Monday, 23 June 2008

Chinelas

Chinelas.

Flip-flops.

Whatever. They're synonyms.

And they are the unofficial official footwear of the Philippines.


Why?

Well, this country is a tropical island archipelago. That's a good first reason.

The other is that they are cheap!

Around 50 pesos ($1 US) will get you a pair. There's no brand to them. But then, if your budget is 50 pesos, you don't really care anyway. If you are brand-conscious, the trendy Havaiianas go for 1,500 pesos and up.


Why?

They're in pretty colors and patterns, imported, and marketed to seem more impressive. Flip-flops for those insecure in their own self-worth.

Anyway.....

You all remember the 80s hit song My Sharona by the Knack, I'm sure.

Everybody does.

Even those who were babes in arms (or younger) remember it.

What does this have to do with flip-flops? you're asking, I'm sure.

Well, in celebration of chinelas, I've re-written the song!

Edson has been listening to me mock this as My Chinelas for years. I thought it was about time I really wrote out lyrics instead of just squealing (my singing is not pretty) ...my Chinelas! as I had been for most of our relationship.

So here they are.

So now it's time for you to play the video above and read (or sing) along to the lyrics below.

What?

You already watched the video?! Yes, watch again! I know it's torture, but Edson has endured it for over six years. The least you can do is listen for another four minutes. Consider it penance for all your sins this year...and the next. If you aren't Catholic...well, think of something. Maybe you voted for Bush.

Anyway, read / sing along now:

My Chinelas
words by Jay Plogman

Oh no! I cannot find. I cannot find.
I’ve looked for ‘em high and low: My Chinelas!
They’re not under the bed or in the shed.
Heard voices in my head cry “Chinelas!”
Never gonna stop, give it up.
They’re my favorite pair. I love to wear ‘em ‘round the
City, here and there. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Chinelas…

Please come with me to the store, to the store.
I’ll need your help in shopping for Chinelas!
Need to find a pair, a purple pair. For my feet to wear.
Never gonna stop, looking for a pair
For my feet to wear. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Chinelas…

Some people spell it c – h – i, some t – s - i.
Any way you like, it spells Chinelas!
Some lyrics I don’t understand, understand.
Wikky wacky wikky wakawoo, Chinelas!
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Always on my mind. Havaiianas, Tribu,
And many other kinds. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Chinelas…

Pretty catchy, huh?!

I should go into advertising...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Typhoon!

Today around four in the morning is when the winds woke me up. You know, the eerie, whistling kind favored in scary movies and Scooby-Doo cartoons?

Yeah, that.

The typhoon is known as Typhoon Frank or Typhoon Fengshen, depending on which news service I read. Fengshen sounds better for a typhoon. After all, hurricanes in the US get anglo names all the time. Why should they when they are in this part of the world?

Typhoon Frank. Stupid name, to be perfectly frank.

I know you're all expecting photos from it all, but all the drama happened before daylight, so I couldn't capture any of it for you. Around here a couple trees tipped over and a sign in front of our condo was destroyed. Otherwise, no big deal.

The real news from Frank was further south where over one hundred have been killed, tens of thousands are stranded on their roofs (like in New Orleans), and a ferry capsized with over seven hundred aboard. A town councilor nearest the accident was reported saying they were waiting for rescuers, but none had arrived, and all the pump boats in the town were broken. Read that as typical Filipino. According to my friend Antonio, who was studying to be an EMT here, over half the ambulances/fire/emergency equipment in metro Manila in inoperative! Donors grandiosely purchase this type of equipment for communities, painting their names on it for all to know who could afford to buy and give away such needed vehicles. What none of these donors do is provide for maintenance. It's hard to advertise that, and that is what the donation thing is all about. Suffice it to say, we feel good our hospital, police department, and fire department are all across the street from us, we have a fire hydrant below the building, and only thirteen stories worth of stairs to descend in case of emergency.

Here's another reason I didn't shoot any pictures:

This, I read, was shot by a woman in Iowa or some other flat, mid-western state. I suppose this 21st century Dorothy Gale carries a digital camera, not dog Toto with her anymore!

