Sunday, November 3, 2019

Hongkong

Before I even went to HongKong, I already heard a lot about the HongKongers. According to many, the Hongkees were very rude people. If you shopped in Hongkong and asked to see a certain item but decided not to buy, the salesperson involved would get mad and abused you orally. ‘You better not ask to see anything if you don’t intend to buy’, these were warnings from friends and relatives alike who had been there.

The Chinese in Hongkong are mostly Cantonese, while majority of the Chinese in the Philippines are from Fujian. The Fujian  people are hospitable and nice, while we consider the Cantonese as more patriotic and enterprising. Patriotism is good. Being enterprising is not bad either, but not to the extend of being too materialistic and rude. This opinion maybe regionalistic and bias; but honestly I think people from certain area tend to posses certain kind of characteristics, developed through long years of associations and practices. There is always some truth to it when the criticism has become widespread.

I went to HongKong for vacation several times. My Chinese brother Uy Chiong Bian lived there with his wife and children. My maternal aunt Josefina Sen too, worked and resided in Hongkong as a pharmacist for a long time. She retired as chief pharmacist at St. Mary or Queen Mary or St. Elizabeth Hospital (I don’t quite remember the exact name.)

The first time my husband Lucas and I visited HongKong was in 19- -, with his brother Dr. Domingo Tan and his wife Jackie from Virginia, USA, and our family friend Roberto Atienza and his wife Alma from Manila. We were three couples, all six of us. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Kowloon side. We went sightseeing during the day, ate at the Jumbo floating restaurant, also ate at some popular food center places and yes, shopped at night.

From my own experience? Indeed, the Hongkongers were very very rude!!!
1. Filipinos like to do small talk. When Berto Atienza tried to do so, the salesperson from the shop rudely told him to take a walk. My husband heard the comment and was simply aghast at the rudeness of the shop keeper. This kind of comment would simply never happen in the Philippines.
2. When my husband Lucas was searching to buy an accessory camera lens from another store, somehow the salesperson inside the shop was showing him several items which he didn’t take fancy to. He asked to see another item from the display counter and the Hongkee salesman said.....” If you can not afford the cheap ones, more so you can’t afford this one.”  My husband was taken aback by such rude presumption. ChiongBian my brother heard it, he quickly tried to appease my husband by saying “If you like it, we can make bargain.” But Lucas was already very angry. He said, “No more! Even if I can afford it, I have totally lost interest to shop here.”

3. On another time and another trip, this time with my children Roy, Tom and Emil. Lucas and I brought the three kids on a vacation from China to HongKong. We brought them to Ocean Park to have fun. The place was great and the children were enjoying the rides tremendously. During lunch time, we took a break. Thankfully despite the crowd, we were able to find a table at the park for ourselves. I told Lucas to sit with the children while I go ordered some food. The line was long and of course I queued with the throng of people waiting in line. When it was my turn to put my order at the counter, all of a sudden the line was broken up. People came to my left and those behind me at my right were placing orders before me. But being a mother hen, knowing that my children were already hungry, I quickly defended myself. I said first in Mandarin “Wu sien” then folllowed it up in English “I am here first”. When the counter attendant heard me thus speak, he quickly turned and attended to me first. Tsk, tsk, tsk.....maybe they thought I was an ignorant Filipino nanny. Haha!

4. My auntie Josefina Sen was very kind and hospitable when she knew we were in HongKong. She treated us to a sumptuous buffet dinner at Parklane Hotel, which my three boys were completely at awe and delighted at the array of good gourmet. Aunt Josefina was very pleased with my kids, the next night she further brought us to a newly opened restaurant. She treated us like VIP. We were chauffeured in her Mercedes Benz. (She had two including a van!). Inside this newly opened restaurant, she ordered Peking duck and plenty of other dishes. But alas, Auntie had a fit of tantrum when the waiter did not pay heed to her repeated request. (I guess it is in our blood line that we become very fierce when mad. Hehe.) She scolded the waiter in Cantonese. She said she belonged to a group of people who go out often, eating at popular places in Hongkong and she will tell all her friends not to eat there. “Your restaurant is so new and you’re so arrogant already.” She said. The restaurant quickly changed our waiters and kept on apologizing to her the whole night through. After dinner, they even gave us freebies of fresh fruits and special tea. But auntie Josefina was so angry, she didn’t take a single bite, all through out the night.

5. Despite that, I still went to HongKong several times more. I brought my twin girls for their first out of the country vacation from China to HongKong. HongKong for me was a great place. It was nice and clean, the food was superb. But I will tell you frankly, I honestly don’t trust the Hongkees much. Even the concierge at the Ambassador Hotel where we were staying, was acting superior and insisting for us to take the cab when I was asking him for certain direction. Luckily a Filipino Chinese family man heard us, and told us how to take the subway. The young man said he was helping us because he hated the rude Hongkees much. Hahaha. Luckily my brother ChiongBian was very helpful. He was always available to bring us around the metropolis. He guided us through the train transit and all. My twins had a most wonderful time in Hongkong.

