PINTIG PINOY (Filipino Pulse)The Psychic Mechanic and Boatman, True Storieseastwind journals
By Bernie V. Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org
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My expat brother Resti (not his real name), who was a self-taught mechanic, was visiting me from the States. He had perfected the art of tune-up using books. We visited my friend Monching (not his real name) at his talyer (motor repair shop) in Mandaluyong. He was in the middle of tuning up a Lamborgini, a rare expensive Italian sports car. Conversation is reconstructed.
RESTI – Nice car.
MONCHING – Spark plugs alone cost 64,000 pesos. 4,000 pesos each times 16 spark plugs.
RESTI – Wow. That much.
MONCHING – There are only two to three Lamborginis in the entire Philippines. This is one of them. I bought it dirt cheap from the owner because he owed me a lot of money for repairing his fleet of cars. But I regret buying it.
RESTI – Why?
MONCHING – Super-expenisve spare parts, not available. Takes months to get it by order. Gas consumption is crazy. Rev the car for 5 seconds and you consume half a liter of gas. It will cost me ten liters just adjusting the timing-idling.
ME – That’s an exaggeration, of course.
RESTI – (Bragging) In the States, we have a machine which can measure exactly the optimum mix of oxygen and gas. You should get one.
MONCHING – (Annoyed by the unsolicited advice.) I don’t need it.
RESTI – Well, how do you adjust timing-idling then?
MONCHING – Come closer under the hood. Do you hear the engine?
RESTI – Absolutely.
MONCHING – We know the proper oxygen-gas mix simply by listening. Listen.
Monching revs up and lets go, then listens. He adjusts the timing-idling. He revs up again and readjusts after listening. After a few tries, the engine is purring nicely.
RESTI – Wow. Amazing. Give me five, bro.
MONCHING – Here in the Philippines, we don’t have expensive gadgets. We learn to use our psychic. We communicate to the engine rather than watch a VU meter from a machine. We listen. It is strange that we have invented many hi-tech gadgets, but fail to realize that sometimes no machine can beat the human psychic.
I have endless stories about the Pinoy psyche, what I call Pintig Pinoy, at the grassroots level. Read the next story below.
THE PSYCHIC BOATMAN
I met Rusty (not his real name), an American tourist, in a beer pub along Burgos St. in Makati. Conversation is reconstructed.
RUSTY – You know I have a very high regard for Filipinos after I met a boatman.
ME – Really? Tell me about it.
RUSTY – I’m a scuba diver. In Mindoro, I hired a boatman to bring me to a diving site, which he knew about like the back of his hand.
ME – You can’t dive alone. That’s a rule. Always dive with a companion.
RUSTY – Precisely. My diving companion was the boatman.
ME – But he has no scuba gear. He can’t dive with you.
RUSTY – Yes he can. I asked him if he can dive. He said since he was a kid. I asked him where his scuba gear was. He pointed to his wooden goggles, and displayed a single plywood fin. I said to myself, this I gotta see. We went to a dive site and he told me to get in the water and he would follow. So I did, and waited curiously for him to follow. I was amazed how he could move faster in his single crude plywood fin than I with my pair of high-class rubber fins.
ME – Let me explain. Fishermen use it everywhere. It’s shaped like a giant pingpong racket. On the ‘handle’, there are strips of rubber so you can put it on like a giant slipper.
RUSTY – Amazing ingenious but simple gadget, lo-tech Filipino versus hi-tech American. It’s a simple motion. He pulls on the fin with his leg and it easily follows. Then he pushes on it, as if ‘stepping’ on the water, transporting him forward at tremendous speed. He can do three steps per second. He can easily beat me in a race.
ME – How about oxygen? He has no scuba tank.
RUSTY – This was a complete surprise for me. I waited for him to run out of air. I expected him to go up for air, but instead he went down to the anchor, which was an LPG tank full of oxygen. That was his oxygen tank. He gulped some air and continued his dive. Wow. Ingenious.
ME – But he can’t go very far.
RUSTY – Whatever. Still it’s a stroke of native genius. I was wondering about his googles. If it is made of wood, water would easily leak in. He explained to me that it is carved with precision to fit his face, so no leak. It is improvised with rubber strips and rubber bands. They waterproof the transparent glass or plastic with resin. Tell me why I should not idolize the Filipino, who are poor materially but are rich spiritually.
Deep into the night, I told him about other ingenious fisherman’s gadget from my experience in my grassroots immersion as a journalist, until we could drink beer no more. It is amazing how we Filipinos can sometimes take for granted our genius, our ability to improvise, to make something out of nothing.
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by Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
Blogger/Columnist-Journalist-Broadcaster, 35 years / Healing Ministry, 27 years
Inquirer * Business World * Manila Times * Manila Chronicle * Radio Veritas
Healing Ministry of Srs. Raquel/Gloria, RVM * for healing inquiries send emailEastwind inspirational versesyou are better off than many if you are poor materiallybut rich spiritually