SPF 100, please.

I was awakened by my uncle´s warning: ¨It´s check point again¨.

It was about 7 pm and we were nonchalantly travelling home from work in his car. From the passenger seat, I could see the fully uniformed GUARDIA CIVILs blocking the roundabout with armalites on hands. More and more cars were pulled over the side of the street while some were allowed to pass smoothly.

My uncle was unmoved. He has been stopped by the same check point in the same spot the day before so he thought the police might recognize his face and let us pass without trouble. He was wrong.

An officer signaled us to park on a sidestreet. With the weapon clutched to his arm, he growled,

¨Documentacion, por favor¨

My uncle showed him the car´s documents as well as his personal ones.

¨A usted tambien¨ (Yours, as well) referring to me.

I gave him what I got and he moved away to check on them if they are real or were bought from the Nigerian ¨Looky-looky men¨ who sell fake Prada Glasses and Rolex on the port.

10 minutes...15...he hasn´t come back. My heart was like a mad animal wanted to get out of its cage. I checked my image on the side mirrors. I bit my lips so that the color would return.

Cars were now piling up. Some of the drivers had to step out of the vehicle for further questionings. I then noticed the obvious: all of us that were pulled over looked different. We´re much darker than the Spanish. Moroccans, South Americans, blacks and Asians were the only ones being asked for inspections along with some Romanians and a couple of tattooed British.

This is not the first time that this happened to us. Two years ago, the same incident occurred. However, that time, the police let us passed without further hassle after they saw a car filled black men (presumably Nigerians) whom they all brought down to the station. Two weeks after that, more check points were on the roads and to tell you the truth, we were stopped three consecutive afternoons by the SAME police, on the SAME spot! On the third day, I got so annoyed that I asked the police if he did not recognize us considering the fact that we have been there almost everyday. He just smirked and after 20 minutes of waiting, he let us go.

The coast has always been known as the playground for the rich and famous. Unfortunately, it is also known as a playground for big time syndicates, criminals, mafias and scammers. But if the Spanish authorities would just used their head for once, if they are really up to catching these people, why concentrate on little brown, yellow and black people who don´t have anything in their minds but earn a meager living so that they could provide for their families back home?

Why not go to Marbella where the real thieves are inside the City Hall, using public money for nose jobs and to buy Miró or Dali works?

Why search on our cars filled sandwich wrappers and bottled water because we can´t afford to buy expensive lunch when you can search on your city hall officials´ villas where you can find millions of euros literally packed in garbage bags?

We´ve heard a lot of stories of racism in Spain, though we can never generalize. The Spanish can be very good and generous with foreigners but you can never be one of them. To give a simple example, in my three years of being here, I have only seen 3 coloured people in the Spanish TV. A black Cuban actress for a children show, another black latina in a comedy show and a Nigerian man in a soap, playing of course, someone discriminated. Asian people are always on comedy shows. Laughing stocks.

I saw a program one time called ¨Super Nanny¨and it is about this Mary Poppins like nanny who goes to different homes to teach kids the proper manners, etc. On this particular episode, she was helping a Spanish lady with an adopted 3 or 4 year old Chinese girl.

Nanny: Ok, let´s play now. Let´s pretend that I am on a restaurant and you are the waitress. Now, bring me some rice, some vegetables etc. etc.

The girl quickly moved and served her the meal.

Not putting down the waitresses all over the world, but here in Spain,there is a misconception that all Asians are Chinese and all Chinese works in a restaurant or shop. I fumed when I see the stereotyping being done to a 3 year old kid. Isn´t there any other jobs that she can let the kid play pretend? what about a doctor? or say, a vet? My Spanish professor said I was just exaggerating. I told him, he still has to see WHEN I am exaggerating.

At these times, I wish I were in the U.S. so that I could bring all these people to court and sue them for racial discrimination. At least there, I can sue even the most trivial offense people can do unto me.

After almost half an hour, the police officer went back to return our documents.

¨Cuidaos¨ (take care of yourselves)
¨Gracias¨, we replied.

Yes, I´m gonna take care of myself. I´ll stay away from the sun and use bleaching products so I can be as white as you.

