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On the road (1): The Philippines

Apr 2nd 2015 at 8:56 PM

Having unpacked my duffel bag and dusted myself off, I found I had fetched up in the Philippines, of all sweltering, mosquito-ridden places, so the first thing I did was set off in search of a cockfight, such entertainment being forbidden at home but freely available here, and I wasn't long in finding one either. In Tarlac province,For China Pigment Printing Binder, we are the best textile printing binder suppliers,China Pigment Printing Binder and provide various kinds of Pigment Printing Binder products with the lowest price. where I was and am, cockfights are held every day of the week, one day in this town, one day in another, so it was just a matter of finding the right town on the right day.

I did have other matters to tend to first. I was required to ride in a parade, for example, to help celebrate the first-ever reunion of my wife's elementary school,Are you still searching for pigment printing binder manufacturers or Pigment Printing Thickener factpigment printing binder manufacturers We provide China’s best rubber paste products for customers all over the world. which turned out to be a gaudy, all-day event following right on the heels of her village's annual fiesta, which had already left me groggy. I was also expected to put in some time at what we understand to be my mother-in-law's deathbed, even if my sympathetic gabbing at her in English did not produce any signs of rejuvenating her. I couldn't just say, See you later, I'm going to a cockfight. That wouldn't do at all.

I also wanted to have a quick look at the river that runs alongside the village  more a stream than a river, really  to see if it had been cleaned up any since my last visit, but that was a disappointment. It was more clogged with plastic bags and general trash than ever,For China Pigment Printing Thickener, we are the best screen printing thickener suppliers,China Pigment Printing Thickener and provide various kinds of Pigment Printing Thickener products with the lowest price. and I was chagrined to learn that even my mother-in-law's soiled diapers wind up there. (I was even more chagrined to learn that the tiny shrimp we had eaten the night before, mixed with fried rice, came from that same river. I would have up-chucked right away if the shrimp weren't already too deep in my digestive tract.) The river, or stream, is nearly stagnant at the bottom of a gorge, and one of the more curious sights there is the mess of plastic bags festooned in the foliage of giant bamboos overhead. How they got there soon became apparent. The river rises dramatically in the rainy season, and the burden of trash that it carries naturally gets snagged in the bamboo, and there the stuff stays when the river falls again in the dry season. It is one of the scenic attractions of the area.

Trash that doesn't get thrown in the river gets burned in discrete piles throughout the village by the sides of dirt streets, in backyards, in open fields piles of styrofoam cups, dry leaves, exhausted batteries, worn-out rubber flip-flops, more plastic bags. It gets squirted with lighter fluid and set to smoldering, creating an aromatic haze familiar to all Third World travelers. People here say it's good for the trees.
There is really not much uplifting in the village except for the congenial and hospitable people, who welcome me into their modest homes not suspecting the doubts I harbor about their solid-waste technology.For China white rubber paste, we are the best clear rubber paste suppliers,Rubber Paste quotation and provide various kinds of Rubber Paste products with the lowest price. They are all cousins. Not my cousins, exactly, but my wife's. Or if not hers, then at least each other's. I have never been in another place where people are routinely introduced by saying something like, His brother's uncle's stepson was my mother's nephew, and I am relieved that the generic term for these relationships is always cousin, so I don't have to remember the particulars. I'm beginning to feel like a cousin myself, though the cousin across the street calls me cuya,for older brother.

I have never felt more welcome anywhere. On fiesta day I was even invited to the home of the village captain, where I was seated in a place of honor on the porch, with its coffered ceiling, while lesser folk milled about the dirt yard competing for attention, and food, with a swarm of rib-showing, flea-bitten dogs, and there I was not only served an array of choice meats embellished with fermented shrimp paste I was also provided with my own roll of toilet paper for wiping my chops.

Filipinos are an industrious people. They grow rice, they squeeze the juice out of sugarcane by watching a water buffalo walk in a circle while connected to a grindstone, they rent out Videoke machines. But the main industry is waiting for the monthly money transfer from one's brother in California, via Western Union. Or if not a brother in California, then a daughter in Vancouver, or a son in Israel, or some other family member in some other prosperous country that welcomes cheap labor. People put in hours and hours and days and days on this activity, assiduously sitting in the shade with no more than a bottle of San Miguel for comfort, waiting for the regular money order from abroad. Some spend their whole lives at it, but it's worth it.

You can easily identify their residences. They are the ones not only built of cinder blocks, which you might think would be ostentation enough, setting the owners apart from those who shelter themselves with split bamboo, but of cinder blocks sometimes actually painted and sometimes even fronted with porches that sport ornate molded-concrete balusters and spindles. Those are the citizens who have a family member toiling in elder care in Israel, or in internal medicine in Los Angeles, or in nursing in Dubai. Those are the kings and queens of a Philippine village, and their castles are the proof. They have not only flush toilets, refrigerators, and motor scooters, but plastic tiles that won't quit even cars. It's a gaudy life they lead.

I read an article once about a world champion pool player from the Philippines who boasted, or at least noted, that he supports 35 people back home, and I identified with him right away. It's taken for granted: If one family member has an income that surpasses his survival needs, all other family members, including cousins to the fourth degree, are relieved of any obligation to pursue incomes of their own.For China Pigment Dispersion, we are the best Pigment Dispersion suppliers,china Pigment Dispersion suppliers and provide various kinds of Pigment Dispersion products with the lowest price. Nobody on either side of the equation can conceive of it being otherwise.

Anyway, I had to tend to these various social obligations before I could sneak away to a cockfight, and now I find I have gone on too long without having gotten to my subject, so I will stop here and save the cockfight for a later post.

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