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Friday, July 24, 2009


My sister and I got an invite from our favorite aunt to attend a conference in the US this August. I declined because I had already committed myself to the play we will be mounting at the UP Baguio for the city's centennial come September. My sister however took her second chance, you see she was denied a US visa the first time she applied six or seven years ago.

I met up with my sister the day after she got her US visa. I didn't even know she had gotten it , we just agreed to meet up that evening. She was nonchalant, if I my say so... as if she had secretly known she would get The Stamp of Approval. What struck her though was that the consul in charge of interviewing her was a white guy who spoke fluent Pilipino. She found it weird that the consul was asking her questions in straight Tagalog even if she was answering in (unaccented) English. She left the US Embassy giddily perturbed and in a daze, pondering if the recent events did actually occur. 'Surreal' was her word to describe the experience.

I was with this sister last weekend to spend quality time with her, as this was the only time our schedules allowed us to be together before her coming flight. While walking through the mall she had mentioned, showing her all-leather bag, if she should risk taking the same bag to the trip.

"Why not?" I asked

"It's all-leather..." she remarked

"So..? Oh, yeah, it's soft leather, it could be slashed in L.A." I feigned concern, looking at her yummy mocha bag...

"They might spray-paint me..." she said with a raised eyebrow.

"Huh...?" I screamed looking at her with the biggest question mark across across my head.

"Martin! They do that now if you're wearing or using leather. I read about it. If you notice, all the bags in the fashion magazines of late only have leather parts as details or accessories, but they're rarely or never all-leather! Just like the bag (my other sister) gave you!"

"Polyurethane..." I said, resignedly.

I couldn't comprehend nor process the thought. My sister and I (and the rest of my family) are omnivores. Because we believe in a balanced diet. Also because we like to treat ourselves, once in a while, to a hearty meaty main course. We were vegans once thanks to Ananda Marga and the whole '70s yoga lifestyle. We have planted trees (and I still do) and never killed our pets. Now, I have nothing against PETA. But do they have to be so self-righteous about leather, and the people who use them?

I scrounge the second hand shops aka ukay-ukay for my leather goods. These are the same goods some first-world brat has decided to let go of even if still in mint condition. Ergo, I re-use, recycle, reduce and do not gloat about the fact that I do. Not to mention I scrimp. I've got a leather bag (Bree), brown belt (Gap), suede jacket (Land's End) that I still use today. Amongst other leather goods I own and use. But I've never owned a car. Or any machine that spews carbon into the atmosphere. Ditto fur. And I'll be damned if any activist spray-paints these beloved leather goods of mine. I spent more than what I paid to buy those on the dry-cleaning alone!

Polyurethane?! The alternative?! Imagine a whole continent piled up with crocs! (the fad shoes, not the reptile-material). I say, spray-paint McDonald's and KFC for their unethical handling of cows and chickens. Spray-paint them all you want. (Those cans of paint better be organic-vegetable dyes and no fluorocarbons please, you hypocrites!) I don't eat fastfood. I couldn't care less.

Anyway... as my sister was retelling me her stint with Mr. Amboy-Consul, I figured I better prepare my speech when I take that all-expense-paid raincheck to the land of milk, honey and gold! I hope the guy who interviews me doesn't question me in Tagalog because my aptitude for the vernacular is weak. I must admit though that I am more adept at Pinoy-Gay-Lingo wherein you can substitute a noun and/or verb with the word churva and its derivatives. For example: Chinurva ni churva yung pagka-churva ng churva ko! Churva mo?!

Anyway, here's my prepared spiel at the US Embassy when I apply for that oh-so-coveted visa:

So, Mr. Masadao... what is the purpose of your visit? Why do you want to go to the USA?

(smiling ear-to-ear) Of course to visit my relatives in San Diego especially my 95 year-old grandma... and then I want to visit Alaska before it melts or before Sarah Palin dies of incongruity, whichever comes first... then go to Seattle for the best coffee... then Oregon... then proceed to the Grand Canyon and see if it will take me the same time trekking it as piecing together the 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle I had of it in elementary... I also want to go see Devil's Peak in Wyoming and see if I'll have any close encounters of any kind there... I also want to go to Texas for Waldo's Fig Pie... then visit Arizona and see Georgia O'Keefe's house and animal skulls...I want to go to the prairies to see any home on the range, you know, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and antelopes play... I want to try Ted Turner's Buffalo Burgers and sonofabitch stew and see if it tastes any like my Papa's papaitan... Oh I know, I want to visit an Indian reservation and chat with a chief and get his DNA and see if I'm more closely related to him than my half-breed cousins in Florida...I want to go to Las Vegas and be wed to a catholic priest by an Elvis Impersonator, I mean, to wed Elvis Priestly in a ceremony officiated by a Catholic Impostor, uhm...why are you laughing sir?... Oh, I didn't know gay marriage was illegal in Nevada... ok, I know, I'll go to Massachusetts and hit on a college preppie at a gay bar, and even if he socks me in the face, at least I can now speak English with a Nantucket lockjaw...uhm, I want to go to Kansas and experience a tornado... or go down South and experience discrimination?!... I want to go to rural America and see all the Abercrombie boys... Uhm... I want to watch Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah and see the windy city Chicago and find out if Architect Daniel Burnham really patterned Chicago after Baguio City or vice-versa...I want to go to Iowa and play catch with Kevin Costner and his dead relatives in a baseball field in the middle of corn fields... but please, sir, you absolutely must let me go to New York because I wrote Tom Hanks some ten years ago and we're supposed to meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Aug 29, 2010, at 6 pm... pleeeeeaaase!

(The strategy here is to bedazzle the consul with my clueless charm to the point where he has no choice but to give me a US Visa.)


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