Category Archives: Life in America

The Case of the Missing “Libag”

I remember the first time I went to America in 1986.  After a week of arriving in San Francisco, I noticed that I was missing something in my person.  I checked my neck, it wasn’t there.  I checked my wrist, it wasn’t there.  My ankle, elbows, even the back of my ears.  It was gone.  I lost my libag.

It was remarkable.  Libag had always been with me all my life in the Philippines.  I tried to perform a simple rite — not taking a shower for two days — to see if I can resurrect it in America.  The rite wasn’t hard to do since the air in San Francisco was chilly even inside the house.  But it didn’t work.  The cold dry air might have scared it away. It was truly gone.

Honestly, I was happy that it had gone away during my stay. The cold air in San Francisco was so uninviting for showers even with hot water. With libag gone, I can just take a shower every other day.  And there’s no more scrubbing off that grime that gathers on the folds on my wrist.  No more scratching of that itchy dust that cakes on my neck during hot and humid weather.  No more picking of that dirt on my finger nails.  No more libag.

I guess it decided to stay behind in the Philippines.  But like the Japanese dog, Hachiko, waiting for its master, my libag was there waiting for me when I landed at the airport in Manila, as it has always done that every time I leave for America.  As I now live in the Philippines with my family, it has stuck like a loyal pet, despite the discouragement of frequent showers.  And my American husband and son now too have their own libag.

The most disgusting chore when I lived in the US: picking up after a dog

This is probably one of the most disgusting chore that I had to do when I lived in the US: picking up after the boss’ dog.

One time, my boss went on an out-of-town business trip, and needed someone to walk his dog.  My boss had a large dog, a Labrador / Golden Retriever mix.  Business was slow then so he made me an offer: if I walk his dog for the next three days, I could have the rest of the each of those days off.

Initially, I thought it was a good deal.  I had not walked a dog before, but I thought to myself there’s a first time for everything.

After walking his dog, I could picture myself strolling around Noe Valley, the district where my boss’ house is, and sampling the cuisine in that area.  Or I could take the inbound Divisadero bus and gawk at the mansions at Pacific Heights.  Or do a transfer with the California bus and go to Embarcadero / Ferry Building.  And besides, how hard could it be to walk a dog?  I’ve seen other people do it with ease.  But when it came to me actually doing it — holding a dog on a leash: nothing to it.  But picking up the after it has done its business: the shittiest thing I had ever done.

The first day of walking, I was praying, please let it be solid.  Then out it came: a big creamy hell-raising stinky disgusting poo poo. It was like some mischievous animal spirit decided to punk me.  I still picked it up as an act of politeness, and also because I could be fined if I don’t.  As I lifted it up with my plastic bag lined hands, I felt an upchuck which then turned into a full-regulation vomit.  (It’s  good that not cleaning up your vomit on the street is not fined.)  That day, I lost my appetite for dining at Noe Valley.

The next two days were more bearable, as I channeled on the previous night, the spirits of my departed forefathers to strengthen my will.  And they probably took pity on me and lifted up my prayers to the heavens such that the dog’s next doos were solid.   I ditched my plans to go to Pacific Heights or Embarcadero.  I went instead to Ocean Beach to meditate, and to cleanse my stained psyche, by watching the sea wash the shore and the waves crashing and spraying  the salt lined cliffs.

I would have to say a dog owner in America must really love his dog to pick up after it everyday.  Me, three days is enough to convince me to never again accept an offer for walking a dog.  Or never get one unless I have someone else walk it for me.  Maybe I would consider it if I had goggles that could turn color into black-and-white, and have a supply of that stuff that medical examiners put on their noses when they do autopsies on rotting corpses.  Then again.  Nah.