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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How can I tell dad my mom got shot in Cebu!

When I think of the many experiences for me and my family in the Philippines I have to chuckle when I read the new tourism campaign slogan
"It's more fun in the Philippines".   In my Mom's case back in December of 2004 when she visited me in Cebu she had more fun being close to a crime scene!  lol Thank God for his protection!

My mom had just arrived on a connecting flight from Manila and I had picked her up at the Mactan Airport in Lapu Lapu. We checked her into a hotel near the Rain Tree mall at Fuente Osmena' and then headed to Rain Tree mall where I showed her around. This is a small two story strip mall with a huge tree in the center. A nice shady place. At that time I had a bodyguard who was my right hand man in Cebu and he was with us that day.  After a BBQ lunch at the mall we headed up stairs to the office where I showed my mom around the various units I was interested in renting. I had a meeting so we decided to send my mom and bodyguard down stairs to go to the Robinson Mall across the street.

It was only moments after my mom and bodyguard left that I heard a distinct loud popping sound outside. One bang and a serious of other "bang" "bang" "bang". At first I was oblivious to what was happening because I was in shock. I had hit the floor and crawled under a desk instinctively and then I realized it was gun fire just out side the door.  I thought to my self "Oh my God, my mom just left seconds earlier!". I crawled on the floor over to the curtains where I closed them so no one could see in the office. Then I dialed desperately my bodyguards number. The thoughts kept racing as I analyzed the situation. I thought carefully what kind of "bang" did I hear. It was too deep to be like my bodyguard's handgun. I thought to my self it must have been a  357 magnum or AK47.  Whatever it was, it was loud and strong. It echoed in the hallways and shook the windows. I keep trying to call my bodyguard over and over and still no answer. I was getting panicked. I had no firearm yet my mother could be just outside wounded. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind including "how can I tell dad mom got shot in Cebu!" I kept peaking through the window and about 5 minutes had passed since the shooting. I could see other security guards walking around. I determined if they were walking around the bad guys were either neutralized or ran away. So I went out the door to look for my mom. I was so worried. "she is 76 years old"  I thought to myself.  I prayed so hard at that moment for mom's safety. I pleaded with the Lord for her life.

I had great confidence in my bodyguard's ability to fire back if he had the chance and I know he would take a bullet for my  mom. He was like that. A great person. But the thoughts kept racing what if they were ambushed and he had no time to fire back? I kept trying his phone. After about 15 minutes he answered it and was oblivious to what occurred. Apparently they had entered the mall across the street at the exact same time the shooting occurred at my location. And he told me because of the crowds in the mall he could not hear my desperate calls.

When I explained to him what happened he left my mom at the mall where she was safe and came over to investigate the situation. Apparently a group of bandits held up a money changer downstairs and had an exchange of fire with a security guard. Something like 9 shots were fired. No one got injured or killed. Apparently the bad guys got away with a load of money.

My mom is amazing. She took it all with a grain of salt. She never appeared shaken or wanting to leave. She walked around with us examining the bullet holes in the cement walls and columns. It was kind of adventurous to her. So I guess there is some truth to ...

"It's more fun in the Philippines".
  What a way to welcome my mom to Cebu!


Obviously what happened during my mom's visit to Cebu was a rare instance. I had spent off and on over 10 years in the Philippines and that was the only time to experience such an incident. The Philippines like any place can be dangerous if you are not well informed. But generally it is safe for tourists and visitors who want to go there and enjoy a country of warm and friendly people. I guess my mom has such luck. Even when she went to Israel in the late 60's a war started during her trip! On a trip to Nepal a revolution started too. LOL  I wonder if PNOY will blacklist her so she can't come back and bring bad luck! LOL

Here is a news article on the incident.

