How was your Thanksgiving Dinner? Did you enjoy it or are you one of those who have to rush off so you can start your Black Friday sale? Where did you shop? Were you one of those hustling to buy an 85” LG LED flat tv?
It’s the last month of the year and it’s the happiest month of the year. It’s the time of gift-giving. Some people buy presents, some people bake goodies, and some people give cash as it’s easier to do when you are busy and don’t have time to shop or don’t know what to give as presents.
In some stores, they hire seasonal workers because it’s their busiest month and they need a little help to service the customers.
Speaking of needing to raise a little cash, Angel was stuck in that predicament last time. Let’s see what’s new in her world.
As she passes shop after shop, thoughts race through her buntuk (head). “What now Angel? I need to find shelter, food. Oh my gash. FOOD. Suddenly, her stomach starts to growl. She hasn’t noticed with all that happened, she really hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday. Suddenly, the smell of breakfast food is nearby. She follows her smell like a rottweiler; lo and behold, a Denny’s. As she stands outside, reality sets in that she has no money. All she can do is watch people go inside, sit down and eat. She walks away back to the beach road and finds a nearby lamisaan (table) where she pops her ulo (head) down.
Exasperated, she releases all her energy on the la mesa (table). Tapping her finger, she turns her ulu (head). On the pillar is a sign. Help wanted, earn $1000/week, call Lisa 808-256-1126. “Perfect! I will do it! But how do I call her?”
As she sits on the beach dulang (table), she can see the people as they pass by.
Everyone looks so busy, staring at their phones, walking fast. People are so busy here and very few are even talking to each other. It is so different from the Philippines where locals are so interactive. Much of the day is spent exchanging stories with your friends over the simple things and silly jokes. Oh, I miss home already. But I won’t let my family down. I need to get going. I wonder if anyone would let me use their phone to call Lisa,” she says to herself.
She stands and starts to approach people. The first man staring down at his device pays no attention to her. The second, a lady and she immediately raises her gamat (hand) and says “No, thank you.” The third, a couple holding hands.
hey scurry off as if Angel was a predator. Finally, she meets an older Filipina woman. “Nanay (Mother), may I please borrow your phone for a few minutes?” she asks. “Of course, yes, you can my dear. Who are you going to call?” says the woman. Angel points to the sign and said, “I want to call Lisa for a job.”
“What? Nokarin (Where) are you from? Saan (Where) do you live? What … ” the lady asked unending questions. Angel cuts her off and said, “I would like to work.” Then she begins to tear up. “I don’t know what to do.” “Ay, bassang (daughter). Come here,” says the woman as she gives her a hug. “I have a care home in Waipahu. Would you like to come work for me? You remind me so much of my daughter. My daughter used to help me but she married an Army man and now it’s just me by myself in my balay (home) to take care of my three clients.”
“I will do whatever you want me to do. I will work hard. I promise,” says Angel.
They speak for over thirty minutes at a nearby McDonald’s where Angel has her first meal in over thirty-six hours. Angel lands a deal with the woman. Her name is Tina. They come to an agreement for free room and board with no pay, to be cheap labor help at the tahanan (house).
They arrive at her bahay (home) in Waipahu a little after 2:30 p.m. and Tina shows her the room where she can stay in. It’s her daughter’s room. As she scans the portraits, she can see the resemblance of Tina and her daughter. Light skinned, rosy cheeks and wavy hair. “Bachelor in Nursing from UH Mānoa.”
“Angel, where are you?” Tina yelled from the living room.
“I’m here, Nana (Mother),” Angel answered. Tina told Angel to call and treat her as a mom.
“Come, let me show you around and meet my clients.”
The bale (house) sits in the heart of Waipahu town, and is an older one-story cmu tile balay (house) with a wooden extension that nearly covers the rest of the 4500 square foot lot. Although very spacious, it is very crowded. It is apparent that Tina likes to purchase items and keep them. Room after room is filled with clutter. Boxes on top of boxes that reeks a stench of mold and dust. Both hallways have stacks of newspaper, welded together and so weathered that they are very difficult to read. The kitchen is cluttered with pots and pans, dirty dishes and yup, there’s Mr. Stewart across the counter. Angel clasps her shirt over her mouth, coughing violently. The trash is riddled with maggots and the refrigerator is clustered with expired food.
Angel quickly moves to the restroom which needs a good scrub down with bleach. Angel wipes down a circle in the mirror so she can see. Dumbfounded, she shakes her ulo (head) while she splashes water on her muka (face).
