Chedeng at Chinelas

Noong makalawang araw ay bumisita sa aming bahay ang isang kaibigan, kasama ang kanyang asawa at panganay na anak. Siya ay isa ring Pilipinong duktor dito sa Iowa. Meron lang silang dinaanan dito sa amin.

Aking napansin na bago ang sasakyan niyang dala. Sabi niya, ipinamana na raw niya ang lumang Honda sa kanyang anak. Akin siyang kinantsawan na sobrang asenso na niya. Ika ko nga, “hindi ka na ma-reach!”

Kasi, naka-Chedeng na siya.

Malugod din niyang ipinakita ang mga features ng kanyang bagong kotse. Pinindot lang niya ang kanyang cellphone at umandar na ang kanyang kotse, kahit wala siya sa loob nito. Napabilib ako. Siguro pwede pa niyang i-program na utusan lang ang kanyang smartphone: “Siri, start my car.”

Mayroon din daw itong standard safety features, gaya ng automatic braking kung sakaling aanga-anga siya at hindi nakapag-preno kaagad, at nagbibigay din ng warning kung may sasakyan sa kanyang blind spot at kung siya ay antok-antok at lumilihis sa lane. Hindi lang din daw camera sa likod ang makikita niya kung siya ay umuurong, kung hindi 360º view. Higit sa lahat, kaya nitong magself-park, kahit pa parallel parking. Sabi ko nga, kulang na lang mag-drive ‘yung kanyang Mercedes na mag-isa.

Pero sang-ayon sa mga eksperto, by year 2020 or 2021, mayroon ng mass production ng self-driving cars, at available na ito sa lahat. Kahit sino ay pwede nang maging Knight Rider!

Habang ipinagyayabang ng aking kaibigan ang kanyang Mercedes, ay para kaming mga musmos na natutuwa sa bagong jolen, o trumpo, o kaya’y matchbox. Iyon nga lang, totoo ‘yung matchbox.

Noong ako’y batang paslit pa, ang kilala ko lang na luxury car ay Chedeng o Mercedes Benz. Kilala ko rin si Aling Mercedes, pero hindi siya kotse. Hindi ko pa alam noon ang BMW, Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Ferrari, Cadillac o Lexus. Kilalang-kilala ko naman ang Sarao. Tingin ko sa mga naka-Chedeng noon ay sobrang yaman at sobrang matagumpay sa buhay.

Sa katunayan, wala nga akong kilalang naka-Mercedes noong ako’y nasa elementarya at high school pa, maliban sa isa. Siya ay crush ng bayan sa aming eskwelahan, dahil maganda na siya tapos naka-Chedeng pa. Ang tatay niya ay duktor, at sila ay nakatira sa Dasma (Dasmariñas Village).

Noong nasa kolehiyo na, ako ay namulat sa katotohanan na kahit sa mahirap na bansa’t lipunan pala, ay marami pa rin burgis. Marami akong naging kamag-aral na naka-Chedeng. May mga kaklase pa nga ako na may sarili silang kotse at naka-tsuper pa. Buong mag-hapon naghihintay lang ang kanilang tsuper sa may parking lot ng unibersidad. Hindi lang nga Mercedes Benz, may nakita pa akong estudyante na ang dina-drive ay Porsche. Okay lang, ako naman ay “Cadillac” – kadilakad.

Balik tayo sa kaibigan kong Pilipinong duktor dito sa Iowa. Habang kami ay nagku-kwentuhan ay aming napag-usapan na parang kailan lang ay mga musmos pa ang aming mga anak. Ngunit ngayon, pareho na kaming may anak na nasa kolehiyo. Ang bilis ng panahon.

Nagawi ang aming usapan noong kami ay nasa-kolehiyo pa. Siya ay nag-aral din sa Maynila. Nabangit ko na napakarami nang nagtataasang condominum sa Maynila pati sa university belt. Sabi naman niya ay marami na rin daw masasarap na kainan sa paligid-ligid ng university belt. Sa susunod niyang uwi sa Pilipinas, gusto raw niyang pumasyal at kumain sa mga turo-turo sa tabi ng unibersidad. Simple pa rin talaga ang trip ng kaibigan kong ito, down-to-earth pa rin.

