Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Philippine Centennial Barbie plans her wedding

Looks like this blog will for the next few months be dominated by wedding plans. Here's the piece I promised a couple of months ago.

Philippine Centennial Barbie plans her wedding
Based on “Planning the Fantasy Wedding” in “Kinky” by Denise Duhamel and
inspired by “Secret Asian Man” by Nick Carbo

Philippine Centennial Barbie flips through pages of Modern Bride and Martha Stewart’s Wedding that her girlfriends stole from doctor’s waiting rooms and hair salons. Blushes at the thought of wearing “liberated” wedding dress styles: open back, sleeveless, a slit that goes up to the knee. Dios mio. She’s an old-fashioned girl afterall.

She had always dreamed of saying “I do” at St. Augustin in Intramuros, the walled city, just like all the Philippine superstars on TV. Built in the 1500s she enjoys the romance of its resilience through the numerous bombings of Manila: the Americans, the Japanese, the Americans again. There her US dollars would go farther. 54 to 1. She would line the aisles with ilang-ilang orchids, where the guests decked out in the finest jusi and pinya Filipiniana dress would stride. After the ceremony they would be whisked away by horse-drawn kalesa through the cobbled streets to their multicourse meal reception at a Chinese restaurant.

But the guest list would be gigantic! Her family in Subic doubles and triples each day as more toy manufacturers move there for cheap labor, land and materials without regard to environmental regulations. They are already starting to see the toxics emerge as the mound of disfigured plastic dolls grows in each new batch. But, even if she doesn’t send an invitation, they would hear about it and just show up. You know how Filipinos are; you can’t just invite one. How would she feed all these people?!

No, they will just have to have it here, Stateside. Maybe in a few years when they’ve saved enough money, they can renew their vows back home. For now a small intimate wedding will have to do. A few coworkers from the retirement home, her mother’s cousin who is a doctor in Detroit, and her sister, Jing-jing, who is flying in from the Philippines on a tourist visa only to go TNT illegal after the wedding. She warned her sister of the War on Terror, all the new Homeland Security regulations that would ban her from the country if she were caught. But she doesn’t care, the War on Terror is her abusive husband back home. Maybe Jing-Jing tells her, she will get lucky and marry an American like her.

Philippine Centennial Barbie is lucky for a mail order bride to have found such a nice man, Filipino at that. She had heard so many other horror stories of mail orders brides who end up beaten and locked up like pretty dolls in glass cases unable to leave the house and only when their husbands were with them. No, Mang Tomas is not like that. He is a good man. Made his money honestly adorning bottles of liver-flavored sauce. He is known in every Filipino kitchen, the secret ingredient of lechon paksiw. He never complained sitting in between Rufina Patis fish sauce and Datung Puti Vinegar. Oh how they bickered constantly about each other’s smell! Through it all he just smiled.

Philippine Centennial Barbie is not like her American Barbie cousin, so liberal, so modern, who wants to have a career and drive sportscars. She is just “too American”. When you ask her, she hides her “Made in the Philippines” stamp in her high heeled pumps and claims she is nothing but the “All-American Girl” then gloats about how easily she tans in the sun. How can she deny her Filipino heritage!?! No, Philippine Centennial Barbie is not like that. She believes in Filipino values. She lived with her family, took care of her younger siblings, was educated in English by the Thomasite teachers from America. If Mang Tomas had not proposed she was going to be a schoolteacher or become a nun.

Perhaps they will have their wedding in Las Vegas. Everyone she knows is moving out there. Mang Tomas talks often about retiring there in a few years. Sell his fog covered Daly City home for more than enough cash to buy a customizable mansion complete with high tech theater and central vacuum. The weather will be better for his arthritis and she could easily get a nursing job there.

They could have their wedding at that small wooden chapel on Las Vegas Boulevard, the one that looks like it’s from “Little House on the Prairie”. Or maybe at the Venetian hotel, pretend they are in Italy overlooking the statue garden and pool. She could imagine they were in Egypt at the Luxor or on safari at the MGM. The hotel could give them a package deal that includes drink coupons and some credits to play at the slots. Then hold their reception at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

On her cellphone, she texts her mother the measurements for her and her bridemaids, warns them not to get fat or else the dress won’t fit 6 months from now at the wedding. There’s no room for alterations. Later she will email the names of the bridal party to her mother for the invitations, a multilayered scalloped edged paper sprayed with a scent of lavender. She already ordered the embroidered lace fans for the giveaways. Her sister will bring them in her balikbayan boxes.

Philippine Centennial Barbie checks her watch, puts down the magazines. She has just enough time to warm up dinner, then head to her late night shift at the retirement home. It’s hard working the odd hours, never seeing her soon-to-be husband except for brief passing moments, but they give her a premium on her salary and she could use every dollar she can get.

No comments: