Veteran’s Day 2015

Today, Wednesday, November 11, 2015 is a federal holiday in the U.S. to observe Veterans Day.

Veterans Day 2015 Poster

Although many federal holidays are observed on Mondays (no matter the actual day it falls in), Veterans Day is always observed on the 11th of November.

More about Veteran’s Day from my post last year, including information on when Filipinos started serving in the U.S. Military, here.


Did you know… of the immigrants serving in the U.S. Military (yes, thousands of U.S. immigrants and non-U.S. citizens serve in the American armed forces), nearly 1/4 are from the Philippines? 

Filipinos and Filipino-Americans have a long tradition of serving in the U.S. Military — including me!

So from this U.S. Air Force veteran to fellow veterans…thank you for your service, and Happy Veterans Day!

Today, please take time to acknowledge your family and friends who served in the armed forces…and thank them for their service and contributions.

Earthquake memories and living on the San Andreas Fault

If you live in California — or even if you don’t — you probably think about earthquakes every now and then, and most likely have heard of the San Andreas Fault.

San_Andreas_Fault Image via NASA and Public Domain

The San Andreas Fault – Image via NASA (Public Domain)

From what I understand, this fault is a boundary where two parts of the earth’s crust (the Pacific plate – under the Pacific Ocean and the North American plate) meet.

The San Andreas Fault stretches for 810 miles (1300 km) across California, from the Salton Sea in the south all the way to Humboldt County, 200 miles north of San Francisco. It is the most studied boundary plate on our planet for the following reasons:

  •  it is on land, and therefore easier to study than tectonic plates that meet in the ocean
  • the fault is in close proximity to educational institutions and organizations dedicated to earthquake research

There are cities and communities that sit directly on the San Andreas Fault, and we lived in one of these communities while stationed at a base in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Late in the summer of 1981, Jeff and I drove from our military base in the high desert to the San Gabriel mountains.  He wanted to show me the little town where he and his friend, Bill, skied during the winter.  The town we visited is called Wrightwod, and about 40 miles (64 km) away from the base, at 6,000 feet (1809 m) elevation.

At the time, there were just over 2,000 people living there, though in the winter, there were many more as it was a popular ski resort area about 75 (124 km) miles from Los Angeles, in San Bernardino County.

Vintage photo 1981 Wrightwood California

Vintage photo! Wrightwood, California, Fall of 1981. This area is covered in snow in the winter, and the bare ski trails of the Mountain High Ski Resort can be seen on this photo.

While in Wrightwood, we went to a pub, where the bartender overheard us talking about how beautiful it was there.  He told us about a little cabin for rent just down the street.  On a lark, we decided to visit the cabin, and met the owners (who lived in the house next door).

It was partly furnished, had 1 bedroom, a fireplace, a loft space, and knotted pine walls.  It faced California’s State Highway 2, and behind the cabin was a hill.

Wrightwood cabin

The little cabin home we rented in Wrightwood, California.

Wrightwood cabin front

Front of the cabin, facing California Highway 2

We rented it on the spot, not even thinking about the drive we had to make back and forth from the base (about 45 minutes to 1 hour each way).

Shortly after our move, we met a fellow service member living there, and a civilian who also worked at the base, meaning we were able to join in a carpool.

Wrightwood hill behind cabin

Cabin roof after the first major storm, winter 1981. We were trapped as it took a while for the highways to be cleared.

Later on, I learned that the town sat on the San Andreas Fault from a newspaper article a co-worker showed me.  Wow…. a fault…oh, what is a fault?  Earthquakes… really?

Philippine Casiguran Earthquake

When I was little and we lived in Manila, a big earthquake hit the Philippines.  I remember my mother rushing us outside (that is what you were told to do back then), and the distraught neighbors around us talking about fires and something about the Ruby Tower.

With a bit of research, I found out that the Philippine earthquake happened in 1968 and was called the “Casiguran earthquake”.

Since it happened at night, I most likely was asleep when it hit.  More about this earthquake from a Wikipedia article:

The city of Manila was the hardest hit with 268 people killed and 261 more injured.

Many structures that suffered severe damage were built near the mouth of the Pasig River on huge alluvial deposits.

A number of buildings were damaged beyond repair while others only suffered cosmetic damage.

