My Dearest Young Filipina, Educate Yourself

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My Dearest Young Filipina,

Educate yourself. Who is going do it for you? Your politicians won’t help. They are too busy figuring out how to keep you ignorant and poor so they can go on manipulating you.

Educate yourself about your health, how to avoid getting pregnant at age 13 or contracting sexually transmitted diseases because no one else is going to tell you how. Your church is tight lipped about the matter and will continue to say, ” no pre marital sex for you.” And because you cannot pin your hopes on the aborted RH bill as your politicians cannot risk you becoming an independent woman who has a say and control over your own body and therefore your votes.

Educate yourself so you can stop waiting for Mr. Prince Charming to help you. He is broke and his treasure chest has gone bankrupt. He needs help too.

Educate yourself so you can get off the Internet trying to find a 70 year old white man to marry you and save you. Or send you money. So the world can stop saying majority of the Filipinas are prostitutes.

Educate yourself so you don’t have to post naked pictures of yourself on Facebook for likes and be someday a rich man’s doormat. Or a porn star. So you can tell your father or brother they should get a job and provide for the family instead. So you can argue with your mother that you being only 12 years old, you are too damn young and naive to work in the middle east for people whose culture are very different from yours. So your lifeless body would not be found floating in the drainage in the basement of their house later on. So you can tell her that falsifying your age on official documents is very wrong.

Educate yourself so you can stop gyrating half naked on noontime shows while lecherous men leer and pawn on you. So you can avoid powerful men from using and abusing you.

Educate yourself so you don’t have to end up in a sex slavery trade. So you can report any pervert who will make you an indecent offer. So you can stay away from men of shady character.

Educate yourself so you’ll never lose your self respect and pride. There are worse things than hunger.

Educate yourself so you can have the confidence to tell your friends that there is more to life than expensive handbags, iPhones and designer labels.

Educate yourself because only education can help you survive the quagmire that is our country. Read. Learn. Learn to read. Be aware of what is happening around you. What is happening in your country and in the world. Be proactive about your future. Since you cannot rely on your government nor society, you have to rely on yourself to be well informed and educated. You cannot rely on your beauty forever for it fades sooner than you think. Only wisdom and knowledge can help you cope and understand the long complicated life ahead of you.

Love,
Your very concerned Ate

*If you are a young Filipina or just someone who is concern about the eroding quality of young people’s education please share.

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Revisiting Boracay Island

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Six years away from the sea it nearly drove me crazy. Swimming in the ocean has always been therapeutic for me. When I was still single and working in the city whenever I felt the urban landscape suffocating me I would escape to the nearest sandy shore hoping to retrieve my sanity.

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Of all my hideaways my constant favorite was Boracay. A beautiful island in the province of Aklan in the Philippines where you can find the most pristine of white sandy beaches. Sands so fine like powdered milk.
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Of course the rugged beauty of Coron, Palawan is more exotic than Boracay but for longer visits I have always chosen this island. On several occasions I had stayed here for several days by myself and even roamed the whole island by myself in a bicycle without fearing for my safety .

20130412-141621.jpgThe locals are so used to various kinds of nationalities visiting the place that they have adopted a very westernized attitude towards different kinds of tourists. They do not gawk at girls, even the one in bikinis or the topless sunbathing ones. It is a very common sight for them. A solitary woman can relax and enjoy the beach without being harassed or bothered by anybody. Unlike other tourist destinations in the country the local vendors are not desperate to sell you things. Except for occasional offers of leisure beach activities, like island hopping or jet skiing, etc. they leave you alone to enjoy your beach holiday.
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The easy confidence of the locals came from the good economy vibrant tourism had generated for the island. During peak seasons foreigners out number the local tourists and going there often felt like you stepped out of the country all together. Holidayers keep to themselves. One can roam around freely and could get lost in the crowd easily if one wishes anonymity.
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During our visit to my parents’ house this summer we could not resist including a side trip to Boracay before returning home. I kind of build up the place for my husband but at the back of my mind I was hoping nothing much has change.
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Boracay did not disappoint. Although more hotels and resorts have been constructed since the last time I was there the fun vibe of island life is still there.
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The shores remained pristine white.
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The water in front of the beach still clear and clean like a swimming pool.
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The market place is still alive, vibrant and bustling with activity.
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The sunset still as gorgeous.
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The nightlife livelier than ever.

My husband and I had a lovely time over there. It was the cherry on top of our fun filled visit to my country. I was happy and proud that Boracay delivered all that I promised to my husband. He is eager to go back.
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The prices of rooms and meals mostly stayed the same. Choices range from the most upscale to a backpacker’s rate.
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I also noticed that a lot of ATM’s from different banks are now placed in several area of the beach.
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If you have not been to Boracay I would just like to give you a few helpful tips about going around the island. The whole beach front is about 4 kilometers long and divided by 3 stations. Station 1 has wider beachfront with less crowd since it is considered the poshest place to stay at and where the most expensive hotels facing the sea can be found. Station 2 is the busiest area, where most of the restaurants, bars, market places like D’Mall and D’ Talipapa can be found. You will find reasonably priced lodgings in this section of the beach. Station 3 being far from the main activity area is generally quieter and had very few hotels last time I was there. But this time more hotels are available. If you want to stay away from the crowd you can chose to stay in this station and rooms would be cheaper. Although it’s a long walk if you want to go to the main market. Tricycles are available inside the main town at the back of the beach area so that usually solves the issue. Cheaper lodgings and fast foods restaurants are also available there.
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You can reach Boracay via air from Manila. There are plenty of local flights that go there. Some of the airlines include, PAL, Cebu Pacific, Zea Air, Air Philippines among others. The fare generally costs around 4000 pesos round trip per person. Going by sea is a little bit more complicated though not less enjoyable since one of the most popular ferry that sails there departs from Batangas City Pier. Formerly known as Superferry, 2go Travel leaves Batangas in the evening at around 9 pm and reaches Caticlan port in the morning at around 7 am. From Caticlan to Batangas, the ferry leave at 9 am in the morning and reaches Batangas at 6 pm. A suite would cost around 4000 pesos round trip for two persons.

copyright 2013 JMKhapra

Temporary Insanity: Justine’s Mother

I know I said I am going to write about Liam today but first I want to rant about the shitty state of my country’s economy. I am not trying to make excuses but I guess the whole situation back home is partly to blame for what had happened.