6. But my experience in Hongkong was getting better. The last time I went there with Lucas and my siblings, we had better experiences with the Hongkongers. There was even a young man who voluntarily helped us buy our train tickets. He looked at my husband and told Lucas, that he could avail of senior discount. Hurrah! Things have changed. The shop people where also more engaging and friendly to us that I was able to buy more things. Maybe they were getting much competitions from Singapore, Korea and Japan. We all thought.

But alas, with the recent demonstrations, riots and destructions of properties, I say the young Hongkongers are foolish, readily destroying their own place and future. The older generations had built up Hongkong to such prosperity. Why do the youngsters want the Americans instead?! Have they totally lost their sense of history and/or geography? You are a small part of China. You are attached to the mainland no matter what. You are not an island that can be segregated. What do the foreigners care? The tourists can always go somewhere else. And America now a days does not want more immigrants specially trouble makers. Such a waste of energy. Maybe the people should just learn to be more kind, than arrogant. And things can get better.........





Monday, October 21, 2019

Crowds

I do not like crowded places. Even as a youngster, when my elder sisters who liked to go bargain hunting at places and markets such as Quiapo, Avenida or Divisoria, Manila; I would beg off, not to go with them. I hated the idea of keeping alert all the time, watching over my shoulder, holding tightly onto my purse or shoulder bag, lest I get robbed, pickpocketed or what not. I had very limited money, I could not afford to lose any. Hehehe.

Instances like:
1. When I was a college student in Manila and I went shopping one day with my cousin Adele and my high school classmate Corazon Te. We went shopping at Good Earth Emporium. Unfortunately, my friend Corazon was pickpocketed inside. It so happened that she lost fifty pesos of shopping money when she and my cousin Adele joined a crowded group looking for bargain t-shirts. As they were curiously browsing with the crowd, I distanced myself away to look at other things. When Corazon decided to buy the shirt, she put her hand inside her dress pocket to draw the cash, but alas the money was no longer there. How she cried about losing that 50 pesos because it belonged to her sister Annabelle who requested her to go shopping in her behalf.

2. Also my sister Jeannette, she lost a packet of jewelry from her hand bag while inside the National Bookstore, Harrison Plaza. There was some kind of promotional sale and my sister was attracted by the big crowd of people going inside the store. (Jeannette was always attracted to sale because she was always reselling them items too.) Together with sis Imelda and some of my siblings, they entered that crowded place, but I decided to stay outside and window shopped elsewhere instead. There was a big commotion when she lost her costly jewelry. Alas, that foray to the crowded National Book Store spoiled our supposed to be happy family time.

These were 1 and 2 instances where I verily trusted my instinct to not join the crowded melee.

Also, even during the pre-martial law demonstration era when I was still studying at UST, I had never joined students protests nor marches. I would always go straight home from school even when classes were suspended for students to supposedly participate. I was afraid of commotion, of things getting out of hand and of getting hurt. I heard enough stories where some students who joined demonstration out of curiosity and suddenly caught in a frenzy of danger. You just never knew when things would go awry.

And mass hysteria in any form such as shrieking for movie idols, singers or celebrities, I wasn’t much into it either.

It takes a crowd to create mass hysteria. For me mass hysteria is always scary. Some rationality is always lost there. It’s like a spell of some kind. It is usually accompanied by shouts or chants and violence. I had seen small gang members during high school possessed by the power of the group. When separated individually, they were as meek as can be. Historically, Hitler made use of mass hysteria to carry out his atrocities. The ideology of Communism was also spread through the hysteria of the common cause. So too with regards to many other forms of cultism or extremism. And surely, if anybody has ever forgotten, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was carried out by mass hysteria too.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Pictures of My Roof Top Garden

My roof top garden has seen better and worse time. Lately I try to revive the garden back to its old glory by re-plotting, replanting, trimming the edges, and restructuring the landscape. Below are photos of my recent effort.

The orchids patch- my primary concern was to revive the orchids by replanting and repotting them. I still have to see my effort bear blossoms.
 
 The cattleyas are still blooming so far.
 I bought and brought in new species.
 Planted pandakaki and surrounded them with kucharitas.
 Trimmed the bayabas (guava) tree.
 Grouped the potted mini roses
 I have cactus plant too, potted gumamela (hibiscus), and several re-sodded palmeras, etc.
 My well trimmed sampaguita corner.
 Budding doubled sampaguita specie.
 More potted plants......etc, etc.
 Queenie who used to topple and break the pots is now enjoying the garden. His nemesis the gardener Rowena Salac is not working for me anymore. Hehehe.
 Most specially I like to pick the blooms to offer to my Lady of Lourdes. A mini grotto situated before entering my abode.
 Here is a couple of my more recent pink cattleyas.
 Mini roses for my mini grotto.
 I like to decorate my home with potted plants too.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Garden

My garden in Cotabato is on the rooftop of the building.