Two hundred and sixty people died during the collapse of the six-story Ruby Tower, located in the district of Binondo. The entire building, save for a portion of the first and second floors at its northern end, was destroyed. Allegations of poor design and construction, as well as use of low-quality building materials, arose. (More here)

Besides the earthquake in Manila, I had not experienced any other major earthquakes, and none while living in California at that point, so I didn’t really think much more about it.

California 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

Years later, we moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and lived here when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit Northern California.  The Loma Preita is in a segment of the San Andreas Fault.

San Francisco Skyline 2012 web

The beautiful San Francisco skyline as seen from Treasure Island at sunset (2012) Photo LolaKo.com

The Loma Prieta earthquake is memorable because it happened during a World Series baseball championship, and was broadcast live on national television.

Due to the World Series, casualties were amazingly low (63 deaths and 3,757 injured).  Instead of being in the rush hour traffic heading home, many people left work early to watch the game, and traffic was lighter than normal.

While casualties were low compared to other earthquakes of the same magnitude, the Loma Prieta earthquake remains one of the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States.

View of San Francisco Bay at TI Web

To the left of this photo is the Oakland – San Francisco “Bay Bridge”. Photo LolaKo.com

My younger sister was working in a San Francisco high-rise office building at the time of the earthquake.

It took us 5 hours to reach her by phone, when she finally made her way home…and we were relieved to find out she was safe and unhurt.

We lived in the East Bay, and I was in the car on the way to pick up my older sister when the earthquake happened.  I suddenly lost the radio signal, and felt the car making unusual movements — movements that I could not control with my steering wheel.

A few minutes later, I arrived at my older sister’s workplace.  She was already outside of the office building where she worked, and felt the earth quake beneath her feet, and saw the building she was just in, move and slightly sway.  She opened the car door and got in…we both couldn’t believe that a strong earthquake had just occurred.

Bay_Bridge_collapse photo USGS

The collapsed upper portion of the Bay Bridge. Photo by USGS via public domain

We rushed to pick up my daughter from her after-school care. She was outside at the playground during the earthquake, and she (and her teachers) told us they distinctly remembered that the birds stopped chirping right before and after the shaking.

We tuned into the news as soon as we got home — and were glued to the television set for hours.

It was a mistake, because the constant image of fires in the Marina District of San Francisco, and the collapse of a portion of the Bay Bridge made my daughter anxious about crossing the bridge, for many years after the earthquake!

San Andreas Fault North / South

Another well-known earthquake in California was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed 80% of San Francisco and killed 3,000 people.  The 1906 earthquake is also connected to the north part of the San Andreas Fault.

In terms of the death toll, the 1906 earthquake is the worst natural disaster in California’s history.

Wrightwood related at Geoscience WorldThe part of the fault where Wrightwood is located is in the south part the San Andreas Fault.

If you want to read more about Wrightwood as it relates to the San Andreas Fault, past earthquakes and predictions for future earthquakes, visit this GeoScience World article.

There have been many earthquakes in this part of the fault, and they note “These observations and elapsed times that are significantly longer than mean recurrence intervals at Wrightwood and sites to the southeast suggest that at least the southermost 200 km of the San Andreas fault is near failure.

San Andreas – The Movie

You may hear even more about the San Andreas Fault this summer.

An earthquake disaster movie with Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is now playing in movie theaters, and it is called (what else?) San Andreas.

Here is the preview…

Nothing like seeing the place where you live (and that you love) destroyed and in total chaos…with millions of people in peril.

But at least it is just a movie, and perhaps it will make us think about our emergency preparedness, and supporting strict building codes and improvements that incorporate new technology to save lives in the event of “the big one”.

If the “big one” hits, will California fall into the Pacific Ocean?

Los Angeles from above web

Greater Los Angeles area – photo posted for article The Los Angeles Spread. Photo LolaKo.com

The San Andreas movie trailer shows the ground splitting, complete destruction of buildings in downtown Los Angeles, and a tsunami in the process of finishing off the city of San Francisco.

The tsunami scenario is certainly real… and of all the natural disasters in the world’s history (i.e., volcanoes erupting, heatwaves, floods, typhoons, cyclones) earthquakes by far have killed more people than any other.

But the myth that you may have heard of — that California could somehow fall into the sea — when the big one hits, well, it is just that, a MYTH.

