Philippines; Jinky Fernández

I love Jinky Fernández. So much so that I am staying here indefinitely. If you don’t know, I met Jinky on a dating web site and subsequently stayed in touch with her for one year before meeting her for the first time on 09 May 2017. Of course people can represent themselves online in a way that does not reflect who they truly are, but Jinky is who I thought she would be. Better in fact. She has been practicing Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism with me, and tomorrow she and I will travel to neighboring Quezon City to visit the Buddhist Center. Jinky intends to receive her Gohonzon whilst there.

As for my experience of the Philippines so far, I have found that the sun is intense and will very quickly burn the unprotected. My back and arms are in recovery from a bad burn a few days ago when I went with Jinky to a Fernández Family Reunion at a nearby resort called Los Arcos de Hermano. I thought I could get away with just an hour or so in the morning sunshine- I was very wrong! The shedding of the now dead skin is gross and irritating to say the least.  Then a little while later I accompanied Jinky on a trip with her classmates to Morong Beach in Bataan- yes, that Bataan. I didn’t put sunscreen on my legs and you know what’s coming next- the sun absolutely torched my legs. They’re feeling a bit better today, but in a day or two I imagine they’ll start to shed the damaged skin- yuck. Now I’m afraid to go out during the day without first applying sunscreen everywhere.

I’ve also noticed that the Philippines reminds me of Indonesia in more ways than not. The downtown area of the capital city in both countries is ultra-modern and more or less clean. Leave the high-priced hotel and embassy area and the environment changes quite rapidly. I was not taken aback by seeing sewage running in ditches right in the middle of residential areas here in Caloocan because I had already seen that in and around Pekanbaru and Jakarta/Bekasi. I don’t know any Dutch, so I can’t be sure, but it seems to me there are many more Spanish loanwords in Tagalog/Filipino than Dutch loanwords in Bahasa Indonesia. Both archipelagos were ruled from afar for centuries (by the Netherlands and Spain, obviously) but it feels that Spain’s colonial legacy is much more prominent in the Philippines than the Dutch colonial legacy in Indonesia. I never met an Indonesian with a Dutch surname, but Spanish surnames are the norm here. Then of course there is religion. Roman Catholicism is dominant here whilst Protestantism is a small minority Indonesia. I find it fascinating to ponder why these differences exist, and I suspect the main factor is the motivation and colonial policy of Madrid & Amsterdam. I also feel that if Filipino wants to classify himself as a Hispanic, there is not reason he cannot rightly do so. Spanish customs are still in use, pieces of the Spanish language are in use, and I willing to bet more than a handful of Filipinos have Spanish heritage. By and definition of Hispanic, Filipinos are Hispanic (if they choose to define themselves that way.

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