When we put up the three storied building in 1980, the heat from the concrete on top was unbearable. Since two families lived directly below, we decided to put a small rooftop atrium and a garden to minimize the heat to our abodes. My husband Lucas commissioned his Masonic brother, Dr. Eduardo Rabago to do it. Ed Rabago did a pretty good job. He built a rooftop shade with a small garden along the edge. With it, we were able to enjoy a nice breezy green space on top and also a place for our children to play. During those days, family members went up often for a stroll or to look around. The kids of both families played and rode their bikes on the rooftop. We also liked to watch the night sky occasionally. Sometimes we held parties over there too. My late mother-in-law was happiest to have the garden. She liked potted plants and flowers. She went up to take care of them. My brother-in-law Luna and his wife Tina also got pretty much engaged with it and started planting greens around the garden too. During those times, I was the least involved with gardening. I would however pick flowers and shrubs from the plots and beautify my house with potted greens and fresh flowers for my mini grotto too. I was however very careful not to pluck their orchids or any of my in-laws favorite plants. Lest I get on their bad sides. Hehehe.

My mother-in-law passed away in 1994. Our children left home for college. Luna and Tina lost interest on the garden plot, and I became busy running my own pre-school to care much about the atrium. We left the place for our domestic helpers to keep. Everybody went to the rooftop less and less except for the helps. But housemaids ‘come and go’, and so one day I went up thinking of getting a few potted plants for my St. Martha School to use. To my dismay, the atrium was in complete disarray. Plastics, papers, styrofoam, pails, clothes pins, bottles and what not, were scattered all around. Flowers pots were broken and plants were either growing wild or whithering. Alas! It had become a dumping ground for rubbish. Yet I was still too busy to take hold of the situation. I got to tell the maids however, to clean and burn the garden trash weekly little by little on a certain concrete box corner of the garden which was safe enough; or the fire department might think the house was on fire.

When I closed my school in 2009 and retired early from work, I hired my St. Martha School helper Rowena Salac to tend to the garden. She did a pretty good job there and the garden began to bloom again. The orchids became plentiful and there were many flowering shrubs for me to delight with. I decorated my home with healthy plants and I adorned my grotto with cattleyas, sampaguitas and other blooms. But alas, few years later, Rowena could not get along with my and my sister-in-law’s other housemaids and so thus she left. After her, I took another girl who was looking for a job to keep the garden alive but woe, this girl was simply too lazy and the garden was soon invaded by weeds, rats and out growths and it became so unsightly. When I did not increase her salary for a job not well done this year, she quit. After she left, I did not hire anymore gardener to replace her. Last week though,  I commissioned  a professional landscaper to clear this mini jungle of overgrowth trees, plants and weeds. The landscaper employed a group of four to five people for three days to remove the unwanted shrubs and trees. They disposed off the rubbish too on their little truck.They also trimmed the hedges. Now, my garden looks good and civilized. I call it mine now. I earned the right to own it, I guess.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Family Taiwan Tour

Two days after the birthday of my husband Lucas C. Tan, my entire family from the grandfather to the grandkids, took an early flight to Taiwan for a 5D4N vacation on July 14, 2019. We were a family of 11 persons. Thankfully we were accommodated on a tourist bus big enough for 30 people. That was the most luxurious part of the vacation for me, with WiFi connection inside the bus, plus individual charger outlet, bottles of water and a very accommodating tourist guide.
Our luxurious bus!
And some highlights pictures below:
First stop at Yehliu Geopark.
First family lunch at Taiwan.
Taocheng Farm
 

Do it yourself barbecue dinner.
DIY lantern making. Marion helping nephew Dylan fold the rice paper.
 

Our DIY lantern ready to fly.
Farm tour
Loving all our delicious meals together.
 
At Xifun old town district.
Taipei 101
National Museum
Family picture before the changing of the guards.
Xiling night market.
Chiang Kai Sek Memorial
Pineapple factory

DIY pineapple pie making

 Our very own

Beautiful interactions before we enplaned back to the Philippines.
It was a fun family holiday!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Party Moments

Line dance practice before the event. Hahaha.
The emcee and the welcome address.
 My serenade to the celebrant.
Dancing with the celebrant.
An emotional hug.
 Lucas and his family gathering around the birthday cake.
 Happy birthday to you!!!
 Blowing of the candles
 Thanks giving prayer and grace before meal.
 Eldest son toasting the ideal father.
 Family line dance presentation
 Dancing with joy and gusto. Hehehe.
 The dancing family finale bow.
 The dancing instructors taking over the community dance.
 Guests and family members happily participating.
Ballroom dancing: Cerio Toh dancing with the lady instructor.
 Ballroom dancing: My daughter Marion and her boyfriend Marion Olmillo.
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