Welcome! I'm Brad, a retired American high school teacher who has been living in Cabanatuan City, the Philippines for over a year. My adoptive/adopted Filipino family, the Javier-Aldonza-Guevarra-Academia clan, as well as the kind staff at the hotel where I live, have been friends and helpmates to me during this time. It has, for the most part, been a very enjoyable stay. This blog was originally set up to keep friends and loved ones back in the U.S. apprised of what I'm experiencing Phlipside. Some Filipino friends read it as well, and now that the blog is part of an expat blog network, I guess "friends who are not yet friends" are occasionally included in the readership! Will post at least once a week. Tap the lower floors above for earlier posts, and, as ever, click the pics to embiggen them.

Rainy Cabanatuan.


Jane's Family Just Grew A Whole Lot Bigger

Over the weekend, Jane took public transportation to Paranaque, a city in Metro Manila, to see her father -- I offered her the car, but she said she did not want to have to deal with Manila's traffic. I've mentioned in a previous post that Jane, James, and Marielle had recently reunited with the father who had left them when they were small; he settled down in Paranaque and started a new family many years ago.

On this trip, the father wanted to take her to the province of Rizal, east of Manila, to meet the family from which he had run away after a terrible fight with his father when he was just 14 years of age. He had never gotten back in touch with his family until just recently, if I'm not mistaken more recently than his reaching out to his Cabanatuan children; nostalgia certainly put a grip on him this past year. Anyway, he has eight brothers and sisters, each with his or her own family. And so Jane had a great deal of catching up to do with this platoon of uncles, aunts, cousins, and children of cousins whom she had never met before! She sent me pictures; everyone in them is smiling, I was relieved to see.

The church where Jane attended the christening of one of her "new relatives."

Jane with (I looked it up) a first cousin once removed.

It was a remarkable visit for Jane. While she was in Paranaque and Rizal, I stopped by the duplex and offered to take the children out for halo-halo, that cold Philippine treat; Marielle joined us. A little restaurant that specializes in halo-halo is less than a kilometer down the Aurora road from the duplex; we were stirring our concoctions together and munching on fries within minutes.

A thick, sweet syrup full of fruit in the halo-halo Aaron and I chose needs to be pulled up with one's spoon into the shaved ice/condensed milk center. What you see at the top are egg slices done adobo style and corn. Yes, corn. It was delish.

In other news, the conference platform Cathy found for me to tutor upon has proven less than adequate. There are sound issues, and students have been unceremoniously jettisoned from two sessions so far. Also, it is slow. Enterprising Chinese had pirated this platform from an American company, but had not done a very good job of pirating, it seems. Perhaps they just need time to get the bugs out; at any rate, Cathy is searching for a better platform, and google has helped me to provide her with some possibilities.

. . . And the small foyer I've always known to exist outside the entrance to Mama Luz's half of the duplex had to be dismantled yesterday; city officials had told her it was too close to the Aurora road, and if she didn't take it down government workers would be sent out to demolish it. It had been a convenient structure in many ways; footware was placed there, clothes were hung to dry there, and the foyer provided a place from which to sell to passersby protected from the rain. It will be missed, I'm sure!


Swamped and Happy




As one of the runoffs on the second-floor deck of the SM Mall indicates, downpours can be pretty dramatic on Luzon. A string of typhoons is moving westbound north of the island, barging into Taiwan, Japan, and the Chinese coast. They themselves are by and large not affecting us, but their counterclockwise spinning is pulling southern monsoon rains up into Luzon: for the past several days it has been very wet here. Parts of roadways are under several inches of water, the umbrella is essential gear, and Boudicca seems quite indignant at the crimp this is putting into her outdoor time.

Speaking of crimps, the Chinese government put a big one into the few hours of tutoring I do online each week. The U.S.-based platform that the Chengdu-based tutoring service uses was just placed off limits to the Chinese citizenry, and Cathy and I had to scramble to find a new and suitable and "Chinese allowed" conference platform (Cathy, who has a high-pressure, full-time corporate job, is the founder and runner of the service, as well as a good cyber-buddy of mine). Well Cathy found one that is based in China, and we kicked its tires last night in a trial run. Not bad, though the earlier platform had seemed to be faster at pulling up "share" material.

I'm guessing Cathy and I are part of the collateral damage caused by the trade war that Trump and his trade crony Peter Navarro are currently waging against China. China's own unfair trade practices must not escape blame -- though it should be remembered that China's piracy of American intellectual property mirrors America's own grifting off of Great Britain throughout the 19th century. But add to the piracy China's subsidizing of export goods, its forced labor camps, and its manipulation of the yuan. The playing field is not level.

What Trump and Navarro are doing is wrong-headed. The tit-for-tat amping of tariffs between the two countries will cost the average American household, according to JP Morgan, more than $1,000 a year; jobs on both sides are being lost, and a record number of American farmers are declaring bankruptcy; more startling, a global recession directly attributable to the trade war is looming, according to many economists. The U.S.'s hamfisted approach was formed without the consultation of America's allies; it was with the help of those allies that we had made some progress in curbing some of China's unfair practices under the Bush and Obama administrations. Trump's egotism and vanity seem more in play here than whatever level-headed problem-solving skills he may possess. Going toe-to-toe with the other big kid on the block will play well with his base -- until the economy takes a nosedive.


I'm kinda creepy-looking here, no? But love Mary Jane's expression.

On a quite different note: offhandedly, more than three weeks ago, I asked Jane if she would marry me. Two days ago she said she would. Now we find ourselves, in the rain, in a very different relation to each other. I know: the age difference, the language issue, the cultural divide, . . . the age difference. I'm patient; she too is patient. Both of us have lacked closeness with another for a long time. I think both of us yearn, in the words of Robert Creeley's "The Rain," to

[b]e wet

with a decent happiness.


May the rain be good to you, too.