Huwag Mataranta!

Mula noong lumampas ako ng edad ng kwarenta nagsimula akong medyo matarenta.

Mukhang ang aking isip ay hindi na sariwa katulad dati at kung minsan medyo natataranta ako.

At ang lalaki na natataranta ay medyo nakakainis sa isang Pilipina na gusto ng taong mabilis mag-isip at magdesisyon.

Kung minsan ang dating sa mga Pilipino ay na natataranta ako dahil talagang natataranta ako….dulot yata ng pagtanda

Pero may pagkakataon na hindi naman pagkataranta ang nasa likod ng aking pag-aatubili sa ilang mga situwasyon.

Kung minsan, bagaman ang dating sa asawa ko at sa ibang Pilipino ay pagkataranta ang totoo nangyayari ay na sobrang gusto kong unahin ang gusto ng iba at hindi ako makapagdesisyon kaagad dahil gusto kong tiyakin na masaya sila sa aking desisyon.

Halimbawa, kung sinasabi sa akin ng misis ko “kunin mo ang isang bag at umalis tayo” at ako ay mukhang natataranta at hindi makapagdesisyon kaagad kung aling bag ang kukunin ko, ito ay dahil gusto kong tiyakin na ang kukunin kong bag ay ang isa na gusto niya.

May pagkakataon naman na ang dating sa iba ay na natataranta ako kapag sobrang excited ako.

Kapag nangyari ito sobrang excited ako at mukhang natataranta ako.

Muli, hindi pagkataranta iyon kundi excitement.

Alam ninyo siguro ang song “kumusta, kumusta, kumusta, kumusta kayong lahat…”.

Binago ko iyon at naging iyon “tara na tara na tara na, tara na tayong lahat, ako ay natataranta at nagmamadali”….

Pero, sa totoo, mas mabuti maging desidido at deretso sa bawat situwasyon, lalo na ang isang lalaking may asawa (para hindi maging sawa ang asawa)

Kamakailan nasumpungan ko sa aking feed ang isang post ng isang Pinoy na blogger tungkol sa kahalagahan ng pagiging lagi desidido ang asawang lalaki sa bawat situwasyon.

Heto ang link https://wp.me/p9OUUC-yq

Ang awtor ng blog na iyon ay isang padre-de-pamilya na ang tanging hanapbuhay niya ay ang writing at talagang mahusay siya.

Ang natutuhan ko ay na, bagaman lumampas ako ng edad ng kwarenta (medyo matagal na sa totoo…53 na ako), hindi ito katuwiran para matarenta.

Huwag mataranta!

The Bataan Death March vs the 2019 Death March

The Bataan Death March was the transfer by the Japanese Army of thousands of American and Filipino prisoners of war from Bataan to Tarlac.

The total distance marched was over 60 miles.

Differing sources report that the death march caused from 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino deaths and 500 to 650 American deaths and was later judged to be a war crime.

Last summer I took a bunch of Filipino friends on a march that was supposed to be fun, but it turned out to be a “death march” for some of them who are not used to walking long distances.

Here is a video of the 2019 death march that took place from the village of Termini di Massalubrense in the Amalfi Coast, in Southern Italy, to Ieranto Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean Sea.

You should try this “death march” too…just remember that “walang tricycle o ibang uri ng sasakyan para bumalik mula sa dagat”

Is it Necessary to Travel to be Happy?

Travelling alone in the Philippines


(I am editing this old post because I think there are parts of it that needed to be slightly modified. I am going through my posts to find out which fit nicely into my blog and which need to be modified or deleted)

I must say right off the bat that I love travelling and that travelling is part of my identity.

Yet in this post I am going to talk about “compulsive Wanderlust” which, I guess, is one of my weaknesses, and almost 3 months of lockdown between March and May  2020, plus the fact that, even if most lockdown measures have been lifted here in Italy, travelling is still quite complicated, have further brought to the light that this is something I need to fix.

I am an Italian man who is married to a foreigner.

