Saturday, September 26, 2020

Fragments -- My Free Ebook of My Personal 90's Recollections.

 Here's an update on my free ebook consisting of my personal recollections from the 90's: Fragments. Now includes new stories my mother's personal recollections from her time as well. (60s-70s)  
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Daddy Pilis – A Tale of Childhood Trauma, Oppression, and Optimism by Cynia Mirasol with assistance from lordcloudx

If there is one thing in this world that is infinitely clear to my siblings and I, it would be the fact that our father was definitely far from perfect. We called him “Hudas” (Judas) after the much-hated and in recent times, seemingly misunderstood biblical figure. In fact, one of my sisters put it quite bluntly that: “Kon I rating sa pinakamaayo nga mga tatay, last gid ni si Daddy ya.” (If we were to rate who the best fathers are, Daddy would come dead last.

Most of the time, our Daddy’s idea of parental care consisted of literally and begrudgingly throwing money at our mother and then scooting off somewhere else to find a drink or two – who am I kidding, he was an alcoholic who finished an entire case of beer in a single drinking session – and that’s when he doesn’t want to get drunk. Sometimes, I chuckle in hindsight thinking about the special snowflakes of today’s generation and imagining how they would (or wouldn’t) deal with this world of apparent “toxic masculinity.”

Also, to say that our Daddy was abusive would be putting it mildly. He was the type of father who would physically and verbally hurt us. Calling my three sisters and I whores (puta) waiting for someone to fornicate with them (in obscene Hiligaynon) whenever he was drunk was his normal routine, but sometimes this wasn’t enough and if anybody dared to challenge his authority, that person would be very swiftly met with a hard slap or even a punch to the face followed with a front kick to the gut. Naturally, as someone who always believes in having her say no matter what the consequences, I was a frequent recipient of these little “love taps” from our Daddy Pilis.

You might say, he was a firm believer in gender equality as he never discriminated between boys and girls in delivering swift and unrestrained corporal punishment. – I’m sure the increasingly progressive-minded youth of today would find him to be a quite an ideal role model worthy of emulation.

Of course, outside of his family life, Daddy was a man of many skills. For one, despite his small stature (about 5’3”) and very thin frame, he was very athletic and could do almost everything from riding a bike to swimming at the level of a certified lifeguard.

He was also an actual war hero, a veteran who fought in the rebel army;  the same rebel army responsible for keeping the Japanese Imperial Troops at bay and preventing them from occupying key engagement areas during World War II and buying enough time for the American troops to arrive and route the enemy.

Finally, as a government employee, he was considered the fastest typist in the city with nimble fingers that glide as fast over a mechanical typewriter almost as swiftly as his hands cut through the air to deliver a slap or a punch to his own offspring.

At this point, allow me to say that as “evil” or “beyond redemption” as you might think our father was. His decidedly “aristocratic” method of imposing parental discipline was actually quite common during my time. Unfortunately, we did not have the luxury to judge, begrudge, and condemn his actions while writing suicide notes and depression-posting on social media.

This brings me to the actual story that I wish to share with you all today. I was a born in 1955, but our story takes place a little bit less than a decade later at around 1964. I was about nine years old, born as the second youngest child to a family of six children, two boys and four girls, at least as far as the ones who survived are concerned. I had at least six other potential siblings who never made it past their first few days of infancy.

If Family Planning was actually trendy back in those days, our family would have been pretty average middle class considering that both my parents had decent jobs. Daddy was a government employee as I’ve already mentioned and Mama was a schoolteacher. Still, because the prevailing mentality back then was “your children are your treasures,” it was pretty customary to have a family at least as large as ours – no matter what your economic standing was.

We lived in a destitute household within a neighborhood of more affluent mansions called “ancestral homes” in Molo. The reason our house was located there is because my mother also moonlighted as a caretaker for the house of a “Caro” (a carriage that carries statues of saints for the annual Semana Santa parade held in Plazas all across the Philippines.) and it was convenient for her if our house was located there.

Still, despite what might seem like a heavily traumatic childhood filled with nothing but aches and pains, my siblings and I, together with my cousins who also lived in the area found all kinds of ways to amuse ourselves.

One of our favorite pastimes was to visit the  compartment in the Lazaro Family ancestral house of a pair of girls who were about the same age as my younger sister “Baby” and myself (8 and 9 respectively). Every afternoon, they’d be watching a TV show with their window open and my sister and I, together with a few other children from the neighborhood would climb and hang from the window’s metal grills so we could watch too… while this might have been annoying to the owners of the house, they seemed to mostly tolerate it – at least that’s what we thought.

It’s worth noting at this point that having a TV was considered to be a huge luxury back then – even if it was black and white. Hardly anyone had a color TV back then – and the affluent sisters didn’t have one either.

