Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    Belated Happy Labor Day to all. Colors are changing around us, a sign that summer is over and fall is here to stay for a while.  My 13 year old daughter and my 5 year old son are very much excited that school will soon start.  We have to make sure that our children are safe [...]

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Erwinism: Route 231

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By Erwin Maramat

Whenever my two children grumble about Netflix’s lack of emotionally evoking shows, it makes me cringe.  It is maddening how our young ones jump from one title to another and nothing in this world could pique their interest and hold that splendid emotion for a day. Everything seems to be half-taken nowadays. There is so much to see that you do not really know what you are looking at anymore. Half-binged shows. Half-eaten doughnut. Half-read novels. The other half is ennui pointing at the direction of fixes that will give you half the high.

The mind defies the law of physics, it bends time, and once in a while you are going to get flash backs that got lost somewhere in the conceivable stream of time. We have a built-in time machine.

Each time a candle of thought is lighted it arouses a certain frisson of nostalgia. My heart sings Frère Jacques to awaken memories lounged somewhere in my hippocampus. It takes me back within the four familiar walls of our old rented house. When the sun dips its toes in the mountains in the west, we were expected to be at our dinner table  and after cleaning after ourselves we headed to bed with the night to shut our eyes and get up before the chaos of the rush hour does and bury us in the arms of tardiness.

Dining out was as special as Sundays. After attending mass at the Cathedral over the hill, we brave the descending steps of the steep stairs onto Session Road where local restaurants were lined.  Some days the sun was kind enough to share its warmth for a pleasant stroll, but most of the time, walks were accompanied by the rhythm of the pelting rain on umbrellas. Nevertheless, rain or shine, it was momentous because eating out lay in the lap of luxury; hence, a rarity—the passing of Hailey’s comet to be precise.

Most restaurants were animated. Your ears were caught in a wave of inaudible conversation of which the clarity comes to the surface when you decide to eavesdrop. The sweet-sounding music of flatware and plates clashing against each other fill the air and the aromatic scent of coffee that wafted about made me wonder what it tasted like.

These days, teens hang out at coffee shops holding a Starbucks plastic cup of mocha cookie crumble Frappuccino—a beverage name that always evaporates out of my head—with eyes fixed on the screen of their mobile devices, oblivious to the fact that they will never know what it is like to dream about those things.

Back then, you had to pay attention or miss the opportunity of getting to taste what is on the table. Snooze and you lose. Having many siblings, we learned the value of sharing and drawing contentment from our shares. Most of the time, we navigate the wilderness of our table in dire hopes that a distracted warrior had left his spoils unattended, sometimes victory finds the persistent. Sorry brave warrior, you snoozed. Then comes the crying, and out of our mom’s mouth was the ominous warning, ‘wait until we get home.’ How you wished that she forgets, but she never does.

A Liter of Coke

Coke, and I mean the pop, is an El Dorado in a cup. People got it good where I am today. Many fast-food chains offer refill on their pop and you can do it yourself, so that means for as long as you are in that fast-food restaurant you can top up yourself with a bottomless fill of any soft drinks, you can even mix them up as if you were Walter White and chug it down and be a likely candidate to win obesity and diabetes achievement award. A bottle of any pop back then did not get you far. It was a real treat to have that cool, refreshing, sugar-rich beverage slide down your parched throat on a hot day, but you only had half a glass of it because you had to share it with everyone. Whenever my mom asks me to buy one, I rush to the store so much that my shadow does not even have time to wear its flipflops.

So goes true for ice cream, chocolate, confectionaries, and pastries, I remember one time when I was in the classroom, I was drifting in a daydream, I thought of the Goldilocks jelly bouncing up and down and gracefully wiggling on a bowl, when I got home, I told my mom about it, she said, ‘get your grades up and you’d get it!” I wondered what my belly had to do with my aptitude in school.

Selling the Drama

Melodrama was exclusive to the soap opera that older people watched on TV and listened to on the radio. It was not something you performed when your parents call on you to do something. Failing to meet their demands triggers belts to lash. Then you will come to know what drama is. Ask anyone who has kids living here in the west, when you call to ask children to do something, you get a resounding, “Wait!!!!!!”

In the past, relatives and neighbors shared the same neural network. They were telepathic and were ever vigil. The were the unsleeping eye of Mordor who watched your every move. “Didn’t I tell you not to play along the creek?” (Internal thought) How in the world did my mom know that? Wait, it is that nosey neighbor again.

“Your aunt said you were climbing on their dresser and jumping on their beds,”

“It wasn’t my idea.”

“Answering back? Attitude correction power belt activated!”

Teachers were highly trained in the deadly arts of hurling projectiles. Have a little chat with your seatmate and boom they snipe you with a blackboard eraser or some chalk. I was one of the many casualties because I cannot control my yap. Sometimes you go a little too far and you get the whooping of your life in front of the class. It does not end there; the neural network is again activated. Not only did you anger your teacher, but you come home to this:

“Were you misbehaving in class?”


“Attitude correction power belt with go to your room without TV activated!”

We were taught to extend respect wherever we may be. To do so will not only reflect how you were raised, but it will bring honor to your family. There was no excuse for poor behavior; therefore, there is no excuse for this value not to be carried out to the next generation.

Walk the Walk

Half of my life was dedicated to walking which accounts for the reason why I am just so tired to do it at this point in my life, but that cannot be used as a justification because not only has there been marginal inflation in our economy, but my weight has steadily joined the trend.  My metabolism feels the same way, not a modicum of motivation to burn the fat with which I gladly supply it.

When world war two ended, military jeeps were left in the Philippines. It was the Humvee of its generation. Budding entrepreneurs envisioned those abandoned vehicles to be the mode of transport in the country which gave birth to a cultural symbol for Filipinos. Years later it served as my ride to get to school, but the problem was is that they were always packed with other students before they can reach our community and I and my brothers had to walk a few miles just to get to school while lugging our heavy bags. It was a daunting task because you there were more uphills than there were downhills. On top of that was the ever-unforgiving rainy season.  Waterproof as you were, your spirits were damp your socks by the time you reach school and of course, you were tardy AF.

Today, my children just hop in our truck without a care in the world except who goes to sit up front, so they can play their music while I grumble. The up and up to that is I get to spend time with them, take them to places where we can share memorable experiences together, but best of all the long trips we take is an opportunity for me to get to know them a little better.


Philippines was fraught with superstition and to say that children were not afraid is ridiculous, but that did not stop us from being reckless and adventurous. We were a hub for the supernatural as were our Asian counterparts. There were shapeshifting humans who roamed at night to feed on people, there were women who left grew bat-like wings and left half of their body somewhere, there were giants who wore diapers while smoking cigars on a branches of trees, and there were whatever our imaginations can conjure. This deliberately stopped us from wandering where we should never be. Darkness was not something you trifle with and that held true until the age when I used the darkness of the night as a cloak on a way to a drinking spree.

If you caught pneumonia while playing outdoors, you were diagnosed by a spiritual healer and her common diagnosis was you stepped on an unseen spirits’ dwelling and might have damaged their garage and they cannot claim insurance so they are wreaking vengeance by weaponizing pneumonia. The spiritual healer then counters the attack by applying consecrated salve on your body while uttering an incantation. The liquefied placebo seemed to work, now you feel invigorated.

“That will be two hundred pesos.”

“Do you sell organic Viagra?” Ask one of our elderly neighbors.

Part One of Two


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