Random thoughts... Happy Thoughts... Sad thoughts... Anything goes!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Iba na ang matangkad!

I came across some videos showing that Americans are getting shorter and that the Dutch are the tallest people now. Well, I have not been to the Netherlands but I believe that the Americans now are not as tall as they used to be. There are probably some States in the US which have a taller average height than others but people in Texas were not really that tall. When I visited my aunt there, I was actually surprised to see that I (a Filipina) was taller (at 5’10”) than most people there and that there were even people that were just like our regular height here.

Two factors mentioned that contributed to the increase in the average height of the population (aside from genetics of course) of the Dutch were healthy lifestyle especially during the growing up years and that they actually spread their health around unlike in the US wherein well-off Americans are still tall but not so on their lower level of society.

Well, we are not well off but the older kids in our family (that includes me) are taller compared to the younger two who are not as tall – well my younger brother is an inch (maybe ¾) lower me and doesn’t stand as straight as I am so he doesn’t look too tall and the youngest is 5’5" but they would still be normal than most but still not a stand-out like the older ones. I remember people shouting “Iba na ang matangkad!” (It’s different to be tall!) when they would see us or would ask if we ate Star Margarine (which claims that it helps in being tall). Sometimes, I would kid them that mama would cook our food in the can of Star (now, am not really sure if they used to have it in can or just plastic). I remember though that papa would always tell us to take a nap in the afternoon so we would be tall and that mama gave us 1-6-12 (Vit B1,B6,B12). Papa really wanted us to be tall and maybe his desire rubbed in on us especially for the older ones since he could easily see us considering that there weren’t too many people in our household then.

There are disadvantages being tall, including finding it hard to buy really comfortable shoes but I could never really imagine myself being short. It is not that being short is bad (in fact one petite dentist I had told me that being short is better because she could just wear high heels and feel tall unlike me who can’t and I definitely could not cut-off my legs! Yikes, who would want to do that???) it is just that I am comfortable the way I am and could not think of myself any other way :-)!

Maybe it shouldn’t really be “iba na ang matangkad”? but “Iba lang talaga tayo lahat” (we are all unique) and we should be happy the way we are!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Papa You can hear me!

It is Fathers' day once again and I wish all the fathers one great day!

I am sure my papa is also having a great day in heaven now. I wonder though how he views us from where he is! Does he look at us with longing? Does he miss us or can he really miss us if he sees what’s going on in our lives much more than when he was still alive?

He left us unexpectedly in 1998. I know mama had more difficulty adjusting than the rest of the family but I had my period of mourning too. I don’t know, but for a while I wore some of his polo shirts (which mama made for him) until they got torn from overuse! It is not that I could not move on without him but more missing him and wearing his shirts made me feel he was close by. I wouldn’t say I was his favorite but among my siblings I think I spent more time with him and interacted with him through letters when he was away much more than the rest of them.

I would still miss him but I know that he is okay where he is now. When he was still alive, he worried over the family. He would wonder aloud what's going to happen to the family if ever he left us early. Maybe he knew he was going to leave us early so that he always entrusted the family to me.

I mentioned earlier that he left us unexpectedly. He went into coma for a few days then recovered for a day before finally succumbing to cardiac arrest. On the last night before he died, on the last time I saw him... he had a peaceful smile on his face as he nodded to me. It was as if he was telling me that everything will be okay, not just with himself but also with us! I would have wanted to stay with him that night but the doctors asked me to leave. It was painful not to be around during his last moment but somehow the memory of that smile comforts me.

I remembered a song by Barbra Streisand in Yentl. Her character was singing the song “Papa can you hear me?” when she felt so scared and alone after he died. There was so much feeling in that song, however, what I liked best was when she sung the same tune at the end of the film. She wasn't asking if he could see her. Instead she knew for sure and sung “Papa I can hear you! Papa I can see you! Papa I can feel you! Papa watch me fly!”

Papa, I love you!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Papa Can you Hear Me?

Oh God-our heavenly Father.
Oh, God-and my father
Who is also in heaven.
May the light of this
Flickering candle
Illuminate the night the way
Your spirit illuminates my soul.

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?
Looking at the skies I seem to see
A million eyes which ones are yours?
Where are you now that yesterday
Has waved goodbye
And closed its doors?
The night is so much darker;
The wind is so much colder;
The world I see is so much bigger
Now that I'm alone.
Papa, please forgive me.
Try to understand me;
Papa, don’t you know I had no choice?
Can you hear me praying,
Anything I'm saying
Even though the night is filled with voices?
I remember everything you taught me
Every book 1've ever read...
Can all the words in all the books
Help me to face what lies ahead?
The trees are so much taller
And I feel so much smaller;
The moon is twice as lonely
And the stars are half as bright...
Papa, how I love you...
Papa, how I need you.
Papa, how I miss you
Kissing me good night...

