“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.” Proverbs 13:1
Of course, no calamitous event is ever complete without the sometimes questionable, but always memorable advice from my dad. He’s one of the wisest men I know. I highly recommend seeking him out if you’re ever in a tough situation; it’s always worthwhile to hear what he has to say. It’s just sometimes you have to dig deep for those nuggets of wisdom. I mean deep.
He’s like that eccentric hermit sage that lives on top of the mountain and speaks in cryptic riddles that hide true wisdom, except his riddles often come in the form of complaints about the stock market, his kids, or borderline racist comments.
Back in January when fears of Covid-19 started to heat up, he suggested that we fly to Sweden.
“Why would I spend 17 hours trapped in a steel tube breathing everyone’s dirty air?” I said. “Not to mention all the people we would come into contact with at the airport. And the virus seems to do better in cold countries!”
“Oh,” he said, “they have really good medical services there. And it’s free.”
However, he was also the one who suggested we leave the city and head for the province, a move that proved to be timely and invaluable. Less than two weeks after we left metro Manila, the city went into lockdown. Three cases of coronavirus were found in the small community we had been living in, and social media feeds revealed that our former local grocery store suffered from empty shelves and interminable lines.
When I called to tell him about the metro Manila lockdown, he began to fret. “Oh,” he said, “Bjorn is so white and you look Chinese!”
I was bewildered. What did that have to do with anything?
He explained that with people being people, he was worried that in times of emergency, Filipinos would help other Filipinos first before foreigners. So he decided to teach me some Tagalog phrases he thought would be helpful:
-“Hindi ako Chinese! ” (hin-DEE ah-KO CHI-neez) : I am not Chinese.
-“Pilipino ako! ” (pih-lih-PEE-no ah-KO): I am Filipino.
-“Taga Batangas ako! ” (TAH-gah bah-TAHNG-gus ah-KO): I am from Batangas. This last phrase, he explained, would prevent people from messing with me as people from this region are known for being very fierce, good fighters.
I have included the pronunciation guides in case you, too, find yourself in the Philippines during an emergency and might need to use them. You’re welcome.