September 1998


Continuing journey…

Though Kina and I enjoyed some good times and I thank God for bringing her into my life at just the right moment; we were only meant for friendship. But through that friendship she showed me some of the sights in the Manila area when I could get her to leave the hotel. Kina wanted to stay put with her son Karl because of typhoon warnings. “We cannot go out there’s typhoon,” she would say.

“Really,” I asked? “The sun is shining and people are walking around outside.”

“Yes but they have warned of typhoon,” Kina shouted!

“Well Kina, they have tornados where I come from and they tell you to get in the basement. Do you think everybody cowers in his or her basement until the radio says its all clear? Of course not, life goes on.”

“Look,” she said pointing, “It is getting cloudy and the rain will be coming soon.”

“Well I didn’t fly seven thousand miles to sit in a hotel room! I want to see some of the country,” I retorted!

“Fine!  You want to see the country I will go to front desk and arrange for a cab to take us,” said Kina in a more civilized tone.  

Cabbies just waiting for work, any work...
Cabbies just waiting for work, any work…

I was hoping to try the jeepney that I’d read about and seen pictures of; they looked like a fun way to travel. “Can’t we get a jeepney? I’ve read about them and how they are the favorite mode of transportation in the Philippines, right?  I like the way you just hop on and away you go!”  

“Well my other boyfriend would always take cab.  Karl was a  millionaire!”  (Her son Karl was named after Kina’s boyfriend.)  “We stayed at the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel – a five-star hotel.”  Well she succeeded in making me feel small and like there was nothing I would be able to do for her, that was how I felt anyway.  I could not compete with a millionaire, hell, I couldn’t even compete with an able-bodied man.

I said, “Kina, I told you in our correspondence that I was not wealthy and you said that was fine, that money didn’t matter.”  What people say, however; and what they think and feel may be totally different, as I soon discovered.

“Money is not important to me, but I think it would make you more comfortable,” and off to the front desk she softly stomped because a Filipino does not show anger in public though it is obvious when they are mad! She was back in a matter of minutes and said, “The cab is ready whenever you are. We will go see Intramuros and the FilAm Cemetery.”

“What is Intramuros” I inquired?  And, ” I don’t want to go to a cemetery!”  (That sounds like a spoiled little kid, maybe I was) But she insisted, and so with dread; we began our journey.

She spoke in Tagalog to the cab driver after I had mentioned for him to turn on his meter and away we went.  I hated being like this, watching every dime but I only had a limited amount of money; (by American standards) I was crazy to be here.  But again listening to my wealthy best friend and reading about how a guy could live here for $800 I was juiced.  Those articles also talked much of using the jeepney in place of the more expensive taxi and eating the native foods, but did I do that…noooo.  Usually the food was imported, many restaurants and mostly at international hotels; I really was spoiled or had a millionaire’s palette while on a small, limited income. 

“We will go to cemetery first. It’s the Filipino American Cemetery memorializing World War II.”  Who was I to argue?  At least I was out of the hotel.

Karl among the columns of the Fil-Am Cemetery.
Karl among the columns of the Fil-Am Cemetery.

We got there in the air-conditioned cab, very comfortable.  We stepped out of the cab and I wanted to crawl back in where it was cool.  The outside air was heavy, humid and hot!  The driver waited.   

One can't help but to feel such honor in that cemetery among so many hero's.
One can’t help but to feel such honor in that cemetery among so many hero’s.

To my great surprise the cemetery was amazing!  Majestic, wide columns all with names, ranks and states inscribed for the American soldier.  The Filipino soldiers had their name, rank and province listed there as well.  The American and the Filipino soldiers fought side by side against the Japanese and finally won out.  I managed to get a photo of Karl among the columns and it happens to be among my most treasured pictures   

Next we went to Intramuros and I was reminded of being a child again on a field trip with my school to Fort Snelling, and the Sibley House.  The buildings here had that same, even more so, ancient feel.  The walls were made from thick, big blocks of rock,  just as they were at the “Fort” that overlooks the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.  Of course their hallowed, national hero, Jose

The original cover of Jose Rizal's novel, Noli Me Tangere
The original cover of Jose Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere

Rizal had many plaques honoring him and much of the history of Intramuros included info of him.    And this is a part of the info gathered about him:  Noli Me Tángere (Touch me Not) is a novel written by José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, during the colonization of the country by Spain to expose the inequities of the SpanishCatholic priests and the ruling government. The title, in Latin meaning Touch me not, refers to John 20:17 in the Bible (King James Version) as Mary Magdalene tried to touch the newly risen Jesus, He said “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”[1] Early English translations of the novel used titles like An Eagle Flight (1900) and The Social Cancer (1912), disregarding the symbolism of the title, but the more recent translations were published using the original Latin title. It has also been noted by French writer D. Blumentritt that “Noli me tangere” was a name used by ophthalmologists for cancer of the eyelids. That as an ophthalmologist himself Rizal was influenced by this fact is suggested in his dedication, “To My Country”.  Originally written in Spanish, the book is more commonly published and read in the Philippines in either Filipino or English. Together with its sequel, El Filibusterismo, the reading of Noli is obligatory for high school students throughout the archipelago.  

We returned to Robinson’s Apartelle in Mandaluyong City (a part of Manila) and Kina thought I should try some of their ice cream. I was given a taste of their maize ice cream because I wasn’t too sure about corn and ice cream…it was delicious but I also tasted their Mango ice cream and that’s what I went with on this occasion. Nothing better than a delicious, fresh Mango from the Philippines!  

Continued…

Robinson's Apartelle, Mandaluyong
Robinson’s Apartelle, Mandaluyong

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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