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Filipino Culture

Desperate Housewives Episode on Some Med School in the Philippines

UPDATE: ‘Desperate Housewives’ apology over Philippines slur

[tag]Desperate Housewives[/tag]’ latest episode (the first episode of the 4th season) had Teri Hatcher’s character saying this: ““Okay, before going further, can I check these diplomas cause I would just like to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.”

(This is the complete video of that scene)

I wonder if the writer meant it to be funny or what. Considering there are a large number of US-based doctors and nurses who are graduates of Philippine Medical Schools, then I think not. These Philippine Medical School graduates took up further training in the States. Before they can even practice in the US, our Filipino doctors called Foreign Medical Graduates have to take a USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exams) which consist of 3 parts to get into residency:

Part 1- Basic Subjects (can be taken in Philippines)
Part 2 CK – Clinical Knowledge (can be taken in Philippines)
Part 2 CS – Clinical Skills (to be taken in the US)

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Using the Cellphone for therapy

salamat docThe overwhelming response to the episode, “Positibo ang Pinoy” in ABS CBN “Salamat Dok” shows the wide coverage of the show not only in the Philippines but in the USA , Australia, Saudi Arabia or wherever the Filipino Channel is . Right after my 15 minute segment, I checked my phone and to my surprise saw 31 text messages and 21 missed calls. For the next two days, my phone received a barrage of “missed calls” and text messages. I lost count. It probably reached to over 100 messages and 50 missed calls. Basking in the cool morning breeze , the show was shot live in an outdoor scene. See, I never thought anyone would be watching a 6:00 AM show so I gave away my cellphone number freely . I have often done that in other TV shows and newspaper interviews. My cellphone number and The Compassionate Friends website flashed on the screen for bereaved parents who might want to join our support group. Though I got around 20 legitimate queries from bereaved family members, the rest of the inquiries probably misunderstood “The Compassionate Friends” purpose. Maybe they thought I was their compassionate friend. I can do only so much , really. Much as I want to help the world, I have a family to attend to and I need to focus on my mission to help bereaved families towards a positive resolution of grief.

Receiving a barrage of text messages and missed calls made me realize the value of the text messaging among cellphone users. Without revealing the content of the text messages, these are some of my observations.

1. [tag]Cellphone[/tag] text messaging is used as “talk-therapy” . Cellphone users unload their problems to someone who had been there. Knowing someone out there is listening comforts them. Even to acknowledge a simple “I understand” evokes a “Thank you so much” reply.

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Desperate Housewives, Filipino Version

UPDATED Read my blog entry, Desperate Housewives Episode on Some Med School in the Philippines

desperate housewivesI was desperate. I was desperate to get rid of my throbbing headache that had been nagging me for the past week. I took naps. I stopped using weights. I took anti-migraine pills but nothing would get rid of the pain. I visited the doctor and found out it was a muscle strain just behind my left ear. I must have overdid my weights. So I decided that I needed a break. I cut my computer work down to 4 hours a day and for the next 4 days, I did a marathon viewing of “Desperate Housewives” Season 1 and 2.

M looked worried . She was used to seeing me working all day. “Mom I hope you won’t get desperate”.

I laughed “You don’t have to worry. I have lived through the most desperate years and I am still here.”

My family teased me as I remained a permanent fixture at the family den, nibbling nuts as I cozily lounged on the couch. What was even funnier was they teased me to “Bree Van de Kamp”, the obsessive compulsive character in the movie. “Haha, I am not a Bree”. Yes, I admit I can be obsessive-compulsive. I love to cook special dinners, create crafts for my home decors, bake cookies and even icing birthday cakes for the children. I annoy my family by being too color coordinated during meals and such but I am not a perfectionist at all. I was being a “Bree” because I had to stretch the budget. During the kid’s birthday parties, I did all the cooking , baking and entertaining. Why should I hire a caterer or an events coordinator if I could do it myself?

I never knew how much all these meant to my children until I received a Christmas card from L a few years back. Instead of being rude about my desperation, L thanked me for the most magical childhood memories but added that she was clearly worried about my life. Those were the rough years when I was just newly bereaved and living a life of a zombie. It really touched me that my efforts to be a super-mom in their childhood was deeply appreciated. There were moments in their teenage years that I felt that I didn’t know them.

L chided “I don’t mind gourmet food, mom”.

M suggested “We should try turkey for Christmas”.

I smiled and continued on with my marathon. Okay, the show is very entertaining. It surely gave me the endorphin fix I needed to relax and ease my neck strain. I liked how they tackled the loss of a spouse, a miscarraige and loss of mother. Death is a normal part of life and dealing with the loss should be properly addressed to even if it’s just a show.

Desperate Housewives is clearly based on American culture with a few issues that I can relate to. REGAL’s Mother Lily Monteverde’s is planning a film patterned after ‘Desperate Housewives’ entitled “Desperada”. Gretchen Baretto, Dawn Zulueta and Ruffa Gutierrez are among the stars handpicked by the producer but intriques already arise among the three so the movie is on hold for now. I don’t know how our Filipino version will turn out to be. Oh well. If I were the producer, I won’t portray glamorous stars to represent the Filipino desperate wife. In the Philippines, a desperate housewife is:

1. making ends meet to fit the household budget.
2. if number (2) is not met, she is forced to work to augment the income.
3. if number (3) is not met, she will take a job abroad and be one of the millions of Oversears Filipino Workers (OFW).

Knowing Filipino movies, the glamor part sells more than the reality of life . After all , movies are the fantasies we need to escape the grim realities.

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Early Christmas Decor Shopping

On the way home from Baguio, I caught the colorful array of Christmas lanterns on the roadside of Gerona, Tarlac.

“I want to take photos” I begged my husband to stop.