One of the reasons why 20 years ago I stumbled upon the foreign woman whom I eventually married is because I am well-travelled, I speak more than one language and therefore, when I first met my wife, I was able to communicate with her because she was new here in Italy and she couldn’t really speak my language.

Also, because of my travelling experiences, I was open to other cultures and I had plenty of experience in interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.

But, while my desire to explore other countries and cultures was the very thing that got me to get to know my wife and eventually marry her, this very desire became a huge stumbling block in my relationship.

WANDERLUST VS BASKING IN THE ENJOYMENT OF LITTLE EVERYDAY THINGS

To make a long story short: as I have said I love travelling, or, more honestly, I actually crave it, so much so that before I got married I couldn’t stand the idea of letting a single year go by without visiting at least one foreign country and I couldn’t even stand the idea of letting one week go by without going at least on some excursion even to a nearby medieval town, a lake, a forest or whatever (and we’ve got an abundance of amazing places to explore in my region).

My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t care at all about travelling.

I think that there are three underlying reasons why this is the case:

She left the Philippines at a very early age and became an OFW or Overseas Filipino Worker and, therefore, she associates the idea of travelling to other countries to the idea of migration and being severed from friends and relatives, while I was born in a first world country and I associate the idea of travelling to adventure and the possibility to broaden my horizons.

Another reason is that my wife comes from a culture that is very people oriented and family oriented while us Westerners are more goal oriented.

But a deeper reason is that she has an incredible ability to enjoy little and ordinary things and bask in those things without having to distract herself and necessarily go somewhere to feel fulfilled which is something I like to talk about, read about and theorize about but, in practice, if you take travelling away from me, I don’t have this skill at all.


WHEN HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS ABOUT TRAVELLING

My wife’s concept of vacation is pure rest and nothing more.

I, on the other hand, have an almost neurotic and compulsive need and urge to go somewhere else.

My wife and I often go somewhere out of town and I am grateful to her that she is willing to meet me half-way in this area.

My idea of going somewhere to spend a weekend together is somewhere in Europe like Prague, Paris or even further away, while her idea is somewhere as close as possible, even if this entails renting an apartment here in town or in a very close lake resort or anywhere else that entails moving as little as possible from home.

I have learned to compromise and, therefore, I now travel much less than I used to do in the past.

I was actually forced to compromise because the gap between me and my wife in this area was becoming a big problem in my relationship which took me years to fix.

I realized how serious this problem was after my first trip to the Philippines.

My first trip to the Philippines was my first opportunity ever to visit a tropical country.

Until then I had seen nothing but almost every single corner of Europe, I had never visited any other continent.

I had made amazing trips to the far North of Europe and other amazing places but I had never been to the tropics before or, as I said, I had never been anywhere else outside Europe.

So I was expecting to do a big deal of snorkeling and see plenty of coral reefs, explore jungles and remote waterfalls and do everything else that a European would expect to do in an exotic paradise but I pretty soon realized that my wife had no intention whatsoever to show me around and take me on a tour of her amazing country.
She wanted to do nothing but visit old friends and relatives.

So, because some Filipino friends of mine who live in Rome were in the Philippines on vacation in that period, I left my wife and went off on my own to meet up with them.

I took a bus from the bus terminal in Cubao (Metro Manila) and headed North to the Ilocos Region where I met up with my friends who took me to a lot of beaches in Pangasinan, to the Cordillera Mountains and to a bunch of other places.

It is not as if I hadn’t seen anything of the Philippines while with my wife: we had actually been to the One Hundred Islands (only for one day), Tagaytay and few other places. But I was eager to see more, as the Philippines offer much more than that.

The problem is that, few months  after my trip to the Philippines, I realized how selfish I had been and how I should have put my relationship ahead of my cravings for adventure.

Once I realized that my urge to travel all the time, not only in the Philippines but also here in Italy, was driving a serious wedge between me and my wife I began to seriously ask myself: “why do I have this urge to travel all the time”, “why can’t I just appreciate little ordinary things as my wife does?”.

