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My Family’s Slave She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings.... Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   lyria 

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:53 AM

My Family’s Slave

She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

By Alex Tizon
The Atlantic

The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.

Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido. We called her Lola. She was 4 foot 11, with mocha-brown skin and almond eyes that I can still see looking into mine—my first memory. She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding.

To our American neighbors, we were model immigrants, a poster family. They told us so. My father had a law degree, my mother was on her way to becoming a doctor, and my siblings and I got good grades and always said “please” and “thank you.” We never talked about Lola. Our secret went to the core of who we were and, at least for us kids, who we wanted to be.

After my mother died of leukemia, in 1999, Lola came to live with me in a small town north of Seattle. I had a family, a career, a house in the suburbs—the American dream. And then I had a slave.

At baggage claim in Manila, I unzipped my suitcase to make sure Lola’s ashes were still there. Outside, I inhaled the familiar smell: a thick blend of exhaust and waste, of ocean and sweet fruit and sweat.

Early the next morning I found a driver, an affable middle-aged man who went by the nickname “Doods,” and we hit the road in his truck, weaving through traffic. The scene always stunned me. The sheer number of cars and motorcycles and jeepneys. The people weaving between them and moving on the sidewalks in great brown rivers. The street vendors in bare feet trotting alongside cars, hawking cigarettes and cough drops and sacks of boiled peanuts. The child beggars pressing their faces against the windows.

Doods and I were headed to the place where Lola’s story began, up north in the central plains: Tarlac province. Rice country. The home of a cigar-chomping army lieutenant named Tomas Asuncion, my grandfather. The family stories paint Lieutenant Tom as a formidable man given to eccentricity and dark moods, who had lots of land but little money and kept mistresses in separate houses on his property. His wife died giving birth to their only child, my mother. She was raised by a series of utusans, or “people who take commands.”

Slavery has a long history on the islands. Before the Spanish came, islanders enslaved other islanders, usually war captives, criminals, or debtors. Slaves came in different varieties, from warriors who could earn their freedom through valor to household servants who were regarded as property and could be bought and sold or traded. High-status slaves could own low-status slaves, and the low could own the lowliest. Some chose to enter servitude simply to survive: In exchange for their labor, they might be given food, shelter, and protection.

When the Spanish arrived, in the 1500s, they enslaved islanders and later brought African and Indian slaves. The Spanish Crown eventually began phasing out slavery at home and in its colonies, but parts of the Philippines were so far-flung that authorities couldn’t keep a close eye. Traditions persisted under different guises, even after the U.S. took control of the islands in 1898. Today even the poor can have utusans or katulongs (“helpers”) or kasambahays (“domestics”), as long as there are people even poorer. The pool is deep.

Lieutenant Tom had as many as three families of utusans living on his property. In the spring of 1943, with the islands under Japanese occupation, he brought home a girl from a village down the road. She was a cousin from a marginal side of the family, rice farmers. The lieutenant was shrewd—he saw that this girl was penniless, unschooled, and likely to be malleable. Her parents wanted her to marry a pig farmer twice her age, and she was desperately unhappy but had nowhere to go. Tom approached her with an offer: She could have food and shelter if she would commit to taking care of his daughter, who had just turned 12.

Lola agreed, not grasping that the deal was for life.

“She is my gift to you,” Lieutenant Tom told my mother.

“I don’t want her,” my mother said, knowing she had no choice.

Lieutenant Tom went off to fight the Japanese, leaving Mom behind with Lola in his creaky house in the provinces. Lola fed, groomed, and dressed my mother. When they walked to the market, Lola held an umbrella to shield her from the sun. At night, when Lola’s other tasks were done—feeding the dogs, sweeping the floors, folding the laundry that she had washed by hand in the Camiling River—she sat at the edge of my mother’s bed and fanned her to sleep.

