May 10-16 Edition
April 10, 2014
So many times I've overcome the sweet temptation of judging. As a traveler, I really have to struggle against passing judgment on the culture of the places I'm passing through.
I'm thankful I found good friends here in Cebu. I'd rather be here than in Manila because of the relative lack of traffic and typhoons. There are exceptions, but my experiences with the locals are consistently negative. Yesterday I wrote about in my journal the story of the new neighbor who deliberately plays his radio too loud.
Today alone there are two more examples. On the lobby earlier (aside from another separate story I wrote on the locals' brazen lack of elevator etiquette) I found it staggering to see so many women here that are noisier and more flirtier than the prostitutes of Manila.
Then, when I was in the office canteen about half an hour ago, I saw a real emblematic scene. The pantry TV was showing Chasing Mavericks. I haven't seen it before and I would have watched it.I go early before my shift just to watch cable movies on the pantry while having dinner.
Then somebody just switched the channel. I remember him on an earlier scene. He's one of those loud people who are desperate for attention. I saw more superficial people here in Cebu than the entire Luzon and Visayas. But this creature is easily the most pretentious person I have ever seen. That's what struck me the first time I saw him, watching American Idol and projecting an image of sophistication.
Now, he just switched the channel, again to American Idol, just like that. This plastic creature did not even have an iota of decency to even pretend to be considerate. I like Cebu. The place.
April 21, 2014
9:08 p.m., Monday
I was trying to watch The Croods in the 12th floor office pantry. That’s when again I saw the dark side of the people in this town.
The more I mingle with the locals here in Cebu, the more I lose my hope in the goodness of man. It really seems that being inconsiderate is part of the local culture.
Just now, I left my ID on an empty table near the TV to ask the kitchen crew to heat my dinner because the microwave isn't working. Some guy with a dark aura sat in my seat while I was in the counter.
Then another guy, whose aura is insidiously negative, came to buy candy. I felt waves of dreadful vibes being next to him. He went near the TV and sat beside the guy who took my seat. They can see that an ID has been left on the table because somebody was sitting there. But they didn't care. I'm overwhelmed by their obviously uneducated behavior.
I encountered the greediest and most shameless people I ever met here in Cebu. That's saying a lot because I've been more places that I can write here. A lot of natives here are no different from the territorial power trippers from the slums of Manila.
April 23, 2014
This is the most sustained culture shock I've ever experienced. I'm now over a year in Cebu and I'm still consistently stupefied by the flagrant lack of basic good manners here.
If that has an insidious ring to it, it was validated by what I saw yesterday. I was sitting on the floor of BookSale in Elizabeth Mall rummaging through the piles. I heard an American national complaining that he has never seen such rude people anywhere.
"Me neither," I said to no one in particular.
Here's the scene: the American and a Filipino were both looking at the shelves. The Filipino bent down and bumped into the American. It was the Filipino who had the gall to be irate. He told the American that he shouldn't be there because he was looking at the books.
The American said it was obvious that there was somebody at the back. But the Filipino was adamant. It's a typical cultural trait of being territorial, exemplified most viscerally in squatter areas.
"Sir, you should take responsibility for how you are affecting other people," said the American, clearly upset but visibly trying to control his anger.
I know exactly where he's coming from. I'm up to my neck in my encounters like that. The American moved to another section.
"You son of a bitch!" said the Filipino, walking away. It's totally uncalled for. That was indisputable proof of his low character.
"Excuse me?," said the American, stunned. "Are you calling me names?" He went after him.
The Filipino, true to form, scurried away, like the coward he is. It's the uncouth local barbarians like him who give foreigners a bad impression of our culture. He is a disgrace to our country. Either that, or he's the epitome.
"Pathetic bastard," said the American.
"Amen," I murmured.
April 29, 2014, Sunday
I'm a traveler, I'm extremely overwhelmed by the sheer number of negative characters here in Cebu.
Just now, in an Internet shop, I saw again how consistent is greed in the local culture. I asked the rude counter girl to print something I downloaded. It was four pages. She asked if four pages, and I said yes.
By the time I was logging out, she charged me for hundreds of pages. She was insisting that I told to print four copies of each page. I was adamant that I will not pay it. I declared that I will pay only what I asked to printed. She changed the fonts so my file came up to seven pages instead.
I said we can go the police or the barangay (village district) captain but I will not pay it. She called their main office and explained to her boss. "Sinungaling (liar)" I said for all to hear. "I want to talk to your boss," I said, but she put down the phone. As I was going out, she told me not to come back. I never will.
April 9, 2014 Wednesday
This is my Tagalog text marathon to my friends RG, GD and JM in Metro Manila. It's my way of keeping in touch and expressing my feelings
Sa dami ng mga pinagdaanan ko sa buhay, matagal kong pinaglabanan ang mawalan ng tiwala sa sangkatauhan. Subalit, sa gitna ng Ondoy at Yolanda, tuluyan na itong naganap. Ngunit pilit ko pa ring tinatanim sa isip ko na marami pa rin ang mga may mabuting kalooban. Sana madalas ko silang nakakadaop-palad.
Nangyari na naman kanina lang tanghali, ngayong Araw ng Kagitingan at isang linggo bago mag-Cuaresma, na nakita ko na naman na may mga taong ubod ng itim ang budhi.
Ang tinitirhan ko ngayon ay isang maliit na kwarto malapit sa kasalukuyang pinagtatrabahuan ko. Masaya ako nung mga unang buwan kasi tahimik at hindi mainit kaya nakakatulog ako nang maayos. Ngunit dumating ang bagong kapitbahay na sobrang ingay magpatugtog. Talagang dumada-ngundong pati ang pader ko. Hindi yun ang unang pagkakataon. Hindi yun ang unang pagkakataon. Sinabihan ko ang kasera. Kakausapin daw niya pero wala naman siyang ginawa.
Naghihinayang ako, hindi dahil gusto ko ang lugar, kundi dahil mura lang ang upa kaya nakakatipid ako sa gastos at nakakapag-ipon kahit paano. Pero kailangan ko nang umalis. Pang-apat ko nang bahay ito sa Cebu bukod sa Talisay. Nangupahan ako una sa Sudlon, dalawang beses sa Lahug at ngayon dito sa Cabantan. Isa lang ang dahilan bakit palagi akong lumilipat: maingay masyado ang mga kapitbahay.
Marahil hindi maarok ng isip ko kung bakit may mga gano'ng asal. Bakit may mga tao na walang modo at wala man lang ni konting pagsasa-alang-alang sa iba? Kung wala silang malasakit, sana pwede kahit konting hiya man lang. Ang tanging pakonsuwelo ko na lang sa sarili ay hindi ako tulad nila. Sa palagay ko, may naghihintay na mas magandang tirahan na may mga kapitbahay na marangal at may kagandahang asal.
Ako yung tipo na mas gusto ko na nasa bahay lang, tahimik na lumilikha ng mga obra or kaya ay nagbabasa ng mga aklat, kaysa makisalimuha sa madla. Naging lagalag ako dahil sa mga tao na hindi ko talaga masikmura ang pag-uugali. Wala naman akong sariling tahanan kaya walang pumipigil sa akin upang manatili sa kung saan ay hindi na ako masaya. Dahil duon ay tumanim sa isip ko na malaki ang mundo. Ganun pa man, nais ko pa rin na maniwala na mayroong lugar sa na kung saan maaari kong masabi, kahit pansamantala lamang, na duon ako nababagay, na kung saan ay magiging panatag ang aking kalooban, habang tinatahak ko ang landas ng aking buhay sa ilalim ng langit.