‘Murica Day 2: Golden Gate, fog, and football

Day 2: October 20

Today, we went to the image associated with San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge. But today, another regular visitor came up: the fog. The entire time it was really foggy and we couldn’t see the bridge! Tourists also flocked to the Bridge. They were probably as disappointed as I was.

This was actually the second time we’ve gone here. The first was back in 2004 during our first USA trip as a family. Here’s the thing: if I remember correctly, during that visit, it was ALSO FOGGY. How Golden Gate unlucky are we, huh?

But the fog didn’t just obscure the view of the Bridge. It also blocked driving views. When we were coming back home, there was a time when the fog limited visibility to around 10 feet. I wasn’t driving but I felt that driving was dangerous.

Today is Sunday, and in America, that means football day. Days before, I already checked the NFL TV schedule and saw that my New England Patriots had a game today against their rivals the New York Jets on CBS. I excitedly watched the game as it was the first live regular season NFL game I would be watching since 2009, when Balls and Solar Sports stopped airing NFL games in the Philippines. But I only got to watch till the second quarter because we already had to leave for Golden Gate.

After the Bridge, we had lunch at Red Robin, where they serve lovely burgers nd the biggest fries I’ve ever seen. While eating, another football game was showing: the hometown San Francisco 49ers versus the Tennessee Titans. It was the clearest HDTV broadcast I’ve seen so far. Behind me, there was a group donned in full 49ers gear. They also had their kids with them (or they looked like their kids). Here’s the catch: they were women, hot ones. The kids may have been their siblings, but maybe not, I don’t know. But yes, they were hot. And they watch football.

We went to the nearby Serra Monte Mall afterwards. US malls are nowhere near Philippine malls. Back home, malls are alive and vibrant. Here, they have dull malls: no music, not much people, just a bunch of stores clumped together.

When we got home, my uncle was watching, yep, football. Sunday Night Football featured the Denver Broncos visiting the Indianapolis Colts. It was Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis homecoming. I didn’t finish the game because it was a blowout in favor of the Colts, who eventually won by single digits.

Today was a fantastic football experience, something really foreign to me. Not only does American football not exist professionally back home; TV networks also do not show it. It’s all basketball, which is fine. It is a basketball country anyway.

‘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.

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.

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.