One day during the war Lieutenant Tom came home and caught my mother in a lie—something to do with a boy she wasn’t supposed to talk to. Tom, furious, ordered her to “stand at the table.” Mom cowered with Lola in a corner. Then, in a quivering voice, she told her father that Lola would take her punishment. Lola looked at Mom pleadingly, then without a word walked to the dining table and held on to the edge. Tom raised the belt and delivered 12 lashes, punctuating each one with a word. You. Do. Not. Lie. To. Me. You. Do. Not. Lie. To. Me. Lola made no sound.


My mother, in recounting this story late in her life, delighted in the outrageousness of it, her tone seeming to say, Can you believe I did that? When I brought it up with Lola, she asked to hear Mom’s version. She listened intently, eyes lowered, and afterward she looked at me with sadness and said simply, “Yes. It was like that.”

Seven years later, in 1950, Mom married my father and moved to Manila, bringing Lola along. Lieutenant Tom had long been haunted by demons, and in 1951 he silenced them with a .32‑caliber slug to his temple. Mom almost never talked about it. She had his temperament—moody, imperial, secretly fragile—and she took his lessons to heart, among them the proper way to be a provincial matrona: You must embrace your role as the giver of commands. You must keep those beneath you in their place at all times, for their own good and the good of the household. They might cry and complain, but their souls will thank you. They will love you for helping them be what God intended.

My brother Arthur was born in 1951. I came next, followed by three more siblings in rapid succession. My parents expected Lola to be as devoted to us kids as she was to them. While she looked after us, my parents went to school and earned advanced degrees, joining the ranks of so many others with fancy diplomas but no jobs. Then the big break: Dad was offered a job in Foreign Affairs as a commercial analyst. The salary would be meager, but the position was in America—a place he and Mom had grown up dreaming of, where everything they hoped for could come true.

Dad was allowed to bring his family and one domestic. Figuring they would both have to work, my parents needed Lola to care for the kids and the house. My mother informed Lola, and to her great irritation, Lola didn’t immediately acquiesce. Years later Lola told me she was terrified. “It was too far,” she said. “Maybe your Mom and Dad won’t let me go home.”

Rest of article, including an audio version, here.

---------------

This is a long article (or about an hour listen), but I thought it worth it for a deep and accurate description of modern day slavery occurring in the US. Interestingly, the author recently died of natural causes at 57, the exact day that editors decided to make this article the cover story. I believe that some things are purely coincidental, but this coincidence strikes me as not, as if he didn't want to be around to have his family's shame so fully broadcast but also that it needed to be told. Or it could just be coincidence.
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#2 User is offline   Ladybird 

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:01 PM

That's a very sad, maddening, incredible story. That it's probably not that unusual even today is hard to fathom.
I think the timing of the article is not coincidental either.
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#3 User is offline   lyria 

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:29 PM

View PostLadybird, on 18 May 2017 - 02:01 PM, said:

That's a very sad, maddening, incredible story. That it's probably not that unusual even today is hard to fathom.
I think the timing of the article is not coincidental either.


Yes. It strikes me as absolutely incredible... and probably not that unusual. Frightening, really.
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#4 User is offline   Magic Rat 

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:46 PM

What happened to this woman is unforgivable. These people took her identity and her soul. This was one of the saddest stories I have read in quite awhile. I'll tell you this; with all of her faults, the author's mother was right about one thing, her son was a sanctimonious dick. Yeah, yeah, he loved his pet and once had a minor argument with mom and he pouted once in awhile. And hey! When Lola croaked, he at least took her home and planted her in the P.I.! That was white of him. He also kept his mouth shut about it for 57 years, 45 of them when he was old enough to know better.

Giving her a bedroom and let her watch TV did not make this poor soul less of his pet. His slave. I believe he made half-hearted noises about how she 'didn't have to' labor for him, but ultimately he didn't try very hard to help her. He benefited from Lola his whole pathetic life. I believe he loved her. Of course, I love my dog but he's still only a dog. He didn't have a familial relationship with her. He had an owner/pet relationship and the poor little woman wasn't even aware of it. I don't think the author realized that although he claims he didn't abuse her like his parents, he shares a lot of responsibility for the abuse she suffered her entire life. Including the 12 years in Seattle.

