Brown American Smiler.
Ron Somera, Don’t Go Home Just Yet!
He doesn’t consider himself a smiler but I do. His book says so, even if his photograph doesn’t, and neither does the cover image. Smile!
A Brown American. I’m reading his book, page 124: He was now all dressed up with somewhere to go, all business suit and tie, a junior executive. To his surprise, the Forum restaurant manager in
Do you remember me? I asked him.
He looked at me but said nothing. He obviously had no idea who I was until I told him of my brief stint as a dishwasher in the
I have long forgiven this man. In fact, I was grateful that that incident happened. It is true, everything that happens in our lives has a reason. The episode in
I say you have to learn to forgive. If not, at least learn to smile. After he quit dishwashing, he found a caring, loving and generous couple, Filipino and German, Monico and Tillie Mones, who welcomed him as if he were their son. Time to smile.
If you don’t smile, you should not expect people to smile at you. You should not expect Lady Luck (or Mr Fortune) to smile at you.
Are you a Filipino in
Desperate, disgusted and want to go home? You shouldn’t go home to the same house twice – you should have changed by the second time. It should be a different you. Read Brown American and it might just change you.
Living a life is not without mistakes; writing a book is not without mistakes either. Considering the book’s subtitle, ‘Life in the
This is Major: Brown American, the book, is actually 2 books in 1, in a manner of speaking. It is very helpful to the Filipinos in
What the heck! Life is great in
So I wrote the book.
(If you didn’t get the joke, remember, the book is about life in the
Through a network of spies (mostly the maids) …
As a car driver, his Papa had only 1 speed: slow. Then he writes:
Papa was thorough in teaching us the rudiments of driving. We learned everything from him (except driving slow).
But to my surprise, every time I threw in a few Spanish words, they would all respond in English. (What the heck!)
70, Ron Somera’s Brown American is half stories about life in the
I note that on page 10, instead of ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ which I memorized in high school and I am not a Brown American, Ron Somera has ‘the land of the brave and the home of the free.’ He is trying to be funny at the expense of the Yankees? I myself like the Yankees; I can make fun of them where I sit (
The table of contents should show you what to expect from Brown American in 19 chapters:
c1. Journey of a lifetime
c2. My Hometown
c3. Family Tree
c4. War Comes to the
c5. Liberation Days
c6. Growing Up
c8. Working and Falling in Love
c9. A Foreign Student in
c10. Hire Me
c12. Romantic Interludes
c13. Love, Courtship and Marriage
c15. Odd Jobs for Survival
c17. New Profession and Parenting
c18. Final Employment
Great! This is what I gathered from those pages:
c1, start p10: Journey of a lifetime? He talks about being a fanatic watching
c2, start p15: My hometown? He talks about Magellan discovering the
c3, start p22: Family tree? He talks about how courting a Filipina is courting the family first. Then he climbed a pomelo tree for a pretty girl with dimples on both cheeks – and fell. He lost the girl, he bruised his leg. Lucky fellow.
c4, start p30: War comes to the
c5, start p51: Liberation days? He talks about when the American soldiers left, their shoeshine business left also. But English as the medium of instruction stayed.
c6, start p61: Growing up? He talks about how he chiseled a violin out of wood himself – and made the heaviest violin in the world! And he learned from GI soldiers that the best beer in the world was San Miguel, our very own. I love my own, my native land.
c7, start p76: Education? He talks about how at UP Los Baños he had not learned the culinary arts – he didn’t know how to cook sinigang to save himself (from ridicule). Tough luck. When he became a Cadet Major in ROTC, the girls went after the Colonels. Tough luck!
c8, start p83: Working and falling in love? He talks about rejecting the offer of Jun Catan to join MAPECON, and how Jun Catan became a millionaire many times over after that. (If he had joined, would Jun Catan have become a millionaire?)
c9, start p93: Foreign student in
c10, start p122: Hire me? He talks about having a hard time handling American idiom as a copywriter. (Copywriters are always having a hard time handling American idiom. I know – I was a copywriter once myself.)
c11, start p136:
c12, start p145: Romantic interludes? He talks about how after several dates with the same girl, he popped the question – of religion. He lost the girl. And when he thought he had nothing to lose but her – he lost. It was another girl.
c13, start p152: Love, courtship and marriage? He talks about his favorite eatery, the Ponderosa Steak House. And he says, ‘Exactly nine months after our wedding, our daughter, Kim, was born.’ (Ron, who’s counting?)
c14, start p160:
c15, start p166: Odd jobs for survival? He talks about how his subordinates in K Mart were trying to sabotage his work because he had bypassed them in becoming Assistant Manager. He swore off joining another networking company, and then he answered just one more phone call …
c16, start p174: Entrepreneurship. He talks about the ukulele craze in the
c17, start p184: New profession and parenting? He talks about how his children knew he was not a rich man – at that time. (He forgot he was rich in experience and in family. If you’re not successful, you can always be proud of your children’s success, like Ron Somera is.)
c18, start p189: Final employment? He talks about ‘the American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ (Now, that makes a lot of sense to me. If you can’t pursue happiness, at least you can pursue life – liberty without life is nothing.)
c19, start p192: Retirement? He talks about spirituality, his own and his family’s. He talks about Pastor Rick Warren and his book The Purpose-Driven Life. (That’s a mistake, Ron Somera – Rick Warren doesn’t need you or anybody else to endorse his book. It’s a bestseller such as it is already! And your book ends great without that Rick Warren insert at the end.)
Ron Somera had had his ups and downs – many ups, many downs. As a student of the
If a short, not-so-good-looking Brown American can more than survive, why can’t you? A college degree isn’t necessary, not even an MS degree, as his experience shows – but a degree of faith in family, in oneself and more in God are necessary.
Ron Somera now resides with his one and only wife of 35 years Millicent Pasaporte and 2 children, Kimberly and Ronald, in a well-appointed, affluent home in San Diego, California: 5 bedrooms, 5 TV sets, 5 computers, 6 cars, 1 piano, 1 karaoke, 1 Jacuzzi, 1 family room with 1 TV set, 1 happy home. He has time in his hands – he is retired. 70, he has begun to bald, bulge, bifocal. He doesn’t worry about the future. He is settled where he is. He’s happy, as you can see in his book. He cannot cross the same river twice, but he goes back to the same lovely home again and again. If he goes somewhere else, it will be another Home. That will be sometime yet, and he’s not in a hurry.
As sure as there’s winter, spring, summer and fall, there’s a lot more to read in Ron Somera’s little Brown American book of 196 pages. Like, how to survive a war in your country and ostracism in another country – they’re not so different, are they? You never know if you will survive.
All in all, to me, the message of Brown American is this: Look at your past, look at your present, look at your future, and while you’re looking, remember you have a God – and smile.