Woe: Dark, Salt, Clear, p. 103

Each day at least four freighters are lost to the seas, their cargoes spilling out into the water to be dispersed by the waves and discovered on beaches years later — trainers, cogs from machines and plastic packaging mixing in with the seaweed and foam left by waves.

A Few E-mails Self Has Received (Since Returning From Tel Aviv)

Self very proud of herself: only a few days after getting back from Tel Aviv, she downloaded the pictures from her (cursed Nikon digital) camera and sent a few of them to the following: son, Ying, her favorite aunt in Manila, and dear cuz Maitoni.

The first to respond is Ying, who e-mails: “I think I don’t look too bad.” Self realizes that what she means is, “Or do I??” In the picture self sent, Ying is sitting up in her hospital bed, and Dearest Mum is sitting just behind her. Naturally, Ying is bald, and thin. But both she and Dearest Mum are smiling, and not in a forced way, either.

Self immediately replies: “You do not look bad at all. You are beautiful.” Which she is.

Self receives several e-mails from Sandy. First she sent self a picture of a brown animal cupped in two hands. This animal had huge black eyes, little paws (with sharp nails at the end). In fact, self thinks it is a squirrel.

Sandy’s accompanying message says: “Look what Dave found!”

Self e-mails back: “What is it???”

Sandy then confirms that it is indeed a squirrel.

When self tells hubby, he suddenly remembers that Sandy had told him about it, when he was in her dentist’s office (Sandy is a dental assistant/ hygienist), getting his teeth cleaned.

Sandy then e-mails various jokes, and then self gets e-mail from Dutch Gardens (“Spring Perennials Sale!”). Yesterday there was further e-mail from Sandy: the baby squirrel has died.

Then self hears from dear cuz Maitoni, who reminds her that she should Tivo “Check, Please!” because we happened to be eating at New Kapadokia the night the restaurant hosted a TV crew from said show.

Self also receives e-mail from cuz Mike V who lives in Calgary. Mike used to live in Glendale, and self and hubby used to drive down to visit him every year or so. Then, suddenly, he decided to move his family to Canada. Self confesses that she finds Calgary a rather strange choice of abode — for a Filipino, that is, since we usually hate the cold.

Since cousin moved to Calgary, over a decade ago, self has not laid eyes on him, but she knows what his daughter looks like, as he sends pictures every Christmas. And she has seen all the houses he has lived in (He sends pictures of those, too).

His latest e-mail, received just a few days ago, lists the “most livable cities in the Philippines.” And here’s the list:

1. Bacolod
2. Makati
3. Davao
4. Marikina
5. Iloilo
6. Las Piñas
7. Pasig
8. San Fernando
9. Mandaluyong
10. Quezon City

Self wholeheartedly agrees with the choice of Bacolod as # 1 “most livable” city in the Philippines: it’s very green, there’s hardly any traffic, and the restaurants are fantastic (In fact, self thinks it is the only city in the Philippines — or, for that matter, the world — where the McDonald’s carries fine pastries — !!). At the same time, self must admit to a certain bias, since Mike is one of her Bacolod cousins.

Self wonders, too, how Makati earned its # 2 ranking. When self grew up there, it was a wonderful place: uncrowded and comfortable. Now, the traffic is such that car-owners are assigned certain color codes, and can drive their cars only on the days allotted for their particular color group. And the air quality is horrible: self sees the evidence in the fine layer of dust and soot that seems to settle on the plants in her mother’s house, during her occasional visits home.

Most of the listed cities comprise the a behemoth called the “Manila Metropolitan Area”: She means, aside from Makati, the cities of Pasig, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City.

As for the rest, it’s literally been decades since self has visited Las Piñas (which she always associates with “the world’s only bamboo organ!”) and Marikina (where she used to go shopping for shoes), and San Fernando, which her family used to visit only when they were on their way to Baguio.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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