LOLA GOT’S LUTONG BAHAY IN AMERICA (16): Listing What Could-Have-Beens. By Margot Marfori

NEVADA (MindaNews/17 January) — More than anything, the time spent with family has been the most beautiful experience. It opens the New Year with the best, most wonderful kind of high. It almost makes one feel like the year to come will be as good, if not better, than the last. While the future is always a big unknown, family makes it all happen for most of us.

There’s some 350 days ahead that still needs filling out though, and, judging by how the last year went, it’s better to leave it to how the cards may fall. What plans we make never seem to find its conclusions anyway. And so, instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, because we all know they don’t really last somehow, let’s look at the
list that was supposed to happen instead.

Number one was a piece I thought would have been good to write about was how the scammer Bernie Madoff’s assets were quickly liquidated, even his personal things, so his victims could at least get back some of their lost investments. His wife gave up her own fortunes, ill-gotten as they may have been, to the pool for the victims of her husband’s ponzi scheme.

The comparison to the Marcoses would have been precious. But then they are in power again, and it wouldn’t have been good to scrape up old wounds even if none of the wealth they spirited away from us ever saw the light of our Philippine sun again. Well, except maybe the dark recesses of the very deep pockets of some of our “civil servants.”
Makes one wonder though: does that make us less Asian in that our sense of shame is distorted by how much we have in our bank accounts?

Then there was the piece on how a great and wonderful God can sometimes interfere with our lives in ways we cannot understand, and yet somehow things turn out well in the end. About how we realize that we are not really in control, no matter what we do or think. But then, not everyone believes in a “great and wonderful God”. And while some of us do, others have a different name: “A Higher Power”, “Someone Up There”, “The Universe”…. It’s all good anyway you put it because naming concretizes its existence.

Then there was the one about the tabo. Dipper, in American or English I would guess. How matters concerning water, especially here in our part of America where there is more desert than can be appreciated, is constantly an issue. Nowhere near the way water is rationed like it is in Baguio City of course, though sprinklers do have a schedule in the
summer. I had a mind to tell them about our habit of using the tabo. Most practical way to use water, though buying a real tabo here is a little pricey. So go to those casinos that still have the small plastic containers for holding coins. They make for a very usable tabo, and it’s free!

Then there was the one where I thought it would be so great to compare the two most usable and very friendly Filipino cookbooks. Nora Daza’s and Enriqueta David-Perez’s. That didn’t happen. Why? Well, it made it less attractive to write about because I thought each one had its own value that does not have to compete with the other. Besides, I used
both so much that they (the cookbooks) practically brought me the accolades of being said to be a good cook. I used Enriqueta David-Perez’s the whole year I was in Sweden. It allowed me to introduce my foster family to Filipino food, even if I did not know how to even boil an egg at the time, and to even look like I knew what I was doing. That was how I cooked my first adobo. They loved it. Nora Daza’s has been my companion, especially here in America. A constant
guide and easy reference on days when our household hankers for “original” food.

Another one was about paksiw (again). Yup, the other favorite. I thought it was the best meal to have after the rich and heavy holiday fare that we had to have. Dieting resolutions aside, it seemed to make sense to go the paksiw route. I did go to the Asian food market and was able to buy frozen bangus. Immediately did the dish, and lasted for more than a week on top of the stove because I was the only apparent believer in having a fish-day. When it was fried though,
somebody did have a large portion later. So much for that paksiw preparation in the first days of the New Year.

And then, lately, the Ted Williams phenomenon. He was the homeless man who was whisked from being without to being with it all in such a short span of only a few days. Mang Pandoy immediately came to mind. The media exposure and the goodwill generated by this poor man’s condition made me wonder about how Mang Pandoy is faring these days. Made it all clearer too, how everything can go so right, and then, so quickly be gone in an instant too.

The New Year opens us to sloughing off the old habits and maybe taking on new ones that may just be better for moving on. If you believe in the Mayan calendar that everyone says is an indication of how there may just be a great apocalypse by December 2012, or not…. The coming year is an opportunity waiting to be discovered. Each day moves us forward. Let’s not waste it. (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Dabawenya Margot Marfori is a writer and visual artist who continues to live the Davao she loves. She taught at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao from 1996 to 2002. She is now based more times of the year in Henderson, Nevada, while her youngest son is studying at UNLV, and, where her two older children in San Francisco are near enough to visit).