In My Own Words - Ron Centeno

a collection of thoughts and my own words

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Written by Ron Centeno

Over three hundred years of iron-willed rule in the Philippines, the Spaniards, after its defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898, finally ceded the country to the U.S. government for a measly tag of $20 million. In the next fifty years, the Philippines was equally looted with its worthy resources by the Yankees, interrupted only by the Japanese during World War II. And whether the victorious McArthur is deserving of his title as the country’s liberator, depends entirely on the history book you are reading.

In the hindsight, we Filipinos, our endearing love for anything America was completely ingrained since then. For instance, the English language would dominate our schools’ medium of instruction. Today, of course, its practicability is underlined by the sprouting of call centers.

Hollywood movies and TV programs would inundate our entertainment theatres and the comfort or discomfort of our living rooms, if we have any. Levi’s jeans, Abercrombie and Fitch muscle shirts, Guess watches, Nike shoes, and the list goes on, have commercialized our collective fond for anything America.

I must admit, however, that I am no exemption to the rule. I just so love America, hence, twelve years earlier, I packed my bag and headed to the land of promise. Applying the finishing touches of that affection to the same, I gave up my Philippine passport, and swapped it with the ‘blue’ one. It was a no-brainer, I thought.

While in America, I eat cereal for breakfast instead of ‘tapsilog’, drink white wine instead of ‘lambanog’, sip taster’s choice instead of ‘café barako’, and switch to superbowl from basketball.

Behind my coated American lifestyle, however, I am innately Filipino. Constantly, I would long to see childhood friends in Barrio Polong (Malasiqui, Pangasinan) to where I was born. I would crave for ‘sinampalokang manok’ my nanay would painstakingly cook by mashing the tamarind fruits fresh from the tree for the mix. And of course, I ache to ride our country’s symbol of engineering ingenuity, the ubiquitous ‘jeepneys’.

Eleven years later, (2008) I packed my bag again, this time, to head home to the Philippines for a brief visit. Suddenly, there was a blast of anticipation. I was ecstatic, tossing and turning the whole trip. When the aircraft finally rolled to stop and the door swung open, my feet finally touched the ground. I was euphoric.
On the night of my arrival, I was up and about and raring to hit the neon-lit cafes across the condotel I was booked in. The Galleria area in Makati was no different from the Old Town, Pasadena, where I came from, except the huge flock of people that populate it.

There were competing American, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Persian, Korean, and Cuban, cafes and restaurants at every corner. I opted for the Cuban where ‘mambos’ and ‘salsa’ music were played by a group of Filipino band. Because the inside of the Café itself is quite narrow and suffocating, folding tables and chairs were set up outside of it to accommodate more patrons – 85%t of them ‘expats’, in tow were their Filipino-girls escorts. This makeshift set up is prized to those who frequent the spot for its open-air ambiance.

Unless perhaps one has a sizable wallet such as the likes of a Congressman, a Senator, or a Cabinet member, chances are, for ordinary Filipinos the Cuban experience can be an illusive one. Its menu lists exorbitant prices - an implicit indication to segregate the ‘expats’ from the natives.

At any rate, I approached the server if he could find me that sought-after spot outside the Cafe. He settled me inside and ended up seated in the bar. Outside, however, attendants were quick to fix tables and chairs every time ‘expats’ would arrive.

Dismayed, I asked for the check halfway my San Miguel beer. Then, I dug in my wallet and fingered out my Bank of America card. When asked for my ID, I showed my California driver's license. Immediately, the server approached the manager who was running around socializing with his valued ‘expats’. When the same server got back with me, he said, “Sir, your table outside is now ready.”

“Yeah, right”!, I said in my fake American accent.

14 Your Thoughts/Comments Here::

Makoy said...

ei Ron. dami mo pla nickname hehe. Oi sali ka sa contest ko. nangungulit na ako hahaha.

Ron Centeno said...

hahahahaha! ok sa kulit,Makoy! Busy lang kasi ako sa trabaho! :-)

John B.M. said...

..i had a similar experience too! to my dismay I wrote a letter to the owner of the establishment after a week they contacted me and apologized they offered me free dinner for two but i declined and i never came back to that establishment

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Great blog......hey, don't be using any fake American accents you hear :)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

emz said...

oh my! that was rude! tsk...tsk...i guess typical a filipino trait? hate it really...good thing u were cool about it..

anywayze, nice blog!

Vinay Rai said...

For me you are exploited only till you let others exploit you. Nobody is so weak that it cannot defend itself or its own territory.

Dina said...

3M, So what's up with the serious stuff! Where are the sweet stuff? :-)

Ron Centeno said...

John B.M.

I'm glad you gave them a taste of their own medicine.

Midlife, menopause...,
It's a trying hard american accent and its a shame to use. hehehehehehe!


sometimes when you're too nice people take advantage. sometimes i wished i let them have it.


you are exactly right.


I'm working on it. :-)

gillboard said...

You know what, even if we Filipinos have a big problem with our attitude towards our fellow Pinoys, I have no plans of ever leaving this country.

To hell with corruption and poverty, I love this country.

Ron Centeno said...

Gilbert pare,

Don't get me wrong, I love the Philippines. I just wish our leaders could love our country before their pockets. My heart is set on growing old back home. It's not a bed of roses outside your own country. Walang katulad ang mamuhay sa sariling bayan.

ericjogja said...

ikutan baca artikel ah

Mokong said...

Ron, serious tyo masyado ha... pero great article. Nakakahanga yung style mo sapaggawa ng post. Keep itup pare!!!
I love this country but I HATE THE FUCKIN GOVERNMENT!!!
Di naan ako galit nyan pare!

Ron Centeno said...

Amen Pareng Sherwin, Amen!

Desert Aquaforce said...

It happens all the time. Charge it to the stupid colonial mentality of us Filipinos. No other country in Asia has as a colonial mentality as bad as we have in the Philippines!

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