General Talk

27 July 2012, 16:44, Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines
(I shall put this on Evernote and WordPress, when the electricity is back on and, hoprfully we have internet service, too.)

There has been no electricity throughout most of the city today. Everyone keeps saying it is a brown-out, but brown-outs usually last 2 to 3 hours only. This one has been going on since about 09:15 (more than 4 hours).  Seems to me to be more than a brown-out. Fortunately we have gas for cooking.

Gon, the family dog, has been watching the happnngs in the street below. He won’t stay on the Veranda with Joey or me, but he will with Beatriz. Oh, I wasn”t thinking, maybe you don’t know who everyone is in the household. Beatriz, called either Moma or Nay (pronounced like nigh), Joey, who was going to college, but has decided to return home at Esperanza, Clint Jhon (that is the spelling on his birth certificate), whom we call Totot or sometimes Tot, and me. Totot is in high school and is attending Baguio City National High School. He is only 15 and in his last year of high school.  I could never understand how a Filipino or Filipina could graduate at only 15 or 16 from High school. Do they begin school at the age of 3?  No. There are only six years of elementary school. They start at 5 or 6 and that means, with only ten years of school, they can graduate at 15 or 16,

Not everyone graduates at 15 or 16. In many cases a child may miss a year of school because parents cannot afford to pay the tuition or buy the uniform for one, and sometimes more than one, year. So it is possible that one may be 18 or 20 years old and graduating from high school. It is usually rare that a person is over 19 because, when a child misses more than one year in succession, the degree of difficulty to return to school is very high.  Study habits are quickly forgotten as is much of what was lerned in the preceeding years of school.  So, there are many uneducated people in the Philippines, especially in the provinces.

During the trial of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, there was a senator who was complaing about how much money was spent on the trial (the trial took 44 days and this senator was talking about the cost on the 36th day) which could have been used for education. He also alluded to several bills awaiting the senate’s attention which were for education and health care.  After 44 days, the Chief Justice, who had been charged with 22 crimes, as I understood from the TV and newspapers, was convicted of only one – failure to complete a federal form correctly. Granted, the form was a financial form and he failed to disclose his off-shore assets because, according to his testimony, he did not understand the law. Gives a person lots of confidence in the Filipino Judiciary system, when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court does not understand the laws. The other charges related to misapplication of funds and embezzelment. According to a retired judge with whom I spoke, supposedly the prosecution had all the evidence they needed to convict him of every charge. The prosecution consisted of 10 or 12 actual prosecutors. But I never heard one of them ever ask a question of a witness. Only the 26 Senators chosen to be the jurors/jurists asked questions.  Oh well, so goes the world of Politics in the Philippines and the World.

Had a couple of discussions with my Uncle (Mom’s brother) about the Philippines, since he was stationed here during the Second World War and the Korean War. General MacArthur still had his headquarters here in Baguio from the Spanish-American War until Roosevelt forced him to leave and go to Australia. Uncle Jim was part of the crew which flew Eisenhower here to meet with MacArthur. Eisenhower was still Chief of Staff in D.C. then. His crew would have flown him from Clark Air Base, in the Philippines. And, my Uncle was in the lead plane during the fly-over, when the US gave the Philippines independence. Originally, the Independence Day was July 4. The new constitution, called the Charter, changed the day to some day in March. Whenever I have asked a Flipino/a what is the Independence Day now, no one seems to know.

Both my Uncle and I used to spell the country’s name incorrectly – with 2 “L’s”. I had a Filipino explain to me that the country was named afer King Filip of Spain, so no double “L”. Uncle Jim told me that my grandfather, his father, said that since he was in someone else’s country, he should learn the correct spelling. Why do we spell Philippines with “PH” instead of an “F” (Philco Appliances maybe)?  Maybe the same reason that Kiribati (pronouned Kiribash) used “TI” instead of “SH”. They took the “TI” from naTIon – and that is the truth!

I saw a monument a few days ago and for the longest time I never equated it with the US. The monument says, in words to this effect, Here the 133rd Infantry Division Met and Stopped Japanese forces from entering Baguio – 1943. That would have to be the 133rd Infantry Division of the US because there was no Filipino military in 1943. The Japanese were not kept out of Baguio, though. A few months later they were able to come from the North and right down the valley to Baguio.

Enough of the History lesson.

Baguio is called the San Francisco of the Philippines. Mostly because of the temperature and the mountains (not hills here). Also, Baguio is known for earthquakes. Most have been small, but in 1996 there was a big one which cut Baguio off from the rest of the world for about six months.  I am not sure to what extent buildings were damaged, but all the roads to Baguio – there are three from the South and one from the North – were impassible and there were no communications in or out.

The city is pretty and is covered with all sorts of parks. There is an environmental park, which is on the grounds of a Catholic Religious Order.  Camp John Hay has the only Golf course in the city. The Officers’ Club is still there from the US Army days. (I wonder if MacArthur played golf?) Additionally, there are two other restaurants in the Camp. The Camp is operated by the Philippine Military and only active duty members, retired military (from either the US or Phillipine Military), and cadets from the Military Academy are permitted on the facility. We, Beatriz, Gabriel, and I, drove on to the Camp once and were quickly told to turn around and leave! We got there accidentally when we were trying to get from Kennon Road to Loakan Road. The connector road was open only as far as Camp John Hay.

There had been several days of rain like now. The road had a clay base and the rain went right through the asphalt and made the clay wet and slippery and the roadway just disappeared. The Bureau of Roads and Highways got the road open as far as the Camp. What we were able to see was very nice.

That’s enough of the travelogue. I can write more in my next offering.

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