paseo de la castellana

1. If one is a bar flunker, come to Spain coz here male friends are all “compañeros” or simply “‘pañeros,” lawyers or not.

2. If a university teacher can’t get beyond the instructor rank, come to Spain coz even an elementary or high school teacher here is called “profesor” or “profesora”.

3. If you’re on a taxi here and you tell the driver “derecha,” he will not go straight but will turn right on the next corner. “Go straight” here is “recto” but it could also mean “rectum”.

4. Here “mesonero” may sound like “misyonero” in the Philippines. The difference is, you see the former in a Spanish bar or inn while the latter is preaching in a countryside chapel in the Philippines.

5. If one is not sure about something in the Philippines, he says, “seguro”. Here don’t say it if you’re not sure coz it means “surely.”

6. In the Philippines, if someone has nothing important to do and just passes the time going around places with the barkada, it is said s/he is “nagla-lamyerda”. Don’t use this term carelessly in Spain coz “la mierda” here means “the shit”.

7. In the Philippines, a well-off individual or family is called “konyo” (obviously from the Spanish “coño”). This is a cuss-word here meaning the female genitalia.

8. No offense meant to gays and to Filipinas with the nickname “Maricon” but here it means gay or homo.

9. Filipinos only get to “kolehiyo” (from the Spanish “colegio”) after high school. Here those in the elementary and high school are already in colegio.

10. Here no one goes to a “libreria” just to read books; s/he rather goes to a “biblioteca”. “Libreria” here is not library but bookstore where one goes to buy books. Library is ‘biblioteca.”

11. If you need to take a taxi here, don’t think that you’d get a free ride coz there’s a “LIBRE” signboard on the windshield. It only means the taxi is vacant/has no passenger.

12. In the Philippines we use “metro” to measure surfaces. Here, you don’t ask where the “metro” is if you want to measure something coz you’ll surely be directed to the nearest subway station.

13. “Parada” in the Philippines is parade as during the independence day celebration in Luneta or as in whatever local celebration we have there like in a fiesta. But here “parada” is a jobless person.

14. In the Philippines, “serbisyo” (from the Spanish “servicio”) is service rendered by an entity (person, organization, etc.) to someone’s need. Here, “servicio” is a “special room” one looks for in a public place (like in a restaurant, bar or mall) to pee or to poop.

15. In the Philippines, if your car has some mechanical problem, you go to an auto service shop. Here, an “autoservicio” doesn’t repair cars but provides your grocery needs.

16. The political leader of a municipal or city government in the Philippines is the mayor. Here, a “mayor” is already tired with the issues of and hence no longer interested in politics being “an elderly person”.

17. “Pandesal” (pan de sal: Spanish for “salted bread”) which is common on the Filipino breakfast table is supposed to be Spanish but nowhere can you find it here.

18. Filipinos–especially children–like the sweet fillings of “Spanish bread” but if you ask for it in a “panederia” here, the shopkeeper will tell you that ALL sorts of bread in the counters are “Spanish breads”.

19. In the Philippines, it’s not unusual to call an old millionaire “Don”. But here any guy–well-off or not–in formal circumstances is respectably addressed “Don”.

20. “Piso,” i.e., one peso (Php 1.00), in Philippine currency is spent to buy or pay for something. Here, one spends to pay for the monthly rent of a “piso,” i.e., a condominium-type apartment.

21. Likewise, “kuwarta” (sounds like the Spanish “cuarta”) is not used here to pay for or buy something. We spend “dinero”. The Spanish “cuarta” means “fourth” in English.

22. An entire barrio or town’s celebration of the day of a Roman Catholic patron saint in the Philippines is a big deal “pista” (from the Spanish “fiesta”). Here, even a small-time birthday party is called a “fiesta.”

23. There is only one religion called “iglesia” in the Philippines. Here all churches of religions are called “iglesias”.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 27 December 2012


beyond the precipice

Despite the tiresome trek beyond the precipice of Nothing
We go on until the threshold of meaningfulness is in sight
And the realization of a dream is no longer a distant journey
As we leave behind the disappointments of past struggles
Along with the illusions and heartaches of days gone by.

No more tears that blur the eyes in search of the better path
For past ignorance has been dissipated by the clarity of perception
And sadness has been turned into laughter in the discovery of wisdom
When at last Nothing has been traversed by the persistence of Being
And everything is in the hands of the one who holds the power of freedom

To conceive and create . . .
To plan and build . . .
To rise up and be strong.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 3 December 2012


To contend that the human being is the one who creates [her/his] God (or Deity) and not the other way around is an old hat coming from conventional anthropological enthusiasts who take the whole issue from a common explanation of how the religious impulse emerges in the social dimension. But taking the matter more deeply in the realm of individual existence where the human being encounters him/herself in the sphere of spiritual introspection, the whole circumstance transcends this oft-said triviality. There is something in our humanity that makes us unique. Distinct from the animals, we do not only have consciousness. Over and beyond that,  our humanity is endowed with self-consciousness. This is the periphery of human existence that defines spirituality and leads us to an ultimate reality which is not our own creation for such is not accessible by the limitations of our humanity.

We should see God over and beyond how priests and pastors and Christian theologians interpret the Bible according to how they have been programmed by the religions or denominations they are affiliated with. The challenge is let us allow ourselves to experience the so-called “ultimate reality” as we individually live our own lives. There are some events in the sphere of our existence that are difficult to explain. But basically, we should be honest with ourselves that the “hard questions” of our uniqueness as spiritual beings cannot be ignored and they lead us to certain points of our lives where we encounter the very own mystery of the significance of why we are here now. Whether God is all-powerful or not is beside the point. In fact, it is even our free option to believe God’s existence or non-existence. But at the end of the day, we don’t just sit back and face the world but our very own self with all its limitations and capabilities.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 5 December 2012