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Fiscal Christmas of 2011 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Personal Business Editorial

Fiscal

Christmas

of

2011

CHRISTMAS BUILDING_DSC_6193_PALO LIBRARY 2011_resized

Santa’s Southern Workshop

If Santa Claus has to make a pit stop on Leyte to feed his reindeer or resupply his big, bright red Christmas Presents sack, then, it looks like the Palo Library is his stop over location based on this holiday photo of 2011. The snapshot was taken through the windshield of a moving vehicle, which accounts for the heavy coloration at the top of the snapshot and the circles reflected on the building and is a reminder that sometimes in life what we see is not always what we think we see. Snapshot by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

As a little boy in the United States, I have several memories of “Christmas In The Ozarks.”

 

As a young man in college, I have several memories of “Christmas On The Job.”

 

CHRISTMAS STAR LOGO PHOTO THUMBNAIL TWOAs a man in the military, I have several memories of “Christmas Around The World” or, more correctly, “Christmas In The Pacific.”

 

Christmas 2012 is not the first Christmas, I celebrated in the Republic of the Philippines. Christmas 1988 was my first Christmas in the Philippine Islands, which is a “Single G.I. Christmas Story.”

 

My wife, Christy Warren and I returned to the Republic of the Philippines in December 2011, which resulted in a “Fast Christmas.”

 

Extended Family Concept

 

The Philippines is one of those nations that practices the “Extended Family” concept. Americans tend to think of “Immediate Family,” which is Mom, Dad, the kids, and sometimes grandpa, grandma, and the aunts and uncles.

 

The Philippines’ “Extended Family” concept is exceptional because it takes into account other relatives, which can be distant aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

 

Taken to the extreme, the concept is like taking a Manila telephone book and expecting everyone listed under A to Z to show up on Christmas Day.

 

Unleash The Relatives !

 

As Christmas 2011 approaches, it becomes apparent that Christy Saldana Warren is related to most of the past, present and future delegates of The United Nations.

 

By Christmas Eve 2011, apparently the only person in The Republic Of The Philippines that Christy was not related to is The President Of The Philippines.

 

It seemed that everyone who could walk, stagger, hire a pedicab, tricycle, jeepney or hitch a ride had passed through the doors for the “Home For The Holidays” celebration. A few people took the time to identify themselves as “friends”, while many just smiled, nodded and socialized with other family members.

 

Christmas Eve 2011 and Christmas Day 2011 proved to be a wonderful celebration. People, food, kids, joy, excitement, storytelling, socializing. No script writer in Hollywood or Manila could come up with a script for a more joyous family holiday celebration.

 

Christmas Glitch

 

Every nation has those situations and conditions that allow some people to profit at the expense of others. In the Philippines, the cultural “Extended Family Concept” is an ideal situation to be taken to the extreme to take advantage of people and the overall compassionate message of humanity at Christmas.

 

Jet Lag, Time Drag

 

The Fast Christmas” celebration took advantage of the fact that we stepped off the airplane in the middle of December. It would take a couple of days for us to travel from the island of Luzon to the island of Leyte. While we would spend a couple of days in Manila before a quick Christmas trip to Angeles City, our bodies were still suffering from “jet lag”.

 

Our minds were adjusting to the “International Date Line time difference of 14 hours between the Philippines and Missouri because The Show Me State was on “Daylight Savings Time”, which added an hour to the normal 13-hour time difference.

 

I had looked forward to the trip to Angeles City as “My Military Mecca Pilgrimage”, I could return to my beloved Clark Air Base and see the changes since the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Unfortunately, this was one of those “side trips” that you make to say, “Hi” and “Bye.”

 

Sad Story Singers

 

Christmas The Season is the time of year when “Everyone On Planet Earth Has A Sad Story To Tell.” One of the other 364 days of the year, people might ignore your story, but, the Christmas Season gets into a person’s psychological makeup and the whole “Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” scenario kicks in and a person listens to “the sad story.”

 

If you are born to a rich family, then, you probably have to really dig into the family history to find a sad story to sing. The rest of us, just think back a couple of months and find a sad story. Some people truly do have a sad story in life that begins around Day One.

 

Many people are just disappointed not to have been born to a mom or dad listed in the Fortune 500 with a fat bank account and a portfolio that list numbers with several series of zeroes after the numbers.

 

Sometimes a Sad Story maybe true. Sometimes a Sad Story is a ploy with a fiscal ending aimed at your wallet or purse. One example is the man, who told me, “My son could use a computer for his education.” No doubt.

 

Of course, smiling at someone, during Christmas Season and replying, “Get A Job”, would probably be considered politically incorrect and downright callous. Nonetheless, I am too skinny to ever be mistaken for Santa Claus anywhere in the world.

 

I came from hard-working parents and the “work ethics” of the Ozarks and Texas is hardwired into my DNA, so “I will try to help people, who help themselves”, but , I remember the old Ozarks’ saying, “ Charity starts at home.”

 

Find The Family

 

I retired from the military in 1997. Christy and I had left Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines to go to another assignment only a few months before Mount Pinatubo solved the whole “US Bases In The Philippines” debate in clouds of volcanic ash.

 

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo cut off all communications between Christy and her family in the Philippines for the next 18 years, both of us tried everything we could think of to locate her family in the Philippine Islands.

 

In 2008, we got lucky and communications were reestablished and she began talking to the family on a regular basis. We considered moving to the Philippines.

 

Parents, Plan, Priority

 

Before we left the US, Christy and I discussed that a “rice mill” might be a good idea in a country setting in the Philippines. At the time, all the family members in the Philippines seemed to agree.

 

Everyone knew the family story that essentially Christy s mom had made Christy swear an oath to do everything possible to “Keep The Family Together.” Everyone knew that my mother had taught me, “Family Is Everything.” The pledges to our parents were the type of ploys that could be used to try and make a person feel guilty.

 

Christy had made it known to the family that her priority was that the family work together to succeed, so that everyone would benefit in the long run through the years ahead. The concept of “Teamwork” seemed to be an idea that everyone was willing to work for.

 

Business Banter

 

Christy had come up with a business plan that would allow every member of the family to have a role in the family business. Before we left the States, it seemed everyone was anxious to hit the beach at Leyte and do the family business of running a rice mill.

 

Before we left the States, a rice mill had been built in Barangay Baras. Christy and I discussed other ideas for a family business. Family members, offered up their own ideas.

 

In the United States, the idea of involving relatives in a family business began to disappear around the time of the American Civil War.

 

By the 1900s, Americans were known around the world as the people who tell you “Never Ever Involve Family In A Business You Own.” I had heard that admonition my entire life. From what I had witnessed in life, it seemed like sound advice.

 

However, my wife, Christy is a Filipina and we were returning to the Philippines. I had, no doubt, if everyone was willing to work with Christy everyone would succeed.

 

The Boss

 

I had been the military man. I remain the reporter and photographer. My wife, Christy, like my mother, was obviously the business woman. I had the luxury of “Being Married To The Boss.”

 

The drawback to any business is “Everyone wants to be the chief and no one wants to be just one of the braves.” The braves forget, in a business sense, “the person with the wampum makes the rules.”

 

As the year wore on, it became obvious that some family members had not been all that excited about the original idea of the rural rice mill. Christy being a woman in a traditionally “macho” culture did not help in her trying to win over family members.

 

In the Latin-based cultures, like the Philippines, the eldest male child is expected to “take charge” and call the overall shots for the family. Then, of course, you factor in the Asian cultural concept of “Save Face” and women usually stand in the shadows in a “be seen, but not heard role.”

 

Men don’t always appreciate working for a woman. In the US, men not being able to work with a woman is an idea that has really disappeared since the 1970s.

 

But, there are places in the world, where men really have problems when “The Boss” is a woman. It seemed some of the men really didn’t want to think of Christy as “The Boss.”

 

Blame The Americans – Everyone Else Does

UNCLE SAM

 

Thank God for The United States Of America !

 

Without the US to blame, for everything from bad weather to the price of tea in China, many citizens of the world would have to find something or someone else to blame if good old Uncle Sam wasn’t around. Thus, the US got some of the blame when Christy and I didn’t jump at a business idea. Someone would grumble, “Christy spent too long in the US.”

 

Christy The Filipina

 

Christy Saldana is an independent woman, who had her own ideas about life before I ever married her and she stepped off the airplane on to US soil. People who tried to “blame the US” knew nothing about Christy or the United States.

 

Christy is one of those people, who has worked for and earned everything she has in life. She had earned her own way in life. When I met her, I was impressed by her confidence and ambition.

 

Side Trip Shaft

 

After the Angeles City holiday pilgrimage, we were back on the road headed to a ferry for the island of Leyte. Our bodies still dealt with the prolonged “jet lag” and our minds were still adjusting to the “time drag”

 

My first major disappointment since returning to the Philippines came with the “side trip” to Angeles City. Too much time had been wasted on trying to get everyone together.

 

We ended up going to Clark Air Base “too late” for me to be able to enjoy looking around the base. We didn’t have time that night to see the base. We didn’t have time to spend a day or so in the area, so that we could visit the base. This is one of those decisions that did not sit well with me.

 

I had looked forward to the visit to Clark. Anger is the emotion that I felt at being denied the opportunity to take my time and look around the base. Resentment is the other emotion that stuck in my craw. And, the word, Mad, is an accurate description of how I felt when we left Angeles City.

 

Back On The Road

 

Naturally, we were trying to get to Leyte to be able to rest after the long plane flight and to celebrate Christmas.

 

The ride to the ferry off the island of Leyte was a long ride because I was mad. Nonetheless, I was ready to finally kick my shoes off and unpack my suitcases. Fast Christmas had kept us off balance and on the road.

 

If you want to do business on Christmas Day, then, tell the people you want to do business with. If you want to promote a business idea, then, you have to be willing to put some of your own money on the line.

In the ideas that were being suggested to us, everyone wanted to be “the idea man” and leave all of the investment of money to Christy and Sam.  If you try to wrap up and slide a fiscal agenda into the holiday all you will get for the year is a bundle of switches and lumps of coal in your fiscal plans.

 

The Jet Lag, Time Drag, Slide Trip Shaft, and the On The Road, factors are the lumps of coal that pushed Christy and I into Christmas Day 2011. I considered Christmas Day 2011 a Fast Christmas. The result is the day became the Fiscal Christmas of 2011.

 

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 29, 2012 at 6:51 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Opinion, Philippines

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The Little Things Of Life “Washing Powders” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr,

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WASHING POWDERS_3048_resized

Washing Powders

Martha Lou Marcum DeLong, my grandmother, back on the farm, near Abesville, Missouri, would call this elongated package, "Washing Powders."

 

In the Republic of the Philippines, this package is laundry detergent, which comes in a bar form. This long bar can be broken into about four pieces to be sold for laundry.

 

As a young single man, I did some laundry, usually I would save it up and let my mom do it, when I went home for a weekend from college.

When you move to live in a foreign country, the big differences are always obvious.  It is “The Little Things Of Life” you sometimes miss. 

In 1988 in Angeles City, near Clark Air Base, you could not buy ketchup off base.  In the Johnny’s store in Balibago, a section of Angeles City you could buy UFC banana catsup, but, not tomato catsup.  I’m a country boy, I love tomatoes in my ketchup.

Furthermore, the one crop that always put and kept Stone County, Missouri on the world and national map is the big, red, juicy, mouth-watering tomatoes.

Fortunately in 2012, at Robinson’s Place in Tacloban City, you can buy Del Monte and Heinz tomato ketchup.  You can even buy Folger’s coffee in the three-pound can. 

Still, I miss the big orange box of Tide on the store shelves. There are orange packets of Tide for laundry detergent in the Philippines  — it just ain’t the same. 

On the bright side, bleach still comes in the gallon plastic jug.  Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

“Happy Birthday, Marife !”

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Happy Birthday, Marife !

May 29, 2012

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The Birthday Girl – Marife Saldana Roa, the birthday girl, opens her birthday cards. The kids and Tito Sam used their best creative efforts to make some birthday cards for the special day. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Marife Saldana was about 14 when she came to Angeles City and her sister, Christy, enrolled her in Dau Academy.