AN ADDICTIVE WANDERLUST CAN BE A REAL NEUROSIS

I came to the conclusion that my urge to always experience something new or different was a real neurosis and that I had to become more grounded in being, not only for the sake of my relationship but also for the sake of having a more balanced mindset.

I once stumbled upon a book where I read that our relationship with the present moment defines our relationship with life itself and it became pretty obvious to me that my urge to always go somewhere else was closely tied to my underlying inability to bask in the present moment and enjoy the little things that are the bulk of an intimate relationship and of family life.

I understood that what makes a marriage great is not those ecstatic highs that I hoped to experience with my wife somewhere in Palawan or Boracay but rather the everyday ordinary little moments that my wife seemed to be happy with and that I was failing to fully enjoy.

NEVER STAKE YOUR LIFE ON THE PURSUIT OF ADVENTURE

Another reason why I am reconsidering my relationship with travelling is that I am 53 years old and I am facing old age and, maybe, disease in the future.

What would I do if I lost my eyesight or I got sick to the point of not being able to go anywhere anymore and being bedridden for life?

If travelling is so addictive for me this means that when that part my life is over my whole life will be over.

I can’t run this risk so I’d better learn from my beautiful wife how to be more grounded in the here and now and enjoy the amazing little things we experience every single day while they last and view those ecstatic highs that we from time to time experience when we travel somewhere as a bonus and nothing more.

REAL FULFILLMENT IS THE ABILITY TO ENJOY LITTLE THINGS

Granted, travelling has enriched my life beyond measure and I also owe the fact that I have met my wife to my travelling experience.

Travelling is an incredible opportunity to broaden my perspectives and enjoy the beauty of life but so is reading, so is buying a microscope and staring at the magnificence of a cell or even staring in awe at my own hand, or some other part of my body, or, as I said, enjoying the beauty of ordinary moments with my wife and my family.

I am seriously introspecting and trying to get to the root cause why for so many years I haven’t been able to be still and just bask in being without needing to distract myself and go somewhere else to see more or something different or new.

My wife is helping me a lot in this regard and I am very grateful that I have met this amazing woman who has taught me what it is like to put a relationship and the little yet amazing things that characterize it ahead of the flimsy highs that going on some adventure offers.

Isulong ang Kalinisan!

Dito sa Roma, Italya, mayroon ang isang systema para itapon ang basura na medyo bago para sa Southern Italy.

Matagal na gumagana ang systemang ito sa Hilagang Italya at sa karamihan ng mga bansa sa Europa.

Ang tinutukoy ko ay ang pagtatapon ng basura sa iba’t ibang uri ng trash can, depende sa uri ng basura.

May mga trash can na para sa plastik lang kung saan walang iba kundi plastik ang inilalagay.

May trash can para sa food waste, para sa papel at para sa glass. Akalayin ninyo!

Mukhang advanced ang systemang ito.

Pero sa totoo ang paraang ito ng paghihiwalay ng basura ayon sa uri nito ay muna inimbento sa Pilipinas, hindi sa Europa.

Lagi sinasabi ko na ang Pilipinas ay, at least, 20 years ahead of the rest of the world….

Sa Pilipinas may mga uri ng basura na itinatapon sa ilog, may mga uri ng basura na itinatapon sa kanal, may mga uri ng basura na itinatapon sa kalsada at may mga uri ng basura na itinatapon sa bukid!

Pero, sa totoo, sa Pilipinas ay mayroon ang pinakamaganda, pinakaepektibo at pinakamurang paraan para alisin ang basura mula sa ibabaw ng lupa: lahat ay tinitipon sa bakuran at sinusunog!!!!

Masyadong maarte dito…

How to be a Successful Stepfather

I am in a multiethnic intimate relationship, which is already extremely challenging in and of itself, because of the massive culture-shock that characterizes it.