CEBU CITY Six robbers, including a woman, hit a foreign-exchange shop at busy Raintree Mall in Fuente Osmena here yesterday morning, divesting the establishment of more than P200,000 in cash.
It was the second time that a moneychanger was robbed near the Fuente police station in less than one week.
The robbers, armed with high-powered firearms, disarmed three of the four security guards manning the mall area, while the female robber, with a male companion, announced the robbery in the Ace Investment office at past 9 a.m. yesterday.
The other robber acted as lookouts.
Fuente police station Chief Noel Gillamac said the robbery took place in less than five minutes as the other robbers waited outside with their getaway motorcycles.
The robbers destroyed the wires of the shops alarm system before they fled.
One security guard, however, managed to fire at the fleeing robbers using his service shotgun, but the robbers quickly fired back at him, prompting the guard to immediately seek cover.
No one was hurt in the exchange of gunfires but stray bullets hit two parked vehicles.
A policeman detailed at the Regional Intelligence Office also responded to the commotion when he heard a burst of gunfires as while was inside a shoe-repair shop.
"I tried to block the road and identified myself as a policeman but the robbers immediately fired at me so I shot back," said the policeman, who did not want to be identified. He was not hurt though.
Another policeman fired at the fleeing robbers, but the robbers fired back, prompting him to take cover.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Philanthropy is awesome in the Philippines!

Tim Tebow is a great example for us all
I wanted to make a story about my experiences of donating to the Philippines. Not so much to bring attention or credit to my self but to try and communicate the incredible joy one can experience in helping others. It is one of the most empowering things a human can do.  

First of all, it never matters really how much you give. What matters is your heart in giving (widow's mite). Some people give huge amounts to charity like the several billion dollars donated by Bill Gates through his foundation and others give in small ways that will never be known by anyone. But one thing in common the two have and that is they both contribute positively to improving the world we live in.

My first experience with charity was when I was sent to the Philippines for military training back in 1983. I spend a couple of weeks at Clark Air Base. On my very first day there I had befriended a local family who's smiles and hospitality captivated me. In other words I immediately fell in love with the people and culture of the Philippines.  Something that has not left me even after 25 years +.  This family did not have a car and the father had to walk about 5 miles to his job on the base everyday.  So my first donation in the Philippines was my bicycle I had brought with me from my base in Japan. The father used it for many years to get back and forth to work.  I was so happy to have seen that same bicycle back in 2006. They never sold it, rusty as it was they kept it as a way to remember me.

My friends lives were devastated by the eruption
That family and I had written each other over the years and through the terrible Mt.Pinatubo tragedy. They lost most everything since their business was dependent on the military people and after the eruption the base was closed down. This was hard for me because I really cared for them. I tried my best to send them what I could out of my modest military salary.

Over 10 years had passed as life took me out of the military and back to America and to other places. Still my love for the Philippines remained. I never forgot the people or culture. During that period I had come up with a business idea that was promising to be a big hit. The first two years I really didn't make any money and then in 1997 things started to turn around. As I realized the huge blessing that befell me and I wanted to do something to bring meaning to my success. I decided to return to the Philippines in 1998 and give my entire first bonus to the same family I had met 15 years earlier. I really felt bad for them and a little guilty that I had not been able to help them during the Pinitubo eruption.
That was the start of a journey of giving that has brought
me incredible joy and adventure to my life.

This joy of giving helped me to reach higher heights in business giving me energy for my efforts to help the poor in the Philippines. With every business trip and transaction I thought of ways I could help people. It was my passion and purpose.  I believe God blessed me for that because my business really grew by leaps and bounds during that time of my life. The more I helped the poor the more my business grew. 

Getting ready for another day on QVC live TV shopping channel
I remember one time standing on a live T.V. set at the QVC Home Shopping Channel back in 2004. It was just seconds before my live sale of my product would be reaching 90 millions homes via cable. I remember distinctly my thought at that time. I was thinking how many people I could help if I was successful that day. There was a lot on my shoulders. I had to borrow significant sums to afford the inventory for the sale of over 1 million of my space saving storage bags in one day. Failure would have meant going out of business and success would have meant being able to help many Filipino's.

Thank God he saw my heart that day and the sales ended up in a huge success. So many of my bags were sold that day.  Not only did we sell out, we had to take back orders for the additional demand.  The total was something like 1,012,000 bags sold in 24 hours. I had not special schooling or training to learn how to do that. It was so far beyond my ability yet it turned out incredibly! Again, I equate the success to a higher purpose for my life which was fulfilled through giving in the Philippines.

June was a special time of the year for my company because that was the end of our fiscal year and that meant bonus time. I literally lived to give my bonus away in the Philippines each year. Not just give it to some foundation. But physically take it over and do things to help. This led me to many places where I could meet and donate to so many wonderful people. The life lessons learned in donating were priceless, something I could never learn in any school, church or youtube video. Deep spiritual lessons of what it means to love unconditionally.