I am not impressed with him as a reporter or even as a human being. 'Telling the story' after the fact doesn't help Lola any. May she rest in peace.

This post has been edited by Magic Rat: 18 May 2017 - 03:47 PM

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#5 User is offline   lyria 

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:55 PM

I agree, Magic Rat. While the author treated Lola better than his parents did, it was still too little, too late. It's one of the reasons why I think his death was not coincidental. I think he knew, at least on some level, the he still bore the family's shame.

Telling the story after the fact does not help Lola, but it still needed to be told.

This post has been edited by lyria: 18 May 2017 - 06:56 PM

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#6 User is offline   Tabla_Man 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:25 PM

This is just a sad story all around. I can't immagine realizing what your family had been doing all that time and then dealing with the shame of it.

This post has been edited by Tabla_Man: 19 May 2017 - 04:27 PM

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#7 User is offline   ASE 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:55 AM

At the time he meekly defended 'Lola' (grandma in Tagalog), I wish he had stood up to his domineering parents. He was right, but he didn't follow through. If he was worried because he was still young and dependent on them, as soon as he was of age, and able to support himself, he should have turned them in, and made things right. If your family is doing something as wrong as what they were, they no longer deserve your loyalty to them.

That is why I divested myself of the family I grew up with - they would speak of Christian love and charity, but when other races were involved that was suddenly tossed out the window. I didn't want to be around such two-faced hypocrites anymore, and I left to be as far away from them as possible.

This post has been edited by ASE: 20 May 2017 - 01:00 AM

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#8 User is offline   Diamond369 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:53 AM

What they did to her makes me sick. I cannot believe that these people were supposedly Christians. I am also saddened that so-called believers in God, Christian and Jew, thought so little of black people they didn't see slavery as wrong either. As I was reading the story, not only could I think of Lola, but I could also think about how most of my ancestors were treated. It is no coincidence that even during the days of the Antebellum period up until the 1880s, many slave owners lost their faculties and their health. In their minds, they thought that the slaves were happy in their lot. But how could anyone be happy to be enslaved? Like the slave owners of old, these people did not care for the poor woman. I can only imagine how many more people are being enslaved, man, woman, and child today.
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#9 User is offline   Dean Adam Smithee 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:27 AM

View PostASE, on 20 May 2017 - 12:55 AM, said:

At the time he meekly defended 'Lola' (grandma in Tagalog), I wish he had stood up to his domineering parents. He was right, but he didn't follow through. If he was worried because he was still young and dependent on them, as soon as he was of age, and able to support himself, he should have turned them in, and made things right. If your family is doing something as wrong as what they were, they no longer deserve your loyalty to them.


Interesting. I didn't know 'lola' was tagalog for 'grandma'; I always thought it was cubano for 'showgirl'. To me, it hinges on "grandma's" willingness in this. Could she have left any time she wanted to? Did she want to? Maybe she was 'better off" this way... IF she agreed to it.

Federal law sets the minimum wage for (non-family) "domestic help" at $7.25/hr. Federal law ALSO allows the 'employer' to deduct for room-and-board.

Let's run the numbers: $7.25/hr x 2080 hrs/yr = $15,080/yr. Divide by 12 months = $1,256.67/mo (gross). Run it through ADP's take-home calculator, state of WA per the story, it's $1039.64/mo take-home. This family lived in the Seattle area. According to Seattle.gov:Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda the average studio apartment is $1,280/mo with $1,596 for a one bedroom. Absolute lowest reported, not just 'average', and in the worst neighborhood, was $980/mo... which at $1039.64 take-home would leave $59.64 left over for utilities, food, clothing, healthcare, etc. Woo-hoo!

As such, AS LONG AS 'Lola' was okay with it AND was getting "something of value" in return with a fair-market value that equals or exceeds minimum wage... then I have no philosophical, moral, or legal objection to such an arrangement.