From the Earthquake Mythology page of the California Department of Conservation:

The San Andreas Fault System is the dividing line between two tectonic plates. The Pacific Plate is moving in a northwesterly direction relative to the North American plate. The movement is horizontal, so while Los Angeles is moving toward San Francisco, California won’t sink. However, earthquakes can cause landslides, slightly changing the shape of the coastline.

To further allay immediate concerns about a complete change in the California landscape should the big one occur on the San Andreas Fault (SAF), here is a clip from SanAndreasFault.org: on how long it would take for California to look different from how we see it today:

California San Andreas Fault 28 million years old

I don’t know about you, but for me…that’s good to know!

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Do you live in an earthquake prone area?

It seems to me that the entire state of California is earthquake prone, but it has not stopped people from living here.  There are now 38 million people that live in California — that is 1 out of every 8 Americans.

Have you heard about the San Andreas Fault or do you have earthquakes worries where you live?  I would also like to hear about your own earthquake experience, so please do leave comment.

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Related:

  • From SanAndreasFault.org, see cities and communities in the fault zone (San Bernadino, along with Wrightwood in Southern Claifornia, and closer to home here in the Monterey Bay — Aromas, San Juan Bautista…)
  • Data from the USGS on the largest and deadliest earthquakes over the last 25 years.

Broken down barracks of Fort Ord in the Monterey Bay

Starting in 1917 and up to the 1990’s, almost 1,500,000 military troops trained at Fort Ord.  It was a major army post, located here in the Monterey Bay, in California’s central coast.

Although the post closed in 1994, many of the old buildings remain.

Because I was in the military, there is a part of me that is nostalgic about these buildings…and having lived at military bases, they are familiar to me.Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus side barracks

In addition to its role as a major training base for the army, Fort Ord was also a staging and deployment area for troops that fought in World War II, as well as the Vietnam war.

Word War II is known as the most violent and largest armed conflict in history, and troops who trained here were involved in battles in the Philippines — my home country — after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1942.

Many of the old buildings at Fort Ord have already been torn down, and eventually, these will too, to be replaced with new housing communities, office and service facilities, and new shopping centers.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 6a

I’ve wanted to photograph some of these old buildings before they are gone forever, and glad that I finally had a chance to do so this month.

I was in the Air Force, and our living quarters were called “dormitories”.  But in the army and other armed forces, buildings that house soldiers are called “barracks”.  Definition below:

The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word “barraca” (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks, are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation.

…The main object of barracks is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 2

These barracks photos are much different from my previous post for The Changing Season photo challenge (the beautiful scenery at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf).

Fort Ord off Imjin exit side table

Still…I think it is worth posting, and preserving these images, especially as the landscape transitions to something else.

I imagined this place once filled with many soldiers, and the bugle sounds of the morning reveille — the wake up call (short sound clip below).

Over 20 years after the post closure, the abandoned barracks stand, wounded by vandals, and awaiting their end.

Most of the buildings have broken windows…

Doors removed, stairs missing or overtaken by iceplants…

Fort Ord off Imjin no more stairs

Debris around some of the buildings…

What remains at the Imjin exit side of Fort Ord are mature eucalyptus trees, and the ever-present and invasive ice plants — planted there to contain the sand and for erosion control.

Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus trees

Across the street from these barracks, a wellness center and a shopping center is in place, and beyond these new buildings are brand new housing communities.

Future of Fort Ord land 1

The Ford Ord land also houses facilities used by California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).  With plenty of land available to construct new buildings, CSUMB is predicted to eventually be the largest in the California State University system.

Fort Ord off Imjin Exit

It’s not all going to be developed though…

Thankfully, three years ago, a large part of the Fort Ord area became a national monument, and is federally protected from further development — a great thing for the Monterey Bay area!

In addition to the interior part of the Fort Ord land, beaches in this area are also part of the national monument  / California State Park system, and land set aside for the public.

And so the Fort Ord land that started as an artillery training field almost 100 years ago, and was a major post for the military from World War I to 1994 now continues its transition, with much of the land going back to public use.

Are there military base closures where you live?  How has the government and community transformed the land after closing the military facility?

Related link: President Barack Obama Proclamation – Establishment of the Fort Ord National Monument

…The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans.