I'm not as crazy/brave to go outside and shoot a tornado that is just down the street. Nor am I going to run outside when I see winds toppling trees! (I haven't even posted this yet, but can already hear the sighs of relief from my parents as they read it!)

Anyway, to be perfectly frank, and that only seems appropriate...as frank-ness is all around me...it is four in the afternoon now and I've been up since practically four in the morning, so I'm going to call an end to this post and take a nap!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Musings' 1st Bloggiversary

You couldn't believe it either?

I'll wait while those of you in disbelief use the navigator to the right to check back to last year's blog entries for verification, but I figure most of you are more excited about the Flintstones clip below.

Go ahead, click on it!

Wasn't that cute?

It's also cute that the episode those clips were taken from includes characters from the Jack Benny radio program...Sheldon Kearns' 'racetrack tout' ("Psst. Hey Bud!") and the salesclerk ("That'll be fifteen hundred."), made famous (so famous even the Simpsons have used the character!) by Frank Nelson.

But back to the Philippines and my blogging (erratic though it sometimes is).

June 7th and 8th we were in Baguio.

The mountains.

Cool air...OK...chilly air!

Edson always said Ithaca, NY reminded him of Baguio.

Baguio reminds me of Ithaca. Go figure!

It also reminds me of Caracas (you know, in Venezuela)....more on that later.

Baguio was used by the Americans during colonial times (No, not the 13 colonies! That was pre-1776. When the US was the colonizer, just a hundred years ago!) as a summer capital. Anything to escape the oppressive heat of Manila.

See! No boring flatlands!

We went up there so Edson could work on a project. As many of you know, he's an architect. So here he is with some others checking out a traditional house.

And I know you all wanted to see the inside too!

It has everything you could ask for, provided the simplicity of a good roof and rat guards top your list...and said list isn't much longer!

No, we don't plan on moving to a place like this anytime soon. So, for those readers who have been planning to visit...relax! We have plumbing, air conditioning and internet in Makati.

Here's a brightly-colored house in an area where most buildings are just gray concrete:

Rural jeepneys are always more colorful than those in Manila:

These fern leaves are over twenty feet above my head and just a small part of a fern tree:

I don't know if fern tree is correct or not. I do know it is a fern. And I do know it is a tree. All the ferns I've ever seen fit in pots that hang nicely from porches in baskets during the summer months or cling to rocks in the gorges of Ithaca, NY. This is...well, almost pre-historic, no? That could explain the pterodactyls that were flying overhead...

This is the part where I said Baguio reminds me of Caracas:

This looks remarkably similar to the favelas squatters have built all over the hill and mountainsides surrounding Caracas.

In Baguio the squatters have taken to the hillsides as well. The city was designed to accommodate around thirty thousand inhabitants. There are more than a quarter-million now! Trying to squeeze all those people into that space in the mountains is undoubtedly daunting. And I've read about efforts to resettle people, as more population growth cannot be sustained.

We did enjoy the opportunity to breathe fresh air and see a bit of the natural world for a change!

And then it was time for the bumpy ride home!

For the next thirty-six hours I could feel the bouncing and swaying of the van as we sped down the hills and flatlands, on the highways and streets, towards home!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Congratulations

All around me last week people were congratulating me. They'd just come up and say congratulations!

I'd look at them stupefied, wondering what I had unknowingly won or done to elicit such warm praise.

It turns out it isn't anything I did (well, in a way I did...I'll get to that later), but rather what occurred last week that mattered so much to them that they came to me to congratulate me.

Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign to be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.

Barack Obama had effectively won the nomination.

Even the leader of Germany's Social Democrats broke with custom and publicly declared his hopes the US elects Obama president in November, noting the whole world will be the better for it. He, of course, isn't one of those who congratulated me; but the reaction is the same.

People everywhere are happy about the news Obama has won and all want him as the next president of the US.

I think that in the many social challenges the US and rest of the world are facing and will face, he is the better choice and I did support him in the primaries.

I am still struck that people congratulate me, though. One really doesn't fully realize how much the US presidential elections mean to the world until you see how the world reacts to them...

...and at this point he is only a candidate!

