Friday, September 2, 2011

Reason 17: Wind in the Bamboo

What is it about air moving across the face that is so refreshing?

Well, assuming it is not roasting hot or freezing cold or laden with pollution.

If it is mild of temperature and fresh of content, it is delightful.

Much of the Philippine population lives along the coast, for there is so much coastline here. Second in the world, next to Indonesia. There is almost always a breeze along the coast as the varying land and water temperatures push the air this way and that. Sometimes it is a full-fledged wind, pushing not only the hair back, but the jowls, if you are of such an age as to have jowls.

And on occasion, it is a gale or a typhoon. Those may not be refreshing, but they are exhilarating, for the drama of impending doom. Living on the edge. That's what we do three or four times a year.

My property is partway up the side of a mountain and tending toward the middle of a small island. We can see the ocean over there (forefinger aimed frontwise) and the mountains back that way (thumb jerked over shoulder).  Here we get wind from any direction, depending on whether the inter-tropical conversion zone is north or south of us, and if storms to left or right draw winds hither or yon. It is a veritable punching bag for the air, this place.

I've retained several large clumps of bamboo on the property. The huge ones that grow 50 or 60 feet tall. Here they are in the category of weed, or functional plant for chopping down and making into vases or houses. But in America, where they do not grow naturally, you will only find them in exotic gardens, like the Huntington Gardens or Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles.

So I find them rare and elegant, and in 10 years or so, or when the exchange rate returns to some decent kind of pop, I'll order up some fine bronze statues for display amongst the bamboo. I'll ape Rodin's "The Thinker", or Hefner's "Miss May", and allow them to roost against the backdrop of those ever bending, never breaking super-reeds.

Bamboo creak in the winds. If you ever need a good creak, just visit a bamboo farm in a windstorm.

Ghosts have no idea . . .

They also shed leaves like a dog sheds fur in May, so the gutter pipes require regular cleaning and the hired hands are forever raking and sweeping.

It is an interesting place for creatures, too, these bamboo groves. Snakes and lizards and spiders and rats, birds and ants. Centipedes. An ecological wonderland of horror.

One of the species of bamboo is poisonous. If you rub the leaves against your bare skin you get a rash that itches like mad for about two weeks. It is rather like poison ivy, 70 feet tall. It has sucked all the dirt from the ground around it, creating a small hollow in the earth that fills with water that bubbles, as if something alive were down there breathing. Or maybe it is a bowl of poison or hydrochloric acid, I dunno. The bamboo's shedding leaves have collected and formed a huge mound of dark holes and mud in the center, sprouting new bamboo rooted 5 feet off the ground. My wife claims Yamashita's treasure is buried underneath that hideous clump of poison, but no one has the courage to go dig there. It is one creepy place.

I like chopping ordinary, non-poisonous bamboo. The kind that does not seek to eat you, just infest your hair with creatures. It only takes a few slices from a machete to fell one, and maybe 5 minutes to trim off the thorny branches. You can sell the stalks for 40 pesos hereabouts. The price is low because the supply is high. But we mostly use them for fencing or cottages, or give them as gifts to the neighbors.

So for you people wondering why Joe Am is happily settled in this crazy, illogical, maddening place. . .

Reason 17: The wind in the bamboo.


  1. Funny, If I haven't gone abroad I wouldn't have appreciated living in the Philippines. I wouldn't have admired the exotic beauty of brown-skinned Filipinas instead of the tisays and tsinitas.

    If I haven't gone to America, I wouldn't have learnt to tolerate wrong spellings and bad english. That "negro" is bad word. "Shit" not classy to say. I have learned that "fuck" is nothing compared to "kayat" and "kantut". Using the local vernacular of "fuck" is supremely bastos that would turn any Filipinas or Filipinos red as tomatoes.

    I wouldn't have learned that Filipinos individually are goot but collectively are not. That Filipinos become goot citizens may it be in communist, democratic, parliamentary form of government as long as it is run by non-Filipinios.

    Living in the States made me realize that fixing the Philippine constitution cannot change the Filipinos. They can live anywhere in the world in any form of government in any constitution as long as the government is not run by Filipinos.


  2. America has shown me that only old people go to church. Young people go to malls. Hot Americans go to clubs. They have statistics of anything about everything including there is less accident around the periphery of the church than anywhere, that Filipinos have the 2nd highest salaried people of United States of America way above white Americans.

    America is very educational. Gangbangers wear huge crucifixes dangling in huge silver chain over their necks. A mural of religious images on walls is a sign the neighborhood is dangerous. A person wearing a tatoo of Jesus Christ is a dangerous person.

    Poor people in America are likely believers of religion, they live in poor communities and these communities are in the poorest states called the bible belt.

    When Bachman campaigned and the recent typhoon she labeled as "an act of god" Americans took notice. She back tracked and lamely explained she did not really meant "an act of god" literally.

    Social studies in the Philippines taught me that Filipinos are pliant, flexible like the bamboo. They twist and turn where the wind blows. They groan, squeak and creak but never break. Like Filipinos, when they snap back it hits you in the ass.

  3. Filipinos are like bamboo. They can grow anywhere, everywhere. Cut this here, plant it there and they grow. And they grow wild wildly. Like Filipinos, they shed and trash the place with dead leaves.

    Bamboos cannot be cut by simply cutting the stalks. Bamboos has to be uprooted with nothing left behind else they grow again.

    The Filipinos are like Philippine bamboo. They can live anywhere, everywhere and adapt. No strong typhoon can ever bring it down.

  4. M.R., You learned well, brother of the bamboo. Positively brilliant.


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