Tim Tebow knows the joy of giving in the Philippines
Anyone can give from their hearts. It doesn't need to be  $3 million dollars or even $100 dollars. All you need is a willing heart and a dream. The rest will fall into place as life unfolds. I have met many others who are doing the same for the Philippines. People who are quietly contributing to a better future through donations big and small. And every one of them are experiencing a joy and energy that can only come through unconditional giving. A modern day hero of mine is doing exactly that right now. Tim Tebow the Quarterback of the Denver Bronco's is using his heart for the Philippines to empower him to greater success in Football.
Go Tim Go!

You never lose when you help others from your heart. Just don't expect anything back so there is no heart to be broken. When you give of your time or your money just let it go in good faith that like seeds it will one day produce  fruits for a better world. Take joy as you watch lives that you touched improve and in turn they touch others lives. There is no better feeling than to know you were there for someone when they needed you most being an instrument of God's love for the world.

A journey in photos

Some of the best years of my life were the times that I was able to help others in the Philippines.
May no credit or praise go to myself for these things. I did not plan myself to be born. I did not put my own heart in me which resulted in these things. I simply obeyed my calling. God used me as an instrument to help specific people in the Philippines at a perfect time in history according to His will.  I pray that others will receive their calling and help alleviate poverty in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. It is awesome. I don't plan on stopping. 

If you were touched by this story. Thank HIM. HE is the reason for all of it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Irresistible Filipino desserts for Foreigners

Once you try this you will be hooked for life. It's name HaloX2

Coming from a country where desserts are so commercialized I was at first taken back when introduced to desserts in the Philippines. I had some kind of barrier in my mind that if it did not come in a nicely printed package it must be of a lower grade. Boy was I wrong!

I discovered some wonderful addictive sweets during my time in the Philippines. Most likely responsible for a few kilo's of insulation around my waist! These scrumptious local creations are cheap, safe to eat and irresistible!

 There is so much more than only taste that makes a food good. The atmosphere you eat it in also plays an important role in how it tastes to you.  I have very distinct memories that accompany my experience of eating sweets in the Philippines. I am getting hungry just writing this! Here are some of my favorite irresistible desserts in the Philippines.


The first time I saw Lecheflan I thought I was being served the Italian dessert called "Cream Brulei". I was in a restaurant in the city of Tagaytay and had seen the picture on the menu. It was the only thing I was familar with. The carmalized looking dessert just sounded perfect for my mood as I looked out over the spectacular view of the Taal Vocano.  

When the smiling waitress brought me the Lecheflan I could not wait to dig in and try it out. I was expecting a hardened carmalized top like Cream Brulei but much to my surprise when I had sliced through it was soft.  This is a melt in your mouth kind of dessert. And the portion is never enough that's for sure. 

Lecheflan gives me memories of eating in Restaurants in the Philippines

The most affordable dessert is called Ice Buko

This is probably one of the more simpler delicacies in the Philippines that is affordable by most everyone. Sold in most small Sari Sari stores throughout the Philippines it usually costs no more than 5 pesos for a small bag of this frozen coconut splendor.  Ice buko is a mix of condensed sweetened milk with shavings of white coconut inside. It is frozen typically in small poly bags and is quick and easy to eat. A perfect sweet treat on a hot day. A favorite amongst Filipino children of all ages and foreigners like my self who cannot say no! 

Iced Buko gives me memories of children standing in front of sari sari stores in the Philippines 

Picture from  Yummy!

My first experience eating Halo Halo was in a Chow King restaurant in Cebu City. I had actually seen it many times but I was not used to purple color ice cream so I had always passed on the opportunity. It was a blazing hot day in the summer of 2001 when I had gone to Cebu to help with a donation for a young girl from Samar. There I had taken her relatives out to Chow King to eat. I was literally sweating as I stood there and looked at the lighted picture of Halo Halo. The ice in the picture drew me into it. What could be better in a hot country than ice I thought?  So I ordered Halo Halo for everyone. 

For the westerner who might be used to traditional toppings like chocolate, caramel, strawberry Halo Halo might seem a bit bizarre are first. With things like coconut string, sweet beans, jack fruit and something called Ube it can be a bit overwhelming. But all it takes is one bite of this Halo Halo on a hot day and there is no turning back.  The best thing about Halo Halo is that as you are eating it, it is constantly melting and mixing itself into an exotic blend to the point that you are literally drinking the last part of it.  Don't pass this one up! 

