In my last installment of my “Life of Love” series, Feyma had arrived in the United States. Today, I will reflect on some of our travel experiences and also about eating, food, and such.
The cooking chores
I had always been a fairly good cook and did a pretty much all of the cooking for my meals. Before we married, I expected that Feyma was a good cook as well. After marriage, I learned differently! Feyma was the youngest child in a large family. In the Philippines, the youngest child (called “bunso”) is often not taught to do things like cooking or other household type chores. The bunso is treated with kind of a special or preferred status. They are not bothered with such chores. So, Feyma had never learned anything about cooking. That was OK with me, I just continued to do the cooking for both of us. It did not bother me at all.
Sometimes Feyma would want to help me with doing the cooking, which I enjoyed, but she had to learn how to do it all, it was not intuitive to her. She did not have much self-confidence when it came to cooking.
I had never been a big eater of rice at any time in my life. I would have rice from time to time, but not often. Since Feyma is Asian, of course, she ate rice all of the time! Most Filipinos eat rice with every meal, 3 times per day. Feyma was not quite so much, she usually ate rice with lunch and dinner, not breakfast, though.
Even though I did not eat rice, I always made sure that we had rice available with each meal, because it was more or less a requirement for Feyma. I would have my potatoes or whatever my “side dish” might be, but there was never a meal with no rice!
We bought a “rice cooker” for Feyma shortly after her arrival. That made it easy to prepare rice, it was more or less all automatic.
It was kind of funny, I knew little about rice. Which rice to buy didn’t matter to me, and I knew nothing about how to cook it. I had to learn those things. A few days before Feyma’s arrival I knew I would need rice, so I went and bought some. I bought some Instant Rice… I didn’t know that she would not even think about eating that! She set me straight, though, on the day of her arrival, or perhaps the next day. We went and bought a 50 lb sack of Jasmine Rice. Fifty pounds of rice would have lasted me a lifetime! But, that is just a small supply for an Asian.
Our first Anniversary
On our first anniversary, I wanted to do something special when it came to our dinner. I went to a store and bought several Filipino cookbooks. I looked through the recipes trying to find something that would be suitable for both Feyma and I. I found a recipe for Rellenong Manok, which is a kind of stuffed chicken. It looked pretty good to me, and from what I read it was a very popular dish for Filipinos, kind of a “celebratory” dish. Kind of like for Americans having Turkey on Thanksgiving. So, that was what I chose to cook.
It was very complicated. Rellenong Manok starts out with a completely deboned chicken! You have to remove all of the bones from the chicken while leaving it intact. Then you stuff it with things like eggs, sausages and other items. When the chicken is cooked, it looked like a whole chicken, but since it has no bones you can slice it like a meatloaf. It really is delicious.
Anyway, the cookbook suggested that you could go to a butcher shop and ask for them to debone the chicken, but I was stubborn and wanted to do the deboning myself. Had to show off my skills to my wife! It took me hours to debone that chicken, but I did it successfully. The chicken turned out great! It looked good, and tasted even better!
Two Meals many times
Many times, when we would have lunch or dinner, we would have “two meals”. I would cook something that I liked, a western dish, and I would cook something that Feyma liked a Filipino dish. I didn’t mind doing it, and it kept both of us happy. As we started having children, and our kids got older, the kids also ate a mix of Filipino food and American food, so having both choices available was a hit for them.
I would say that at least 90% of the time when we sat down for a family meal we had choices for American dishes and Filipino dishes. A meal with only one choice was rare.
The Big Change
In 2000, we decided to move to the Philippines.
When we made the move, Feyma decided that it was her turn to do the cooking. She started really learning how to cook. She tells me that when we were in the States, I would always make sure that she had Filipino food. She felt that she needed to do the same for me… make sure that I had American food to enjoy even though we lived in the Philippines. I appreciated it so much!
Feyma has actually turned into a very good chef. Lots of people tell her that she should open a restaurant. Her real specialty is cooking foreign food like American stuff, Italian, French or whatever. She really does not cook Filipino food often, and even tells me that she knows little about cooking Filipino dishes. For the cooking of Filipino food, usually, our maid, our nieces or our daughter will cook that.