The difference between the Veterans Day and Memorial Day holiday… and Filipinos in the U.S. Military

Today is a federal holiday in the U.S. to observe Veterans Day.  Though many federal holidays are observed on Mondays (no matter the actual day it falls in), Veterans Day is always observed on the 11th of November.

Veterans Day Poster web

And if you wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day (observed on the last Monday in May) and Veterans Day….

  • Memorial Day remembers and honors military personnel who died in the service of their country, in particular those who died in battle or resulting from wounds in battle.
  • Veterans Day is a day to thank and honor all who served honorably in the military, in peacetime or during times of war, and intended to thank and appreciate LIVING veterans for their service.
USAF-Crp1

Yes, Lola Jane, USAF 1980 boot camp photo

So from this U.S. Air Force veteran to fellow veterans…thank you for your service, and Happy Veterans Day!

Today, please take time to acknowledge your family and friends who served in the armed forces…and thank them for their service and contributions.

Did you know…thousands of Filipinos and Filipino Americans have served and are currently in the U.S. military?

Americans are sometimes surprised to learn that citizens from other countries serve in the U.S. military, as one may naturally assume that U.S. military people are required to be U.S. citizens.

Filipinos started to serve in the US Navy in great numbers after 1901, when President William McKinley signed an executive order allowing the Navy to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of is insular force (though there are recorded accounts from then General Andrew Jackson of “Manilamen” fighting for the U.S. during the War of 1812).

Filipinos have a long history of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 2012, there were 65,000 immigrants serving in the US armed forces — and nearly 1/4 of the immigrants were from the Philippines!

Further reading from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • About the Memorial Day Holiday
  • About Veterans Day — especially if you are Interested in learning why the holiday is always observed on November 11th
Propaganda_poster_depicts_the_Philippine_resistance_movement

To learn more about the Military history of Asian Americans, click on the poster image

Further reading from the U.S. Navy Department Library:

  • Naval History and Heritage: Filipinos in the United States Navy (bulletins up to the year 1976).  Note:  When I was in the military, I had a close group of fellow Filipino airmen at the Air Force Base where I was stationed.  I knew back then that there were many more Filipinos in the U.S. Navy — compared to the Air Force and other armed forces — and I wondered why.  Information from the Navy Library answers the questions about why so many Filipinos served in the US Navy (well, up to the year 1976, at least). 

And for more about the history of Asians serving on behalf of the United States, see a comprehensive Wikipedia article here or click on the World War II “The Fighting Filipinos” propaganda poster.

Chameleons? Why Filipinos live & work in just about every country in the world

The words “why are Filipinos like chameleons” showed up on my blog’s search engine terms recently.

Chameleon definition

Mixed-Up-Chameleon by Eric CarleI did not write an article (until now) that connected the two words — Filipino and chameleon — but I do write often about Filipinos and the Philippines, wildlife, and about a particular chameleon, as in the Eric Carle book that I read to my grandchildren, The Mixed-Up Chameleon.

Initially I thought the search words were funny.  Chameleons — a special kind of lizard — are not native to the Philippines.  And then I wondered what information was sought…was this inquiry and the string of words derogatory?

And are Filipinos like chameleons? We Filipinos do tend to blend in, don’t we?   We all speak English (very well — and most with a clear American accent) and since English is one of the most popular language in the world, all that much easier to blend in, right?

Aside from language, is it also because most Filipinos are Christians?  A Pew Research demographics study on global religion found that Christians are the most evenly dispersed around the world and represent the largest percentage among the world’s religion  (2.2 billion or 32% of the world’s majority religion) .

20_religionCountryMap from Pew Research

Graphic on majority religions by country from Pew Research. The Philippine archipelago has the most Christians among countries in Southeast Asia,

I am pretty sure that Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world — around 10% of the total population, and 2.2 million contract or Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — according to Philippine government data.

  • When I lived in Germany in the mid 1980’s, one of the first things our landlord, Klaus, wanted to do was to introduce me to the Filipina married to a local German, in our town of Dudeldorf.
  • When we first immigrated to the United States and living in Portland, Maine (of all places, right, and not exactly a hotbed for Filipinos in America) my mother quickly found another Filipina living nearby who befriended us.

So,  super chameleons?  Able to survive in any environment, no matter where on the globe?  Or rather, is it more because we don’t stick out?  The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898, so most Filipinos have Spanish last names.  Is this another way we blend, since our names are not so unusual?