When I think of Halo Halo, I think of Chow King in the Philipines

I can't wait to eat this one again. It's too good!

No matter where I traveled in the Philippines this was available from the cities to the most remote mountain villages. I never realized how boring I used to eat my banana's until I discovered Bananaque.  The first time I tried it I was sitting on my bulldozer nearly at the top of the second highest mountain in Cebu. I was helping to fix a landslide and was taking a much needed break. A lady came walking by and had a homemade woven basket with her. Inside there were banana leaves and on top of those were some odd shape tan colored "things". I had no idea what it was. Each piece had a stick through it. I thought maybe it was some kind of exotic meat at first. Then she picked one up and handed it to me. She said "Saging?" "Bananaque?".  I knew the word saging meant Banana so I gladly accepted it.  Wow! This is a Banana that is BBQ'd over a charcoal fire then marinated with margarine and brown sugar. Sometimes it's deep fried in cooking oil too. What a taste! I personally have never been able to eat only one and usually consume 3 or 4 of them at a time.  It's readily available everywhere in the Philippines.  

Bananaque brings back memories of being in remote places in the Philippines. 

With every experience of eating sweets in the Philippines it brings back fond memories where I was at the time of the first bite. It is interesting to me as a foreigner who was quite rigid in my thinking concerning sweets, how I have changed so much to truly like something that looked strange at first. 

There are many more sweets I had there like Buko Salad, Macapuno candies, Suman and Bibinka that I miss very much. My wife does her best to make these things for me when she finds the ingredients but truly it has been a long time. Subsequently the size of my waist has decreased too. LOL

Hope you are not too hungry!      Kain Tayo! Kaon na ta!  


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life's most important moments

These are the moments I understand what is most important in life
What is truly important to us? What should be important to us? How can we know what is important to us?

These are legitimate questions I think everyone has from time to time. In the modern world we tend to be so busy making a living that we forget about what we are living for. But there are certain moments that bring us the answers. Those moments when we say to ourselves "this is what it's about".  These special moments define our reason for living, for trying and for dreaming.

I have had many experiences and moments in my life but there are special moments that I would say impact me more than others. These moments are the kind of things I would be thinking about one day when it is my time to leave this world.  There is much to be said about that. If we truly take a moment to think about what we want to remember when it is our time graduate from this life, what is it that we would want to remember?  Keep that in mind as you go about your day. Use it as as your guiding bar in your actions and decisions.  Ask yourself what really matters to you and then give your heart to that.

Pagkiksama in the Philippines. Important moments.
I appreciate what I learned growing up from my experience in Church. I was taught about temporary things that will pass away and I was taught about eternal things that will never pass away. This knowledge is like gold to me. It continually guides me in my actions and decisions in life. Making the most out of each day and savoring that which is eternal is a win win situation.

When I see people today amassing great things for themselves and sacrificing that which is eternal I feel badly that in the end those people will be so empty inside. All we have to do is talk to any dying person. Ask them what was important in their lives. Not one would tell you their material things were important. But their relationships, their contributions to help others, their ideas and dreams where the most important to them. 

What a moment!
At this moment my current trying circumstances remind me what is most important in my life. I had once been doing fairly well economically and met some unjust circumstances that dealt us a severe economic blow. Though it's hard in a material sense, those things I lost really were not what was most important in my life. I have with me what is most important in my life. That is my relationship with my heavenly Father and my loving family. Money comes and money goes but love stays no matter what.

I want to encourage the readers here who may be at a time in their lives where they are searching for deeper meaning. If you are caught up in the rat race or feeling burned out from your pursuits, take a step back and ask yourself what is most important to you. Surely something will come to mind. Then use that to power you to greater heights in life as you savor and live for what's most important to you. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

How I know she really loves me

When my wife and I first met in the store she was working in Tarlac in 2007 she had made it clear to me that she was only interested in one thing. That was to have a man love her for who she is and to grow together in the Lord. My wife is a very simple person and not worldly at all.

The first time I brought my wife out to the property I was very curious as to what her reaction would be. I had never told her that I had spent over a million dollars developing the place. She had no idea what she would be seeing other than a place I referred to as "the farm". 

