November is here, my birth month, my favorite month. In the Philippines, November 1st is All Saint’s Day and November 2nd is All Soul’s Day. It is the day when we remember our loved ones who have passed away. A few days before the beginning of the month, people go and clean the cemetery where their loved ones were laid to rest. Some would just hire people to clean and repair the memorials. Then at night, the family would gather and have a “celebration of life” party.
In the U.S. during November we celebrate Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Thank you to our Veterans for their services and sacrifices for our country. These brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. Thanksgiving Day is the day to reflect on what we are thankful for. Sometimes we forget to be grateful for the free things in life like the fresh air, the sun, the moon, the rain and the beautiful beaches around us. Waking up in the morning is also something to be grateful for. Having food to eat and clothes to wear, we should be thankful. But especially having your parents, your kids and your family is also to be thankful for.
Shout out to our November birthday celebrants: Helen Bueno Velasco, Mary Grace Joy Andam, Eileen Andrea Bueno Verkhov. Happy, Happy birthday to you! (Tagalog) Maligayang bati sa inyong kaarawan! (Ilokano) Naimbag nga panagkasangay mo! (Ibanag) Makapagayaya nga aggaw na nikeyana mu! (Kapampangan) Masayang kebaitan queca! (Ilonggo) Masadya gid nga adlaw sa imo pagkatawo.
Let’s visit our friends Angel and Michael and see what’s going on with them this month, shall we?
“Nanay! (Mom!) Sitaw (Where) have you been? I never saw you all day,” Angel asked her mom.
“I have been helping Auntie Daya cook for her market tomorrow, Anak.” Her nanay (mom) explained.
“Yes, Ima (mom). I have something to ask. Remember now that Tatay (father) is sick. And we have so many bills to pay right now. Inahan (Mother), I know, I applied at the mall last week but they haven’t called me yet. I am thinking about selling lumpia at the school tomorrow,” she told her mom.
“No, Anak. We have an answer. I don’t know if you met him yet but Uncle Victor has a kofun (friend) from Hawai‘i. He is here. And he can get you a trabaho (job) with good pay. Anak, I already told him you will do it. Please?!” her nanay (mother) pleaded.
The man approached from behind her nanang (mother). “Kababayan, you are maganda (beautiful). Your daughter is also napintas (beautiful),” he told Angel’s mom. Then he turned to Angel and said, “Hi Angel. I heard your amahan (father) is not well. Your nanay (mother) tells me you are looking for ubra (job). That’s good because I need workers. My name is Uncle Billy,” as he extended his kamot (hand) for a shake.
Angel offered her kamay (hand). His lima (hands) were soft and wet. Much unlike most of the men she had a few chances to shake their gamat (hands). Most of those ima (hands) were very rough, hard and callus. Billy’s hand shake was aggressive, as if he was the type to always get ano (what) he wanted. His gamat (hands) skin was soft as if he never worked a hard laborous day in his life. And the way his handshake ended made Angel feel a bit awkward gently brushing his fingers on her palm as he lifted his kamay (hand) back to his body, locking eyes with her and visually saying things that Angel couldn’t make out. Angel didn’t have the best feeling about Billy but like most Filipinos, if her nanay (mother) said he is fine and Uncle said he is a kaibigan (friend), then she would accept him as such regardless.
“Tito, hani (what) type of trabaho (job) is this? We really need the salapi (money) and it’s very hard to find trabahu (job) here,” Angel said as she politely looked away from the glaring eyes of Uncle Billy. Billy coughed and fixed the buttons on his overly Hawaiian polo shirt.
“Well, you will be doing housework and chores for a really mayaman (rich) man in Hawai‘i. There will be many of you there since he has a lot of ubra (jobs),” said Billy.
“Oh yeah?” Angel’s eyes lit up. “A really baknang (rich) man? Like a celebrity?”
Billy looked at her Mom and grinned. “I wouldn’t say he is a celebrity but he has a big business and lots of kwarta (money).”
“Ana (What) kind of business?” Angel curiously asked. “I can’t tell you because it’s,” Billy leaned into Angel, ngiti (smiled), winked and said “It’s top secret.”