It happened one day at about 3 PM in the afternoon. Baby and I were hanging from the grills as usual together with my cousins Tinding, Messalina as well as a few other neighborhood kids. I can’t remember what show it was exactly, but I do remember that it was an English comedy show and it was so funny that we were hooting and howling in laughter even as we uncomfortably tried to maintain our grips on the metal grills. At some point the girls’ mother, the owner of this particular compartment of the Lazaro Ancestral House (Ancestral Houses were compartmentalized and usually housed multiple families) started warning us to keep quiet or else…

Well, you know how it goes, kids will be kids and we basically ignored her warnings. We’d run away when she was around and then climb back up again and start guffawing in laughter – even though she came back several times sternly telling us to stop being so loud.

Then it happened, suddenly, without warning, she came right up to the window with an urinola (urinal pot) and splashed the contents over all of us. In the next instant, we found ourselves totally drenched in what smelled like day old urine. We were gagging, retching and sobbing from the humiliation as we scattered about in all directions and promptly ran all the way home.

When we got home, Daddy greeted us with a skeptical: “Ano gina hibi nyo?” (What are you crying for)… and, even though we knew he’d never take our side, we told him the whole story.

After this, I’m not sure why he did it, but it was at this instance – for just this one particular miniscule, invisible dot in the history of spacetime, that Daddy, became an actual Dad for us; in his own unique way.

That night, he drank himself into a near-delirious state and then fearlessly marched on over to the Lazaro family’s ancestral house (the culprits who splashed urine on us) and hurled all kinds of expletives at them while challenging anyone from the household to come out and fight him. Most of all, what I remember most vividly is his declaration that “Indi ni mga kasilyas mga bata ko!” (My children are not toilets!)

Of course, no one from the Lazaro family ever took him up on his challenge.

Certainly, I realized even back then that Daddy was still a long way from truly redeeming himself with us as a father and I am unsure if he ever did redeem himself, but Baby and I simply took solace in the fact that he tried – he definitely tried. For once, during those brief periods of drunken lucidity, in our eyes, he was shining.

In hindsight, I realize that the trauma of our childhood has definitely left me and my surviving family members just a little bit broken –each of us nurturing these unhealing scars in our own ways as we fumbled our way into adulthood.

In the end, Daddy was definitely true to his nickname. Hudas ended his life as the same ornery soul we’d always known him to be – ever hateful and cursing his own condition to the very end. He was a man of many faults, but at the end of the day, he was always true to himself – even in the face of death, his indomitable will, his uncompromising attitude, his resilience, that is at least something that we will always fondly remember him by – and a trait that I will always proudly emulate.

Monday, September 21, 2020

My Martial Law Story: Escape From The JS Prom by Cynia Mirasol and Cymark Ferdinand Mirasol

It’s quite reassuring to see the many varieties of apples and oranges that you can readily buy from sidewalk fruit vendors as well as supermarkets and even convenience stores nowadays. Speaking of apples, even a premium Apple iPhone is pretty much a common luxury for the ordinary gainfully employed individual who is willing to finance a premium subscription from any internet and telecommunications service provider operating here in the Philippines.

Of course, there was a time when it wasn’t always this way. Back in the 70’s for example, an apple cost around 60 pesos and could only be purchased in special designated stores – that is, if you could afford to buy one in the first place. Adjusted for inflation in 2020, ( that’s  ₱4,815.34 for one apple – the fruit, not the gadget.

Fittingly enough, this story takes place somewhere around 1975, as far back as my hazy memories allow – basically, smack dab in the heat of Marcos’ Martial Law. Nowadays, hysterical revisionists (that wasn’t a typo) may try to paint Marcos as a hero, but as a person who has actually lived through those turbulent times, I do hope this personal anecdote of mine can at least shed some light on how life was lived… at the time when the Conjugal Dictators ruled the Philippines.

Very vividly, I remember that this story took place on the 22nd of a February. This much is accurate because it would be my boyfriend and future husband, Ferdie’s birthday the next day. At this time, we were attending a JS Prom for our Political Science class. It was a joint party with us, the third year students as well as the graduating 4th year students at a rented house together with Attorney Ladrido, our favorite teacher for the “Polysigh” Political Science Club. He was also accompanied by Attorney Segundina Navarro, who co-hosted the party.  We had all planned to spend the night in the house and come home by morning.

As you would probably expect, a curfew was in effect and once the sirens resounded at around 10:00 PM, everyone was expected to be in their homes with the lights out and with only dim lighting even within their own houses. Bright lights would attract the local police force monitoring the area and anyone caught holding gatherings or engaging in any activities that even attracted the least bit of suspicion would be immediately incarcerated overnight. Fortunately, as long as you weren’t connected with any rebel faction, you would be released immediately the day after. In Iloilo City in particular, the horror stories of the Martial Law era were not as pronounced – of course, you should also realize that smartphones and modern information dissemination simply did not exist. In fact, this is a good time to mention that not a lot of people had TVs and you had to take whatever you heard over the radio with a grain of salt because the government could be controlling even media coverage in the background – these were dark times.