Heck, suppose my own Grandmother (RIP '02) had voluntarily came to live in our house, and while here did some cooking and light housekeeping without being paid. Would that be "slavery"? Why is that any different? And THAT is not unusual in multi-generational households, especially in the old country. Think of "The Waltons": How much was Grandma Walton (played excellently by Ellen Corby RIP 1999) being paid, again?

What I DO have an object to is the way the parents treated Lola. That ain't right, money or no money; If Lola had been paid $100,000/yr it STILL wouldn't have been right.

View PostASE, on 20 May 2017 - 12:55 AM, said:

That is why I divested myself of the family I grew up with - they would speak of Christian love and charity, but when other races were involved that was suddenly tossed out the window. I didn't want to be around such two-faced hypocrites anymore, and I left to be as far away from them as possible.


Without going into details, let me just say that while I grew up in Ohio and later Indiana, there's a reason I spent most of my adult life as far away as I could get. (Indiana is ~86° W longitude. 180° off that would be 94°E, or roughly Suqian / Luoma Lake, China at the same latitude. Well, okay, I've been ALMOST as far as I could get)

This post has been edited by Adam Smithee: 20 May 2017 - 11:28 AM

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#10 User is offline   lyria 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 07:25 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 20 May 2017 - 11:27 AM, said:

Interesting. I didn't know 'lola' was tagalog for 'grandma'; I always thought it was cubano for 'showgirl'. To me, it hinges on "grandma's" willingness in this. Could she have left any time she wanted to? Did she want to? Maybe she was 'better off" this way... IF she agreed to it.

Federal law sets the minimum wage for (non-family) "domestic help" at $7.25/hr. Federal law ALSO allows the 'employer' to deduct for room-and-board.

Let's run the numbers: $7.25/hr x 2080 hrs/yr = $15,080/yr. Divide by 12 months = $1,256.67/mo (gross). Run it through ADP's take-home calculator, state of WA per the story, it's $1039.64/mo take-home. This family lived in the Seattle area. According to Seattle.gov:Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda the average studio apartment is $1,280/mo with $1,596 for a one bedroom. Absolute lowest reported, not just 'average', and in the worst neighborhood, was $980/mo... which at $1039.64 take-home would leave $59.64 left over for utilities, food, clothing, healthcare, etc. Woo-hoo!

As such, AS LONG AS 'Lola' was okay with it AND was getting "something of value" in return with a fair-market value that equals or exceeds minimum wage... then I have no philosophical, moral, or legal objection to such an arrangement.

Heck, suppose my own Grandmother (RIP '02) had voluntarily came to live in our house, and while here did some cooking and light housekeeping without being paid. Would that be "slavery"? Why is that any different? And THAT is not unusual in multi-generational households, especially in the old country. Think of "The Waltons": How much was Grandma Walton (played excellently by Ellen Corby RIP 1999) being paid, again?


The author gets into that at the end. I don't want to look for the details in the article so I'm going by memory here. And remember, we only have the author's perspective, which is somewhat suspect in its neutrality. So, after he "inherits" Lola, he tells her that she doesn't have to work and he provides her with her own bedroom in his house and a small salary. (I think it was $200 a week, most of which she sent back home.) She still works for the family and has to be convinced that she really doesn't have to work, after which her labor in the household drops and she picks up watching TV. I remember something about instead of cooking all meals, cooking becomes a hobby in which she cooks elaborate meals when she felt like it. At this point, she is fairly old (70s? 80s?) and retirement as much a fact of biology as it is a choice. He pays for her to return home for a month, after which she has the choice to stay there or return with him to the US. She chooses to go with him, saying that home has changed to much.

So there is an element of free choice here. But how much is really having no choice at all? She doesn't know any other life. The people she was close to are all gone, leaving only distant cousins and old friends who aren't eager to pick up the friendship after so long. She raised children to adulthood, even if it was under the conditions of slavery, and now has "grandchildren". There has to be an emotional attachment there that wouldn't be easy to just let go. So she returns to the USA with him. Perhaps she is not a slave in actuality at that point, but I bet there's still a slavery mindset and a relationship between the two that remains.

