
Flordeliza............................................April 30, 1934
Wilfrido...............................................May 9, 1938
Renato..................................................September 16, 1941
Teodolfo...............................................May 7. 1943
Redentor...............................................September 2, 1945
Matilde Esteban Ramos
April 10, 1908
Jolo, Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines
July 11, 1908
Pila, Laguna, Philippines
"Pit"/ "Pit oko, malaki olo"/"Totoy"
"Pit"...a short version of Pepito.
"Pit oko, malki olo"...because I have a big head.
"Totoy "...as a mother's child.
"Tambuli" for my father.
"Tindeng," "Matte' " for my mother.
"Leleng" for my sister Flordeliza.
"Dadong" and "Bardongis" for Wilfrido
"Negro," "Tato" for my brother Renato.
"Hapon" for my brother Teodolfo.
"Bulilit" for my brother Redentor.
Makati, Rizal, Pasig, Rizal, Paco, Manila, Mandaluyong, Rizal.
Mother's side;
He loves to go to cockfights and he will let me come along...not to watch the actual cockfights but to eat some goodies at the food stalls there. Every time I visited him at work at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, I can be assured that there will be some money in my pocket. He was a god fisherman. He make his own fish net using a handmade bamboo shuttles. I wished I had learned how to do that! He will wake up very early, their house, the kitchen was practically hanging on the river bank. He will throw his net and catch some fish for my grandmother to cook for lunch and dinner. At times he will just do some deep diving in the river and when he comes afloat he will have some fishes betwen his fingers...throw them on the banks and div again until he caught just enough for day's consumptions.
Father's side;
He is a Medical-Dental officer in the Red Cross. He will come and visit us with his full uniforms...high boots and all that uniform brass which impressed me. He wears a well trimmed moustached. He very seldom visit us but when he comes, my mother will be cooking his favorites. He loves my mother's cooking. Also that there will be some money that he will give me and my sister.
On my father side I did not have the chance to meet my grandma. She died before I was born. My Grandfather re-married but I can't remember having any relationship that bonded me to her. On the other hand, I practically grew up and had my formative years with my maternal Grandmother. She is a devout Catholic. A very fastidious woman. She never succumb to wearing the western style clothes but always with along skirts. On ordinary day and in the house she will be wearing a "kimona" a short blouse on top of the skirt. The skirt is on top of another long undergarment "nagwas" which have embroidered hems... going to church and in some other occasion, she will be wearing the Filipina dress of "Baro at Saya" complete" with the "alampay." The 'Baro" which serves as the blouse is made of sago-stiffened abaca fibers, woven loosely like a compacted net. The butterfly sleeve and the shawl "alampay" is always with embroideries. These blouses comes on different colors to match the skirt... yet she was a very simple woman. She married my grandfather when she was sixteen years old. My mother was the oldest of the eight children's. She is very loving and I was pampered because I think I was the first grandson. What can I say...?
All of my maternal aunts and uncles treated me very well...spoiled me, the same reason as my grandparents because I was the first in the family. So they were all favorites in my early years. It is different with my paternal side of the family. It was only my uncles that I can relate to. My paternal aunts, in the language of today, had ATTITUDES! They are convent-bred Spanish speaking brats...very snooty in my book.
Yes, during the early days of the war...a couple of my fathers classmate...one was fro Guam.
I can't remember. I was kept preoccupied that I did not have a chance to have an imaginary friend.
My father...I think he got the idea of child punishment from his father, who is a very strict disciplinarian...QUICK WITH THE BELT.
Gave a kitten some sleeping pills.
My mother was a home-working housewife. She is a "modiste" (a dress maker). I still can envision the first dress shop in Makati. It is near the tram station. When we moved in Manila, the dress shop was bigger with about six ladies that work for her. We have a mannequin we call "Bosya" and a Shirley Temple replica for children's clothes. We always have a dress shop right where we lived. It was a two story; we have the living quarters upstairs. During her days, she was a very successful dress shop owner that catered to women of all walks of life. It was an era when dresses were made to fit someone. There was no "off the rack" items yet in those days.
There was no problem here. I can't recall any fights...just teasing most of the time. Child psychologist nowadays might find this wierd...but we survived without any serious fights at all.
Okay, I basically answered all the relevant questions from the January pages. I was surprise of myself that I was able to remember things that from many years past. I might go back to add some more details here and there to complete the scenario...till then.

