‘Murica Day 1: Downtown, soju, and ice cream

Day 1: October 19

Saturday morning, we went on a sightseeing tour of Downtown San Francisco. These tours always interest me because of the knowledge I get from it. I don’t just see the sights, I learn history. For instance, we came across the building where William Randolph Hearst operated from. That man was one of the biggest forces in the field of journalism (ooh, my Journalism intro courses taking effect).

Another notable information I picked up from the tour was the origin of the term “sugar daddy.” Over at Union Square, there is a statue of a woman high above a pole. Apparently, she was a struggling artist who lived on the streets and can’t make money. One sculptor was looking for a model, and when he saw this woman (named Alma, by the way), he found the model he was looking for. She was young and beautiful, and eventually, men started lining up for her. Since she had a huge lineup of men, she became choosy and only wanted the “experienced” men. One of the men who were in line was an old man, a rich man, who was one of the richest men in America then. I forgot his name, but he was a sugar tycoon. They eventually got married. Alma was 27, the man was 54. He was labeled many names like “cradle snatcher”, but the name that really caught on was, yep, you guessed right, “sugar daddy.”

And that’s where the negative term came from. Interesting, ain’t it?

Anyway, on to other things I learned in Day 1. I experienced how terrible traffic can be in San Francisco. Apparently, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers were on strike, therefore the BART trains aren’t functional. Perhaps that was why everyone was driving. There was also a market near Fisherman’s Wharf and the AT&T Center, the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. It was bad traffic. Of course, it doesn’t beat EDSA during rush hours. Sucat Road is also worse. But by American standards, and by the mage projected on to us in the Philippines, the traffic we went through was bad.

Come night time, my cousins and my brother and I went to this Korean drinking place where they serve Soju, a Korean alcoholic beverage. It was served in frozen fruit and was consumed by shots. We ordered three flavors: watermelon, pineapple, and strawberry. Word of advice: go for the pineapple and strawberry. The watermelon was bad. But what do you care what flavor you drink when you’re already drunk, anyway?

Right after, we went to this ice cream joint called Mitchell’s. I was a bit nervous when I found out we’d get ice cream. Alcoholic drinks and milk don’t really mix well, don’t they? Ice cream and a 10-degree weather also do not go well together, and that night was indeed close to 10. Mitchell’s was a small parlor with a very big crowd. The line was overflowing, even that late at night (it was around 10:30 to 11). And when I tasted the ice cream, I saw why. They had lots of flavors and the ice cream was really creamy.

Good thing the alcohol and the milk did not cause a war in my stomach.

That afternoon, we went to mass. It was really different from the Philippines. It was the first time I saw women lay ministers. And I don’t mean just a few. All of them. They were about five or six, no men. Feminists would love to have seen that, conservative Catholics might have cringed. I liked it, personally.

But the most amusing thing was the lector. She was not just a lector. Along with the microphone, she had a guitar with her. When she first came up, I thought she was just a singer. I was wrong. She was the singer, the instrumentalist, and the lector. I’ve never seen a lector multitask before! She triple-tasked that afternoon. Amusing.

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‘Murica Day 0

I think it’s been over 24 hours since I last took a bath. But don’t blame me, blame the 13-degree Celsius Daly City temperature.

I’m here abroad, but my body is still kind of stuck in Parañaque. As I write, it’s 4:40 am local time. I’ve been up the past 60-plus minutes. And I can’t do anything because everyone’s still dozing off; I can’t turn the lights on, I can’t FaceTime with anyone, I can’t walk around.

That is why I’m writing.

Day 0

We left NAIA on time (11pm) and so we got to SFO Airport on time as well (a little before 8pm local time). I couldn’t really sleep much on the near-12 hour flight. But I survived thanks to the last three episodes of Suits’ third season and the 2011 documentary I Am Bruce Lee.

Upon arrival, we waited so long in line at the immigration counter. It was NAIA-like. For over 30 minutes we wee standing in line. I could see why. There were over 300 passengers that arrived, and there were only five immigration officers available.

After we cleared this step and got our luggages, we waited outside for my mom and my other relatives. The first sign I saw was a “no parking/waiting” sign outside the airport. It had a fine of $43. I don’t know how much the fine is back in the Philippines, but what I know is $43 is a lot of money. And maybe if back home we did have high fines, we would be a slightly better nation with less violators. That is one big maybe.

