When Life in a Third-World Slum Becomes Better Than in America

My wife’s dad died in an automobile mishap in Oxnard, California in late December, 1999, and it was up to us to bring him home to be buried in Manila, Republic of the Philippines. Through cultural connections with a local travel agent, my wife was miraculously able to get three rather inexpensive tickets (the two of us and our youngest son) for us all to arrive in Manila on the evening of December 31st, the night before the new millennium. Upon our arrival at the barely-controlled chaos that is Ninoy Aquino International Airport (and after a small bribe quickened the customs process), we were met by several other family members, and we all escorted the casket containing Dad (I called him ‘Dad’, too) in a Jeepney to the family compound in Sampaloc, a suburb of the fifteen-million-resident megalopolis of Metro Manila.

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A Philippine Jeepney. By Lawrence Ruiz — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47310547
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A *small* part of the family — my youngest son is in the blue shirt in the middle. This picture was taken in January 2000.
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That’s me hugging my eldest son and my Darling, and my youngest son in his blue shirt, with a few more of our family there. Behind us is a rice field where we would share coffee while watching a farmer plow his rice fields with a carabao (a domestic water buffalo) every morning.

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Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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