Friday, January 05, 2007


It is claimed that the day celebrated as Christmas (December 25) is the actual birthday of Jesus. The status here is very undetermined! The biblical narrative of Jesus' birth gives no date for the event, though it more likely occurred in the Spring than Winter. Saint Luke tells us that shepherds were "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" - shepherds guarded their flocks day and night only at lambing time, in the spring; in winter the animals were kept in corrals unwatched.
It is important to note that for two centuries after Christ's birth, no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when he was born. Birthdays were unimportant; death days counted. Besides Christ was divine and his natural birth was deliberately played down. In fact, the church even announced at one point that it was sinful to contemplate observing Christ's birthday "as though He were a king Pharaoh."
The idea of celebrating the Nativity on December 25 was first suggested early in the fourth century CE, a clever move on the part of the church fathers who wished to eclipse the December festivities of the rival pagan religion, Mithraism, which threatened the existence of Christianity.
On December 25 (the date of the winter solstice) pagan Romans, still in the majority, celebrated Natalis Solis Invincti, "Birthday of the Invincible Sun God," Mithra's. The Mithra's cult originated in Persia and rooted itself in the Roman world in the first century BBE, but by early 300s CE the rising religion of Christianity was posing a formidable challenge to the sun worshipers, especially after the Edict of Milan issued by the Roman emperor Constantine I in 313 CE allowed Christians to practice their faith in the Roman Empire.
In those tenuous early days of Christianity, however, Church fathers debated strategies for supplanting the Mithras cult with their own religion. Since it was well known that Roman Patricians and plebeians alike enjoyed festivals of protracted nature, Christians recognized that they needed an alternative to the December celebration in which all participants - Mithraist, Christians and those in between - could take part with pride. Accordingly, the church officially recognized Christ birth, and to offer head-on competition to the sun worshipers' popular feast, the church located the Nativity on December 25. The mode of observance would be characteristically prayerful: a Mass. In fact, Christ's Mass. As on theologian wrote in 320 CE:
We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun but of him who made it.
Although centuries later, social scientist would write of the psychological power of the group celebrations - the unification of ranks, the solidification of ranks, the solidification of collective identity, the reinforcement of common objectives - the principle had long been intuitively obvious. Christianity took permanent hold in the Western world in 337 CE when Constantine I was baptized in his deathbed, uniting for the first time the Crown and the Church.
The term "immaculate conception" is often used generally to denote the conception of a child by a woman who has not engaged in sexual intercourse, and specially to the conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary, Both usages are incorrect.
"Immaculate Conception" refers to neither the conception of Jesus nor the virgin birth. It is a specific doctrine of Roman Catholicism decreeing that the Virgin Mary was preserved free from original sin by Devine grace from the moment of her conception. Although dogma had been argued since the twelfth century, it was not made official until 1854 by Pope Pius IX. Since then December 8 has been observed as a Roman Catholic feast commemoration of the Immaculate Conception.
The Christmas Holiday is almost over in our house. The tree, outside lights and house decoration will be stored in the loft in the garage and will be gone by Sunday. I grew up with the Filipino tradition that Christmas ends after the celebration of the "Three Kings" (January 6th). As claimed: The Bible says that the three wise men travelled from afar on camels to visit the infant Jesus as he laid in the manger. I recently found out that this is a false claim. As originally claimed; as Santa Claus and his reindeer are secular celebration of Christmas, so the three wise men and the creche are to the religious celebration. Even most of the non-religious (or non-Christian) among us recognize the symbolism of the nativity scene: it depicts the biblical account of the three wise men from the east who rode atop camels and followed a star to Bethlehem, bearing gifts for the newborn Christ child who lays in the manger.
The truth is, the Bible contains virtually none of those details. They have all been added over the years from sources outside the Bible.
Mathew 2:1 tells us:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem...
That's it. Mathew doesn't say how many wise men came from the east, doesn't mention their names, and doesn't provide any details about how they made their journey. It has generally assumed that the wise men (or magi) were three because Mathew 2:1 makes three gifts: "...they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh," The number of wise men is not specified in the Bible, however, and some Eastern religions have claimed up to twelve of them made the journey to Bethlehem. The names Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, do not come from the Bible and does not appear in Christian literature until over five hundred years after the birth of Jesus. Nothing in the Bible says the wise men rode camels (or any other animals); they have made their journey from the east on foot for all we know. And despite the familiar lyrics of the Christmas carol "We Three Kings," no biblical source depicts the three wise men as kings. (They were most likely learned men, perhaps astrologers.)
