Monday, August 30, 2004


The pamanhikan was amazing. Traditionally, the pamanhikan is the planning of the wedding. In other provinces, it is the compensation of the other family. The fiancee and I did it mostly because I wanted it. I figured the SO has her wedding day, I should have mine.

As Eileen has already mentioned, it was a formality. The SO had already accepted my proposal. But with the help of Tuhan Joe Arriola of the Kamatuuran School of Kali, the pamanhikan became an opportunity for me to reveal my intent on marrying the SO. I realized that riches, jewelry, service is nothing without the meaning from the heart. That I was willing to profess my love for the SO in front of her relatives and my relatives and her friends was a sign that I am willing to sacrifice. That I said that all I could give more was my soul and my life... and my laughter. Thank you Tuhan.

There are several favorite moments:

1. After Eileen shows off the pig's head and the accompanying feet, Tuhan looks around and shouts, "One PIG? You give one PIG? Where is the body of the pig? Did your husband eat it?"

2. After Eileen waxes eloquently about the Tboli dress beaded with mother of pearl, Tuhan stands up and screams "The Tboli! They are our enemies! Why do you give us clothing of our enemies?"

3. After the "One Pig" moment, Eileen snipes at me "Why did you stay monogamous with that pig?"

4. Tuhan examines the sword from the Northern Philippines, cuts the air with the sword, and then drops the sword with the pronouncement "Inferior Metal."

5. Eileen trying to make up superlatives about each jewelry gift. I had never seen the poet so flustered before. Usually, she does the flustering.

6. After Michelle and I have spoken from the heart, Tuhan gives a speech. During that speech, his eyes are in flames.

7. When Tuhan dropped the car keys, I thought to myself "Should I ask my brother for the keys to the Benz?" My brother later told me that he asked himself "Do I have to drop the keys of the Benz on the platter?"

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A force of nature

How does one stand against a force of nature? How does one look at a man with fire in his eyes? How does one respond to one who has seen death as simply a veil between one room to another?

The poet Eileen Tabios spoke for my family yesterday. She mentioned that she could not fully prepare for the pamanhikan because she had to bring Achilles to the veterinarian. However, I did not choose her for the preparations that she can do. I chose her because she woul be able to withstand an earthquake, a tornado or any force of nature and look gracious while hanging on for dear life.

Eileen's quick wit and snappy comebacks made for one entertaining good time. I will let her tell the story.

A sketch of the pamanhikan and the dowry

The following was e-mailed to our respective speakers about a week ago in preparation of the pamanhikan. It is a very rough plan as to how the pamanhikan goes.

1. The lechon: A Filipino party would not be legitimate without a lechon. The lechon is a gift from the earth. Just as the earth supports the growth of the pig which fed us, The lechon symbolizes the efforts of Rhett to feed Michelle and their future children.
2. A photo of Philippine folk dancing: This represents an offering of fire. The fire of creativity inspires Rhett to create a future with Michelle.
3. A T'boli garment inlaid with mother of pearl: The gift of water created from oyster shells. This garment was only one of nine remaining garments from the T'bolis. This serves as Rhett's promise that he and Michelle will work together to save the Philippine cultural heritage.
4. The fourth gift is that of books. One of them is a journal kept by Rhett of his poetry. It symbolizes the promise that the lives that are being joined will be be entertained by new things and by laughter. The books symbolize the wind of thought.
5. The fifth gift is that of literal fire as represent by Rhett's chariot: Dahon. A 2004 Honda Acccord with the color of prosperity, Dahon is promised to drive Michelle around the world if need be.
6. The sixth gift is from earth: Textile which Rhett has bought over the last seven years. The textile represents the promise that Rhett will scour the world for the most beautiful and brightest cloth so that Michelle will always be clothed in garments which bring out her beauty.
7. The next gift is that of wood. This carving comes from the Philippines by the way of Texas and through eBay. It portrays the typical Filipino farming scene. Just as this wood was transformed into a piece of art through that hands of an artisan, Rhett promises to transform their two lives into a piece of art.
8. The next gift is from water. It has already been given to Michelle when Rhett proposed. It is a black pearl that sits on an oval platinum. It symbolizes how their two lives will be intertwined.
9. The next gift is that of metal. It consists of a sword from the Northern Philippines and bracelets from Afghanistan and a belt from the T'bolis of Southern Philippines. Over the last seven years, Rhett has thought about this dowry. He has bought these jewelry with the foreknowledge that he will be using them on the dowry. Just as these metals were obtained from the heat of fire, cooled from the the breeze of air and the cold of water and then laid on earth, Rhett's promise is that of a complete marriage with all the elements of the world.

