Things Taken For Granted

I have been living in the US for almost 20 years now. As I go through my daily routine during the week and weekends, I think of normal comforts and amenities that I have taken for granted, that I realized were nonexistent or unavailable to us back home in Manila, as simple middle class citizens.

– The town library: Our town library is clean, well stocked, has computers available for use, new books are always coming in for adults and children. I save a ton of money borrowing 10+ books every two weeks for my child. We read one book a night and considering to buy a children’s story book nowadays is upwards of $10, that’s a lot of moolah. Not only am I encouraging him to like reading at a young age, because this advantage is available to him. I’m also saving myself money cuz I can borrow ebooks for my kindle as well as real hardback books for myself. And since Americans know how to treat communal property very well, they return the items in the same condition they are found!!!  i have lent a ton of my paperback books out when I was younger to classmates and they come back w/ bended covers, torn or missing pages, or sometimes part of it is even wet! But items in our library are in very clean, almost brand new condition. Also another convenience to the American library is the computerized SWAN system…you can search the catalog of any SWAN member libraries and then put that back item on hold at your own library for pickup. Easy peasy! ANd if I want to renew an item I already borrowed, I can log in on my account and get the item renewed in literally a few clicks.

– Free parks. Green, CLEAN, communal spaces with safe benches (no rusty nails poking out) and safe, well maintained playground equipment. I can take my child out for a walk and hang out for an hour or two at our nearby park in relative peace, save for the sounds of other families or children playing. I don’t have to worry about being hassled by beggars (again, I have nothing against them but I would rather buy them food rather than give them cash. they just annoy me cuz they don’t know the concept that you may actually be RELAXING and enjoying your time out of the house). I can leave my son’s UppaBaby stroller w/ his diaper bag containing his food/milk/diapers etc by one bench so I can push him on the swings. I don’t have to worry about some menace having the gall to steal the stroller and/or diaper bag.

– Commuting – sure, downtown Chicago and the Metra/CTA has its own issues, but I wouldn’t complain about my 20 minute train rides or missing the bus to work ever again after it took us 3 hours to get home (Marikina) from Megamall during one visit. There are a lot of jokes about the CTA trains being nasty (there’s even a FB page about people posting photos of grossness/crazy looking passengers) but surely it doesn’t match the everyday suffering of the Manila commute. And yes you can stand on the sidewalk here waiting for the bus or your ride and you can breathe the air, without having an asthma attack.

– Ice rinks – There are 4 ice rinks within my 10-15 mile vicinity so it was easy to pursue a beloved hobby. The ice rinks are well maintained (US Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek got his start at one of the rinks in our area), the coaches are competent and have passed all the required USFSA tests for them to teach in the level they are teaching. The ice gets resurfaced after every hour of use ensuring a safe rink for practicing in. I skated at Megamall during one of our last visits (and it was the time it took us 3 hours to get home dohhhhh) and it was the most horrible ice surface i’ve ever skated in. I was scared to actually break something, that’s how lumpy and uneven it was. I was also imagining the havoc it was wrecking on my blades (a lot of coaches actually don’t like skating in outdoor rinks for this reason). You can actually see the surface of the ice rising and going downhill around the corners. Which amazes me that Michael Martinez skates there and got to the Olympic level, but then I did read that half the year he trains in the USA anyway.

– Easy to return things to the store, no questions asked. And if you find the same item marked down to a lower price a few days after you bought it, you can request a price adjustment at most stores (Macy’s and Nordstrom for sure). You can buy shoes at Nordstrom that you find uncomfortable after you use them for a few hours, and even though they are used, the store will still take them back. THat’s how you keep your customers and get good reviews about how you conduct business.

That’s it for now! You’d think by now a lot of this stuff would be available in the Philippines (at least the one about being able to return things if you are not completely satisfied) but as of five years ago, it still wasn’t.

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  1. Profile gravatar of HawkEye

    I think the headline should have been just “Things Taken”. That kinda describes the Philippines in just two words. turn your back for a few milliseconds and its gone! Too many thieves in many respects.

  2. Profile gravatar of FAFI

    I could’ve expanded this list so much more, but I just don’t have the time to sit down and think about it all. Obviously, I miss a lot of my previous resources I had back home in the good-ol Red, White, and Blue. This place is making me appreciate everything I once had before, even the slightest intangible things such as a person’s humanity. I miss seeing a real human being, and over here, I don’t see that very often. If there was an animal that takes on a humanoid form, it would be called a Filipino. I have always been a person who would appreciate the little things in life, but now I am appreciating even the tiniest things in life. I now have way more respect for my environment back home because I see the maximum threshold of destruction my environment can get if it’s taken care of poorly. I have a ton of respect for my fellow Americans who don’t trash our streets with garbage and piss, which also contributes to the wondering of stray animals which will also add shit on our streets. I’m glad our country really do look out for our poor by building homeless shelters and orphanages. I just realized how great our country is for the first time 🙂