Illinois, USA – While preparing this article, the weather temperature at this moment is 67F (19 Celsius in the Philippines). This is my first direct email from the new world where I arrived last Saturday, April 20.
This temperature is quite normal for Americans but I was already chilling when I was wheeled on a wheelchair at the Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal Airport , three times (or more) the size of the NAIA. I’m used to normal Philippine temperature of 32 Celsius.
Yes, I was on a wheelchair in all the three airports I exited while leaving my native country as part of the agreement with my travel agent. My daughter insisted for it despite my opposition as I am still capable of walking. Nonetheless, she prevailed. And I only realized she was right after all as my being temporarily “inutile” made me an instant VIP to airlines personnel.
And even when I was with the US Immigration Bureau I got the same VIP treatment. I received a one year temporary immigrant visa from the Bureau within 10 minutes. My visa allowing me as permanent resident is to be delivered in my daughter’s residence address within 120 days. Wow!
The truth of the matter why I was privileged to the American authorities and personnel is not only of my being at this age but because my travel documents were all in order, plus my being witty but precise in all the things they wanted to know about me.
To would-be future applicants, please take note of how I made it.
While still at the NAIA and seated near the window of PAL 777 flight to LAX the real occupant of the seat, a six-footer male foreigner, arrived and signaled me to move to my seat.
I asked him if I can exchange seats with him as I preferred to sit near the window.
“No, I bought that seat for myself,” his answered in an arrogant way.
“Bastos, I only requested you if I can exchange seats. If you don’t, okay lang, you don’t need to shout,” I answered also in an arrogant way.
I noticed him become meek in our almost 13-hour travel to LA. In fact the guy only opened his mouth when he asked permission from me to let him pass to go to the CR after being silent for 10 hours seated next to me. This time he talked to me in the low voice and in a polite manner. Parang natakot sa akin. Dah!
At the LAX airport I inquired a uniformed female personnel where the CR is.
“CR, meaning comfort room.”
“What?” This time she seems angry with me.
“Toilet” I almost lost my temper while repeating the word.
“Ah, toilet, it’s there.” She finally got my inquiry.
When I narrated this to Tala and Nathan, they said while laughing: “Papa, comfort room here means bad words. You’re asking for someone whom you would like to make love!”
Imagine, comfort room – uttered by every Filipino if we want to relieve ourselves have other bastos meaning to the one who taught us the language! I still can’t get.
I reached the Chicago airport via American airline and like at the NAIA and LAX airports I was still on wheelchair and treated like a VIP.
The atmosphere was still very cold but with a pair of socks, thick hooded jacket Nathan and Tala brought at the arrival section while holding a poster ‘Welcome, Papa Loreto’, I felt comfortable. The almost 18 hours connecting flights from Davao City to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, to Los Angeles Airport, and to Chicago O’Hare Airport with a total 9 hours stopover in the last three airports, respectively, and then to the final destination to my daughter Tala’s residence in Illinois by car that almost took us another hour on well-paved road of this northern part of Chicago, didn’t deter us from our determination to embark on a journey across borders and cultures. This is the purpose of our maiden travel on Black Saturday to the Big Apple.
We never encountered unnecessary inconvenience following government and airline travel requirements as we adequately prepared all documents required to challenge this last chapter of my new life abroad.
I saw myself again attending Church Mass at the St. Joseph Parish on Easter Sunday here after years of not setting foot at this House of God. I continued believing in Him even after I lost faith with some Church people who were discovered to have violated His teachings.
On Good Friday, I was at the Shrine of Infant Jesus at Madapo Hills as my annual devotion to the Child. The following day I was thousand miles away on a Black Saturday attending another religious activity to thank Him for the blessings and good health through all these years. St Joseph happened to be the foster parent of the Holy Child while still in a Manger.
The Mass was delivered in Latin and English languages, and sometimes in Filipino dialect too, I’m not kidding. And just to name a few: “Dimonyo, satanas, lamesa, silya, libro.” Hehe!
Let me refresh my readers of this prayer in Spanish:
“24 de Marzo TERCER DOMINGO DE CUARESMA Por estas ofrendas, Senor, concedenos benign el perdon de nuestras ofensas, y ayudanos a perdonar a nuestros hermanos. Por Jesucristo, nuestro Senor. Amen”
Translated in English, “March 24 THIRDSUNDAY OF LENT. Be pleased, O Lord with these sacrificed offerings, and grant that we who beseech pardon for our sins, may take care to forgive our neighbor. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
As of today, I am still enjoying a weather similar to the Philippines as the reported zero degree temperature and meter-layer snow is yet a month away.
(My next topic will be the newly built Tala and boyfriend Nathan’s beautiful house in Illinois where I will become a new member, maybe for the rest of my life.)