The Sisters — Christy Warren and Marife Saldana Roa, the sisters, talk and joke for a fe moments, before the birthday party gets underay. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I met Marife, when she was the teenager.

Like her friends in the school’s white uniform blouses and required green skirts they talked about the things teenage girls talk about like: boys.

It was the late 1980s, so cell phones had yet to be invented, thus, classmates talked about things on the way to and from school

“Girl Talk” — Pina Gempis and Marife Roa talk in the kitchen. Pina spent the morning, cooking spaghetti and pancit canton for the birthday party. In the Filipino culture, pancit canton is the Filipino dish you expect to find at a birthday party because tradition states that pancit canton is a symbol of a long life. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

and on weekends because “texting” had yet to be invented.

May 29 is Marife’s birthday.

Even as a teenager, Marife had a smile and a quiet personality. In 2012, Marife is married to Ninoy Roa and the mother of four boys: Gilbert, Glen, Chrismar and Mac Mac.

“Happy Birthday to you.” — Christy Warren lights the candles on the birthday cake.
Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Today was a milestone, other than age. The last time Christy bought a birthday cake and had a birthday party for her sister, Marife, she was 16. Christy returned to the Republic of the Philippines in December 2011, and this was the first opportunity, she had to have a birthday party for her sister Marife.

Although Marife Saldana Roa is my sister-in-law, I have always believed, “She is the daughter I should of had.”  As a teenager, Marife was always respectful to her elders, did well in school, and never hesitated to use her English skills to tell me what was going on in school.  As a teenager, she always treated me like a father and since our return to the Philippines, Marife continues to be the daughter I should of had.

The Good Morning Bakery Birthday Cake. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

May 28, Christy went to the “Good Morning Bakery” in Palo and ordered the birthday cake. Christy looked through the pictures of the birthday cakes and picked out the design.  The selection of the birthday cake became a Major Military Operation because I went along to order the birthday cake.  I’m one of those people, who as a child was always “picky” about the kind of food I ate and “where I ate.”  As a senior citizen, I remain “picky” about my food from birthday cakes to anything I eat.

While the bakers were discussing the cake with Christy, I had questions about the size and flavor.  Christy remembered that Marife like vanilla.  One of the baker’s assistants brought out a cake pan to show up the size.  I took one look and figured three people would get birthday cake and everyone else would watch them eat.  I smiled and asked bigger.  The assistant then explained that they had a cake pan about twice the size.  I nodded, “Texas size.”

When selecting the novelty to place on the cake, Christy remembered as a teenager that Marife liked the TV show, “Darna.”  Darna is a Filipino super heroine, whose American counterpart is “Wonder Woman.”  Like “Wonder Woman” in the United States, “Darna” is a character in the Philippines that is always portrayed by the most beautiful Filipina actresses of every generation in the movies and on TV.  Darna has always been a positive role model for Filipina girls.

Back in the 1980s, whenever a Darna TV show or movie came on, I plopped down on the sofa beside Ramon and Marife to watch.  Thus, the Darna super heroine doll stood tall in a corner of the cake.

The Good Morning Bakery birthday cake was pleasing to the eye.  I was impressed by the taste.  The vanilla cake was moist to the tongue.  Regardless of where I have been in the world and had birthday cakes or wedding cakes, one thing I always remember is that sometimes the cakes are dry.

Once the cake comes in contact with your tongue you dash like a man in the desert for the nearest source of liquid to quench your steel wool thirst.  Christy overcomes the dryness problem with cakes by using butter to keep the cake moist.

Christy Warren serves up a helping of birthday cake and pancit canton to Edwin Mora. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I do not know how the Good Morning Bakery kept this cake moist, but it passed my tongue test and I enjoyed the cake.  Naturally, I would of liked the cake to be a tad more moist, but, when it comes to food I am “picky.”  I am a Scorpio, but, when it comes to food, my taste buds and stomach are obviously Virgo in the extreme – my eyes and digestive system give new meaning to the phrase, “Attention To Detail” and the word, “Perfection.”

The smiling faces of the attendees and the second-helpings were a testament to the flavor of the birthday cake.  And the icing was a favorite with the adults as well as the kids.