Staring at 10 million dollars

Maya with a Doll (1938)

It´s been years since I wanted to visit the Picasso Museum in Málaga so one Saturday, I pulled my friend Satellite to go with me and visit the great artist´s shrine. Located on Palacio Buenavista, Calle San Agustin in the town proper, it is quite difficult to find in the narrow alleyway and rows of bars and cafés around it however, the people of Málaga are always nice and willing to help lost tourists like us unlike in Madrid where NOBODY will give you directions at all.

We noticed that all the museum guards and ushers looked like the characters in MEN IN BLACK. They all wear black suit and looked regal from head to foot.

From the first portrait, Satellite began to blab.

¨Hmmm...look at that. The face is destroyed. Eyes and ears not on their places¨. Giggled.

¨It´s not funny. We are looking at the works of one of the best artists of the 20th century¨, I said.

¨That sketch, Caballo Con Penacho. I could probably do that myself¨

¨No, you can´t. That was all done in one single stroke without lifting a hand¨.

We moved on to the second floor where more canvasses and sculptures were exhibited. It was like a maze. A beautiful maze where treasures are displayed.

I lingered at Mujer en el Sillon.

¨What´s so special about it, now?¨, he said.

¨I´m staring at 10 million dollars¨

¨Oh, well then I´m joining you¨.

Just recently, another two Picasso paintings were stolen in the house of the artist´s grandaughter in Paris.The paintings entitled, 'Maya à la poupée' (Maya with a doll;) is a portrait of his daughter, Maya done in 1938 and 'Portrait de femme, Jacqueline' (Picture of a woman, Jacqueline) a portrait of his second wife done in 1961 were stolen during the wee hours of the mornings on February 28 of this year. The two portraits were valued at 50 million euros (66 million dollars) altogether. Continue reading...

View from the Bus Window

Sometimes I wish I were in Manila with my fabulous job in a travel magazine. Then, I would wake up at 10 or 12 noon, brunch in Greenbelt then go to work at 2pm till about 9 or 10 pm. Depending on the schedule, we usually attend parties of our advertisers then hit the sack at very ungodly hours of the mornings. Again, the same story the day after and the next.

Here in Spain, I do not have the luxury of waking up with the sun already burning my face. At the sound of my alarm at 7:30 sharp, I force myself to shower and have my first caffeine intake of the day with of course, a thousand fags while my eyes are still half closed.

Today is my uncle is off (we work in the same building; he drives) and that means waking up extra early to get the bus to work. I despise taking public transport. As I have written in my previous posts, I would rather take a taxi and not eat the whole week rather than suffering from waiting and then squeezing myself into a bus. However, my office is about an hour drive from where I live and I yet have to find a rich, oil magnate for a boyfriend before I could afford to get to work everyday in a cab or better yet, a limo.
Anyway, going back to the horros of public transport in Spain: Once, the driver did not give me a ride since he didn´t have a change for a ten euro bill. Most of the time, they just ignored me with my hands waving up in the air. Believe me, I am not that small not to be seen.

The wind today is extremely strong.

The bus stop is full of tourists, as always. Here in the coast, you could spot the difference between tourists and residents at first glance. Tourists are almost naked even if it is about 10 degrees celcius while everyone else are wrapped up. I wondered why they don´t feel cold at all. My uncle always tells me, ¨ they have the skin of a carabao (water buffalo)¨. I´ve never seen a carabao so white before.

I got into the bus with caution. In the Fuengirola bus station, I have seen a tourist being robbed at daylight.

Sitting impatiently to arrive at work, I wondered what my life could have been if I did not leave Manila. I must have been a totally different person by now. I could have been SOMEONE by now.

Spain has changed me in a lot of ways. I have matured since I ´ve been here. Physically, mentally and everything in between. I´ve learned a lot about life. Damn, I´ve even learned a new language! However, it is inevitable to miss home especially at times like these when you sit on an almost empty early morning bus, the vast mediterranean sea staring at you...filling your already filled head with thoughts of friends and family you haven´t seen for the past three years. I haven´t seen my brother since he worked in the middle east and back. Now, he is going abroad again for a job, chances are, I wouldn´t see him again for the next two years. My niece is turning 4 years old and I never had the chance to read her a fairytale yet. My friends, they are building their own families and I´m getting more and more godchildren each year. If I stayed in Manila, could it be that I have my own children by now?

The bus stops to a hilt. I´m here.