Everyday, Pinoys are confronted by stress mostly brought about by the economy. Food prices and cost of services go up. Added to this stressful situation is the increasing number of Pinoys who have no work, not that we are lazy, but work opportunities are simply not there.
As if this unfortunate situation is not enough, that the politicians who offered solution to this sad state had not only broken their promise of deliverance but had even caused more grief by robbing the Pinoys blind and distributed the largesse of government contracts to their cronies or friends. Politicians bled the treasury dry, the courts are corrupt and the mainstream Pinoys suffer. The promise of good life is only for those who have access to powers and their very few fortunate extensions.
Services are too poor that some of our “kababayans” do not even have clean water to drink and electricity to light their homes. If water and electricity are available, chances are, most Pinoys could not afford their costs. Garbage and pollution is all over Metro Manila, but the greater pollution that saps the strength most Pinoys is the brigandage in the bureaucracy. This pollution so stink that lately, high court magistrates were sacked for indiscretion and most government contracts are padded with nauseating commissions.
Some sectors of Pinoys have long given up the prospect of getting a better life in the Philippines that they decided to seek employment somewhere else. But with worldwide economic crunch, even overseas Pinoys are still stressed out but not as much as when they were in the Philippines.
So how do Pinoys overseas deal with stress? I can only speak for some Pinoys who try to deal with their daily stress in Michigan. Or more specifically, how do we deal with our own stress here.
We have a small Pinoy community with diverse membership due to intermarriages that makes it a point every other weekend before winter time sets in, to go camping. Fish on the lake and play “beach” volleyball had the lake had been the sea. Half of the afternoon would be spent sitting on collapsible plastic chairs around collapsible plastic table to play card games, sip a can of beer which is kept secret from the camp guards because drinking is prohibited in the camp. While secretively sipping your beer, you can engage in loud banter that makes you forget about your car and house mortgages or your credit card payables.
Or a special weekend is spent in carnival, at Ohio Ceddar Point, a famous carnival hideaway of huge real estate complete with rides that can give you the adrenalin rush of fear or excitement. In another part of the park is a train track of about a mile slithering through the wooded area and along its track is a panoply of structures to simulate the “Old Old West”, a salon, a barber shop, ironsmith shop, a sheriff’s office and a jail where bandits, cowboys and Indians used to mix it up. Volley of gunfire would be heard as the train idle its way through this mile ride and you could see cowboys and bandits and other classic characters from human skeletons dressed-coded for the characters they tried to recreate. The firecrackers to simulate the gunfire must have been lit by humans and not by these skeleton characters along the train’s track. I told a friend that a “tomahawk” landing on the train wall slightly above our head could have provided a more realistic hair-raising experience.
These weekends escapades provide much needed relaxation from the day to day stress in the workplace; a group interaction, a nap or full night sleep inside the tent can reeve up tired and weary souls so on weekdays these overseas Pinoys can cope with the stress again.
Most local Pinoys would spend time brooding. When they cannot cope up with the stress anymore they would commit petty to serious crimes that when caught they would offer the tired old refrain that it was out of “malaking pangangailangan”, ( dire economic needs) that prompted them to commit these crimes.
The difference between Pinoy locals and the overseas Pinoys is quite stark in terms of credit facilities. Most overseas Pinoys can avail of credit denied of their local counterparts. Locals have most of the time would live in squalor or one-room leased for home. Apartments are expensive while building a home on credit, is even more expensive, if credit would have been available at all. These are stressors to local Pinoys.
Locals have to depend themselves in public transport because few can afford cars considered in some place as common possession and necessities. In Detroit, known as the “motor city” of the world, public transport was not developed and only few percentage of the populace is dependent on it. And quite admiringly, despite the battered economy in Michigan, Pinoys do not make use of public transport, unlike California or New York, where trolleys, bus and trains serve the populace of all ethnic groups.
Let us go back to the campsite. Our group would eat Pinoy food of adobo, fried “daing”, “tortang talong”, fried tilapia or “bangus” “pansit” or “dinuguan”. No nitrate and sodium rich hamburgers and sausages. Americans who married Pinoys are quite accustomed to eating “dinuguan”, which they more vividly described as “chocolate meat” savored best with white “puto”.
The camping ground is hundred acres of tall trees, huge inland lake, hills, grassy grounds and several buildings serving as bathrooms and restrooms. It is rural all right but the campers brought the amenities of the home they left behind.
Inside colorful tents are air beds, flashlights, coolers full of your favorite drinks and beverages and even portable heaters.
I dreamt of being able to lit a fireplace with flint stone, brew a coffee in run down caldron and drink it in a chip off porcelain cup or aluminum G.I. canteen which would make the environment rustic and more rural, but even that yearning for real mountain adventure is denied of you because people simply would like to enjoy and bring the convenience of the home to this far place called camping grounds. So the camp is complete with lighters, plastic cups, coffee brewers, water jugs, collapsible kitchen sink and even patches of instant cold or hot compress.
I would like to feel mounds of pebble and light touch of sand on my belly or back as I retired inside a tent but that is not even possible because of the air-bed in the tent.
These regular weekend camp adventures rejuvenate one’s tired body and mind. Stress was gone to face another yet workplace stress when Monday comes. I can only wish that our local Pinoys can find a ubiquitous camping ground or carnival spot that are affordable soon.
September 22, 2008
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