“Dark” is actually a good way to describe the martial law era as even our JS Prom had to be held in the dark and in secret so as not to arouse the suspicion of any whistleblowers in the area. After all, we were actually conducting an illegal activity. Parties and other social gatherings were simply forbidden.

Still, even though we made sure to take all necessary precautions and even though Attorney Ladrido himself assured us that it would be fine, the worst-case scenario did indeed happen. Nobody knows who exactly tipped off the police at that time, but all that we know is that at around 11:40 PM sharp, we heard the roar of a police car speeding towards our location and the blare of sirens all around us.

Most of us had already resigned ourselves to spending the night in prison… that is, all of us except my Ferdie, who told me quite plainly:

“Day, indi ko ya magpaprisohan. Birthday ko ya sa bwas.” (My dear, I will not go to prison. It’s my birthday tomorrow)

Therefore, I hatched a plan. It would be a bit risky because we faced a greater penalty if we were caught, but I was certain that it would work. We silently separated ourselves from the rest of our companions. My husband, another classmate named Arnel, and myself. Arnel and I were quite familiar with the layout of the area – even in the dark, because we lived just a few blocks away. My plan was very simple: using the cover of darkness, we’d scale the walls and then tiptoe right on the concrete walls several houses away and then find some place to spend the night in with one of our neighbors in the area.

The first phase of the plan went very well. The police were still conversing with Attorney Ladrido outside the house just as we had scaled the walls. Several of our classmates wanted to come along with us, but in the end, only the three of us managed to make a successful escape. I had a hard time scaling the walls because I was on high heels, fortunately, I had a little boost from a classmate, Freddie. As we ran along the walls, I led the way being the most familiar with the area. Arnel was keeping up quite fine, but my husband – who was normally quite athletic himself, was not. He kept getting caught up in the barbed wires and shards of glass that lined the top of the walls because it was pitch-black and he was totally unfamiliar with the place.

I actually snickered a bit seeing him in his moment of weakness – which I immediately regretted when he looked at me with cold, accusing eyes and showed me his hands up close – which were bleeding with cuts and bruises.

At some point, the police actually shone their flashlights at the walls very near us, so we had to crouch down low with our hands and knees on the broken glass-laden top-plate of the walls. It was an intense 30 seconds or so before we could start moving again.

Eventually, we decided that we’d traveled far enough and finally dismounted from the walls. We were already about 6 six blocks away from the rented house at this point. Arnel’s house was nearby, so we went our separate ways there. We immediately ran towards the house of a close family friend, the Troncillo family – who graciously took us in. We spent the night in their living room and after that, we were home free.

It was definitely a harrowing experience, but we took a risk and it had paid off. We later learned that Attorney Ladrido, being a lawyer, had somehow managed to avoid being incarcerated, but he could not do the same for his students.

Some of our classmates harbored grudges over us for leaving them behind. I guess you could liken the sentiment to communism. If we suffer, we suffer together – so why did you go out of your way to free yourselves?  You can decide for yourself whether this is a good thing or a bad thing – but do know that none of the communist sentiments that the current generations seem to hold with such high regard are anything new nor novel – although it does amuse me how such elementary ideologies taken from a fanfiction written in 1848 seems to remain pervasive and relevant in the 21st century. I suppose this is why those who do not acknowledge history are already repeating it right now.

I have lived through one of the darkest times in Philippine History, but none as dark as the current period we are living in. The problem is that now we have TikTok, Mobile Legends, Dolphins and Dolomite white sands – which can feel overly bright amidst the darkness of the oppression that we are currently experiencing.

This was my martial law story – and simply one of many, but I feel that more stories like these need to be told, so that people never forget, despite the historical revisionism and confusing Dilawan vs DDs vs Marcos Apologist propaganda that has infiltrated and poisoned our perspectives, what it is that we have gained and what it is that we should never let go of. Never again, ever again.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Shoppee Pinball Machine Toy -- Video Review

 Fulfilling a childhood fantasy with this cheap but well-built toy Pinball Machine from Shoppee. Do you have any toys or stuff you wished you could have a child? It's never too late to have them now if/while you can. 

Life can be so fragile so its best to do things you like, make the happiest memories and enjoy yourself as long as you're not harming anyone else.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

To Derek Pascarella, Marshal Wong, Duralumin, Lewis Cox, Piggy, Nico, Danthrax4, Lacquerware, EsperKnight, SnowyAria, VincentNL, cyo, and Ha...