Napag-usapan din namin kung paano kaming nakikipag-habulan sa mga jeepney, at kung paano kami halos makipagbalyahan at siksikan, makasakay lamang. Pinaririnig lang din naman namin sa aming mga anak kung gaano sila kaswerte ngayon, at hindi nila naranasan ang  hirap na aming dinaanan.

Jeepney_Benz

Chedeng na Jeepney

Hanggang sa napag-usapan noong kami ay nasa elementarya pa. Kwento ng aking kaibigan, dahil siya ay lumaki sa probinsiya, ay naglalakad lang daw siya araw-araw patungong paaralan nila. Ang pampublikong paaralan ay nasa kabilang barrio, kaya’t medyo malayo ang kanyang linalakad. Para mag-short cut, siya ay tumutulay sa pilapil ng mga palayan habang bitbit-bitbit niya ang kanyang chinelas para hindi maputikan. Minsan pa raw, binibitbit din niya ang kanyang chinelas para hindi ito maupod agad, upang makatipid.

Ako ay napangiti at napaisip. Ang batang nagbibitbit lang ng chinelas noon para hindi ito maupod, ngayon ay naka-Chedeng na.

Tignan mo nga naman talaga ang tadhana. Marunong pa rin itong ngumiti sa mga nagsisikap na umasenso sa buhay. Kahit na hindi Mercedes, ang kanilang pangalan.

(*photo from the web)

 

 

Muscles and Luxury Cars

I have read in the news that the number one New Year’s Resolution in the US, is to lose weight. In fact, it was the most popular resolution every year for more than a decade now. So it is not surprising that the attendance in a fitness club is the highest during the month of January. However, according to one article, by April, there is already an average of 20-30% dropout rate for those who started their membership in January. Really? It takes them 3 months to quit? I was expecting it to be shorter.

If you are a member of a health club, you are among the millions of people who do. I hope you are not one of those who will drop out by April. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the membership to a gym reached an all-time high of 50.2 million last year. So fitness clubs, sportsclub and racquet clubs are such a lucrative racket. Sorry for the pun, it was intended.

According to that article also, different states in the US have different participation rates. I find it interesting to learn that Iowa was ranked 24th, with health-club participation rate of 14.8%.  That was better than I thought actually. I was expecting it to be worse, with the high percentage of obesity here. We are not the number one producer of pork chop for nothing, you know. Massachusetts was the number one gym-friendly state with 25.1% consumers.

As I pulled up in our local YMCA parking lot this morning, I have one observation that has been consistent over the 10 years and more, that I have been a member of a fitness club. I have observed that there is a higher proportion of expensive vehicles or luxury cars and SUVs in a gym’s parking lot compared to other parking lot, like the hospital’s, or the mall’s, or Wal-Mart’s. Lots of BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac and Porsche. (No Batmobile though.) Do you know why?

this Wal-Mart parking lot is an exception

The first possible answer is that, with cost of fitness club membership, that is about $30-$60/month for general purpose gym, to about $50-$200/month to a Spa/Country Club/Racquet Club gyms, that attendance to this clubs are skewed to the more wealthy portion of the population. And therefore these rich people also own those luxury cars in the parking lot. Or maybe the club’s owner owns all those expensive vehicles, and just parks them outside the gym.

The second possible answer is that people who join these health clubs are people, who are very particular on their outward appearance, thus they go to the gym to look trim, hunky and sexy. These people also have the propensity to choose luxury vehicles to project their classy image. I tell you, people can be vain. Or maybe they just feel good about themselves. But hey, it’s a free country, they can do whatever they please.

The last possible answer I can think of, is that maybe, people who go to the gym are more driven individuals, who strives to be in their best, including their health, and thereby they exercise routinely. These motivated individuals, are also likely to be more successful, and thus the more luxury cars in the gym’s parking lot. In fact, there are several studies linking regular exercise and business success.

Whatever the real reason behind the link between toned muscles and luxury cars, I am really not sure. But maybe you can join the gym too and find out for yourself. Or perhaps you are already one of those driving a hot, exotic car.

(*image of Batmobile from here)