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Tonight our 3 kasambahay lead a mystery each in our rosary. It was the first time that two of them (a twin) lead a mystery though they have joined us in some of our prayers. They did not want to lead but I was kidding them that it is a good way to practice speaking so they could apply to a call center!

Just what is a kasambahay? It is from a two Tagalog word kasama (companion) and bahay (house). The whole term is actually “kasama sa bahay” or house companion but actually refers to househelpers. Even if The Philippines is a third world country, many homes actually have kasambahay. I like this new term better than the word katulong (helper) for it seems to be a more appropriate term considering that in many cases they are more than helpers but considered already part of family, ah okay in some homes they are not treated as such, not even helper but as “alila” or slaves… hmmm in which case those should not be called homes but just houses, even prison???

Why prison? Because I remember getting a cousin from a home before who would not want to release her to my aunt. My aunt came to our home one time telling us that she went to fetch a cousin who was being badly treated by her employer and not even being paid but they would not release her, even threatened to charge my aunt for trespassing if she insist on getting her. My brother in law was in our home that time so that we accompanied my aunt. The employers were supposed to be educated people, one was even a doctor but we were surprised to see my cousin. She stayed in our home before and I remember her to be chubby with a nice smile. But there she was so very thin, with her teeth damaged and very dirty and flaky bad skin. I learned later that they do not even give her toothpaste and soap and they kept hitting her for being clumsy and slow. I knew she was slow but that’s no reason for hurting someone! Anyway, they did not receive us well and also threatened us like my aunt but we knew she had no right to do it so we asserted what was right, then they changed tone telling us how can we get her when they had a baby and there would be no one to care for her since they had to go to work? And I answered that why would they want to keep her when they say that they could not trust her with the baby (that’s the reason they said they hit her, because her clumsiness almost caused injury to the baby) and they begged to let her stay till they get a replacement. But seeing my cousin, no way, should we allow her to stay there longer! They were scared now since they knew what they were doing is wrong and I got bold and also asked for her unpaid wages but they would not give any saying that they still had to check with a relative in the province before they could give an amount. Ah, that’s one of the problem of some kasambahay here, their parents brings them to Manila to work and get an advance from the employer (sometimes they keep on asking for all their wages so that nothing is left for them). We wanted to settle it so we made a contract for the amount they were supposed to pay and took my cousin. We did not get the full amount but at least we were able to get some PLUS that she got out of that prison!!!

Some kasambahay I know are really better off than where they come from. Some are not just treated as family but actually runs the household already. Well, they are so trusted by their employers that they just give them the budget and they take care of everything. Some even have a chance to go abroad. Our biggest boss in the office takes some of their yayas (nannies) when they go abroad. I remember, one of the girls in the office saying that she wished she was in their household instead of the office so she could go too! My friend has taken her kasambahay to Hongkong (not to work as domestic helper there but for sightseeing) and other places in the country, she even taught her how to check the stock market (something I’m a dummy at) so she could watch her stocks for her. Of course, those are more of the exceptions since a lot of households here with househelps could not even go abroad but also struggle in their day to day life. They get help because they have to go to work and no one would take care of the house and the children. Their net pay after deducting all their expenses to work and paying all their bills and loans are almost nil that they delay the pay of their help.

Anyway back to my home. The tres Marias (that’s what we call them sometimes, we don’t really call them kasambahay too but just call their name) assist 3 households actually since there are 3 families in my home – my mom (that includes me and a nephew), my sister’s family and my brother’s family. I have found a poster last year in Sto. Domingo church on a study program for kasambahays and factory workers wherein they could study computer, kitchen management and other courses for free during Sundays. So instead of taking day offs and spending it malling, they go there. They have interacted with other schools run by the same congregation thru sports fest. It is a good way to learn and interact with other people. We have also started making contribution for them in Social Security System (SSS) so they would have something to look forward to in the future. Actually we did it on the prodding of my other sister (who does not live with us) and she is right, it is better to give them that benefit than immediately increasing pay. I used to think that it was better to just give it to them everything and let them decide what they want to do with it but realized that if they have money sometimes it just gets spent on unimportant things (including celfone loads) or sent home. It is okay to send money to their parents but not everything! I believe that since they are the one’s working then they should taste the fruits of their labor too!

I know that they will not be staying with us forever and I hope that they learn some skills before they finally leave us. I just hope that they don’t leave immediately since it is hard to get good and trustworthy kasambahay!