As I said earlier, this strikes me as too little, too late. The author won't act until his mother is gone, and by then Lola has so few options before her that it actually makes sense to choose to return to a sort of slavery.
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#11 User is offline   lyria 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 07:27 AM

View PostASE, on 20 May 2017 - 12:55 AM, said:

At the time he meekly defended 'Lola' (grandma in Tagalog), I wish he had stood up to his domineering parents. He was right, but he didn't follow through. If he was worried because he was still young and dependent on them, as soon as he was of age, and able to support himself, he should have turned them in, and made things right. If your family is doing something as wrong as what they were, they no longer deserve your loyalty to them.

That is why I divested myself of the family I grew up with - they would speak of Christian love and charity, but when other races were involved that was suddenly tossed out the window. I didn't want to be around such two-faced hypocrites anymore, and I left to be as far away from them as possible.


Yes, I agree. It would be difficult to turn your own family in - or at least threaten to do so to get results - but this is such a degree of wrong that family loyalty wouldn't apply.
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#12 User is offline   Ladybird 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:01 AM

View PostDiamond369, on 20 May 2017 - 08:53 AM, said:

What they did to her makes me sick. I cannot believe that these people were supposedly Christians. I am also saddened that so-called believers in God, Christian and Jew, thought so little of black people they didn't see slavery as wrong either. As I was reading the story, not only could I think of Lola, but I could also think about how most of my ancestors were treated. It is no coincidence that even during the days of the Antebellum period up until the 1880s, many slave owners lost their faculties and their health. In their minds, they thought that the slaves were happy in their lot. But how could anyone be happy to be enslaved? Like the slave owners of old, these people did not care for the poor woman. I can only imagine how many more people are being enslaved, man, woman, and child today.


They think of slaves as beneath them and less than human, or that it's Gods will that these groups have this certain station in life. That's how they justify injustice.
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#13 User is offline   Magic Rat 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:51 PM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 20 May 2017 - 11:27 AM, said:

Interesting. I didn't know 'lola' was tagalog for 'grandma'; I always thought it was cubano for 'showgirl'. To me, it hinges on "grandma's" willingness in this. Could she have left any time she wanted to? Did she want to? Maybe she was 'better off" this way... IF she agreed to it.

Federal law sets the minimum wage for (non-family) "domestic help" at $7.25/hr. Federal law ALSO allows the 'employer' to deduct for room-and-board.

Let's run the numbers: $7.25/hr x 2080 hrs/yr = $15,080/yr. Divide by 12 months = $1,256.67/mo (gross). Run it through ADP's take-home calculator, state of WA per the story, it's $1039.64/mo take-home. This family lived in the Seattle area. According to Seattle.gov:Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda the average studio apartment is $1,280/mo with $1,596 for a one bedroom. Absolute lowest reported, not just 'average', and in the worst neighborhood, was $980/mo... which at $1039.64 take-home would leave $59.64 left over for utilities, food, clothing, healthcare, etc. Woo-hoo!

As such, AS LONG AS 'Lola' was okay with it AND was getting "something of value" in return with a fair-market value that equals or exceeds minimum wage... then I have no philosophical, moral, or legal objection to such an arrangement.

Heck, suppose my own Grandmother (RIP '02) had voluntarily came to live in our house, and while here did some cooking and light housekeeping without being paid. Would that be "slavery"? Why is that any different? And THAT is not unusual in multi-generational households, especially in the old country. Think of "The Waltons": How much was Grandma Walton (played excellently by Ellen Corby RIP 1999) being paid, again?

What I DO have an object to is the way the parents treated Lola. That ain't right, money or no money; If Lola had been paid $100,000/yr it STILL wouldn't have been right.