A friend theorized that because the Philippines is a nation of islands (over 7,000 in case you did not know), Filipinos are accustomed to traveling beyond their own island to the next…and the next, so what is another 5,000 more miles?  It’s in our DNA!  Hmmmn, interesting, and maybe!

Are Filipinos everywhere because they like adventure, because Filipinos like to travel? Is it by necessity, for survival? Because we must…as a sacrifice to contribute financially for the greater good of the family?

In 1980, the Philippines scored higher than China, Thailand and Brazil on the United Nations (UN) Human Development Indicators (HDI). The most recent UN HDI report show these three countries now have higher HDI scores than the Philippines.  And after World War II, the only other country in Asia richer than the Philippines was Japan.

So what happened?  Could it be because the Philippine population has more than DOUBLED in the last 3 decades?.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world, and according to United Nations GDP / per capita income data, over 40% of Filipinos live on less than $2 per day.

These days, I think Filipinos are everywhere primarily because of over population and because the economy cannot support the population…so by necessity.

Every year, millions of Filipinos have no choice but to leave their homeland to find work elsewhere.  Many work in the shipping industries (notice that when cruise lines, or container ships are in the news, often, there are Filipino crew members?)

The Philippines export nurses all over the world.  And most recently, our teachers, too.

It is easier to understand Filipino communities in neighboring countries like Australia, New Zealand, especially Korea and Japan.  But Zambia?  ICELAND, The Isle of Mann?

Tropical Philippines web

Photo of banka (traditional Philippine outrigger boat) Lolako.com. From lush green tropics to….Scandinavia?

And how is it that Filipinos manage to survive, and even thrive in countries with climates and cultures so different from their homes?  And do we — the chameleons —  blend in no matter where we are  because it’s safer if others like us, accept us, include us in their, and what then becomes OUR community?

In Sweden alone, there are over 20 Filipino communities! (see Fincomlas Sweden)

I admire Filipino characteristics — our friendly, caring nature, resilience, our sense of humor, and strong commitment to family  — and yes, maybe the chameleon qualities in a positive sense.  But I do hope that in my lifetime, the majority of Filipinos who live and work overseas will be because of their own choice to do so, and not because they have no other choice.

This post was inspired by a search query on my blog, and turned emotional when I thought of families torn apart and separated for many years due to the economic needs of Filipinos.  I’ll continue to explore more on this topic, and of course to celebrate and remember our food and culture.

In the meantime, if you are a Filipino in a faraway place, please share your experience, or your family’s experience.  Do you think Filipinos are like chameleons?  If so, is this positive or a negative?

Related Lolako.com posts:

Blog Birthday

This month — and March 6th to be specific–  marks LolaKo.com’s 1st year anniversary.

Blog is my garden

So one year later, blogging is still fun.  I have learned much more about topics important to me, and met new friends through the blog.   Highlights for the first year:

Ginamos and Bananas - Photo by Karlhans

A story I posted called “Luggage with a special kind of stinky”, about my mother’s mishap bringing fermented fish (ginamos) from the Philippines to San Francisco turned out to be popular.

And at the same time, it was helpful to those wondering if they can bring dried fish (and ginamos) from the Philippines to the United States…
.

A story about old school  ironing “Hot iron for your undies” connected a person from France who rented his flat from the same family — and the “Oma” (grandmother) who took such great care of my then baby daughter, Dominique — when we were stationed near the town of Dudeldorf, Germany.

The funny part for me….are people landing on the blog by typing the words lola+undies, who, I imagine, may be very, very disappointed when they find out “Lola” means grandmother in Tagalog (Filipino), not some hottie “Lola” from a European country.  And that the article is about the uber sexy topic of…. IRONING!  Ha, serves them right.

The most popular search term bringing people to this blog last year has been….very oddly….the term “walis ting ting”.  This is all because I mentioned Filipino ting-ting and tambo brooms in an article about how products got their names, including the Procter and Gamble product, the Swiffer!

Though this year, the terms “plastic problem Philippines” and Philippine eagle and Philippine national symbols are quickly catching up.

And though this is not a food blog, I do love cooking for my grandchildren, so I include favorite recipes, now and then.

Two food related posts often visited are:

Whole egg leche flan with coconut milk.…turns out I was not the only person wondering if I really have to separate all those egg yolk and egg whites to make flan!

