¿Conoces A Eineda?…18 de Agosto de 2008

I thought that a smile was welcome when I saw her at the passengers’ waiting area. I smiled, and she smiled back at me. Perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that we smiled at each other—at the same time.

We stayed in a spot where you get a view of the airplanes outside the gates. It was more than an hour before our boarding time. I told her that I wanted to get some drinks; she said she’d like to do the same. I got an orange juice in a huge bottle. Whether she got coffee or water, I can no longer remember. We had a nice chat.

She told me that her name is Eineda and that some call her Anita. She is from Cuba. I told her that almost anything about the revolutions in Latin America have become interesting to me. I told her that I like history. But she hasn’t been in her country for the longest time. She’s been in the US, where she works as a nurse, for twenty years with her husband who is an Argentino. She said he is in Mendoza, on vacations. We were to board the same plane from LAX to SCL—our connecting flight to Argentina. She will stay in Mendoza for a month, she said, and we both had to regret that there would be no chance for us to board the same flight in going back to L.A.

I was at 36C—aisle seat for a long flight. Eineda was waving from 39F. We had been talking about SCL before we boarded the plane. It is beautiful, she said. “Like a shopping mall,” she added. She said she would accompany me to the departures where I boarded my plane for Córdoba since she just had to wait for her flight for Mendoza until 9 am Santiago time. My flight was 7:05 am. We were scheduled to arrive at SCL at 6:00 am. She, probably, sensed that I was worried that I only had an hour to change planes and realised that I was not sure about where to go after getting off the plane.

Eineda is a very warm person. And, indeed, she stayed with me at the waiting area until I got to board my plane.

She doesn’t know how to use e-mail, she said, but that her husband does. She couldn’t recall his e-mail address either and had a hard time recalling her home phone number. She wrote down what she remembered and said in case I need to go to L.A, again, I should call her and let her know.


En La Mañana…18 de Agosto de 2008

I woke up to the alarm at 6 am. Seven in the morning still looked like 5 am. Ten in the evening back home. From the window, I saw Radisson Hotel and I knew that it was one of the hotels I passed by the night before. I thought of walking around and looking for a fastfood—I was told that there’s a McDonald’s along Century Blvd.

I passed by several hotels along Century Blvd. As I felt the straps of my sandals trying to tear the skin on my ankle, I decided to get a cab to take me to McDonald’s. On my T|X, I see a memo saying I spent a total of $7 for the cab (back and forth) and $5.50 for the big breakfast—with coffee (in a tall paper cup), of course. Yes, it was more expensive for me to go back to the hotel by cab than to eat.

I took some pictures when I got back to the hotel.



And some more (including the ones I have in the previous post) before I left the room past 1 pm. I had a white jacket with me for the Argentina winter.


I bought 2 bars of Snickers (my power snacks) at the frontdesk lobby as I checked out and then waited outside for the shuttle to take me to the airport. I had a little chat with the assistant—”I hope you can come back,” she said.

Espero que sí.

Busco El Hotel…17 de Agosto de 2008

It was still the evening of the 16th in Los Angeles when I arrived. “Saan po ang punta niyo?” greeted the admitting officer at LAX airport to my delight. “Argentina po,” I said smiling and added “but I’m staying here in L.A. for a night.” My flight to Santiago, Chile—which served as a connection to Córdoba—was scheduled at 3:55 pm the following day. I saw more minorities at LAX—Asians, Black Americans, Mexicans and more of those who looked like Latin Americans. The idea of a melting pot of races.

I would find out later on  that I boarded the wrong shuttle at the airport—it stopped at LAX Marriott Hotel and not at Courtyard Marriott Hotel where I had a reservation for a night. I was told that my hotel is just a block away so I considered walking.

I went down one block along Century Blvd but realised that my hotel was nowhere to be found, down another block on the side, towards the back of the street (which I found out later on, as I googled, is W 98th St) where hotels were towering only to find out that not one of them was what I was looking for. I have asked in one of the hotels but they couldn’t give me directions, either. It was around 9 pm already and I wondered if I would find my way to my hotel.

Few yellow cabs purred the street. I can’t remember seeing anybody but there was one car parked in front of a building where I had asked for directions. The man I asked didn’t know where Courtyard Marriott Hotel is. He doesn”t live there, I was told.

