My first week and a half at my permanent site, Calapan City, Mindoro has been quite interesting and boring all at once.
I think it was my second day of classes I go out to stand near the Trike Terminal (by the way, the trikes in my town aren’t that nice) to go to school. A man is waving at me. I’m kind of late, but I rush over to say a quick hello. I mean, a man should know his neighbors.
“Hello . . . how are you?” the man says. He is clearly homosexual (in the states people can be effeminate without being gay. From my observations of Filipino Culture, it doesn’t usually work that way), but obviously that’s fine. He takes my hand in both of his hands. Gently, but firmly.
“I was asking myself, OH MY GOD . . . who is that GWAPO (handsome)?” I laugh and realize he still hasn’t let go of my hand.
He begins asking me all sorts of questions getting a bit more personal every time. I side-stepped the “where do you live?” question. He begins to kind of pull me closer to himself, but I notice a trike fly by and say, “Oh no! I’m going to be late (which was true)” and I leave.
I have a VERY boring day at school. Get home. Go to sleep. Wake up.
I am standing at the trike stop again. Looking and looking for a trike. I look over at my neighbor. He is waving at me. Trying to get me to come over. I examine him. He is dripping wet, standing outside, wearing nothing but a towel. NOTHING. I watch a bead of water fall down his face and onto his chest. I quickly wave at him and turn around and pray for a trike to come soon . . . I have been hit on in the states. And it’s not like I think I am the only one it has ever happened to . . . but I DO NOT like being hit on. ESPECIALLY by 65yr. old filipino men. SHEESH!
Oh and I can’t count the number of times I have told someone that I have a girlfriend only to be bombarded with explanations of how I can have a girlfriend in the Philippines AND in the States. I’m not that kind of guy. Partially because I’m just not and partially because I just don’t have the patience. I am surrounded by pervs here.
I really do like my students. They are always happy and smiling. They are really great, but being a foreigner in The Phillies . . . SUCKS! Regardless of the fact that the American military left The Phillies back in ’46 people see that you’re not Filipino and yell “HEY JOE!” at you. It gets to you some days. Most of the time I brush it off, but if I’m not having a great day I feel like lashing out. I have been trying to come up with a good comeback. The only thing I can think of is just speaking Tagalog to them. “Hindi ako “Joe”! Pinoy ako!” (I am not Joe! I’m Filipino!). My students also have a hard time respecting me if they haven’t met me yet. I can’t count the number of times I hear “Whassup maaan . . .” of course that is nothing compared to the culturally inept who seem to think it’s ok to say, “What’s up my nig?” I have had to suppress the urge to kick ass several times. I try to remember Jesus . . . Buddha . . . even Gandhi, but I can’t help but want to strangle them when they say stuff like that. But they really are sweet. And when they get to know me I am showered with, “Sir Brandon! Hey! Sir Brandon! Where are you going? How are you?” basically anything that gets me to say hello to them. They are super cute and they are all really nice. They just have their times.
This one’s silly. It’s just that . . . *sigh* Anytime I find anything that reminds me of home it’s different. We have spaghetti in The Phillies . . . but it’s sweet. We have ketchup! . . . but it’s made out of bananas. We have toilets! . . . but they don’t flush. Everything is similar, but there is always some fundamental difference that just makes everything depressing instead of comforting. My latest thing has been Peanut Butter. My Host Ma has a friend who is her lifeline when it comes to Americans. This friend told her Americans like Peanut Butter and . . . syrup? Yep, apparently this woman misread whatever she saw people eating. No . . . um . . . actually, it’s jelly. However, it was close enough. I open the PB. It is SUPER oily. I mean I could pour the stuff into a glass and drink it. Blech! AND . . . just like everything I have encountered it was WAY TOO FREAKING SWEET! Oh well . . . so I chomped on my soggy soggy PB and Syrup sandwich and tried not to cry.
I want to change the world . . . but first I gotta’ conquer life in the fishbowl . . .
– Brandon Holly –