Eileen and Tuhan,
These are the gifts which will be used in the dowry. There are a total of nine gifts. Four from the Greek idea of elements (fire, water, earth, wind) and five from the Chinese idea of elements (earth creates metal which makes water which feeds wood which makes fire).

The idea is to revive the pamanhikan. It is not traditional in that the gifts are symbolic. There are no pigs or goats or cows being given to the families. Rather, the pamanhikan represents the offering and promise of a life together.

As each gift is mentioned, the symbolic representation is presented. Eileen will describe something about the gift. Tuhan will agree to the beauty or the good intention, but can mention that while this gift is nice and good, it does not represent the completeness of the elements. For example, after presenting the gift of earth, where is the gift of wind?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Vegas Two

We get to Las Vegas Friday evening. I end up chatting with the SO's cousin A who is about 12 years old. He asks intelligent questions about his future. What should he be doing in high school? what is the goal? What should he be trying to accomplish? How about college? He wants to go mechanical engineer. I told him that he needs to start seeing things in terms of business. That everything runs on business. YOu can be comfortable and be a scientist/engineer in school or you can be comfortable when you are working.

The next day, the SO and I go around to businesses fixing up her house. There are some amazing things to be done in houses in Vegas. But, the median income is 40K. How can the normal people afford the everyday price of houses over there?

The wedding is up next at about five o'clock. We end up waiting longer in the parking lot of the Chapel of the _______ than the time we spend for the wedding. Vegas weddings in chapels are interesting. There were four or five brides over the time that we were waiting. I don't know if that was good or not, having so many people.

I take some photos with the digital camera. Somehow, they don't have an official photographer. However, they do have a friend who is a videographer. Hoope that one works well.

The reception is at the house of their parents. They did a very nice job fixing the backyard. It was very nice for a Vegas evening. Not too hot.

I spend some time later that evening talking to another of the SO's cousins who is a senior in high school. He would like to go to UC. I told him the essay is the key. YOu need to tell them how special you are.

The evening ends with lots of good food and good conversation. Oh yeah, we go to the casinos.

Las Vegas

The trip of two weeks ago went by very quickly. Everything started well. I even got to the SO's place all ready to go. The SO was still sleepy and I had to jump up and down her bed to wake her up. The SO's sister was a different matter. We had to wait for her to take a shower and wake up. But no matter because it was better to have three drivers and have someone who has already done the trip than anything else.

The first stop was the San Ramon Marriott. Definitely a lot better than the Concord Hilton because these people actually returned phone calls. Concord Hilton did not even though the SO has tried. October is full of conventions so we have had to reset out wedding date. Thank goodness we are doing this one year in advance. The Marriott is nice though it does not have as sophisticated an entrace as the Hilton. There are also no pianos to be seen so the SO's cousins don't have to perform and entertain the crowd during the cocktail hour.

Since the vibes were good at the Marriott, it was decided to go ahead and use that location for the reception. 300+ people. A lot of people.

Off we went to have breakfast at one of these roadside cafes. The food was definitely excellent for someone who has not eaten and who thought that McDonalds was a good idea. Eggs and bacon are only eaten on the roadtrip. Somehow, the SO frowns on my buying bacon at Costco.

So we begin driving in earnest. But then we see a fruitstand and we have to stop. However the stop is worthwhile because we buy a melon that is very good. I did not know that we would be eating the melon at 10PM on Sunday evening on the way back to Oakland, but hey, life has a funny way of making you smile. We ended up buying some chocolate covered nuts and some other nuts that were covered with sugar.

