The “Yaya” Culture

Self getting so tired of the yaya culture, she can’t tell ya.

She has lived and breathed it for the last 20 days.

Self understands that families here cannot live without the yaya.  To guard their toddlers every minute of their waking life.  To wipe asses and so forth and so on.  To fork food into children’s often unwilling mouths.  To be ordered about.  To give that extra sense of security when one is wandering in a strange place.

And yet, if it were not for Dear Bro’s two yayas, self would be bereft, utterly bereft.  One yaya, Marietta, is 29 years old.  She hails from Bacolod.  She has a college degree, she tells self:  a Bachelor of Arts in “Customs.”  What is that?  Marietta says it is a degree that would have allowed her to work in the Customs area of the airport.  (Self had no idea, none, that such a degree even existed)

The other yaya is Fe.  She brings self her coffee every morning.  She loads self’s cell phone with “Smart” minutes (when not chasing after Dearest Mum).  She has a five-year-old boy somewhere in the outskirts of Manila, that her husband watches.  She sees her son only twice a month, on her days off.  The trip back and forth to her home takes a total of four hours.

Self would like to remember these yayas.  She tells them she hopes they will still be around when she returns (hopefully not for another couple of years).  She darts glances at them when her frustrations with her family are at their height.  She reads in their silent eyes sympathy, or understanding.

Self longs to be back in the absolute isolation of her home in Redwood City, California.  Where she is surrounded by books, only by books.  And the two beagles.  And a TV which is tuned to CNN all day.  And where no one judges whether she is a bad or good daughter.

Then, dear blog readers will be treated once again to excerpts from The Economist or The New York Times Book Review.  Or to self’s opinion on a current movie.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.


  1. Kathleen said,

    January 25, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Ay…the yaya system. One could write books. Soon you will be Home Sweet Home with the lil crits, the hubby, and your son down the coast.

  2. January 25, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Called hubby today, and he talked about: CSI (w/ Laurence Fishburne), SAAG Awards (had no idea he was even interested), and how fat Gracie has gotten. Contrast b/w life there and here could not have been more stark.

    Also, he read me a form letter of rejection from Coffee House Press (Margarita Donnelly of Calyx told me Christopher Fischbach was “very nice,” but he only initialed the letter — ha ha ha ha. But he was nice by rejecting me promptly– after only three weeks — rather than keeping me hanging for months and months . . . )

  3. Vince Gotera said,

    January 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Tuned to CNN all day? What about in the evening? My friend, you should watch Lost. But don’t start with the current season or you’ll be completely LOST (ha ha, sorry). Get the earlier seasons from the video store and watch them in order. That will get you away from CNN for a week or more. Anyway, that’s my recommendation for when you get back to Redwood City. In the meantime, eat a halo-halo for me, okay? Btw, does Redwood City have redwoods? I miss redwoods. Used to live in Arcata, with “teenage” redwoods around the house. Send a story to me at the North American Review, though I can’t promise anything because my co-editor Grant decides on fiction. See ya. –V.

  4. January 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    LOST? Have I missed the episode where Sawyer appears without a shirt???

    Here I watch “Pieta,” a tele-novela with Cherie Gil.

    And, there are no redwoods in Redwood City. At least, not in my immediate vicinity. I think there used to be, though. I think the logs were floated down the bay to Redwood City and then shipped to ports elsewhere. I think. Hence the name . . .

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