February 6, 2023

A much-awaited event ever since our Filipino young, Malay brown and all – influenced by TV shows and Hollywood movies, opted to become part of the Western world, dyeing their hair ponytail lemon or sex siren blonde, bleaching skin until it turns powder white, practically overhauling themselves to look Caucasian – Valentine’s Day in the Philippines today is as traditional as town fiestas, the Ati-Atihan and the Panagbenga, belying Rudyard Kipling’s claim that “East is East, and West is West, and the Twain shall never meet.”


Curiously, there are no street parades slated on the so-called day of hearts, but the ensuing energy of activity seems to infect every level of society – nearly all the lovestruck men rushing to the nearest flower shop or candy store, paying a stiff price for flowers and chocolates.
A trio of red roses by today’s standards is deemed corny, and needs to come in bunches, wrapped in colorful, glossy paper, tied together by a shiny, bloody red ribbon.


Nestle’s Cadbury or Hersheys won’t do. Nothing less than imported Swiss chocolate sweets inside a large red tin can shaped like a heart.
It is that one day of the year being stingy (kuripot) will get you nowhere with the girls, much to the delight of rich DOMs who are a step or two ahead of you by digging deep into their pockets.


And hey, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the young and the young at heart. There is no law that prohibits or disallows illegitimate couples from taking part in the celebration.
For them, motel promos are rather inviting – candle-lit dinner for two, flowers for the (in)significant other, and a weekend two-day stay will get you one-day free.


And how about those who, through all the years, have faithfully stuck to their marriage vows?
Perhaps dinner in some fancy joint where you pay good money for the cuisine, and not for the ambiance, where the food taste better than the service, where the wine served is Chablis and not Carlo Rossi, and the steak tender enough designed not to damage your dentures.


And because it is a Sunday, you start it off with mass, followed by a lunch picnic with the family’s hubby and wife holding hands and whispering words of endearment to each other, to the “ohs and ahs” of kith and kin present, clapping and applauding a really good romance show.


For widows and widowers, assuming that they have not found new companionship, visiting the dearly departed is a must, to lay, not a wreath, but a bouquet of flowers, on her grave, to say “hi” and mumble a prayer of thanks for everything, that also says I miss you with all my heart.
Love is in the air, and I can almost picture Deborah Kerr singing “Hello young lovers wherever you are.”
Single or betrothed, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.


On the lighter side, I remember an old friend who was a ladies’ man during our Bar review days, the friendship dating all the way back to our Diliman and frat brod days.
He recalls not being able to find one single vacant motel room on a Valentine’s Day, traveling all the way from his law office along Roxas Boulevard – his girlfriend in tow – to Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, before luckily locating a room at Anitos in Caloocan.
Because his car wasn’t tinted, his girl would cover her face with a broadsheet while passing other cars, whose girl occupants were also doing the same thing.


Anyway, for those in the know, motel rooms have mirrors all over, including one on the ceiling.
Looking up, my friend wondered who was that frog in the mirror, but soon quickly realized he was the frog.
Now a reformed family man, his car plates has his wife’s initials and the numbers 143.
I can understand the letters, I tell him, but what are the numbers for?
“For an old lawyer,” he laughs in my face, “You are quite naïve.”
“What do three red roses mean to you?”
I love you? I reply.
Right. Didn’t you ever get to watch saying 143 to her son Lucky, in her Vilma Santos show?
Or Alma Moreno to Vandolph?
A native without the “T,” that’s what I mean.


A belated “Kung Hei Fat Choy,” Happy Valentine’s, and prepare for the Lenten season, which starts on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.
Ang nakaraan, ang kasalakuyan, at ang kinakabukasan.
A blessed Sunday and 143 to all!