I can only imagine what the reaction will be like in November if he is elected.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Fashion Week

The last week of May was Fashion Week in Manila. My friend Dice, doing an internship with designer John Herrera, invited me to some of the runway shows that week. Being busy with other things I was only able to attend on Thursday the 29th.

Dice said it would be best if I arrived around 5pm so I could get one of the best seats. I showed up at the venue at 5:15 and the guards let me in, showing me to the 2nd floor. I was led backstage, walked out around the runway and had my choice of seats. I figured the event would begin at six if I was supposed to be there at five.

Nope.

Six came and went. I'd been texting Dice and he said he was running errands or smoking. Before I knew it six had come and gone!

When do the doors open? I asked.

Six, Dice replied. I'm sitting up front.

But I was still the only person in the hall. Something was wrong.

So I headed downstairs and found a sea of people entering the hall and just a few minutes to spare before the show began. Apparently the guards had mistaken me for a model and led me upstairs and backstage so I could be ready for the show.

Sorry, I'm not model material. I'm not tall enough.

Anyway, I made it in just in time to enjoy the show.

This designer is fond of elaborate, carnival and Spanish-inspired headdresses:



Yes, this is a bird on my head and no, I'm not happy about it!

During some designer's shows, crowd-watching was more interesting than the collection.



If it looks like I'm walking with my back slung way back, it's because I am. I walk at a 45-degree angle! Going uphill, I'm level with the horizon.

I like my big glasses!

Looks like this designer was inspired by Bob Mackie's dress from Carol Burnett Show's Went With the Wind sketch:


His other pieces are wonderful though. Very deco/sculptural/architectural.



In menswear, we take a trip back to the 1980s. The shirt may read Fight the System now, but we know it wouldn't say anything if not for the shirts Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham! popularized in the mid-80s.

Other men's fashions also harkened back to the 1980s in colors and cut.





And what fashion show would be complete without a sheer-reared bikini on a muscled model? It takes quite the man to make a white sun hat go with that. It goes without saying this is not what I'll be wearing to the pool...unless magically I developed a body like this and who knows...


Again, what others were wearing was sometimes of more interest:

Lastly, across the aisle from us sat this group of ladies. Looking at the four the old Sesame Street "one of these things is not like the others..." song comes to mind.

So too does the vision of Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City movie.

In fact, it is that very woman in purple who recognized me and came up to speak with me after the show had ended. I'm not good remembering names and faces I see on irregular bases, so I mistook her for a model I had worked with back in November. Turns out she is Xie, the girlfriend of our friend Inaki's (sorry, still can't figure out how to type a tilde) brother, Manolo. We had met twice before; the last time in January or February. She either is good at remembering people, or my being the only white guy there made things incredibly easy for her. I was embarrassed, but not too much, as I am used to not recognizing people.

At the end of May, the only thing more fashionable than being at Fashion Week was having intestinal flu. Not to be left out, I had it two days after the show, as did Edson's brother and several of his friends (not that they attended the show). Does this mean I was at the height of fashion?! Good thing my friend Yucel studied medicine, and he came over to medicate me and tend to my hypochondria.

So there you have it. I was fashionable from head to...well...let's not go there!

Receipts

We all receive receipts when we buy anything, but how many of us read them?

We may give them a cursory glance to be sure of the total being correct, but what of the rest of the information?

Well, on a couple of instances where I've been eating alone or just out and about by myself (Yes, I do go around alone without Edson, and I realize that news is sending shrieks of horror through many I know who may be reading this.) I've read the receipts and found some to be interesting.

Here's a couple of the better ones:

As we all know, convenience stores are convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. A high price! Here we can see who it is that is gouging us here in the Columns:

So, aside from being awfully dangerous drivers, nuns also charge an extra Php10 for a bottle of tea than SM does down the street!

So much for the religious!

And this just seems to strike me the wrong way:

In a country where banks and office buildings have signs on the doors reminding people to leave their firearms outside with the guards we can also have our weapons upgraded at the Japanese fast-food restaurant! I'm sure it has something to do with a computer role-playing game, but that doesn't make this look any less odd to me.