Part of the “foreign food” specialty for Feyma includes learning how to substitute locally available ingredients. Many western dishes require ingredients that they just don’t have in the Philippines. But, Feyma seems to always be able to find a local ingredient that will substitute nicely and really not affect the flavor of the dish. Feyma is a real expert on this skill. Even if the western ingredient is available, it will often be at a very high cost. By using the local ingredient that can be substituted, I can still enjoy the flavors that I like, which spending less money, which is appreciated, of course.
Food is a big part of everybody’s life. It is a cultural thing. It is not just to nourish us or to feel full. It is a social thing. When we get together with friends we usually have food together. Just like everybody else, this has been the case for Feyma and I. There has just been a little twist because we come from different countries and different cultures. We like different types of food. Today, Feyma eats a lot of western foods like I do, and I eat more and more Filipino food. We are meeting in the middle, I suppose.
Read Part 1: A Life of Love. My Philippine Relationship
Read Part 2: A Life of Love. A Life of Love. The Beginning.
Read Part 3: A Life of Love. The trip.
Read Part 4: A Life of Love. At the Hotel in Cebu City.
Read Part 5: A Life of Love. Heading to Mindanao
Read Part 6: A Life of Love. The Peering Eyes
Read Part 7: A Life of Love: The Talk
Read Part 8: A Life of Love: The Prep
Read Part 9: A Life of Love: The Questioning
Read Part 10: A Life of Love: The Church Seminar
Read Part 11: A LIfe of Love: The Wedding and Beyond
Read Part 12: A Life of Love: Worst Day of my Life
Read Part 13: A Life of Love: Arriving Home
Read Part 14: A Life of Love: The Visa Process
Read Part 15: A Life of Love: Arrival
Read Part 16: A Life of Love: Food
The Drive HomeI actually lived in Vancouver, Washington at the time, which is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. On the drive home, with it being winter time, many of the trees were barren – all the leaves were dead. When Feyma saw this, she said: “Why doesn’t the government clean up these dead trees that are everywhere?” Feyma, being from a land where it is basically always summer, had never experienced leaves falling off of the trees as a normal cycle. If trees lost all of their leaves that meant that they were dead! I explained to Feyma that the trees were not dead, but she looked at me in a way that I knew she did not really believe I was telling her the truth. Well, 4 or 5 months down the road she would see that I was being truthful!
SunlightEven though it was very cold, it was a clear and sunny day. Being the middle of winter, the days were short there in Vancouver. The sunset was around 4:45 or so, or at least it began getting dark at that time. In the Philippines, being very near the equator, the days or of relatively equal amounts of daylight and night. We get around 12 hours a day of sun, and 12 hours of darkness and this is 12 months of the year. So, when we got to the late afternoon, and it was obviously getting dark already, Feyma was both shocked and depressed. She could not believe it. I told her to just wait, once it was June or so, the days would go on until nearly 10 PM in the evening. Again, I got that look like “Are you lying to me again?” LOL. Sure enough, though, when summer came, and she saw the days lengthening like that, she was pleasantly surprised. As I type in this article, Feyma is in Alaska working in a Fish Processing facility. There, she has experienced daylight going until around midnight, and she loves the long days.
The iceBecause of the extreme cold, I told Feyma to watch her step when she was walking outside. I told her that there were patches of ice on the roads and she might fall and hurt herself. Again that look came to her face! But, when she slipped and fell to the ground, that look was quickly erased and she figured out that I was indeed telling her the truth! Later, I was explaining about the ice. I told her that if we filled up a glass with water from the faucet and put the glass outside, after a few hours the glass would be full of ice, not liquid water. The look again… so we did it, and she was shocked!