Finally on the way to Las Vegas. It is about 2PM!!! We are barely out of the Bay Area. We end up stopping at 5PM at Barstow to get some chicken mcnuggets. A loading fuel stop and off to Las Vegas. The final two hours was just long. We get home in the dark at about 8PM. Exhausted and tired.

We eat some chicken and the SO and others go to the Strip. I never liked to just walk around the strip. The place is gaudy so I stay at home and talk to the SO's cousin who is starting high school. I gave some tips on high school and what to learn and not to learn. Some tips on parents and siblings and other stuff.

I get to be Big Brother since I never had any little brothers or sisters. Hopefully the advice I gave was good.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Dowry & Pamanhikan

I am counting on some truths to pull me through the coming weekend. First is that Eileen is really as chatty as her blog. Considering that she will be speaking for my side of the family and that I have been having procastination bouts, she will have an interesting time talking for my family in the pamanhikan. I have given her a list of the things that will be given. I also gave a two sentence description of the promise that the gift means. However, I wonder if that will be enough. After all, Tuhan who will speak for the Fiancee only needs to say "While this gift does seem to show his proper intention, it does not really show his motivation. Would you be able to give something which will prove to the family that this young man is really serious and intent on marrying this fine woman?"

And there is the rub. To speak for the groom's side, you gotta be quick. I wish I could be that quick, but I am not. Been about six months and no visions or anything has come. DId I mention that my graduation speech came to me as I slept on the floor next to my mother the night before the speech? I worried the hell out of the professor in my department. He kept seeing me twist in the wind. But I did manage to pull that one off. Enough emotion, promise and cheer for everyone. But this pamanhikan, who knows?

The second truth that I am relying on is that the fiancee loves me enough that even if I screw up the pamanhikan, she agress to marry me.

I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy. I choose.
Wimp or President

I see the same mistakes from Kerry that I saw from Dukakis. He lets the conservatives advertise LIES and does not respond. If he does not do anything about it, he will lose.

All he has to do is put out an ad: When I was in Vietnam, WHERE was George W?

Hell, Kerry has at least seen death up close and personal. Where was George W? Somewhere in the South hiding and wetting his breeches.

Fucking Democrats. They need an injection of testosterone.

Off center

I figured it out. Some bits and pieces of me have been off center because I have not been writing, thinking and expressing. I suppose to a certain extent, writing serves to remind me of what is important. That the job is just that a job. The company could fold tomorrow and if I measured my worth through the company, then I would be worthless. But since life is not like that, I should not think like that.

I wake up and it hard to leave the SO in the morning. Part of me is afraid of work. The other part is afraid of what might happen during the day. All of this is in my head. I have to fight through it everyday. I wonder if this will change when I am married.

I dreamt this morning about work. That is usually not a good sign. it means that I am too worried. It is not as if things are not being done. Things are actually on time. The SO has said that I need to create a new standard for myself when it comes to work. I realize that searching for perfection is fruitless. There is nothing to be gained and too much to be lost. Now, if only I can explain this to my boss.

Books, books and more books

From: Leny Strobel
To: leny strobel
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 4:58 PM
Subject: new books about Filipino American poetics, history, pedagogy, diaspora

Dear Colleagues -

I just wanted to share information about recently published books on Filipino and
FIlipino American poetics, history, diaspora and pedagogy.

History : The Forbidden Book, edited by Abe Ignacio, Enrique De La Cruz, Jorge
Emmanuel, and Helen Toribio. Published by Tiboli Press -- please see the attached
description and ordering information.

Poetics: Pinoy Poetics: A Collection of Autobiographical and Critical Essays on
Filipino and Filipino American Poetics. edited by Nick Carbo. Published by
Meritage Press (San Francisco, CA). Please check out this website: I have a critical essay
contribution to this book titled, "A New Twist to Decolonization: The Poetry of
Eileen Tabios."

