Sunday, October 26, 2014

A couple of years ago

 I ran into a former cohort of mine. We knew each other from spending time in Kodiak.

One of the subjects that came up for some odd reason was the Filipino community. I never had a single problem with them and he said that he hadn't either although a shipmate of his had been stabbed by one of its members.

When he told me about the stabbing I commented that it was most likely fueled by alcohol and testosterone on the part of the fisherman. He agreed. It was a case of someone looking for a fight and finding one.

Generally a scuffle involving Filipinos happened when some drunken fisherman stumbled over and picked a fight with them. Most of them are of a slight build and not fighters by nature. When they are forced to fight they generally look for an equalizer. The culture in the Philippines is somewhat of a blade culture so grabbing a knife makes sense.

There was no shortage of stupidity. When someone went looking to get his ass kicked there was generally someone there willing to oblige him. If he is a big assailant you can generally expect the assaulted party to throw an equalizer of some sort into the equation. Ginsu. Buck and Schrade make  good ones.

When I arrived in Kodiak I was warned that Filipinos carried sharp knives and as a result I stood clear and observed. I saw a group of people that were fun loving, cheerful and basically happy.

Most of them were cannery workers and it was the evening before cannery payday and a half-dozen were sitting at a table nursing beers. By this time I knew a few of the the ins and outs of Kodiak and decided to make a few friends. I told the bartender to give me a case of beer.

"I think I'll make a few friends," I told him.

He gave me a deal on a case of Olympia, popped all the tops and I took it over to the guys and dropped it off on the table of surprised Filipinos. Instant party.

That's all it took.

I have said in the past that the Filipinos are the Irish of the South Seas and to a point they are. They love a party, are happy by nature, never forget a slight and never forget a kind gesture.

After that I had a standing invite into their community.

A meal in a Filipino home is similar to a meal in an Irish, Italian or Mexican household. It is bedlam, chaos, laughter, teasing and just plain fun. There is nothing formal or serious about it at all. 

Actually the case of beer incident wasn't my introduction to the community. I had been introduced to the community via a cannery I briefly worked in for a few days processing roe herring.

It was after I had been there a couple of days that I  mentioned I had carpentry skills and when I did a couple of the Filipinas looked at a Mexican woman. The  Mexican woman told me I ought to work for a couple of Mexicans that had a boat repair business.

One of them even went so far as to make a phone call and arrange a meeting. One of the Mexicans met me at the door at quitting time and hired me on the spot as somewhat of a grunt for about a week's worth of work.

For what I learned from them I would have worked for free. They were astonishing. I won't get into that here, but these guys were amazing. When they were done with the job they hooked me up with another builder that needed a hand and from then on I never wanted for work.

As far as the case of beer incident went it paid huge dividends. A couple of times I was invited into their homes for dinner and in return I took a couple of Filipinas to the movies. I was clever enough to offer to take a brother with me.

These people are pretty devout Old School Catholics and I didn't want even the appearance of any shenanigans with the womanfolk.

Over the next few years my friendship with many of them developed and they became another part of the woodwork although a couple of times at the Anchor Bar I'd get grabbed to defuse a confrontation. 

One confrontation I settled was a failure to communicate. A somewhat drunk gentle giant was horsing around and managed to intimidate a small Filipino. I sensed trouble and said something to the Filipino on my left and the incident was headed off.

We wound up sitting them down at a table and handing them both beers and telling them not to get up until they were done. They became friends of a sort.

All it took was the ability to treat people with courtesy and respect and to be willing to part with a case of beer that I got back tenfold anyways.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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