A story about “Banana leaves and sweets” on suman and puto, after my grandson Jun-Jun bit into a banana leaf and asked if he could eat it.

My penchant for charts and graphs (something I carry over from my past work presenting accident statistics) continues, but this time covering conservation, and human development topics.  I created a new category “Lola’s Pies” for this collection.

As of today, I’ve posted 125 articles, some short, some long.  For me, a blog is about exploring topics I feel are important and having my own little place — in this big but more connected world of ours — to collect, contain and share information important to me, and in the process (I hope) interesting and helpful for others too!

My goals the 2nd year:

As always, thank you for visiting!

San Francisco Arboretum

My Germany & Philippine Connection

I was talking to my younger sister about a connection that Filipinos and Germans share.  She laughed and said “what connection?”

Note:… if you are a vegetarian, you might want to skip this post.

The connection? It’s the pig of course.

Crispy Pata!

As in crispy pata, or cooked adobo style, or sweet sticky Filipino BBQ sticks, in sisig, in sour sinigang soup, as lechon —  bamboo pole slowly turned over hot coals and whole pig cooked to crispy skin perfection…and why I don’t think I can ever become a vegetarian.

And…one of the reasons I enjoyed living in Germany.

Filipinos love their piggy.  The Germans love their piggy too.

When I got the news that I would be stationed in Germany, I phoned my sisters…and they said, “Great!  You have always wanted to go there!”

Really? I did?  Apparently when I was a little girl, I spoke of this wish to go to Germany…hmmm, must have been all those castles I heard about.

And as soon as we got there…I loved it.

I loved the green scenery, uber clean streets, loved the villages, the autobahn, loved the architecture and the castles, loved the volksmarching, loved the wine, the people we met, and the food.

Wittlich Pig Festival signWe lived in the western part of Germany while I served in the U.S. Air Force, and among the first festivals we attended was the village of Wittlich’s —very popular — Annual Saeubrenner Fest.

Translation?  Pig Festival!

Picture from the Wittlich Pig Fest courtesy of Sandy…click on this link for the history of the Pig Fest and Sandy’s blog, Rowdy in Germany.

Walking around the festival…and seeing all the roasted pigs….well, strangely, reminded me of the Philippines.

Wittlich Pig Festival 1

Jeff,  however, not used to seeing whole roasted pigs, was a bit startled, especially seeing pig heads on platters.

Wittlich Pig Festival

But no matter, the jaeger schnitzels, curry wursts, micro-brewed and flavorful beers hooked him in right away.

Distance between the Philippines and Germany?  Over 6,000 miles (or over 10,000 kilometers).  But for this Filipina, I felt at ease and happy living there.

We lived in a little town called Dudeldorf (really, I am not kidding,  say it and it makes you pucker and smile).  Dorf translates to village in German.

The town butcher shop was a regular weekend shop stop for me to try the deli meats and German wursts (sausages — which Germans take to a whole other level).  There were always ready marinated pork cuts to buy and take home to cook.

The shops knew my little baby girl, Dominique, through seeing her with babysitter Oma Lonien.  I think because of this —or maybe just because Germans love little kids– Dominique would get a slice of something yummy from the shopkeeper, whether the meat shop or the local bakery…where she got bread, a roll or some other treat.

A true Filipino celebration is not be complete without the Lechon – whole roasted pig.  And there is a part of me that thinks I should be disgusted with looking at a whole animal presented on the table.  And then there’s the other part that says…ahh yes, lechon — party time!

Lechon – whole roasted pig is a part of Filipino celebration and feasts. Photo by Lola Jane

And so even if geographically and culturally at least, the Philippines and Germany are far apart, one of my memorable connections….is the piggy.

Well, unless you count that letter pronunciation thing, like the Germans pronouncing “W” words like “V” and vice versa (wise wersa).  As in…so come and wisit me in my Willage Vittlich.

And so with Filipinos replacing the letter “F” in certain words with a “P”….as in, be carepul, por you might pall opp! (And get hurt and not able to enjoy your lechon at the party!)

Related Germany post:

Hot Iron for your Undies?

Photo of New Iron by vichie81, www.freedigitalphotos.net

My friend Rachel recently returned from visiting her family in England.  She told me that her mother still sets time aside for ironing, including pillow cases, sheets and even underwear.