Diaspora: Not Home But Here: Writing from the Filipino Diaspora. Edited by Luisa
Igloria. Published by Anvil Publishing Co. (Manila, Philippines). Please see
attached copy of review originally published in MELUS Journal. I have a creative
non-fiction essay in this book titled, "What My Lola Taught Me"

Pedagogy: Identifying Race and Transforming Whiteness in the Classroom. Edited by
Virginia Lea and Judy Helfand. Published by Peter Land Publishing. My chapter
contribution to this book is titled, "Teaching About Whiteness When You're Not
White: A Filipina Educator's Experience." You can check it out here:

Please help us spread the word by forwarding to your colleagues. Thanks and
welcome to the new school year!


Friday, August 20, 2004

Music, dowries and other things

I have begun the process of converting cd music into mp3 files. Man, I have a lot of CDs. I don't play all of them, but I have a lot of them. I mainly listen to female vocalists. Jazz, alternative, country or whatever genre happens to produce some good female vocals, I end up buying. Yup, even opera. Although shrill voices turn me off.

This weekend is the time for dowry hunting. Gotta get the actual symbolic stuff that I will be giving. Got about three days to do it. Let's see if it happens for me. That's the problem. Me. I get lazy. I get scared. Next thing, I'm procastinating. Why should I be scared? Chatty's the one who will be speaking. Worse comes to worse, I'll give Chatty the collected works of Rizal and she'll start discussing the revolution. Bwahahhaahhaha.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Las Vegas

It is amazing what a day off and a vacation can do for your state of mind. Went to Las Vegas this past weekend, and I swear, I did not think about work and the state of work that whole time.

We went on the Friday on a road trip. Since college, I always wanted road trips. Now that I have a car, I can do it. Interstate 5 is just plain crazy. There was a guy who kept drifting off to sleep in a Mercedes. We were wondering if he would make it to where ever he was going. The trucks were plentiful. I just don't remember this many trucks on the road. Passing them seemed very risky what with rude drivers trying to pass you on your right side. And then there were the crazy drivers who would slow down in the passing lane and then speed up when you try to pass them.

Monday, August 09, 2004

A blink of an eye
In the blink of an eye, lives change. Over the weekend, Ace Ferraro died in a freak accident at work. His long beautiful hair got caught in a motor. It is extremely ironic that something so beautiful can lead to one's death. I am shocked. I met him while at a going away lunch for one of the rocks of HR at work. He seemed like an easy going guy. With a great smile to boot. My prayers go to his family who have to deal with this. And to his friends who will miss his smile and his voice.

Here's to you Ace!

Thursday, August 05, 2004


The question now is what will I be giving the SO as a dowry? I have some initial idea. But I also wanted Chatty to be able to weave a story as if Achilles was chasing the mountain lion. Need to analyze that more.

Got my shot for work. It hurt like a burning cigarette pressed upon my rose petal skin.

I have been very bad eating away like there is no tomorrow. I need to eat healthier and exercise. I need to walk more.

The SO's place is too comfortable for myself. I find myself sleeping in instead of going to the gym. Maybe I will place an automatic waker-upper. Like an alarm clock or something.

Time to go home.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Three hundred people

The fiancee, future mother in law and I went over the weekend to the hotel to check out the accomodations. The count was at 247. By the time the SO had finished the list, it was at 307 with the secondary list all gone. The secondary list is basically all the friends of the SO and I. I believe by 250 alone, it was already all relatives. It's kind of scary. That's a lot of people.

WE thought that we might be able to extend it to 350 people. Who knows? It's much better than to have to delete people that we liked.

We were supposed to go and shoot, but we never got there. The SO and I watched the movie Bourne Supremacy. Unfortunately, she got sick over the cinematography. The next day, she was still feeling ill. By the time she was ready to get up at 10AM, I was too tired to wake up. For the first time in a long while, I had a twelve hour sleep. Wow! Talk about refreshed.

The rest of the day was spent shopping. I tried to buy some shoes. Ended up buying some videos. If you like nice movies, check out the movie "Spartan". It features Val Kilmer in a thriller.