This car then came and parked, with his car’s trunk wide open and his engine and hazard lights turned on, about ten feet from where the sign was posted. A few minutes later, the car was empty, and a police officer approached. He inspected the vehicle, noted the plate number, and wrote a ticket. A minute later the vehicle’s driver came back. I’m not sure if the officer gave the ticket, but I saw how swiftly they followed the rules and implemented it.

So that’s Day 0 of our US trip. Today is Day 1, and it started really early for me.

On Bandwagon Fans

I never fail to hear someone accuse another of being a bandwagon fan whenever the NBA Playoffs are around, especially when it comes to the Finals. One would start cheering for a team, and another person would ask, “Really? You’re a fan of ? Since when?”

I get their point. And those bandwagon fans also annoy me sometimes, especially when they start talking as if they’ve been a fan of the team for years. Ask them who the backup center of the team is and they won’t give you an answer.

But there’s nothing wrong with being a bandwagoner. Everyone starts there. I jumped on the Sacramento Kings bandwagon in 2002 after their championship-deserving performance versus the Lakers. I jumped on the Detroit Pistons bandwagon in 2004 after manhandling the Lakers in the Finals (a well-deserved beating for the Lakers then). That same year, I hopped on the Phoenix Suns bandwagon after seeing them start the season so well and in an exciting manner. In 2010 or 2011, I boarded the New York Knicks bandwagon.

The leap to the Suns was different from the others. For Detroit and Sacramento, I alighted the bandwagon shortly after riding it. For Phoenix, I stayed on. I am on it as I write this piece. The Knicks are a different case all together.

It always starts at the bandwagon. It’s hard to cheer for a shitty losing team. Why cheer for a loser? That is why the bandwagon exists. So that casual fans will have some team to cheer about, the winners. Cut them some slack and make them experience the moment while it lasts.

When Amare Stoudemire of the Suns left the team and went to New York, I started supporting the Knicks. When Steve Nash left Phoenix, I started supporting the Lakers even if they are one of my hatest teams. I jumped on those two bandwagons because my two most favorite players left Phoenix and moved to those two.

The true test of fanhood begins as soon as the team starts losing. Face it, the Phoenix Suns are a mess. Yet here I am still very supportive of the team.

This is where the bandwagon fans become the faithful, the true fans. This sucking stage, call it an initiation rite to becoming a team’s legitimate fan.

Renewing my license

A week before my birthday, I went to the LTO to have my license renewed since it was bound to expire next week. Surprisingly, it was not such a terrible experience as compared to the hell of getting it the first time.

Part of the process was the drug test. We know drug tests here in the country. It uses ones urine sample to determine whether one drugged himself.

Back in high school, filling up the container was no problem for me. I always filled it to the brim in one go, and finished the drug test in no time. Perhaps it helped that usually, it would be conducted after lunch, when my bladder is near full and has a lot in the tank.

Before I went for my license renewal, I made the mistake of urinating before leaving the house. The girl handling the containers gave me the little bottle and I went to the bathroom. After letting go, all of a sudden the little bottle seemed so large! The tank was empty. Filling the bottle halfway was a big challenge. Unbelievable.

I went outside the drug testing area. “Water for sale. Available at the cashier” a sign said. I went for it instantly, so i could end the process already. I went for the medical check-up first.

I went to the cashier right after the check-up. The cashier was beside the license area, where documents are given, where the photo and e-signature is taken, you know, those stuff. I asked for some water. The lady said, “Darling, doon sa cashier ng drug test yung tubig.” She was smiling. Either she was polite or she was laughing at me. Doesn’t matter, I was laughing at myself, too.

I bought one bottle. Useless. I drank another one. Close, but still no good. I bought another bottle. I felt the urge to urinate. It was enough.

Going back and forth the drug testing area, I noticed one thing. In one room, they were both selling water and collecting urine samples. A thought entered my mind: could it be that they are using the urine, filtering, it, distilling it, and placing them in water bottles to be sold for 20 pesos each? Disturbing.