While there, Rachel told her mother —  to her mother’s surprise — that she no longer irons.

Rachel is a busy wife and mom to 3 boys— one is still a baby.

The topic of ironing reminded me of when I was stationed in Germany and of our loving babysitter, Oma (Grandma) Adelaide Lonien.

Baby Dominique in one of her german outfits, probably ironed by her Oma Adelaide

Any clothing that baby Dominique soiled while at Oma’s house got washed and IRONED.  Mind you, these clothes were for a BABY, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of SLEEPERS, and well…who SLEPT a whole lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I so appreciated getting the clean pile of uber-soft, perfectly folded, smoothly ironed baby sleepers when I picked up Dominique.

At the same time though, the thought of baby sleepers being ironed always made me laugh because I found it so unnecessary.

I suppose that it is a gesture of love and pride from certain people —- you want your family to look good right?

So perhaps the same thing with the ironing habits of my friend Rachel’s mom…but the ironing underwear part?    Well, OK, if you were modeling for Victoria’s Secret, you would not want wrinkly undies.  Not a good look on the runway.

I used to iron more than I do now…my favorite clothing to wear are linens and cottons, so it is a requirement really.  Lately though, my favorite linen shirts have been missing in action, in a basket piled with items to iron.  Lola is just too busy — after all, in addition to other tasks, I have a blog to maintain now!

My younger sister —who hardly irons anymore and is also in favor of wrinkle free clothing– recently uttered a saying in tagalog I have not heard in ages. Hahabulin ka nang plantsa! One says this when a person –usually a close friend or a much-loved relative— is wearing something so obviously in need of ironing.

It translates to something like:  The iron is going to chase you! I don’t think I have heard an English version of this (let me know if you have), so I wonder if Filipinos are just more wrinkle-phobic.

Old iron – photo courtesy of Leonardo Roque

And talk about old school ironing…when we were little in the Philippines and living in the province with our Nanay Lucing, ironing was a major and hazardous undertaking.  Here is a photo of an iron from that looks just like the one we had.

As you can see, there is no electric plug. And it is called an iron…because its made of IRON.  In order to use this contraption, you must first make a fire to have charcoal.  You then load the iron with glowing hot charcoal and lock the lever on top shut.

Old Iron on Banana Leaves, photo courtesy of www.Leoque.com

One must plan this out as you would iron first the items that were thick and can take the “high heat” setting — actually make that the “hot as hell” setting.  And be super careful lest you scorch –no, actually BRAND yourself (forever)  if you accidentally let any part of the iron touch your skin.

I was too little to help in this chore thankfully, so my older sister and cousin had this responsibility. There was always a pile of fresh, cool banana leaves as a place to set the iron. Then too, there was the starch…oh my goodness.  Nice to have that stiff cardboard look!

The part of collecting the banana leaves —well, the smaller girls were allowed to do.  And we hung around to watch if anyone got burned, and to smell the banana leaves.  Scorched banana leaves always did smell so good to us, because banana leaves are used in Filipino desserts.

With all the new wash and wear, and “wrinkle-free” type textiles in these modern times and our busy lives, who really irons anymore?  Is this a generational thing and do you still iron — and what do you iron?

Lola Jane

Related Germany post:

No more blood donations for me…but how about you?

Did you know, only 38% of Americans are eligible to donate blood, and of those only 8% do (that amounts to only about 3 of 100 people) Source: American Red Cross

The first time I donated blood was at the US Air Force Technical School in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Students waiting for classes to start were assigned tasks (mostly menial) to keep them busy.  In my case, sweeping stairwells of barracks and painting handrails — –what fun!

USAF, 1980 (they must have better hats now)

So when there was an announcement that blood donors were needed, and those donating blood would get a day off, well…off I went to donate.

A day off to do whatever I wanted?  Yes Sir!  I’m there, I’m in, no second thoughts.

It was not at all a bad experience — and I became a regular blood donor.

After the Air Force, there were always easy ways to donate blood.  The places I worked had blood drives, or campaigns with mobile buses.  For a few years,  we lived near a blood bank facility — it is super easy to give blood when you drive by the place to go home!