On top of that my wife is a single mother and, when I married her, I was already in my late 30s, I had never been married before and I had absolutely zero experience with kids.

On top of that, my stepson grew up in the Philippines, he was raised by his grandmother and when he came here he couldn’t speak Italian and I was still learning Tagalog and I was far from being fluent.

Yep, I like injecting myself into challenging life experiences…

The title of my post is actually a rather bold claim, because it is actually almost impossible to really and fully succeed in raising stepchildren and it takes many years, if not decades, to start seeing some tangible results, which brings me to the first point I want to highlight:

Be patient and have realistic expectations

Indeed, as I have said, it usually takes years before you get a stepchild to fully trust you and that is absolutely normal.

Never marry a single mother simply because you love her if her child is not a priority for you

My wife comes from a culture that is all about raising children and the most popular Filipino folk song is actually entitled anak, meaning “child”.

If you have zero previous experience with kids, like me, that’s understandable and excusable, as long as you are willing to learn and as long as you are willing to view the marriage as a “whole package”.

The idea that “if I love my wife and shower her with love things will eventually fall into place with her child” doesn’t quite work and might actually erode the marriage itself.

So, if you are only interested in the mother, and you are not sure if you are willing to give her child the same priority, my advice is very simply: stay away from this kind of relationship.

You have to come across as the provider of something new and special

So, once you are fully convinced that you have to buy the full package and that you cannot edge the child out or give him a backseat in the relationship, you can enter this kind of relationship but, as I said, you have to operate from the idea that it will take a long time to estabilish a successful relationship and that there is the realistic possibility that you will never fully succeed.

What my experience teaches me is that one of the fastest ways to gain at least a measure of affection and trust from your stepson is by carefully looking for ways to provide him with something new and very exciting that his mother has not been able to provide.

Usually single mothers are very busy and so what tends to happen is that stepchildren spend long hours watching TV or playing with videogames while the mother is trying hard to make ends meet.

Often single mothers have little time and energy to come up with new and exciting ways to give their children the adventure they need (and likely crave) to experience.

So what I did at the beginning of my experience as a stepfather was asking myself how I could come across as someone who didn’t just enter into my stepson’s life as the husband of his mother and as someone he had to respect and obey whether he liked me or not, but rather as someone who could create some added value and who could come across as the provider of something new and exciting.

And I tried experimenting with different things.

For example, because my stepson had grown up in the Philippines until age 8, he had never seen the snow.

So one of the very first things I did was taking him to a nearby mountain where he got extremely excited as he experienced throwing snowballs and sliding downhill on a sled.

When I announced to him that I would take him to a snowy mountain he got so excited that he accepted to go alone with me and leave his mother in Rome (as she had to work).

And that broke the ice and allowed me to, at very least, get him to spend time with me and me alone without his mother.

Later I came up with the idea of renting a football field and gathering a group of Filipino kids to play together and teach him how to play soccer (which is almost unknown in the Philippines), and this also introduced some novelty into his life.

I am not saying that by becoming the provider of something new and exciting I managed to estabilish a successful relationship but, as I said, I did at least break the ice and manage to have some time for the two of us that he could (at least in part) look forward to.

Set boundaries

The mistake I made at the beginning was to assume that a stepfather must only come across as the easygoing provider of fun and excitement and that if I tried to set boundaries I would run the risk to destroy the intimacy I was slowly creating

What made me change my mind was the fact that one day he himself specifically said to me that he wished I set some boundaries and I realized that the excessively easygoing approach I was taking was actually producing the opposite effect and was preventing him from respecting me.

Yet, on the other hand I was afraid to come across as the one who says something along the lines of “listen, your mother is my wife and, whether you like it or not, you are under my authority and so you do as I say”.

A very useful tip that I remember reading somewhere was that of removing the word “authority” from my vocabulary and replace it with the expression “you are under my legal responsibility“, which was true by the way because I had to be the one to contact the Italian embassy in Manila and apply for an entry visa and I was the one who had to take full legal responsibility to get him a permit to stay in the country.