The long stretch of bright [tag]Christmas Lanterns[/tag] was captivating. I had no plans of buying [tag]Christmas decors[/tag] but my husband (the Grinch) thought it was rude to take photos and not buy anything from the poor vendors. Strictly speaking, my husband isn’t really a Christmas Grinch. Ever since my son died in 2000, the holidays are the most depressing season for him. Next to Halloween day, the most difficult holiday of the year is Christmas. Christmas decors just remind him that Christmas is lonely without our little boy. Of course, we grieve differently . Christmas is a happy occasion for me. I digress. Anyway…

“Okay, let’s shop”. M and I started our search for the traditional Christmas lantern, the parol . There were probably more than 20 vendors all selling the same design ranging from flowers, butterflies, snowmen, stars, trees even a papaya tree, capiz lanterns and more.
lanternssnowmanlanternschristmas lanternschristmas lanternslanterns

My husband ventured to the other side of the roadside stand. Much later, he surprised me with 10 colorful star lanterns strung together. I never expected him to actually shop for himself. Joy filled my heart. It shows that Christmas shopping wasn’t a difficult task anymore. Look at what we got…

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Alcoholics in the Philippines

To get the meetings all over the Philippines Contact this number


A lot of contact names and numbers and meeting times and places have changed since 2006. Here’s the link of the yahoo group of AA Philippines:

If anyone is interested please join the group. Once a member, you can access DATABASE where the List of meetings and contacts will be found. Metro Manila is under NCR. You may leave the group anytime you wish.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) hotline# +632 896 5707. (Teena M.)

Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

mel gibsonWhen the high and mighty fall, the road to recovery begins with a public apology. If there is any redeeming factor that [tag]Mel Gibson[/tag] has given to the world is the media coverage of [tag] alcoholism[/tag] devastating consequences. In the Philippines, drunken men or women are a common sight in parties, fiestas or celebrations. Oooh, you can see them falling to the floor, slurring their words or being just an annoying loud mouth. The party drunk, the life of the party, right? The San Miguel Beer says it all. The multi-million ad portrays a festive atmosphere where beer overflows and sexy ladies sashay their bodies or flaunt their beauty. Such an ad conditions the mind of our vulnerable young kids to associate beer with lovely women and lure them to a life of fun-filled parties.

The effects of alcoholism are easily shown in the sensational section of the local TV news. How often do you see wives beaten up by their husbands? Or children being sexually abused by their biological fathers? What about that actor caught for drunk driving? Though I don’t have the statistics right now, I bet there are cases of drunk -related accidents or physical abuse.

Countless families are ruined and being ruined by alcoholism. Family members walk in eggshells as they pass by the pink elephant snoring in their living room. Not many know that alcoholics are just in the same level as drug addicts. It’s even harder for alcoholics to abstain from their addiction because alcohol is available everywhere. San Miguel beer ads often show a party atmosphere and that a party is incomplete without beer. Oh well, how else can they advertise right? Still they shouldn’t show bottles of beer on the table. Drinking alcohol is so much a part of our Filipino culture. In fact , it is “macho” if one can gulp a number of beer bottles. There is the issue that one is not an alcoholic just because the person is not rolling in the road or that he doesn’t drink everyday anyway. Does the person even know he is an alcoholic?

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Child Abuse Advocacy

shoemart59mini.jpgI am not surprised that after the mashing incident in Greenbelt 3, a smiliar incident will happen again. A friend in her mid twenties emailed me about a child abuse incident in Shoemart (SM) Baguio. The father, Angelico Mercader is the Head of Communications at the Office of the Secretary in the Department of Education and a father of three young children. He is advocating against child abuse after that incident:

I’d like to share an incident which happened last Saturday, April 29, 2006 in Baguio City where my two sons, age 6 and 8, were sexually harassed at SM Baguio.


I went to SM Baguio with my two sons and 4 year-old daughter on Saturday afternoon. At the entrance, there was this routine baggage inspection – one line for males and another for females. Upon our entrance, the guard inspected my bag and frisked me. As I was holding
my little girl, my two sons were following right behind me.

After I was inspected, I saw the guard frisking my sons from the waist down to their private parts, one after the other. I freaked out when I saw what the guard did, as I also saw him smiling while my two sons were looking at me helplessly. I reprimanded him and said that he had
just sexually harassed my children. Instead of apologizing, he argued that he was only joking and that he wasn’t gay and that my children were boys anyway.

The complete email can also be found here and here. Incidentally, the owners of SM and the security agency, Star Force Security, are one and the same.

The incident angers me because of a similar attitude I got from a fellow mother-chaperone in one of my girls’ choir tour in Canada. Another mom whispered to me that one of our kids, a 6 year old girl (let’s call her Leila) fondled the private parts of her Filipino-Canadian host’ 8 year old child. I was appalled and immediately reported it to the mother-chaperone of Leila. I was even more shocked at her reply:

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The Coños and their Taglish

My friend Emma showed me the article of her beloved son, Ariel Llanto who passed away last December, 9 2005. Ariel had hepatosplenic gamma delta T-cell lymphoma, a rare and particularly aggressive disease and lived barely one month after the diagnosis. His April 27 article on the Inquirer’s Young Blood was about Leaving Manila. As a Cebuana who studied college in Manila during the mid seventies, Ariel ‘s observations was evident during my time.

I started to uncover social nuances at school. I have vivid memories of roaming around the campus, trawling for evidence of the disparities, in particular, between the way Cebuanos and Manileños spoke. I winced at the sound of the Tagalog accent and words finding their way to English statements. Many girls — and, to my horror, guys — spoke like Kris Aquino.

An amusing breed, known as ““coños,” acted as if they didn’t know how to speak straight Tagalog, opting to communicate in a mangled mish-mash of Tagalog and English (““Taglish”).

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