Sunday, February 14, 2016

A girl from abject poverty goes first world, part two

I previously wrote about my wifes journey from a developing country, their basic ways to here.
There were some unaswered questions so without writing a book, which I would rather do :P I will attempt to fill in some gaps.

As my wife says, she was poor, but not poor. Never was this more blatantly obvious than when she first came here and I tried to feed her some rice, which is of course the staple food for people in Poverty in much of the world and of Orientals everywhere.
I had run of the mill boxed rice, known to the common person as Uncle Bens. Upon eating this I was promptly informed this was unfit for human consumption, say what?
I would go to the store and buy a bag of rice, which she would then call poor people rice. Yea I know, apparently there are levels of poor people even in a Developing country, go figure. Her father would refuse to buy his family cheap rice, saying they were above eating badly, good for him.
I would have to take her with me rice shopping, there she would sniff bags of rice for the aroma, which apparently is important, as well as feeling the type of rice grains. Seems like some weird voodoo shit to me, but I am here to say the rice she picks out, does taste miles better.

Running water is of course something the west takes for granted, at the flip of our wrist we have water available at our whim within our house, hot and cold even!
Not so for the wife, who was raised without running water in her apparent mid level poverty home. Outside there was a spicket of running water, where she would fill up a big bucket of water. Mind you she would not fill it all the way full, their water bill just for that service was 10 dollars a month. Think about that for minute, the average American income is 35k a year with a sub 40 a month water bill, while the income in the Philippines is 400 dollars a year! No wonder they struggle
Later on they would have running water only in the kitchen as Mom would win the lottery, Literally! No not crazy insane lottery like you are thinking, but enough to get them a water line into the house.
Bathing as I mentioned before was far different for them, so a running shower/bathtub is not something they ever had. The wifes first experience with an actual bathtub would be while staying in a nice hotel when I was sick. Most decent hotels in the Philippines have at least a walk in shower, this one had a nice big bathtub as well. The wife wanted to try it so I let her have at it. A few minutes later I still heard the shower running so I went to see what was going on. The shower curtain was outside of the tub, water all over the floor and she was standing knee deep in water under the shower! I’m like this is not how it is done, you need to sit down and soak in the water after its filled.
I then went out into the room to watch some TV, a minute later she followed me out proudly proclaiming her real first bath was done. I explained to her in the future to soak in the tub until the water started to cool :P
It is not uncommon to see hand pump water sources still, nor is it uncommon to see someone packing whatever plastic containers they can find full of water taken from a spring or creek someplace, sometimes for miles back home, such as this kid packing water home using what can only be described as a butt board so he can roll down a hill that is insanely steep.

Microwave, this was an area I really lucked out in. An old friend had brought a wife over from the Philippines as well, she had trouble with the no metal rule in the microwave, and three microwaves later she got it.
Fortunately mine picked up on the Microwave right off, being fascinated by how easy it was to put food inside for safe storage away from flies. :O She still does not cook in it much, which I prefer, not a big microwave food fan myself, oh yea, no metal ever went into the use of this magical device. She never even tried to cook an egg, something my father tried for some time back when we got our first.

Education, this is a tough one but one they take seriously. Many kids cannot even afford pencils or notepads for school. Aid organizations help to supply kids with what they need, but that is a limited lucky few. Books are a serious shortage as well and computers in public school? Forget about it. In order to work most jobs, even fast food one must have a college degree. This is usually obtained from money sent back home from family working abroad. My wifes oldest aunt while working abroad in Japan would put three of her sisters through college as well as my Wife and her cousin, talk about selfless!
To overcome their shortage of educational material teachers will take workshops on how to be creative.
Schools often cannot afford a janitor, so kids are required to clean up after class, I think this is a wonderful Idea we should adopt in the west, Japan does this as well.

Shopping; There is no Walmart in the Philippines, nor in every country in the world :P Which is somewhat surprising as seeing American or western based food chains is actually quit common. Try to visit a mall without seeing Wendys, Pizza Hut, Mcdonalds etc is nearly impossible and sadly takes away from their magnificent traditional food traded for western slop. You will find something else which is very much lacking in Merican society today, small stores, they are everywhere. Malls there are busy bustling places filled with every kind of store you can Imagine, big boxed stores are less common than here and that really ads to the shopping experience. Women are usually cashiers as they are considered more responsible than men :P. Men will often simply work the floor, or ironically enough, will be the managers of stores, go figure.
Everyone wears a uniform in these places and it has always amazed me how someone could live in a small shack, yet come out with spotless clothes neatly pressed looking absolutely amazing.
Buying in bulk is not something which is common there, so when you make you way to a food mart, which is usually at the bottom of a mall (your big ones) you will buy bottled water individually as well as anything else.
Local grocery shopping is done in what is called Sari Sari stores, which are huts which sell a few oddities. Usually they have soda, soap, rice, toothbrush and well just Imagine what it was like at our corner stores when we were younger, cept cram it all into a tiny room and you have the Sari Sari store.

Next up, getting around, eating local food, and the challenges of finding modern conveniences in a near toilet paper free society.

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