Fake Eyelashes, Short-Stacks: Filipino Facts

I’m long overdue! Quirks and quips that don’t quite make a story:

  • Stamps are “cheap as” here! 120 pesos to send 8 international postcards? That’s about $3. Take THAT, New Zealand! Now I just need to find the time to compose some more.

  • I don’t have 6.6 pounds (3 kilos) worth of clothing. That’s the magic number: the minimum accepted at laundry joints. I can make 2.5K if I wash literally every scrap of fabric in my bag (leaving me with a laugh-riot of an outfit to don during the 24-hour service period). What do I do? Beg them to pretend its three kilos instead of charging me outlandish “per piece” prices. It usually works.

    My laundry bag. This plastic sack has been containing my washables for over two years now. Weird.

  • Fake eyelashes! My new friend Mae (Filipina-Canadian) said, “I was cursed with Asian eyelashes.” And she gets fake ones! One at a time! It takes hours! My limited experience in this arena is drag queens and my Mexican host mom’s diva strips she wore every day. I didn’t know you could get real-looking eyelashes glued on one by one. The downside: as they come off, people will always be trying not to get caught figuring out what’s up with your eyelids. Or, if they are blunt like me, they’ll always be telling you, “Umm…. you have.. uh, there’s something on your eye…”

  • Why have a stockyard when you can just keep pigs on the trucks? Saw probably twenty flat bed trucks with cages mounted on back full of pigs alongside the road.

  • I’m really uncomfortable being direct with strangers. I feel rude. But it’s the way things are done here! I can’t hack it. I just can’t yell to a bus driver, “STOP!” I’m more of a, “Excuse me, sir. Could you stop here, please?” I had a taxi driver taking me to a neighborhood neither of us knew well. Let’s say we were looking for Gladstone. He would randomly pull over, grunt at a pedestrian, and then yell, “Gladstone?! Gladstone. Gladstone?!” Then the pedestrian would either shake his head or say something to the effect of, “Ahhh… Gladstone” and gesture in the general direction we should go. I think I’d have to be here for at least six months straight before I could shake the niceties out of my speech

    Don't be shy...

  • Time management (I know this will get some laughs of scorn from anyone with a class load or a job). I always forget to account for time doing enjoyable things. I spent maybe three hours on Skpye the other morning catching up with friends and family. Halfway through the day, I was scolding myself for not accomplishing much. But talking to my loved ones certainly counts as more than nothing, eh?

  • Iglesia Ni Christo — this is a religious sect most popular in the Philippines with numbers similar to that of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s less well known because they don’t have as much of an international presence. The church started in the 20th century and basically tries to get Catholics to denounce their devotion and join “the one true church.” I became interested in them because their churches are gorgeous.

One of the many spectacular facades... (I never actually went into one of these churches. Next time, I guess.)

  • Perspective — met a man who kept complaining that “this place is too touristic.” We were just in Any-old-hub-city, Philippines. And everywhere I looked, I saw…. Filipinos. I picked his brain, and he described the quaint restaurants, air-conditioned shops, etc. He opined, “These are not the kinds of places most Filipinos can afford to be.” On a walk, we ended up in a poorer neighborhood. Nothing but shacks. He said, “Here. Finally. THIS is not “touristic.” Then it dawned on me that he just wanted to escape any commonalities with western culture. I relate to that — I went through the same sort of mass-rejection-of-self-and-culture when I was in my early 20’s. But… this guy had to be mid-to-late thirties. And he’s traveled quite a bit. So it was weird to me that he refused to acknowledge anyone but poor Filipinos as being “real.” I sort of wanted to tell him that basically all my Filipino friends have more money than I do. And they’re people too. And culture as they experience it is just as important and multi-dimensional and interesting as culture from the perspective of a poor-fifth generation rice farmer. If I hadn’t been so surprised, perhaps I could have helped him rethink his perspective. As in, “Well, you’re not really a “real” French person. You’re not even from Paris.”

  • The height chart at the hospital where I went to x-ray my busted ankle highlighted the stature differences that I quickly forget. It shows a baby at 1ft, a toddler at 2ft, a kindergartener at 3ft, a middle-schooler at 4ft., and an adult at 5 ft. That’s it. There are not enough tall freaks here to warrant a chart that stretches any higher.

  • RH Bill. I keep forgetting to ask one of my friends about this political hot spot.   I was first exposed to the controversy near the main cathedral in Baguio. A giant poster showcasing festering open wounds purportedly from different cancers graced the top of the stairs coming up from the city street. A scare campaign. As this is a birth control issue, you can guess what the Catholic church thinks. There were lots of quotes about the evils that will be let loose if the bill passes – quotes from esteemed sources — such as the Physician’s Desk Reference. Which just served to remind me how important it is to always question sources and one’s readiness to believe in them. Many of us choose news sources that tell us what we want to hear — whether it’s Fox News or CNN. Facts to support our mostly-emotional opinions can be found fairly easily.



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