Without going into details, let me just say that while I grew up in Ohio and later Indiana, there's a reason I spent most of my adult life as far away as I could get. (Indiana is ~86° W longitude. 180° off that would be 94°E, or roughly Suqian / Luoma Lake, China at the same latitude. Well, okay, I've been ALMOST as far as I could get)


This wasn't Grandma Walton. The Walton situation was an old woman chose to live with her son after he had grown to adulthood and she has grown old. That is somewhat common and by many, is considered virtuous and ideal. Lola wasn't given an opportunity to have a family. She had no choice that she was aware of. Lola wasn't a relative, she was property. Like all slaves, she was deliberately kept ignorant of her rights or prospects. By the time she had a 'choice', her individuality was effected beyond repair. Her only identity lied with the family of her owners.

The family's moral obligation wasn't to be nice to her. It wasn't to pay her a good salary and see that she got the best word search puzzles. It was to set her free. Educate her in her choices, prospects and decisions. Make it clear she didn't owe anyone anything. They were responsible to do this as soon as they came to realization that what they were doing to her was evil. I am convinced that realization was there all along, so these people were immoral and any of the surviving beneficiaries of this sin should be carrying a big weight of guilt around with them for not trying to free her as soon as they were old enough to do so. Hell, the author's brother who snidely called Lola 'Mom's slave' was eight years older than the author himself. He obviously recognized the foul situation this innocent woman was suffering. Where was he? These people are disgusting.

It's not up to me to pass out forgiveness for evils done to others, but I don't think they deserve it.
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#14 User is online   zurg 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:57 PM

Many Asian cultures don't value an individual human life in the same manner that we do in the west. They are more fatalistic and believers in communal progress (and are taught not to complain about imperfections like this). I'd bet many, if not a majority over in Asia, would maybe still today think that this didn't turn out horribly for Lola. And I am guessing that the reason the author wrote this was as partly a confession and partly because he might have even expected Asian people to applaud him for honesty and eventually doing something to make up for past misdeeds.

This post has been edited by zurg: 21 May 2017 - 12:58 PM

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#15 User is offline   Magic Rat 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 01:45 PM

The Philippines is the most 'Western' of the Asian countries I have been in. I have been in Japan, Okinawa (I know hey belong to Japan, but they don't think so.), Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is also the Asian country that is most influenced by Americans. They are not a united culture though. There has been unrest there forever and is even worse now. However, they are relatively civilized and stable in comparison to other poor countries.

Tarlac, like the author says is inland and is mostly a farming area. It's not as isolated as he suggests though. I have been there. It's where Camp O'Donnell was. This is where the Bataan Death March ended. I had guard duty there. Did patrols among the mass graves. The people speak English. The are mostly literate. It was only 15 minutes from Clark Air Base. We aren't talking deep in the bush here.

Still the barrios are run by a 'Barrio Captain' which in some cases is a NPA warlord, a gangster or just some politician and all that entails. In my experience they were mostly corrupt. So this situation while not common, wouldn't be unheard of. It would be an 'open secret'. (Like prostitution, which was technically illegal. Any visit to the P.I. will tell you how strictly that law is enforced. Of course, what is a prostitute, but a slave. Don't get me started on that.) That doesn't mean that it is considered okay or socially acceptable. These people knew they were rotten. That's why they had to sneak around to keep this circus going.

I guess this effects me and makes me so angry because it's very coincidental for me. I've lived close to where this all went down at one time or another. I lived in Capas, Tarlac for about a year. When I was in the P.I., I went to weddings, Christmas celebrations, etc. in Filipino homes. I witnessed the most bizarre Easter traditions one could ever see. I live in suburb north of Seattle. I have dated a lot of Filipinas. It's pretty close to home. How many Lolas have I met and bought into the lies that she was 'our maid'?

My wife and I had a maid in San Angeles but we paid her. She had been my wife's maid in her on base house before. My ex-wife referred to her as 'manang' which is slang for 'aunt'. Now before anyone thinks she was a slave, take another think. For one thing, my wife was Thai/American and another is Gloria was a widow with a grown son in the States. I have met him. The point is, that calling an older person a term of relation, especially an older one, is common in that culture, so I really wouldn't know. 'This is Lola, our maid.' How would anyone know?

