CRISTINA OSMENA: Food for thought during the New Year of the Tiger

Without intending to, I’ve been column-writing a lot less than I planned. I wanted to submit a missive every other week, but I have not always lived up to that goal. My neglect is not without reason: I’ve been working on a novel. I started writing fiction again during quarantine and, after publishing a couple of short stories, I decided to work on a longer piece. This one has nothing to do with how daunted I am (or not). This is a horror novel. Writing is a lonely vocation. I am emerging from this process feeling a little weirder than I typically am.

More importantly, if you haven’t seen the latest Spider-Man, you should. The highlight of the movie features a Filipina Lola scolding several Spidermans (spoiler alert) in Tagalog for making a messing shooting their webs. That was after she asked Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman to clean some cobwebs on the ceiling that she couldn’t reach. I screamed during this scene (I was the only Filipina in the theatre), and I made the people sitting next to me laugh. It’s a new world we live in when the major actors of the day (and Spiderman characters) know the word, Lola. I guess everyone in this country has interacted with a Filipina or Filipino in some way. When he saw it on opening night, my 15-year-old son told me it was the best movie he has ever seen. Presumably, nearly all the teenagers in the United States have had the pleasure of watching a Filipina Lola scold several Spidermen in Tagalog for making a mess. I love it. Now my son tolerates it a little better when I scold him for his mess.

With my deadline a minute away, I want to leave with a closing thought. I listened to a discussion today on the situation in the Ukraine. The expert on Russia made a comment which I believe repeated a belief expressed out of the Kremlin. It seems that small countries, someone said, don’t have real sovereignty. It made me ponder the Philippines and how our foreign policy game is a matter of picking the better protector: China or the United States. Right now, China is winning that battle. What do you think? Do small countries like the Philippines lack real sovereignty? If the Russian official has a point, then why bother pretending it is otherwise?

Food for thought during the new year of the tiger.