When I moved to South Korea in 1988, the country was recovering from the dictatorships of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan. In a week it would host its great coming-out party, the Seoul Olympics, which despite being well organized would be temporarily mired in controversy, with the national inferiority complex exposed.
My first impression of Seoul was that it was as militaristic, as nationalistic, as drab and as prudish as post-revolutionary China could be. and far more misogynistic. Pro-democracy student demonstrators battled with riot police, although it was clear from their own organizations that they didn’t know what democracy meant. … Read More
In the spring of 1985, my friend Nichole wrote me, “I’m sitting in the square of this town selling shoes. Hundreds of people have come to look at me. Business is brisk.” When she returned we talked about her trip in my sitting room at Xiamen University. At the time, Nichole was a forty-something student of Chinese who spoke with a French accent.
It was common for foreign students to pack a bag or two and head out on their own, often to the minority areas. The government wanted foreign journalists and tourists to travel as part of a … Read More
In November 2010, I posted an account of my first treatment for macular degeneration and the events which had led up to it. (Link)
The macula is a small spot at the center of the retina, the back of the eye. It is made up of millions of light-sensing cells, enabling people to have clear central vision. With macular degeneration, a fluid seeps through the layers of the macula, causing blurring in the central area. By the time mine was discovered during an examination for new glasses, the center of my right eye had turned into brown scar tissue. When … Read More
Before the Covid 19 lockdown, Benjie Abad, a.k.a. Mang Urot, was operating a soup kitchen he called Karinderia ni Mang Urot. He and his wife, younger daughter and assorted volunteers were feeding the needythree nights a week, sometimes in a bank parking lot, sometimes at the Abad home in a typical middle class subdivision in Metro Manila.
Benjie and I spoke via Facebook Messenger when he was in Quezon City and I was in Antipolo. Thanks to KMU for the photos.
It was almost eight years ago when you set out to feed the hungry. Can you … Read More
Several people expressed an interest in seeing photos, so I added some.
Now the story.
Toward the end of January my housekeeper, Fe, and I were inspecting a house to rent in Antipolo, a hilly town two hours from Manila. It was the only available house she’d found, so we were hoping it would do. Because of all the wasted space, there was a lot less available than what we’d had before. I doubted all my stuff would fit. She said it would. I think she was more right than I was, depending on what … Read More