What could have taken 30-45 minutes took me an hour longer. Or even more. Since I drank 1.5 liters of water in a span of 20-30 minutes, I urinated a looooot after the whole process. I don’t know which was longer: waiting for the urge to piss, or waiting for the pissing to end.

Overall, the LTO Muntinlupa branch was efficient. There were no fixers around, which made renewing my license quick. Maybe their lack of fixers explain why no one has fixed the sound system in the air-conditioned area, which is the area which needs a sound system. Weird.

Internet

I hate that we have become so Internet-dependent. We rely on the Internet as if it’s the only way to live our daily lives. Some say “no Internet is the new brownout”. And rightfully so. It has become a necessity, sometimes more important than food or drink.

When we go to places, we ask, “Is there Wi-Fi?” before anything else.

Before we eat our food, we take out our smartphones, open Instagram, and take a snapshot of what’s on the table.

Upon arrival anywhere, we go to Foursquare and check-in.

We chat so loudly on Facebook, even if we are just in within the same room.

I don’t want to come clean. I do some of these. I depend on the Internet too much. And I feel this when working on projects. When the Internet is badly needed to communicate, yet I live in a country where Internet is wildly inconsistent, I feel like a weight tied to my group’s ankles, slowing their progress down.

Which makes me think: what if the presentation of the project will be done the Monday right after Easter Sunday, it’s Holy Week and some of us are on vacation, and there is no Internet? How then would we carry on?

The development of culture would really lead to Internet dependence. It’s about time the country adapted.

A fictional conversation between Ho and Poe

Characters: Grace Poe, senatoriable; and Gretchen Ho, Ateneo de Manila University volleybelle.

Scenario: Gretchen Ho would like to volunteer to be a member of the Team PNoy camapign. To sign up, she has to talk to a member. In this case, it is Grace Poe, one of the candidates running under Team PNoy. 

******

Grace Poe (GP): Pangalan ho?

Gretchen Ho (GH): Opo.

GP: Anong opo?

GH: Tama po.

GP: Opo ang pangalan mo?

GH: Hindi po.

GP:Eh ano nga?

GH:Gretchen Ho.

GP: Gretchen (sinulat sa papel)

GH: Opo.

GP: Ano apelyido?

GH: Ho.

GP: (as if hindi narinig ng kausap) Sabi ko, ano ang apelyido mo?

GH: Ho.

GP: Ano nga ang apelyido mo? Bingi ka ba?

GH: Hindi po.

GP: Ano ngang buong pangalan mo, iha?

GH: Gretchen Ho!

GP: Ang kulit mo naman! Ano ngang apelyido mo? What is your last name? Ayan in-English ko na ha!

GH: My last name is Ho. H. O. Ho. Like hohoho, Merry Christmas.

GP: Ahh. Oh. Ehehehe. I see. Hi Gretchen. (extends hand for a handshake) Grace Poe.

GH: Hi nice to meet you po.

GP: Excuse me. Ano tayo? Mga sundalo at apelyido lang ang pantawag mo sa ‘kin?

GH: Hindi po. Sorry po.

GP: Sasagot ka pa e. Magsosorry ka pa e ganun din naman.

GH: I apologize, Miss Grace.

GP: And what is my last name? This is the only time you can call me by my last name!

GH: Poe po.

GP: Tatawagin mo pa ‘kong poopoo ngayon. Umalis ka na nga! Don’t volunteer here again!

GH: Sige po, ingat po kayo, Ms. Poe.

Maling English

Noong isang araw, sinuot ko yung sapatos kong pantakbo. Bigla akong napaisip sa tawag dito sa Ingles. Running shoes. Hindi ba mali ito?

Running shoes. Ngunit kung iisipin mo, bakit nga ba running shoes ang tawag? Eh hindi naman tumatakbo yung sapatos. Magugulat siguro ang kahit na sinong makakakita nito. Sapatos yun na kusang gumagalaw.

Naisip ko rin ang term na basketball shoes. Same concerns: hindi naman basketball yung shape niya. Hindi rin siya pwedeng magamit na bola pang-basketball.

Kaya next time, wag mo na lang sabihing running shoes: sabihin mo shoes made for running. At imbes na basketball shoes, tawaging shoes for basketball.

Salamat sa pagsasayang ng oras mo.