Saturday, October 21, 2006

Marang, Bay!

What’s that smell?

Whoa! there it is again! Whew!

What other fruit would give such a strong olfactory impression other than the (in)famous durian? Everywhere you go now in Davao, and many other cities in Mindanao, you see them precariously piled high in all their thorny splendour. If the aroma is not a scent to behold for you, then maybe the sight does! Not many fruits look as interesting as a durian—and that’s why it gets a lot of attention--and loyalty from fellow Mindanaoans.

So, I am afraid that I have been subjected to much persecution because I dare to admit that I don’t eat durian. I like Marang better—that declaration should be enough to assure people that I am still very much a true blue Mindanaoan, but no, sir, it doesn’t!

I don’t understand why the lowly Marang is overlooked and underrated. Hey if you give the Marang a chance, you’ll realize that it has better qualities than the overrated durian!

Firstly, its just as odd-looking as the durian but not as harmful. If you accidentally drop a Marang on your foot, you’ll be a bit sticky but you’re okey--but if it’s a durian….(never mind, don’t want to get into too much gore here.)

Secondly, its aroma is definitely not going to make you wrinkle your nose or (to some others) violently sick. Its mild scent invites people to come and savor it, unlike the durian who boldly proclaims its aroma (or odor, depends who’s smelling) but delivers quite a different taste.

Thirdly, check out its mild, sweet taste! Why go for the bitter zing when life’s already giving you heaps of that? Just let the Marang's sweet taste melt in your mouth and you’re in 7th heaven.

Fourthly, with Marang, nobody’s going to run away when you suddenly burp! While the durian has been known to break up marriages…(alright! temporarily, at least..!)

May the Marang get better press from now on, it deserves the honor!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Where I Lay My Head

*written October 11 in GenSan

I just woke up from the third bed I’ve slept in since I came to Gen San 7 days ago…another new bed, well-slept. If I were asked to count how many beds I’ve slept in since I left home to work, I would never be able to tell!

My six-month stay in Thailand a couple of years ago is pretty much a description of my life: wandering from one place to another by plane, train, tuktuk and car and sleeping in a grand total of 36 beds.

I’ve slept on a rock-hard mattress on the floor, on a lopsided bed ready to collapse anytime, on an upper bunk of a very shaky bunk bed (look ma, no railings!), on a rickety bed of a chugging train, in a sleeping bag on a breezy bamboo floor, on a lovely, firm queen-sized bed. I’ve slept on a bed with a bat hanging upside down above it. I’ve slept on a bed possessively claimed by the owner’s cat. I’ve slept on a bed with a lizard crawling up my leg in the middle of the night.

Having slept on so many beds, you’d think I can sleep well anywhere. How I wish that were true! The thing is, along with the different beds, comes different situations, different conditions and so, different sleep.

In all this time, I can only remember one particular bed on which I not only had wonderful, deep restful sleep, but also the most fantastic Technicolor dreams that leave me with a wonderful feeling when I woke up! I told my host this and she said that she prays over her guest room—that the Lord will grant anyone who uses that room good, restful sleep. Isn’t that a wonderful thing! But then, that was just for three days...and then I had to move on to another city, and another bed.

It must be nice to sleep on just one comfortable, sturdy, queen-sized bed for the rest of your life—a bed I can often come home to---my own. A bed I can dream dreams in, a bed I can lie down on happily falling asleep as I see my dreams fulfilled. A bed that I can fall asleep crying on, like a close friend’s shoulder and wake up comforted. There’s no one bed who has seen me through all my good and bad days—no bed I have shared lots of memories with.

Interestingly, one Man had it worse! He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”( Matthew 8:20)

Not an easy thing, to follow such a Master. But I am looking forward to one day having my own bed, enjoying good rest and the Master’s presence forever.

Friday, October 13, 2006

That Off Line Feeling

I'm hanging out at my aunt's place in Gen San the past two days and its been pretty laid back, just the pace I like my vacations to be. But what was really curious was my reaction when I found out they had DSL!

You see, I had been in Gen San for about a week already, but the first few days, I was holding a workshop and staying in a place where the outside world was only accessible either by my cellphone or by tricycle. When my hosts mentioned this, I was quite cool about it. In fact, I thought, this would be great since it will give me a chance to just disconnect and focus on the workshop plus throw in some retreat time for myself. Well, the 4-day stay went quickly enough and I was pretty proud of myself for staying nonchalantly disconnected all that time.

Until I got to my Aunt's place...with the workshop done and nothing else to focus on but thoughts of next week's work schedule...I started to get that "I-must-get-on-line" feeling. I wondered when the twicthy feeling would pass since I was almost positive that I would have to stay off-line for a few more days--since I assumed that my Aunt didnt know a thing about going on line--until I saw their computer and my cousin typing away on it...and ventured to ask the all-important question, "Do you have DSL?"

The feeling I had must be similar to that of a coke addict finally taking a hit after days of trying to stay clean...hmmm...not a pleasant comparison, but I have to admit that this has become sort of an addiction. Sigh.

So here I am on-line, relief flowing through my veins as I checked my inbox and answered all the important(?) emails. I had thought I would simply spend my time at my aunt's place resting and enjoying "other stuff" that being off line would bring me. So I am not sure this is a good thing...being on line that is.

I hope I can go off-line after this...though I would'nt bet on it...would somebody please start a webaholic anonymous group???? On line???

Thursday, October 05, 2006


“Di tsai iya ba kung asa ang pinakalami nga restaurant dito sa Davao?”
“Ay, hindi ko baya alam, better siguro kung di khi m’ng Bebbs na lang.”

If you are not a Cebuano-speaking, Davao-born Chinese, you would be scratching your head, wondering what the above gibberish is all about. You might be able to guess part of it, but would be hard pressed to figure what language it is exactly.

Well, there’s no name to it, but just to say that the above exchange is a concoction of 4 languages: Hokkien, Cebuano, English, Tagalog. It can get more complicated than that, depending on who you talk to, what region you are in and what context.

I guess if you are an overseas born whatever—Chinese, Indian, Filipino…etc. etc., you’d end up becoming as linguistically mixed up as I am. People are so impressed that I speak 5 or so languages (throw in Cantonese to the above list)...what they don’t realize is that I am a jill-of-all-trades but a mistress of none: I am not fluent in any of them!

To my shame, I can only say that the language I am most comfortable with speaking and writing in, is English. Shame because that shouldn’t be…my ethnicity is Cantonese Chinese, so why can’t I be identified as such in my speech?

But the world has grown much more complicated than that.

Globalization has done a lot of good things for the world, but then it also has its setbacks…like producing mixed-up people (yours truly as Exhibit A) who don’t exactly know who they are, and where they belong.

Finding my center in Christ has been a real relief for me—this has helped me celebrate instead of denigrate my uniquely blended identity (and embrace the eccentricities that come with it!). His truth has somehow helped me identify and (try to) live out the best of who I am….obviously a lot of tweaking is still called for, but I am thankful that He has given me an identity that I can hold on to.