I started becoming nervous—or frightened—as I trailed the second block, and as I realised that the state’s crime rate was not something I had read about before traveling (or that the probability of me not getting mugged on the street or raped is not something I have calculated before leaving the Philippines), I saw a black woman with the braided hair walking the same direction that I was. I asked her if she knew the hotel and, like I had guessed (or was that blind faith dictating), she said that the one behind the street must be it. A sigh of relief. She asked me where I am from and what I was doing in California. Just before I got to reach the back gate of the hotel and just before she bade goodbye, she warmly said: “welcome to my country.”

A smile greeted me at the lobby. My reservation was confirmed. To my surprise, it hadn’t been paid in advance. I had to pay for it. The corporate office just arranged the booking. My manager was right about having me file for a contingency fund.

Finally, I found myself in my room—tired but as happy as a clam.



Hace Un Año…16 de Agosto

It’s been a year since I traveled to Argentina. And that tells me how little I have blogged with only two entries after Recuerdo de Cordoba. Now, this is my attempt to document what transpired in that two-weeklong travel as I have not really done so.

I have not told you about what happened that night when I arrived at Los Angeles where I was walking down the street past 9 pm, wondering what the state’s crime rate is like, looking for Courtyard Marriott Hotel. I have not told you, except close friends here in Cebu, that I was stuck at the Chile airport for 28 hours.

It’s now 9:19 pm on the clock. Between 9:15 and 9:30 a year ago today, August 16, 2008, I was outside Gate 6 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Philippine Airlines departures submitting myself to the body check to board PR 102. And we went up into the sky at 10, taking off to cross time zones.

I was at 52C. I requested for an aisle seat for the 13-hour flight so it would be convenient to keep going to the attendants’ station to ask for water to drink and to the comfort room from time to time. To my left was an old couple—the wife, a nurse, whom I had been conversing with a lot. As usual, when I am with older folks on trips, we talked about Politics and the different situations in the country.

The plane smoothly landed at LAX airport at 8 pm Pacific Time–on an evening that looked like four in the afternoon; the sun, still bursting with light. The wife to my left said “maganda ang landing niya,” then I heard an applause from the other passengers on the plane. I had to join them.

Our Cory

I was barely four years old when the Filipino people proved that we are no nation of cowards. I have no memory of the EDSA Revolution as it was unfolding. All that I could remember is that when I was six years old, my mother would buy me a yellow dress for the schoolyear’s closing exercises. I walked down the street, past neighbours who were calling me Cory, in that yellow dress, in yellow socks, with  a yellow turban and a yellow shoulder bag.
As a young girl, I basked in the pride of being called Cory.

Corazon Aquino is a hero, I thought. She is great. I wanted to be like Cory.      

“Less than 24 hours after Marcos had had himself inaugurated, he was being helped off a plane in Hawaii, sickly, exiled and bewildered. His former home, Malacanang Palace, was now a melancholy tableau of abandoned power, overrun by thousands of revelers. The new leader of the Philippines was the reserved housewife who had worn plain yellow dresses every day of her campaign. For her determination and courage in leading a democratic revolution that captured the world’s imagination, Corazon Aquino is TIME’s Woman of the Year for 1986.”

“It soon became obvious that the only person far enough above the political differences to unite the opposition was the martyr’s widow. She was also, by no coincidence, the only one who did not seek the role. ‘I know my limitations,’ she said three months after the murder, ‘and I don’t like politics. I was only involved because of my husband.’”  

“The absoluteness of that belief gives Aquino a firmness that can turn into stubbornness. Indeed, her very real sense that she is an instrument of God’s will prompts friends and relatives to refer to her career, again and again, as a ‘mission.’ Says her mother-in-law and confidante, Dona Aurora Aquino: ‘I think this is a mission for her, to put her country in shape. Then she can retire. Ninoy’s assassination was his fate. The presidency is hers.’ Cory often says the same thing.”

There had been questions in my head. Like why woud there be six coup attempts in her administration? SIx is just too many. Was Cory too gentle on rebel soldiers? Did they get the punishment they deserved? What of Hacienda Luisita?

And yet my admiration for Cory intensifies as I read the papers telling stories about how she, again, led by example through the peaceful transfer of power to her successor, Fidel V. Ramos. The Philippines paved its way to the first clean and peaceful elections since 1965. I believe in the genuineness of her intention, that it was more than just a dictate of a democratic institution.

The many times I saw Cory on the streets on the “fight” against charter change and the many times I read statements about the preservation of democracy, I do not forget that the dictate of democracy is for the good of the people and not to block charter change (if for genuine reforms). In the years to come, whether or not we remain a Democratic Republic, what matters is that we do not forget the true essence of her legacy.

Cory did not die in vain.

Damo nga salamat! Saludo ak sa imo!


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