Welcome! I'm Brad, a retired American high school teacher who has been living in Cabanatuan City, the Philippines for more than six years. My adoptive/adopted Filipino family, theTorreses, the Javier-Aldonza-Guevarra-Academia clan, the kind staff at the hotel across the street where I used to live, and the Raguindin family, under whose roof I now live, have been friends and helpmates to me during this time. The postings below describe the experiences of my girlfriend Glenda Torres and me foremost, I guess; I'm also apt to peer into the experiences of those who are close to the two of us -- with their permission, of course. On a larger scale, I'd like to give my non-Filipino readers glimpses into the culture here, the rich history I've been imbibing for several years, and the challenges faced by a developing tropical nation in which more than a hundred languages are spoken. Cheers!

You can reach Brad Smith at boan.song@gmail.com.

Our chill girls.


More Fool Me

Call it a hiatus. Actually it was the ugliest bronchitis I have memory of. Brought on by smoking, of course. Yes, I did the thing I said I wouldn't do: backslid. And paid the price. Now I'm in the middle of my third week sans puffs, chewing the occasional square of nicotine gum. Read somewhere that smokers rarely make a clean breast of the habit on the first try. May the Force be with me on the second.

I'm walking comfortably for the first time in a long time; thank you, Dr. Alcuer. Glenda has achieved an even greater freedom of movement, bagging her standard driver's license on the first try. She's been back to Rizal twice, over to Gabaldon, tearing up the road with the Avanza when she wasn't caring for me. The car's air conditioning gave out on her on the first Rizal trip, which made the drive home for her an uncomfortable one. We had been expecting this inconvenience. Six months ago we were driving in Bongabon when the aircon gave out, and came upon a car aircon shop before the sweating became intense. The guy there replaced a magnetic coil, then told us he thought the compressor had maybe six months left of life in it -- and he could not have been more accurate, with regard to the timing! Our aircon is now as good as new, though we're about $300 out of pocket.

The Raguindins are working hard -- cleaning, painting, decorating -- to put the big house "to rights" for the arrival of Dona Teresita, now just three days away. Here you see them taking a break with Glen and me: Adonis, Aiza, Aiza's sister Clara Mae, and Donaiza. A pediwagon selling siomai is stationed most afternoons outside Don-Don's water business, and we all sampled that delicacy yesterday. Afternoons are noticeably warmer than they were last month, and there is still no rain. Glenda's older sister Libya and Libya's partner Pinkie have invited the two of us to go river-splashing with them near their home in Pangasinan Province the Sunday after next. But the great Pampanga here in Nueva Ecija is a kneecap-high stream in most places; surely in their smaller river to the northwest little splashing can be done. Perhaps we should offer to take them to a Pangasinan resort . . . .

A few days ago in Manila, the Catholic Church held its annual Walk for Life, which was begun in 2017 in response to extrajudicial killings of those involved in the drug trade and to calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty by the Duterte Administration. It drew more than 3,000 participants. Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula, in the mass preceding the walk, had some interesting words which seemed to pertain to the unavailability of divorce to a vast majority of the population: “How do we deal with the dilemmas and complexities of modern families, irregular situations in the home, the diversity and understanding of identity and personhood, the wounds caused and inflicted because of polarization even in the home?” he asked. He encouraged dialogue rather than unswerving adherence to doctrine. In this country, where so many couples are "separated" and have started new families with spouses whom they are not allowed to wed, these words attracted notice. The Philippines is the only country in the world, outside of the Vatican, where divorce is outlawed; a lengthy and very expensive process of "annulment" is available only to the rich. One senses that change regarding marriage laws is on the horizon; one wonders, though, how long it will take to get to that horizon.

Manila Archbishop Advincula to flock: Rethink pro-life strategy (inquirer.net)