Even after a decade of dramatic change of hands in the country’s governance nothing changed the plight of the Filipino people. Despite revolution after revolution, EDSA, EDSA dos, A failed coup de etat, impeachment dramas, the majority of the citizens still found themselves jobless and hopeless for the future.Forcing an exodus of workers from the Philippines to leave their own families and scatter globally to earn a living. Leaving damaged broken families and confused children in their wake. What is the relevance of this in my story you asked? Confused children grow up as restless adults and cause some damage along the way in the process of growing up. Sadly the cast of characters in this tale belong to this group. For I myself was an interracial baby. Liam’s father was an interracial baby.

My mother was a teacher who left for the United States to take care of American babies when she was 25 years old. Teachers were poorly paid in the country. Whatever she was earning was not enough to support a family of eight. Her five siblings, her mother who was a housewife and her father. Her father retired early from the military before achieving any significant rank due to a mishap in the field. Soldiers are also grossly underpaid and his pension was barely enough to pay for his medication. It was her firm belief that education will save their family from further poverty so bravely she left her homeland so she can send her brothers and sisters to college. But fate intervened. I can only surmise for she kept this part of her life untold even now, that during those lonely years abroad she had fallen in love with a white man. I suspected, a married man. She returned home in the 70s with a protruding belly. Her parents and her five siblings whom she supported while slaving away in a foreign household disowned her. It was a big scandal for a devout Catholic family like them to have a child out of wedlock at that time. My grandfathers and the society were less forgiving then unlike now when overtime raising babies without a father is met with just a nonchalant shrug . Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Life is like that. What can you do. My mother went to live with my aunt who was nurse in a government school in the province of Rizal. After giving birth to me she started teaching in the same school. And there I was born and there I grew up.


* this is a work of fiction and purely an invention of the writer’s imaginative mind. The characters in this story do not exist and any similarities to anyone is purely coincidental.

– copyright 2013 JMKhapra

Emerald Dreams

Rummaging through a box of memories, eager fingers flipping through a set of honeymoon photographs. Eyes sighted something green and sparkling. In an instant the heart ached with longing for carefree days spent frolicking on Coron’s emerald shores.


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 That untainted jewel cocooned in a cluster of islands down south of my native land. Nostalgia echoed on my bedroom walls. Of crispy laughters reverberating under Asian sun.

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The mind wandered back pining for that bright morning, hiking up that volcanic mountain to swim in that verdant lake, in that green soup where swallows dip to quench their thirst at four in the afternoon.

Yearning now intensely, for cool waters caressing the skin while snorkeling in that secret cove, Twin Lagoon it is called, where salt and lake water meet painting mirages for creatures underneath.

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Sighing, wishing to go diving and swimming with those kaleidoscopic school of fishes playing around a maze of brightly hued coral gardens. So ornate and splendid, a surreal world so exquisite, an encounter with mermen and mermaids would not be impossible at all.

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©JMKhapra

The Dog And The Tree

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painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

 

The dog wondered what happened to the tree. It was up there and now down here. He looked back and forth at the big tree and at the miniature version on the floor. He paced to and pro going around it. Sniffing curiously and assessing carefully.’ This will do.’ he thought. He raised one of his hind legs and peed on it.

 

True story.

©JMKhapra

I Walked One Day With A Friend

And wished the day would never end. Says below a dainty drawing of two young girls walking hand in hand towards the sunset. A poster which I displayed in my room when I was a kid. A testament on how valuable friendships were to me. Making friends then did not require an effort. We laughed at the same jokes and we were best friends forever. We liked the same movie star. ‘ She’s so pretty!’ and we were ready to swear to go to college together. I told her about my crush and vice versa. And we were ready to die for each other. Okay that one is an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. My happy days of friendship after childhood’s innocent mingling were my student days. Primary, high school and college. When responsibilities were non existent and laughters were abundant.

But growing up why did it all became so complicated? That even with the proliferation of social media which made keeping and reconnecting to friends so easy like never before do most of us feel still unconnected and misunderstood?

Socrates used the term philos to mean love in the sense of a friend and Eros as the god of Love and Desire. Socrates believed the best of all possessions is a sincere and good friend. But how do you define a good friend? And how do you know if you yourself have been a good friend?

Continue reading “I Walked One Day With A Friend”

Tokophobia

20120803-105231.jpg ” You’re pregnant! You’re pregnant!” her mother kept saying. She stared at her mother feeling sick. She did not know who had gotten her pregnant.

“ We have to find you a man to keep you warm at night. It’s painful being pregnant.” Her mother added. Looking at her very strangely.

She was holding her stomach. Something was moving in there. Her eyes grew large. She felt sick again.

She went to school the next day thinking her future was ruined. She kept thinking about the horrible experience of delivering a baby. The pain, the dampness and cold. She did not know how she knew about those feelings. Her young mind must have accumulated it from stories she had read.

“I have to lose the baby!” Continue reading “Tokophobia”