FunIt was really fun seeing Feyma experience things for the first time. Things that were so common to me, but firsts for her. Hey, I did the same things when I went to the Philippines, lots of “first-time experiences” for me, things that were commonplace to her. I really think back with fondness on the time when Feyma arrived in the United States and seeing her learn new things. It was fun and also helped our relationship grow. Really, that time of learning really made Feyma the person that she is today because she changed a lot during her time in the States. I suppose that I did too, being with her, picking up on many of her customs and such. Read Part 1: A Life of Love. My Philippine Relationship Read Part 2: A Life of Love. A Life of Love. The Beginning. Read Part 3: A Life of Love. The trip. Read Part 4: A Life of Love. At the Hotel in Cebu City. Read Part 5: A Life of Love. Heading to Mindanao Read Part 6: A Life of Love. The Peering Eyes Read Part 7: A Life of Love: The Talk Read Part 8: A Life of Love: The Prep Read Part 9: A Life of Love: The Questioning Read Part 10: A Life of Love: The Church Seminar Read Part 11: A LIfe of Love: The Wedding and Beyond Read Part 12: A Life of Love: Worst Day of my Life Read Part 13: A Life of Love: Arriving Home Read Part 14: A Life of Love: The Visa Process Read Part 15: A Life of Love: Arrival
A little help from my “friends”After filing my petition, I contacted my Congresswoman, and my Senators from the State that I lived in and asked them to follow up on my petition to make sure it was handled swiftly. I never heard back from either Senator, which I found disappointing. The Congresswoman, though, worked with me and assigned a worker at her local office to keep in touch with me and follow the application. I was quite impressed, because I had not voted for this lady for Congress and was well known to be a member of the opposite political party, so the fact that she really took good care of me was very impressive to me. Because of this, I always voted for her, even though I did not agree with her politics. Her service, to me, made her worthy of my vote. The application went through rather quickly, and I was told by the INS to have Feyma bring certain documents with her to the Embassy when it was time for her interview. Some of the documents were with me in the States, and Feyma would need them in the Philippines, so I sent them to her. i used DHL as the courier service. The documents never arrived with Feyma! To this day, sometimes Feyma jokes that she is still hoping to get them! Luckily, though, I had more than one official copy and I re-sent them. As I recall, the second time I used FedEx to send the documents, and they arrived as expected. The hassle with DHL misplacing my shipment, though, cost about a month of extra time before Feyma could get a visa. I was rather upset about that, as you can imagine. As we went through the process, Feyma had to go to Manila (about 600 miles away) for her medical exam for the US Embassy visa processing. Later, Feyma had to return to Manila for her final interview and issuance of her visa. All of this went smoothly, and the visa was issued so she could come to the United States. About the only problem was that this was all happening between Christmas and New Year, so things were very hectic. Feyma left Manila on United Airlines (yes, United used to fly to Manila back in the day), stopping in Seoul Korea, then on to Portland, Oregon. Because of the holiday season going on things were a little wild with scheduling of flights and everything, but it all worked out for us. In total, from the time I filed for her visa, to the time she got to the States (including the lost time caused by DHL), it took only 4 months for her to arrive in the United States. Like I say, the time was quick, but it sure seemed like a long time back then! It could have been much worse, though. Feyma arrived in the USA on January 6, 1991. Next time on the Life of Love series, I will tell about her arrival day, what a day to remember. Read Part 1: A Life of Love. My Philippine Relationship Read Part 2: A Life of Love. A Life of Love. The Beginning. Read Part 3: A Life of Love. The trip. Read Part 4: A Life of Love. At the Hotel in Cebu City. Read Part 5: A Life of Love. Heading to Mindanao Read Part 6: A Life of Love. The Peering Eyes Read Part 7: A Life of Love: The Talk Read Part 8: A Life of Love: The Prep Read Part 9: A Life of Love: The Questioning Read Part 10: A Life of Love: The Church Seminar Read Part 11: A LIfe of Love: The Wedding and Beyond Read Part 12: A Life of Love: Worst Day of my Life Read Part 13: A Life of Love: Arriving Home Read Part 14: A Life of Love: The Visa Process
- They “short sheeted” my bed.
- The put rice in my bed.
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