Birthday Fun and Vintage 1981 Advertisements

So, today is my 30th birthday.  I guess that means I’m old now.  It’s one thing to be in your twenties, but when you’re in your thirties, well, I remember thinking that was really, really old when I was a teenager.  Somehow it doesn’t feel old now though, now that I’m the one pushing past 30.  I think I’ll write a different post about what I’ve learned about life over 30 years.  For now I just want to talk about the day.

Marble checking out pieces of lobster.

This is the first time in years that my birthday hasn’t been on a weekday, so I didn’t have to go to any job or classes.  Instead, I went with my mom to Chinatown to buy lobster and shrimp for my birthday dinner.  Walking through Chinatown always brings back memories of Singapore, especially when I walk past the small restaurants and they have the ducks and chickens hanging in the windows, and I see people ordering cuts of meat over rice, like the “chicken rice” and “duck rice” in Singapore’s hawker centers.  The sounds, the sights, the smells, all very Chinese, obviously, and I couldn’t help but think of my wife, who isn’t here with me to celebrate my birthday this year.  We had a lot of good times together in Singapore, and I’m looking forward to when she’ll join me here so we can make more happy memories together.  Her absence damped my spirits.

Like I said, being 30 now means I’m old.  I got a card from my dad and the text says: [Front] “You’re 30!  You’re Mature!  You’re Responsible!” [Inside] “And To Teenagers Everywhere, You’re Old!”  So, in the spirit of that oldness, my mom gave me a booklet called “1981, Remember When…, A Nostalgic Look Back In Time”.  A lot of cool and interesting stuff happened in 1981.  There was an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, a civil war started in El Salvador with many human rights abuses being committed by the US-backed government, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer got married, and the US Department of Agriculture decided that ketchup counts as a vegetable (WTF?).  One of the best parts of the booklet, though, are the advertisements from 1981 that it includes.  I scanned some to share here:

1981 Meow Mix Print Ad

1981 Meow Mix Print Ad

1981 PreSun Sunscreen Lotion Print Ad

1981 PreSun Sunscreen Lotion Print Ad

1981 Sears Stereo-TV Sale Print Ad

1981 Sears Stereo-TV Sale Print Ad

This one is a little crazy, isn’t it?  In 1981, it cost 400 dollars to get a 19 inch color CRT TV.  Nowadays, when you can find a good sale, you can get a 32 inch 1080p flatscreen TV for 350 dollars.  With inflation, the difference is even higher!  And check out that slammin’ stereo.  That bad boy even played 8 track tapes!

1981 Sinclair ZX80 Print Ad.

1981 Sinclair ZX80 Print Ad.

Personal computers were just starting to become affordable.  This Sinclair ZX80 even ran BASIC, and according to the ad you could be writing complex programs in a week.  With confidence even!  The first computer I ever used was a Commodore 64.  I remember it loaded up in DOS, and through trial and error I figured out how to start the computer games we had for it, which ran on 5 inch floppies.  One was a Superman game that really pissed me off.  Anyway, the Nintendo was a lot better for gaming.

Anyway, my day was enjoyable, overall, but now the day is mostly over and I have some Anthropology homework that’s due by midnight!

Voting Day in the Philippines for 2010 Elections

Today was voting day for the 2010 elections.  We got here just in time to witness the madness.  In the US, campaigning can get pretty wild and out of hand, especially when the target audience is a bunch of radicals or ultra-rightwing conservatives, but in the Philippines they step it up a notch.

Hanging Philippines Campaign Posters

First off, the campaigning is in-your-face.  You really can’t miss the fact that there are elections going on because almost every available inch of wall, post, and overhang is used to display posters of the candidates.  Some campaigning parties will even run strings across roadways (as seen in the image above) and have hundreds of the same poster hung up.  It gives the whole thing a sort of festive feel.  I also saw a lot of private vehicles and transportation vehicles (like taxis and tricycles) covered in campaign posters (pictured below).  Every last one has a profile photo of the candidate, presumably at their best.

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The other interesting thing about campaigning in the Philippines is that trucks will drive around, or position themselves, with music blaring to draw attention to a particular candidate.  They’ll use the music (minus the vocals) of a popular song and overlay it with a slogan or a song about the candidate.  For example, we heard one playing the music from Lady GaGa’s Poker Face.

Today was the actual day for voting.  We hadn’t intended to leave the house, for safety reasons, but wound up going to a restaurant called Max’s with my father-in-law, brother-in-law and brother-in-law’s wife.  It was a delicious meal!  The only sign we saw of the voting process was a long line of tricycles and a crowd of people gathered at one point along the road, outside an elementary school where the voting was being done.  Other than that it was traffic and business as usual.  I suppose the real drama might come when the results are announced, if they haven’t been already.

I believe this year was the first year that the Philippines used an electronic voting system, rather than manually counted ballots.  The idea is that it’s supposed to inspire confidence in the citizens and allay fears of corruption and cheating.  It may work in some areas.  Some parts of the Philippines are so poor that a shiny computer screen is almost like magic, but most educated voters will probably realize that computer results can easily be manipulated, the same way that manual votes can easily be forged or disposed of.

If you’re not familiar with the government in the Philippines, it’s so consumed with corruption that it’s surprising it hasn’t fallen apart yet.  The current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is recognized as one of the most corrupt leaders to ever hold office anywhere.

I doubt that the election will be any more fair this year than it’s ever been, but hopefully whoever gains office will be more fair than the outgoing president.

Giant Billboards

One of the first things you’ll notice as you leave NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), besides the hellish traffic, are the gigantic billboards.  Ya, giant really isn’t even enough to describe these things.

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Billboards aren’t anything new to me.  They’re all over the place in the US, especially along highways, but Manila takes it to a whole new level.  These things are about four times the size of the average billboard in the US.  They’re so big, in fact, that they pose a safety hazard during bad weather.  My wife was telling me that a few years ago there was a hurricane that caused a lot of the billboards to fall over.  They fell onto the highways, which had cars on them, and killed a few people.

I think they’re pretty interesting to look at, but only because of how big they are!