This is the place we call the "farm" located in Tarlac Province
After picking her up and going out to lunch I had driven her to "the farm" along with her friend Jaz. When we entered the front gate I was expecting to hear some kind of "oh wow" from her.  I was astonished that she did not say anything regarding the enormity of the property. She simply smiled and showed her sincere interest to me rather than the material surroundings. That was a first sign of who she was as a person.

With many visits to the "farm" she had never once mentioned how lucky she was to have a man with such a place. Her attitude never changed from day one. No sign of a person who had won the lottery and anything like that. She never once made me feel like a walking ATM machine. She stayed as grounded as ever. I knew I had a very special woman on my hands and felt I must be careful with her so as not to loose her.

My wife made it clear from the beginning of our relationship that there was nothing more important to her than her relationship with God. In fact, for the first 4 months she talked about nothing else than the Lord. With every text there was a Bible verse. With every conversation there was talk of Jesus or work for Him.  The material things she saw simply were not important to her. Something at that time we had no idea she would be brought the ultimate test of her heart. For all of those materially things would be maliciously taken from her.

Our first flowers for each other were healthy asparagus! lol
My wife's focus in our relationship from the start and even to this day has been for my well being. She is more concerned where I am in my relationship with God than in any material thing I could bring her.  She spends a great deal of time making sure I eat the right things, take my vitamin's and get enough exercise. She encourages me in these things. She makes it a priority to teach our daughter and now our new son the importance of family. It is so clear what is important to her.

I am quite humbled to realize more and more who I have on my hands here with me. She is truly priceless and is God's love and grace given to be my partner and helper in this life. Is she perfect? Of course not, but I can tell the readers here she is the closest to perfect I have ever seen in my life. I mean that.

An actual photo of where my wife started her life
Imagine, my wife who was born into this world in the most humble circumstances lost her mother to cancer at age 1 and then was raised by a very strict father who was barely able to support her and her brothers feeding them root crops for the 1st ten years of her life. Then at age 10 she was raised by a guardian.  My wife became somewhat of a servant to others not of her choice. She then attained a college diploma and entered the working world as a teacher. Then she bravely went to Manila with no family or friends to find work for the sole purpose to support her nieces and nephews who were not even her blood relatives. Then she got a job in a retail store where we met, after which she was presented with being the rightful owner of a gorgeous property inherited through our marriage. She started her married life there being blessed with our first child. She had a stable life with a place she could call home. A gorgeous place.  Then we were targeted by an extortion ring who's greed had no ends forcing us from our home and livelihood to live as nomads outside the Philippines. The now President of the Philippines whom my wife knew personally has seemed to ignore my wife's pleas for help.  Everything she had which brought normalcy to life was stripped from my her. From a 15 hectare paradise  to living in hotel rooms having to go from country to country now for two years. It was all turned upside down and taken from her forced from it literally by death threats.

Christmas day 2011
I want all of you reading this to know something. With tears in my eyes I write this. You know what? Even with all of this which has happened to my wife she has not changed one bit. After having all her material possessions taken from her and going from living comfortably to very uncomfortably she can still smile. Through these unimaginable circumstances her love for me and our family has only grown stronger. This is how I know she really loves me. Where could I ever find someone like her?

This love of hers has radically changed me as a person. I have learned from her what is truly important in life and now I embrace my own family more. All because of my wife and her commitment to God and to our marriage. I really understand now how God uses people to touch our hearts and how we can do the same for others if we only try.

I don't know what the outcome will be if we will ever get those material things back. But one thing for sure, that love which I trust explicitly will always be there. It is not governed by those things which one day will pass away.  This will empower me to be there for my family in whatever the future will bring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Funny things in the Philippines

Here is a collection of things that had made me "bust a gut" over the years in the Philippines.

TUBIG SIR?  In Filipino the word Tubig means water 

The first time I went to the Philippines in 1983 I had this funny experience in a restaurant/eatery outside of Clark Airbase.

WAITRESS:  Tubig Sir? 

ME:               Huh? What did you Say?

WAITRESS:  Tubig Sir, you want Tubig?

ME:               Hey I'm not too big. Look at me I'm not fat.

WAITRESS: hi hi hi, I mean water, you want water Sir?