By avoiding such expressions as “I am your new father” or “you are now under my authority” and by patiently reasoning with him that he was under my legal responsibility, I was able to at least try to add to the boundaries that my wife was already setting for him.

The last point I want to make is probably the most important one:

The wife should never criticize, attack or belittle the stepfather in the presence of the stepson

Any argument or disagreement should be settled in private and when the child is not around.

What’s even worse is if the in-laws criticize the stepfather in the presence of the child.

If either the wife or the in-laws begin to express their frustration for how the stepfather is handling the situation in front of the child how can the child possibly learn to respect his stepfather whom he is already having a hard time estabilishing a relationship at all with?

So it is extremely important that all disagreements be handled when the child is not around.

Have a long-time horizon

If you become a stepfather you can have all the best intentions in the world and all the most effective strategies in the world, but raising a stepson (or a stepdaughter for that matter….I didn’t raise a stepdaughter so I don’t know), is tricky and takes a very long time and it might even take more than ten years before you start seeing some tangible results so have a long-time horizon and tons of patience.

Yung Feeling na…. Magiging Probinsya ng China ang Bayan Ko

“Made in Italy” (sa sweatshop ng mga Intsik)

“Real Italian” cappuccino sa bar na hawak ng mga Intsik=”cappuIntsik”

Marami ang nagsasabi na maaari maging probinsya ng China ang Pilipinas.

Ewan ko kung ano ang mangyayari.

Ang alam ko ay na tuwing Sabado ng umaga dinadala ako ng aking Pinay na misis sa pinakamalaking Chinatown ng Roma (isa sa marami….) at nararanasan ko yun’ feeling na….China na dito.

Masaya naman ang mga Pilipino dahil sa mga sari-sari ng mga Intsik mayroon lahat ng uri ng tsitseria na imported mula sa Pilipinas…na kapag ibinebenta ng mga Intsik nagiging “Intsik”tseria…

Tsitseria sa tindahan ng mga Intsik=”Intsik”tseria

The Relationship Between “Libangan” and “Libingan”

One of the hallmark characteristics of Filipinos that I keep mentioning in this blog is the desire to always be on a high and to have some form of libangan or distraction.

Filipinos are not masaya unless there is pagkain, pelikula, internet, pakikisama, social media, salu-salo or any other form of distraction.

Many Filipinos, whom I know and interact with, seem to have an underlying feeling of restlessness that constantly pushes them to look for occasions to get some form of stimulation and libangan.

Where does the need for constant libangan ultimately stem from?

There is an interesting quote from Blaise Pascal: Blaise Pascal said that most of our problems stem from lack of the ability to sit alone and quietly in an empty room. We fear the silence of existence and boredom and we must fill it with some distraction.

Rarely can Filipinos (at least the ones I have regular dealings with….many Filipino fellow-bloggers of mine are actually quite different) sit still in silence and bask in being.

This is, I guess, an attempt to run away from the fact that being, at its fundamental level and stripped of all the noise of doing and activity, is hollow.

Human beings, generally speaking, cannot stand silence and stillness.

The reason is probably the fact that the void of silence and stillness calls to mind that libingan is what awaits us. People who cannot stand katahimikan are probably trying to run away from the reality of libingan.

The Philippines is one of those cultures where this fear of katahimikan and the need to fill every single hour with some libangan (many Filipinos listen to music or use their gadgets even while they are working) is particularly strong.

And the giant karatula that can be seen everywhere in the Philippines encourage Filipinos to buy, consume and have plenty of libangan.

The reality is that running away from libingan with too much libangan often leads to early libingan as many Filipinos ruin their health with too much pagkain or alak.

The fact that in Tagalog only a vowel separates the concept of libangan from that of libingan shows that these two things are actually closely related.

Running away from the reality of libingan gets Filipinos to stuff their lives with sobrang libangan and this often leads to libingan….more food for thought bilang pampatunaw….