Being the feisty girl she is, Angel looked at him strangely. “Why is it top secret?”
“Because it is, sweetie,” Billy replied. “We are just workers earning a wage. It’s none of our business to know. Besides, who really cares anni (what) his business is, as long as our salary comes in everyday right?”
“But hani (what) if his business is a bad one and we are helping him do criminal things,” Angel said.
Billy clearly looked a bit annoyed, turned to Angel’s mom and raised his eyebrow then looked away. “If you don’t want to work it’s ok. I’ll find another girl to send to Hawai‘i in your place. I think Kuya Jojo’s daughter is twenty-two and just finished college so maybe wants trabaho (job) now. Do you know nasaan (where) Jo is?” Billy said as he began to scan the site, slowly walking away.
Mom looked at Angel with very angry eyes and moved her lips. Not really saying anything but Angel immediately knew it wasn’t any good words that were being transmitted with mom’s telekinetic radio waves. Angel jumped up. “No sir, Ate Vee (Jo’s daughter) is staying here, I’m going to Hawai‘i to work and help my family please.” She lunged to take Billy’s offer. “When do we leave?” Angel asked.
Billy chuckled. “Ok, the obro (job) is yours. Let me talk to your mom about the details. Once we get the documents completed and the payment is cleared we can buy your ticket and pay for the transportation.”
“Ano (What) payment?” Angel asked.
“Well, nothing is free. If you want a good trabaho (job) and to go to Hawai‘i, you will have to pay your fees and a way to get there,” Billy replied.
“But we are going there to make pera (money) not spend kwalta (money),” Angel responded in desperation.
“If you go to school, you pay for tuition, books, transport and room and board.”
“Nanoyin? (What?) Why? We have no kwartu (money) for that. It’s better I just stay here then if it’s like that.”
Billy looked at Angel with disgust.
Immediately Angel changed her tone.
“Hehe. Joke lang. Tell me more tito.”
“You don’t have to worry about any of that. I will take care of all the payments,” Billy said.
“Really? Oh, you are so great, Tito,” Angel replied.
“Well, I will pay for all your expenses.” Billy leaned in. “But you will pay me back.”
“Huh? How?” Angel looked confused.
“We will talk about repayment later.” Billy stood up straight.
Mom who had been talking to Aunty Junie turned to Angel and isem (smiled).
“Okay, Tito,” Angel forcefully spoke.
“Trust me, I will get you to Hawai‘i with a great paying job. Don’t you want to help your family? Doesn’t your Amahan (father) have many expenses for his medicines and food? You will be able to send kwarta (money) home every month and yena (mother) will not have to suffer to struggle here,” Billy explained.
Angel looked at her Ima (mother) who was so happy and yuhom (smiling). She struggled so much the last three years now that her Tatay (father) was not able to work. Sometimes her nanay (mother) cried at night. Oh, how many businesses Angel tried just to help. Selling fish balls with a makeshift food cart. Basically, it was just a dolly with a wooden box on it and a gas burner and a pot of oil she would haul all over the town. Sometimes she would bring home 250 pesos. But many nights she would come home with nothing.
Life is hard in the Philippines.
Even if you work hard, it will not be enough to feed your family. And even if you want to work, sometimes there’s not enough work to do. Don’t you feel blessed for having the opportunity to be here in the America?
What are you thankful for this year? I am thankful for all the blessings that He showers me with and also the challenges that made me a better and stronger person.
What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? How do you spend your Thanksgivings? Do you fly anywhere or drive to the nearest family member? Are you the host or do you go out to eat? I would love to hear your favorite Thanksgiving dinner stories, please share it with us at www.facebook.com/filamvoicemaui.
Anyways that’s all I have. Keep an eye out for my column in 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 received her Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Maui Community College. She earned her Bachelor 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 Saladmaster’s Travel Club and won an all-expenses paid trip to Cancún, Mexico. Butay has traveled to Texas, the Philippines and Thailand as one of the delegates from Island Healthy Solutions, a Saladmaster dealer here on Maui.