Shoeless Party

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Not too long ago we held a gathering in our home. Though the above picture is not a typical image of a Filipino party, the photo below is.

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I really did not demand my guests to take off their shoes when they enter into our home, but since almost all of them were Filipinos, it is a kind of unwritten rule in our culture, so they just did without being asked.

Filipinos and shoes have some kind of notoriety, when Imelda Marcos was found to have more than 2000 pairs of shoes that she left behind in Malacañang Palace during the People Power Revolution in 1986. But that is a different subject altogether.

Not just in the Philippines, but many Asian countries have this common custom of taking off their shoes when entering their own home or somebody’s home. The practice is more cultural rather than religious. It also has a practical reason for it, like in Japan, where they sit, eat, and even sleep on the floor, so keeping street shoes off would maintain the cleanliness of the floor.

I have read that other European countries also have this practice of removing shoes when entering one’s home, like Switzerland and Scandinavian countries.

Though in some culture, like here in America, it may be deem rude to order your guest to take off their shoes when they enter your abode. Unless they do it without being asked.

I remember when I was growing up in the Philippines, it is almost a must that we leave our shoes, street slippers, or bakya (wooden slippers) at the door when we enter a house. It is not that our floor is considered a holy ground, but it is considered the polite way, when we take off our shoes.

Whether the floor is concrete, hardwood, bamboo slats, or carpet (though I cannot remember entering a home with carpet floors in the Philippines), I took my shoes off just the same.

I have even heard of an old woman from the province who boarded a bus to go to the city. She left her bakya at the foot of the bus stairs when she boarded, only to find them not there when she got off.

So it does not matter whether you came from the market or a palace, or from playing tumbang preso, where you throw your slippers around. It does not also matter if your shoes are muddy or clean or even covered with antiseptic solution, or if you’re wearing a cheap footwear from Ukay-ukay, or a Manolo Blahnik or a million dollar shoes. Please take them off when you enter a Filipino home.

Except if the host told you “Huwag na, huwag na” which means it is alright to keep them on.

Lastly, a word of advice to our friends, when you are going to a Filipino house party, make sure your socks are clean and not stinky, or has no holes in them.

Unless of course, you want to be the talk of the party.

Cold Fashion

We are in a deep freeze. In the past couple of days, our temperature here in Iowa had struggled to get up to double digits (Fahrenheit). We have not been above freezing point for more than a week or so now, and I don’t see it happening for the next couple of days. Or weeks? Or months?!

We have accumulated a few of inches of snow on the ground as well, from snowfall from few days ago. I believe the ground snow will linger for a while (White Christmas then?), and will not melt, as our temperature will remain subfreezing for the next several days. My son’s snow fort, which he built a couple of days ago, is still standing sturdy and proudly in our front yard.

I like the sight of snow. But I don’t like driving on it, nor shoveling it. I don’t like the bitter cold either. I grew up in a tropical country (Philippines), where the coolest temperature is in the low 70’s F. And believe it or not, when the temperature in the Philippines drops in the 70’s F, it is already considered sweater time!

Speaking of sweaters, since I live now in a place akin to being inside an icebox, I have learned (or forced) to dress warmly. Over the years I have collected a few sweaters. And for the past two weeks now, I have been wearing my different collection of sweaters and cardigans to work, on top of my usual khakis and shirts. Coat and tie is not my style, at least not in the hospital.

I was rounding in the ICU yesterday when one of the nurses approached me and smilingly said to me, “Doctor, you are the Imelda Marcos of classy sweaters.”

I am not sure if I would be glad with that compliment or not. Or is it even a compliment?

Well, at least she said “classy” sweaters. Here in this part of our world, “ugly” sweater is more notorious. They have ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater contests, and I know there is even an ugly sweater event run.

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Ugly Sweater Run (photo from here)

Though I cannot really take credit for my “classy” style. My wife bought all those sweaters. She must have a fine taste and she is dressing me right. She is a good shopper as well, as she got those quality items at discounted price.

But to be compared to Imelda Marcos? That is different. Well, she got good taste, I’ll give her that. But being “Imeldific” has a different connotation. Besides I don’t have thousands of sweaters as Imelda has thousands of shoes! I only have a few sweaters. OK, more than a few.

This made me think: am I living lavishly and excessively? I hope not. There’s so much need in this world that is more important than fashion.

Maybe I am over thinking the nurse’s comment, which she intends as a compliment, and nothing more. Maybe she just really admire my sweaters. Or maybe she was just impressed with my GQ fashion sense (barf!).

At least I have an excuse for having all those sweaters. It is so darn cold!