BAWAL UMIHI DITO! - Do Not Urinate Here!

The first time I saw my street kid friend named Jun Jun I was driving by as he was taking a pee on a sign that said "Bawal Umihi Dito" or "Do Not Urinate Here". I laughed so hard I almost crashed my car! 


I spent the night with a rural farm family once in Mindanao inside of their bahay kubo (Nipa Hut). There were a total of 4 adults and about 10 kids inside of the kubo. We all had to lay sideways on floor in order to fit all inside. All night every time one person turned, everyone had to turn and it was like a wave all night long. No sleep that night! I remember wondering how in the world can these farm families make so many kids in conditions like that! I guess that is their secret! lol


It is quite a sight to see a foreigner bigger than the back door of a jeep squeezed inside of a Jeep. The Jeepney's were built for the average local size person and big  foreigners draw the strangest looks as they try to squeeze into jeeps and tricycles.  When you look at them you can tell they are suffering as their heads are bent sideways trying to avoid hitting the roof and they are sweating profusely from trying to squeeze through the door. 



One time in Davao I was walking down the street near the durian monument park and a little girl came up to me with the most serious look. She held out her hand and said...
" Hey Joe, give me my money! "

( fresh water shells vs. boobs)

 No joke! How many times have I went to the market and had ladies who were breast feeding their babies offering me Susu. The problem was the only word I knew like that was Soso which means boobs. I thought is was strange that so many ladies would be offering me their boobs at the local market! lol Translated it sounded like this . Boobs Sir? You want Boobs Sir? You want my boobs Sir? 

I will be adding to this blog post periodically and will re-post with new funny things I discovered in the Philippines. It's a fun and funny place!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Carabao and the Kano

A pic of me and my carabao named "Armalite" preparing the rice field
As I walked behind him with the metal hararow in one hand and the guide rope in the other he kept looking back at me after every two steps or so. At first he didn't want to make it obvious that he was staring at me so he pretended to just be swooshing flies away with his big wet nose. But he could not keep his eyes off of my white skin that seemed to defy the law of reason as he knew it. Who was this new man he thought?

My  Carabow was named "Armalite" and it was his first time to have a foreigner at the helm. I know he was confused for several reasons. One, he had never seen or heard of a man with money drive one of his kind, and two there was just something wrong with the color of the person driving him. Not to mention the size and weight of that person was larger than any he had drive him prior. The only other time he had seen a pinkish color creature was when he had passed by the pig pen.

The farm tractor gave me far more problems than Armalite and cost much more
We were doing something they called hararaow which is kind of like tilling the mud.  It actually was a first for the two of us because up until that day I had always used a small farm tractor when we prepared the rice fields. It had always been an interesting scene in our rice paddies in our farm. One half being done with modern means and the other done by carabow and hard sweaty work.To be honest I enjoyed far more driving Armalite than I did a small Iseki farm tractor. And the maintenance costs were far cheaper with Armalite.

After we got to know each other we became a good team

"Armalite" and I had given a good 8 hours of work that day making up nearly two hectares of rice paddies. At first in the morning he was so distracted by looking back at me while he was walking forward that it was slow going. At times he would just stop and stare as to say "who is this driving me?".  I learned a lot about Armalite that day. I did not realize that I needed to connect with him in order to get him to do his best. I thought if I made the right sounds and pulled the rope hanging from his nose that he would go faster and faster. Boy was I wrong. It had nothing to do about that. He would only go faster when he felt like it and if he liked me. So that day was not about me getting him to do what I wanted him to do, rather is was him getting me to do what he wanted me to do.

I am amazed at my confidence that day with Armalite. Here I was driving a 500kg creature that at anytime could kill me and I was treating him more or less like a pet. One quick turn of his head in anger and with those sharp horns my life could have been ended. Fortunately Armalite liked me and had a respect in knowing I was his rightful owner. So we had the relationship straight from the get go.

"Armalite" was far more patient that I realized that day. For I was informed that I was actually overheating him in my enthusiasm to get the job done. Now I understand he needs time in the mud pool for every one hour he worked. I was pushing him for two hours at a time. No wonder he kept looking back at me so strangely. I guess he felt entertained to have a foreigner driving him and he exerted extra patience that day.