This post has been edited by Magic Rat: 21 May 2017 - 01:47 PM

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#16 User is offline   Dean Adam Smithee 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 03:03 PM

View PostMagic Rat, on 21 May 2017 - 01:45 PM, said:

The Philippines is the most 'Western' of the Asian countries I have been in. I have been in Japan, Okinawa (I know hey belong to Japan, but they don't think so.), Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is also the Asian country that is most influenced by Americans. They are not a united culture though. There has been unrest there forever and is even worse now. However, they are relatively civilized and stable in comparison to other poor countries.

Tarlac, like the author says is inland and is mostly a farming area. It's not as isolated as he suggests though. I have been there. It's where Camp O'Donnell was. This is where the Bataan Death March ended. I had guard duty there. Did patrols among the mass graves. The people speak English. The are mostly literate. It was only 15 minutes from Clark Air Base. We aren't talking deep in the bush here.

Still the barrios are run by a 'Barrio Captain' which in some cases is a NPA warlord, a gangster or just some politician and all that entails. In my experience they were mostly corrupt. So this situation while not common, wouldn't be unheard of. It would be an 'open secret'. (Like prostitution, which was technically illegal. Any visit to the P.I. will tell you how strictly that law is enforced. Of course, what is a prostitute, but a slave. Don't get me started on that.) That doesn't mean that it is considered okay or socially acceptable. These people knew they were rotten. That's why they had to sneak around to keep this circus going.


Prostitution is illegal in the ME too. Go for a drink at the basement-level 'club' at the National Hotel in Dubai and you'll be surround by any number of Filipinas, Bengalis, Burmese, Thais, who can demonstrate the meaning of the word 'illegal'. (But at the time I was a 'guest' of the 2nd most powerful family, Second only to the Royal family. By definition, nothing *I* ever did was illegal... AS LONG AS I didn't get caught in a way that would put my 'host' on the spot; of THAT I am mindful that there IS a death penalty for such things. Yeah, okay, as long as I know the ground rules, I'm good. And I've lived to tell about it :))

View PostMagic Rat, on 21 May 2017 - 01:45 PM, said:

I guess this effects me and makes me so angry because it's very coincidental for me. I've lived close to where this all went down at one time or another. I lived in Capas, Tarlac for about a year. When I was in the P.I., I went to weddings, Christmas celebrations, etc. in Filipino homes. I witnessed the most bizarre Easter traditions one could ever see. I live in suburb north of Seattle. I have dated a lot of Filipinas. It's pretty close to home. How many Lolas have I met and bought into the lies that she was 'our maid'?


Throw a stone in UAE or Oman and you're likely to hit an ex-pat Filipino/Filipina as manual laborers / maids respectively. Socially, they're one step above Palestinians and just below Pakis.

Were they 'slaves'? I dunno. I think the term is much overworked. I just have difficulty seeing that someone who voluntarily chose a particular path in their life is a BONA-FIDE 'slave'.

I mean, in a sense, aren't we ALL 'slaves' to the sum total of all the choices that we've made that led to where we are now?

This post has been edited by Adam Smithee: 21 May 2017 - 03:04 PM

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#17 User is offline   ASE 

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 12:18 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 20 May 2017 - 11:27 AM, said:

Interesting. I didn't know 'lola' was tagalog for 'grandma'; I always thought it was cubano for 'showgirl'.
...

Without going into details, let me just say that while I grew up in Ohio and later Indiana, there's a reason I spent most of my adult life as far away as I could get.
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Depending on where you are, some Tagalog speakers use 'lola' for g-mother, and 'lolo' for g-father (vice 'crazy'); other areas use 'lelang' for g-mother, and 'lelong' for g-father.

Interesting... I also grew up in Ohio, and regularly visited relatives in Indiana.
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