The wise men came "into the house," not the stable, and they saw a "young child." not a newborn. This passage indicates that the wise men didn't arrive until quite some times after the birth of Jesus. (According to Luke 2, it was shepherds not wise men, who visited the infant Jesus in the manger.)
To sum it up: we know from the Bible that wise men came from the east, that they followed the star to Bethlehem to find the Christ child, and that they brought him gold and frankincense and myrrh. We must look to sources external to the Bible to find the origins of any of the familiar details however.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


This will be the first "blog" since April of 2006. The nine months that have elapsed have brought many surprises from Kai. He is really a "big boy" now and not a "baby" anymore. The quotations words are from him as he describes himself nowadays. Of course he will be four years old in the next couple of months. I look at him and I see a lot of changes, especially how he carries himself. There are several surprises under his sleeves for me to ponder...he can associate things; say words that I don't expect coming from a three years old boy. He caught me one day by saying "I don't think so!" when I was teasing him. He is still learning, but he knows a lot that he can now refute whatever you have said wrong. When asked what is his name, he no longer say Kai-Kai but will say his complete name...Kai Michael Van Patten. He is not very compulsive in washing his hands all the time. He does it after each visit to the potty chair even after not touching his "birdie." Tisha taught him to sing "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" every time he washes his hands. He know that after the song is finished he is done with the washing. He also sings "Jingle Bells."
He comes to Umpha's house every Wednesday. As a routine, and if the weather is not bad, he and Umma go to the park. He socializes and plays with the kids there. He is good in sharing whatever toys he brings with him. It makes his adopted "other grandpa and grandma" (Stewart and Joyce, one of our neighbors who takes a walk everyday there), happy to see him and they are always looking forward to seeing him. As soon as he sees them he will holler to them and he will say I need a hug and a kiss. He still takes the old stroller and gets pushed by Umma around the block to see and check out the places in the neighborhood that interest him. There was once some ducks in one of the houses that they passed by and he liked to see them. One day, the ducks were gone and he was very disappointed. He has this very retentive mind that he knows the street very well because he knows where to turn when he was asked. I am sure that he will miss the Christmas decoration in the neighborhood like he missed the the Halloween decorations. "Come back Halloween" that was his lament after that holiday. Sometimes, Umma will bring him to the house across the street to play with Lulu and Genny. We at times do some painting. He will get the paint and will start to open them...or will get hold of his felt-tip pens and he will ask for papers. I am not pushing him to paint very much lately, I thought we will wait till springtime when the weather is nice so we can paint outside or in the garage. I have some fairly big Masonite board that I salvaged from the Museum of Man, already primed with different colors. I am thinking that I will show him how to use a roller to go with his big brushes. By the time he is almost five years old, I am sure that he will have a big portfolio to be shown at the Gallery 21 in Spanish Village.
Tisha conditioned him for the custom of "trick or treating" at Halloween. The three of them were regaled in the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. It was a real treat for him because his candy bag was full after several houses in the neighborhood and needed help to carry it.
Just for fun and I am sure he will appreciate it, I bought some lobster for him for Christmas dinner at our house.
"That is the biggest ham I ever see!" that was his reaction when he saw the ham we had. I guess he was anxious to open his "treasures" (that is the term he uses whenever we give him something). After the Christmas Eve dinner, presents are opened with great anticipation from Kai. It was a delight to see his reactions with each and every package he opened. Can you imagine that a three year old boy would react with "WOW!" ? He is very adept in ripping up the wrappers to see what he got inside. One of the presents we bought for him was a synthesizer piano...Tisha caught his little "tushy" swinging with the music in her digital camera...Boy! he sure can move his butt! He might become a good dancer in the future. The funny thing about the Christmas presents was after he was done and inspected his "loots," he proceeded to the front door and announced, "we have to go to other houses." We all concluded that he thinks it is like Halloween and will get more presents if we visit other houses. After, Tisha told him that it is only during the Halloween that he can do that and he will get other present from relatives later. I am sure that this gives him a bit of confusion but he was able to not pursue the matter and went back to his "loots." They spent Christmas day with the Van Pattens and other relative in Mike's sisters' house. Among his "loots" are two pirate ships.