Monday, February 09, 2004


I have to confess that I haven't ever been to the piers of Manila. Sure, I've seen them from a distance, but never really so much as stood on the quays.

Everyone I know cautions me against going there - that murderers, drug-addled amoks and other unsavory characters lurk in every nook and cranny.

Go I must though, because one of my clients requires me to talk to the stevedores. We're making a comic book for them and it pays to know the audience. Sadly, not all of them are literate, which places great pressure on the art portion of the comic book. The narrative is also in Filipino, which makes the thing doubly challenging.

At least, when I'm there, I can take a look-see at all the contraband stuff for sale. Mega-inch color TVs for a song.

If I live to tell the tale.


We took the little girl over to Megamall to visit the toy store over the weekend, to let her choose what she wants for her birthday.

At the gigantic store, she quickly took one of the mini shopping carts and began wheeling around, looking at everything within her admittedly short visual range (it must be hard being very small, you miss out on all the neat stuff placed high on the shelves).

Sage selected a lamb and placed it in her cart, then moved onward. When her attention was caught by a Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy, she threw the lamb and placed Pooh in the cart. Bubbles, her favorite PowerPuff Girl, was next, replacing Pooh. And so on. The reason she only takes one thing is because she remembers her mother telling her that she could have only one thing at the store.

The cart was abandoned when we got to the section with slides and houses. Immediately, Sage began climbing and sliding, giving me heart attacks. I expected her to topple over the top. I know, I know. "Oh ye of little faith".

Feeling generous, I told her "Sage, would you like this slide for your birthday?"

"Yes," she nodded.

I looked at the price tag and died on the spot - P20,000.00. She stepped over my corpse and began playing in the houses. You know the kind, perfect for little girls - with windows and doors and chairs.

"Daddy," my daughter looked at me meaningfully.

"Wait, wait," I told her, reaching for the price tag. P14,000.00. My heart sank.

How can anyone afford these things?

Later, she found the combination house and slide. Nikki shook her head - it was too big for her room. And just as well. The damn thing costs P37,000.00.

Absurd. Why, even the Legos of my childhood did not cost as much as a real home's multiple monthly rent.

We explained that these were just too expensive and found some other more reasonable toys.

Later, as we walked home from the mall with Sage riding my shoulders, I realized that even if I wanted to get her everything she wanted I simply could not. Even if I work my hands to the bone, it just didn't make sense.

All that mattered then was her squeals of laughter as she bounced up and down my shoulders, the feel of her hands rasping the stubble of my head, and her shouts of "Daddy! Daddy!".


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