Welcome! I'm Brad, a retired American high school teacher who has been living in Cabanatuan City, the Philippines for more than three years. My adoptive/adopted Filipino family, the Javier-Aldonza-Guevarra-Academia clan, the kind staff at the hotel across the street where I used to live, and the Raguindin family, under whose roof I now live, have been friends and helpmates to me during this time; thanks to them for letting me describe here their trials, successes, heartaches, celebrations, passions, so that American readers can get an idea of Filipino life. It has, for the most part, been a very enjoyable stay. I post every four to ten days, y'all. Tap the lower floors above for earlier posts, and, as ever, click the pics to embiggen them!

Ubo ("His Regal Highness") and Ciao ("The Runt").


Ninong Brad

Mariel and Aaron are comfortable; all symptoms of dengue have disappeared from both of them. Mariel is busy making up schoolwork, while Aaron is kept to a slow pace making up his modules, with the blessing of his teachers, during the two weeks of bedrest ordered by his doctor.

Twice the Health Office has thoroughly fogged the duplex and sprayed its surroundings. We hope the dengue-carrying mosquitoes, along with any hatchlings and eggs, have been eradicated.

The beautiful young lady above is Jazzlyn Denice Domingo, and she was baptized the day before yesterday. Traditionally in the culture here, those baptized into the Catholic Church are assigned three godparents (ninong/ninang) by their families: if it's a boy, two godfathers and one godmother, and if it's a girl, two godmothers and one godfather. But there is no limit to the number of godparents a child can have, and Jazzlyn's mom Des and her grandmom Lola Cita are not traditionalists: Jazzlyn has 14 godfathers and 14 godmothers. I'm one of the godfathers, and of course I attended her christening at Dambana Church in Barangay Magsaysay Norte.

Lola Cita and Des have been friends of mine for years now. An intersection in Barangay Bitas has Fred's Hotel on one corner, the function hall of Fred's on another corner, the Raguindin family home where I now live on a third corner, and Lola Cita's sari-sari store and eatery on the remaining corner. Lola Cita's given name is Rosita and before last year I called her Dona Cita (tilde on the "n"), but when she became a grandmother the honorific changed to "Lola" (after Mirah was born last year, I became a "lolo.")

I was to pick up Lola Cita and a neighborhood friend of hers at 9:30 am. Parked in front of the closed sari-sari at 9:30 sharp, wearing long dress pants and my best shirt, and waited. Waited twenty minutes. Had forgotten to take into acount we're on Filipino time here. Des, her husband Jrm (I'm spelling that right), and little Jazzlyn left in their own air-conditioned ride, and finally Lola Cita and her friend (one of the 14 ninangs) showed up.

The Dambana Church (more formally known as The Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church) is a large wooden pavilion-style church, very much appealing really. We sat two to a pew, as instructed, and after a while a prayer lady came out with a microphone. "Prayer ladies" are one aspect of the 72 Philippine diocese that set them apart from all the other Catholic diocese in the world. These very pious women are usually attached to churches, wear normal clothes, and are respected for their ascetic lifestyle and the quality of their prayers. This prayer lady leaned on a table next to a pew in the front row and spoke at times lightly, at times fervently in Tagalog for the better part of an hour. Then there was a break during which we all waited for the priest to arrive.

My pewmate, a young man who was a friend of Jrm, introduced himself to me as John, and then asked me if I were Catholic. I said no, and he said he too was not a Catholic: he had converted to the Baptist belief at the age of fifteen. I asked him a question or two about that but didn't want to have the appearance of prying. It seems his conversion did not raise a major ruckus in his family. I spoke of my own Episcopalian childhood, and he had some questions about Episcopalianism. The Episcopalian Church is quite small in the Philippines, whereas the Baptists here have made the greatest inroads among the Protestant faiths and number about 600,000. Catholics make up 83% of the church-going public, far outnumbering Protestants, Moslems, and Buddhists combined. 

After about 45 minutes the priest arrived, and with his fine stentorian voice he delivered the ritual of baptism in Tagalog. Little Jazzlyn, sleeping now after a warm bottle, got dowsed, woke up, and grimaced at the world. Then it was time for photos.





It Could Have Been Much Worse

Aaron had "severe" dengue; that is, he had been bitten by two different species of dengue-carrying mosquito. The mosquito genus responsible for dengue has four species, I've read, and if a person is infected twice with different virus serotypes -- that is, virus from two of these mosquito species -- the result is a dengue with a special wallop, known simply as severe dengue. Mariel did not have severe dengue, but she was in much pain (as most are with either form of dengue); Aaron appeared to have the symptoms of a flu bug, did not seem to be in much pain. I certainly have more respect for a mother's intuition now than I had last week: Jheng sensed there was something other than flu affecting Aaron, acted on that sense, and may well have saved her son's life.

The severe dengue caused Aaron to go into shock, which may be the reason he did not seem to be in much pain.  If Jheng had been later in getting him checked, this "compensated shock" could easily have cascaded into "decompensated shock," a condition that is very difficult to treat and that fairly often, if I've read this medical verbiage correctly, results in death.

Aaron was released yesterday. Due to Covid, only Jheng and her mother had been allowed in the hospital during Aaron and Mariel's stays there. I saw him today, and we had a good hug. Saw Mariel too; she is weak but pain-free. Aaron is consigned to bedrest for two weeks, after which he will see his doctor for a checkup. Little man. And the duplex and its surroundings have been "fogged" twice now by the Health Office.