Marife is not the only Saldana relative, who celebrates May 29 as the birthday. Randy Abano, a second cousin, is a close family member, who also shares the Gemini day.

All Western astrological signs have their positive and negative values and Gemini is a sign often considered to be “moody.”  However, Marife and Randy remind me of  the famous American Gemini, who served as a United States Navy PT boat commander, who went on to become a great American President – John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Before the birthday party began, Ranyiel Saldana handed one of the pet pigeons to Randy Abano to examine. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Randy is a quiet young man, who is always ready to help out.

Perhaps, he is “picky” about dating because he is still a single man.

Before I conclude this birthday article, I leave my readers two points to ponder.

Point Number One

In my lifetime, at birthday parties, I have always noticed that usually it seems the birthday boy or the birthday girl is expected “to cut the cake.”  Why is that ?

The birthday is the day of days, when the individual can truly celebrate the anniversary of their birth into this world.  It is the one time every year, when every man, woman and child should be respected as one of “God’s unique gifts to the Universe.”  While family and friends usually do try to honor the person, the glitch always seems to come at cake time.  Instead of a family member or friend stepping up from the ranks to do the honor, the birthday boy or birthday girl is usually left positioned behind the cake to decide how to cut if, while the fate of the Free World and human civilization hangs in the balance.

Someone hands them a knife, and leaves the birthday boy or birthday girl to decide, “How do I cut the cake ?”

On my birthday, I always smile, step back and would hand the knife to my mother, Cousin Donna, or my wife, Christy, and reply, “I do a lousy job of cutting a cake.”  I knew my talents in life did not include cake cutting, thus, one of my trusted love ones had to have a more precise skill of cake cutting than I would ever master.

In my experience, most people usually stand there bewildered until some hungry family member takes pity and decides to step up to assist.  I am no protocol person, but on someone’s special day, the goal is to honor and celebrate their birthday.  Thus, it should already be decided long before the traditional song is sung, who will step up to assume command of “The Cutting Of The Cake.”

Point Number Two

Most often a Wedding is an expensive personal ceremony that ranks right up their with Presidential Ignauration Ceremonies.  All the planning, pomp and circumstance goes into planning weddings as though it were a re-enactment of “The D-Day Landing.”  After the traditional “cutesie moment” of the bride “smushing” cake into her new husband’s face and him doing likewise to his new wife, then, the marvelous machinery of the wedding celebration rockets into high gear and the wedding cake is quickly distributed to the masses.

Unfortunately, Birthday Celebrations are sometimes one of those “Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants” events that suggests you are making it up as you go along.  The best birthday celebrations always seem to collapse like a fallen cake at serving time.  One reason maybe the absence of the ingenious device – “The Cake Server” – a utensil shaped like a pizza slice with a laid back L shaped handle that allows the utensil to slide in under the cake and raise it triumphantly in one piece up into the atmosphere.

Without the cake server, people’s stomachs always override their sense of logistics and spoons and forks are stabbed at the cake like prehistoric cave people trying to free the charbroiled dinosaur bone from the family flame pit.  It is a given, that the piece of cake will wobble and collapse like a badly constructed tower, near, and sometimes actually in the plate.  My solution is to use a knife and a fork or spoon to actually “balance” the piece of cake to the nearby plate.  My crude forklift tactic usually prevents the cake from becoming a Tower of Babble re-enactment.

The Royal Imperial Professional College of Birthday Cake Taste Testers — of any country is kids. The Saldana and Roa kids enjoyment of The Good Morning Bakery of Palo’s birthday cake quickly attained a positive five-star rating from the M &Ms, to the vanilla flavor and the icing. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Of course, Marife and Randy’s birthday party went off without a hitch because Christy Warren is a natural born protocol officer.  I suspect my wife must have been a protocol officer at a Royal European Court in one of her past lives.

Thus, when it came time to blow out the candles Marife and Randy made their wishes and blew out the candles.

The Birthday Dignitaries – Marife Saldana Roa and Randy Abano gather around the birthday cake, while Ann Ann Natividad watches in the background. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Happy Birthday, Marife ! Happy Birthday, Randy !

Sam

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