“Angel!” Tina calls.
“Coming, Nana (Mother).”
In the living room Tina awaits. “Come, let’s meet your new kaibigan (friend), Oliver. He is one of my clients. Oliver is a retired Army veteran, no kids and his spouse recently passed away, and he is now in our care home via his insurance.”
“Hi Oliver, my name is Angel, your new gayyem (friend).” Oliver, sitting in his chair, staring out the window says nothing to Angel.
“Ahem, Captain Oliver,” Tina says. “This is Angel, our new kofun (friend). She’s going to be taking care of you. Isn’t she pretty?” Still Oliver says nothing. Tina leans over and whispers to Angel, “He doesn’t talk much. I’ve been trying to make conversation with him but he just won’t talk. Let’s go meet Jacky.” Then she looked at Oliver and says, “Bye Oliver!” Angel looks at him too and says, “Nice to meet you! I’ll be right back!” Oliver glances her way for a second and then refocuses on the window.
Jacky is sitting in the back patio kan’anan (table). Rocking herself. “Door, love the door. Floor, love the floor. Clouds, love the clouds.” She mums to herself.
“Hi Jacky!” says Tina. “I want you to meet someone.” Immediately Jacky belts out a whine and rocks faster. “Birds, love the birds. Water, love the water.”
Angel picks a sampaga (flower) from the nearby flowerbed that is riddled with weeds. She hunches over Jacky and says. “Hi Jacky, my name is Angel, your friend. Here is a sabong (flower), love the sabong (flower).” Jacky pauses her rocking, looks at Angel and accepts the lappao (flower). “Bulaklak (Flower), love the bulaklak (flower). Yellow, love the yellow. Hamulak (Flower), love the hamulak (flower).”
“OMG,” Tina gasps. “She never did anything like that before,” Tina says while looking at Angel in disbelief.
“You know, sometimes flowers can bridge gaps between people. Like they used to say, ‘Flower Power,’” Angel giggles.
They head over to the next room. It is past the six stacks of disposable adult diapers. Past the dusty crutches next to the empty fish tank on the ground. As the door creaks open, the room is dark. Angel lifts her kamay (hand) to turn on the light and Jacky grabs her wrist. “No, leave the light off. David doesn’t like the light on.” There is a night light plugged into one of the receptacles. As they slowly move towards the home hospital bed, you can see the silhouette of a man laying down. The dark musky smell of mildew fills the air in this room. As they get closer, the faint bitter smell has turned into a strong urine smell. Once they reach the bedside, Tina says, “David, someone is h … ” But before she can finish her word, the man abruptly rises and places his kamay (hand) on Tina’s neck. He screams and she does too. Angel screamed, jumping up and down and trying to pry the man’s kamut (hand) away from Tina’s neck. At this moment, she can see his mukha (face) next to hers. She faces him saying, “Stop! Stop!” from the top of her lungs and she gets a glimpse of David. A quarter of his nawong (face) is deformed. His eyes filled with rage and pain. And their eyes connect. Cold blooded fear runs down her spine.
Burr, is it me or has this story become a chiller? You think this stuff only happens in books or even in real life?
What’s Angel’s life in the newly found home? How will she survive these newly found friends of her? Find out in our next issue of Let’s Talk Pinoy.
Your homework this week is to say Merry Christmas to 10 people in different Filipino languages. You might impress a friend or a family member. Let me know how it went. Share your experience at www.facebook.com/filamvoicemaui, we would all love to hear it.
Anyways that’s all I have. Keep an eye out for my article every issue. I’m Dulce, helping you to master your Filipino Languages. Like always, let’s laugh, let’s makinig (listen), and Let’s Talk Pinoy! Hanggang sa muli! (Until next time!) Ingat! (Take care!).
Dulce Karen Butay was graduated from Maui High School and earned her Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Maui Community College and her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, specializing in Accounting, from the University of Hawai‘i—West O‘ahu. She is currently the Administrative Officer at the County of Maui, Department of Finance. Butay is a licensed Resident Producer of Life Insurance with World Financial Group and an Independent Consultant of Saladmaster. She is now part of the Travel Club of Saladmaster and won an all-expenses paid trip to Cancun, Mexico with the love of her life, Paul Manzano. Butay has traveled to Texas, the Philippines and Thailand as one of the delegates from Island Healthy Solutions, a dealer of Saladmaster here on Maui.