They laughed at me all day seeing the Puti man planting rice

From that day on we became friends. I would visit him often in the back of our farm where he was tethered with a long rope. I remember buying him the best quality rope money could by as a Christmas present one year. He was also my confidant. I would talk to him about my problems and he would always give me that look with his big eyes as if to say " I understand".

At the moment I am far from Armalite and I hope to see him again one day. I have declined to sell him so that one day I can see him again. God bless my Carabow Mr. Armalite.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Being married to a Filipina is great - Part 1

The best day of our lives
Inside the Tabun caves in Palawan

Honeymooning at the underground river in Palawan

Getting our wedding rings in San Fernando SM

A regular staple on Sunday's after church. Bee Happy Jolibee

In a Fil-Am marriage the term "East meets West" definitely comes into play. I have gone through an amazing transition as I adapted from being the "Hey Joe Kano" to a foreigner who not only appreciates the Filipino culture but actually credits it with transforming my life in a wonderful way.

Togetherness is a serious way of life

As I look back on the many years of experiences I have had in the Philippines there are a few things that seem to be universal when it comes to relationships between Westerners and Filipina's.  One of those things is the immersion of the Westerner into a family oriented culture. This "pagkikisama" togetherness culture of the Filipino is something that most Westerners are just not used to.  Most Westerners including myself at first will feel like their personal privacy has been invaded as they learn the art of togetherness in the Philippines. Having people run in and out of the house is as normal as brushing your teeth there. Going to do things in a group is also more the norm than the exception. Even in our own bed we have both our kids there with us. No cribs, no extra room for our daughter, just togetherness. I would not have it any other way now. But honestly took some getting used to it.

It's not about me, it's about my family

There are many reasons for the difference. The most basic is how we are raised. In the West, especially in America the wild wild West spirit of independence comes into play. We are taught from  the very earliest stages of our life that to be strong is to be independent. In the Philippines it is quite the opposite. To be strong you become one with your family and find strength in interdependence. This difference is seen by the foreigner when he tries to figure out why his honey is constantly in contact with her family or needs to be around people. I have learned a wonderful and valuable lesson as I have come to understand how we gain strength in interdependence. I love it now!

Hot oil protection

Fried food again? Ha ha ha .... as a foreigner I was amazed at how much my wife used to fry foods when we first got married. I was wondering if "Sunog" was par for the course when it came to cooking meat. Little did I realize that my wife was actually saving me by cooking in that way. It never dawned on me that the meats from the local market that are not refrigerated would pose a serious threat to my well being. Little did I know that if they were not cooked in a way that would end the existence of any harmful thing then it would pose a serious risk to my health. Thus I no longer question why things are fried. Rather I am just grateful she loves me enough to protect me. Ano pagkain natin ngayon? Frito ulit? ha ha ha ... meaning, what are we eating now? Fried again? 

Note: My wife who is standing here beside me as I write this wants me to put on record that she also does her best to serve me non fried foods and as much western cuisine as possible. That is true and she truly loves me enough to do her best to make me happy. Whew, I think I just dodged a slap on the head! 

Why it takes hours and hours to wash clothes

I was amazed the first time I saw my wife washing clothes. First of all I never knew a person could even break a sweat washing clothes. I had come from a push button instant wash culture. I don't think any young lady in America even knows how to wash clothes by hand. I thought it was an injustice to allow my wife to wash clothes by hand when we could afford a machine but she took so much pride in our clothes being cleaned she refused my offer. She would not have it any other way. Having clean clothes that are properly washed are a super priority for her. And I am a direct beneficiary too. It is a fact that hand washed clothes are cleaner and last much longer than machine washed clothes. The only issue is it takes hours and hours to do a family's laundry. Oh well, I'll go for the clean over instant any day.It will be interesting how we will manage this kind of washing once we are back in the fast paced life in America. I will write you all about it if and when that day comes.

Being married to a Filipina is a wonderful experience which has given my life many new interesting adventures in culture. There is a balance that most Filipina's hold in having been born into the unique culture of the Philippines where East meets West in so many ways. I heard that in the U.S. the lowest divorce rate of any mix marriage class is between Filipina's and their Western husbands. That in itself speaks for the strength of intercultural marriages between Filipina's and Westerners.

I will write more on my experiences of being married to a Filipina. She is priceless!

A pic taken at Langoggan Beach