Blood Donaiton Bus

Blood donation bus image via Wikipedia Commons

Since moving to the central coast however, I have not been a regular donor.  So when I saw a blood donation bus parked by our local Costco, I took the opportunity to get with the program, and climbed the bus steps to donate again.

I was new to this program and filled out what seemed like pages upon pages (more than I remembered from before) of forms.  One of the questions was about military service, where, and time period.

During the interview, the nurse asked more specific information, and because I was in Germany during the mid 1980’s, she informed me that I can no longer donate blood, as in EVER AGAIN. What!  Really???

Turns out the current guidelines from the Red Cross on blood donations prohibit donations from those who lived in the United Kingdom or France for more than 3 months between 1980 and 1996.

But wait, I did not live in the UK or France….and she replied no, but the issue is BEEF, and commissaries at bases in Germany sold beef that came from the UK.

Beef at commissaries?

According to the US  Department of Health and Human Services CDC (Center for Disease Control and prevention), “there is now strong scientific evidence that the agent responsible for the outbreak of prion disease in cows, BSE (Mad Cow Disease), is the same agent responsible for the outbreak of a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans”.  It states further that the risk is low (oh good!) after eating contaminated products, but there is a risk nonetheless.

So, because of the possibility that beef from the UK — if we had purchased and eaten any while in Germany —-could have been contaminated, I am no longer eligible to donate blood.  And no, I don’t remember exactly what we ate during those years…but I do remember we did eat beef.

Beyond the fact that I cannot give blood, that information was disturbing.

Sadly, I’m off the blood donation bus — forever 🙁 …but if YOU are in good health and can donate, please make a difference and do so.

Added on January 8, 2015: story on the NPR Radio Program “All Things Considered” on Why The U.S. Still Bans Blood Donations From Some U.K. Travelers – click here to listen to the program.

Rules governing who can donate blood in the United States have recently changed. But anyone who spent more than three months in the UK between 1980 and 1996 is still prohibited from donating. That rule is in place to minimize the risk of spreading Mad Cow Disease. Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Lorna Williamson about how the risk is mitigated in the UK.

Blood Donaiton PictogramYou can contact your local Red Cross office to find out about a blood drive campaign near you, or make an appointment to give at www.redcrossblood.org — or call your local hospital.  Guidelines for donors are listed on the red cross website.

And according to the Red Cross, THERE IS ALWAYS A NEED.  Adults have 10 pints of blood, and a donation of 1 pint can save 3 lives.

Related post: My Germany & Philippine connection (about the Wittlich Annual Saeubrenner Festival) and hot iron for your undies (a snippet about life in Germany & Oma Adelaide, who took care of my then baby daughter, Dominique)

Where’s the Rice?

So this rice field topic made me think about rice in general.  I don’t know anyone —at least not yet — who does not like rice.

The first time I remember that I actually missed eating rice was during Air Force training boot camp in San Antonio, Texas.  Because of the stress of boot camp, I think it was not until after a week when I thought, wow, I have not eaten rice all week!  Up to that point, and having lived in the Philippines all my life –and even after moving to the U.S., we ate rice EVERYDAY.  Sometimes for breakfast (there is a Filipino simple breakfast staple of Sinangag, leftover rice fried with garlic), and most definitely rice is served during lunch and dinner.

There are probably many hundreds of varieties of rice in the world.  I know there are red varieties, brown, purple, long, short, sticky types for deserts, but at that time, all I wanted was a plate of warm, pure white, fluffy rice.  Somehow meals did not seem complete without rice.

Eventually the chow hall did serve up rice—the parboiled, reconstituted type that we normally do not eat.  But for the moment I was so happy, ahhhh, RICE! And I felt ready to run and do whatever we had to do that day.

Having lived in the US for a long time now, we eat a variety of foods.  But still, I cannot go a week without eating rice —actually make that just a few days without rice.

Not quite sure how to make Filipino style garlic fried rice?  Here is a great website with a step by step recipe for cooking sinangag: www.simplecomfortfood.com/2009/06/13/sinangag-filipino-garlic-fried-rice/ Photo below courtesy of www.simplecomfortfood.com

Sinangag – Filipino Breakfast Staple of Garlic Fried Rice

If you are accustomed to regularly eating rice, please comment and tell us about a time and your experience when you did NOT eat rice….

champorado Filipino style

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

And check out Lola Jane’s Filipino Food posts: