Roxas City, Western Visayas, Philippines

Robinsons Mall / Roxas City / Panay / Western Visayas / Philippines

I had just left the pharmacy, where I had to ask a pharmacist whether or not they had any Vitamin D3 and turmeric capsules to sell. Readily available to purchase off a shelf in the United States, these are considered controlled substances in the Philippines and can only be handed over to your possession by a licensed pharmacist.

Because I guess kids be gettin’ wild, poppin’ dat turmeric.



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“Sorry, ma’am, we are completely sold out of turmeric capsules and the only thing with Vitamin D is this,“ he said, holding up a foil strip of capsule sachets labeled Calcium + Vitamin D3 + Minerals. “8 pesos each.”

+ Minerals. Not sketchy or flippant at all, I thought to myself. Like, for 16 cents a pop, here’s some of this stuff, then here’s the stuff that you actually wanted, plus some etc. etc. stuff that you may or may not want.

Cool, whatevs. “Twenty please, Kuya. Salamat.”

I found Mom at the supermarket portion of the mall. The malls here are their own, large-scale ecosystems where people go to bask in the air conditioned spaces – a luxury many don’t have in their own homes. You can do anything in a Filipino mall. You can buy every-day outfits, you can buy fancy outfits. You can buy home appliances and homes in general. You can do anything electronic, ever (the regular markets are adjacent to the flea markets – think Houston’s Galleria Mall with an extra floor on top that housed Harwin).

“Ma, they don’t have turmeric.”
“What do you mean, they don’t have turmeric?”
“I mean, they don’t have turmeric.”
“You should have asked the pharmacist.”
“I did ask the pharmacist.”
“And what did he say?”
“He said they’re completely out of turmeric.” And wasn’t dramatic about it at all, either.

Mom shook her head incredulously, almost as if she was more upset than I was over that silly little thing, then responded decidedly, saying, “Buko juice is a better anti-inflammatory, anyway. And since we are here, we can get it fresh.”

We headed to a Buko Loco stand (cause coconut juice can be sooo craaaazy #amirite?) and surveyed our options.

“So this is fresh buko juice?” Mom said to the poor boy manning the stand.

“Ma’am, yes ma’am, po.”
“With only fresh fruits blended in?”
“Y-yes ma’am.”
“Nothing else? Are you sure?”

His eyes darted to the poster behind him. “Yes ma’am, sure na ma’am.”

Mom pursed her lips as she handed over 180 PP – a little over $3.00, hands outstretched to receive the bag of buko juices.

“Okay, sigurado ka,” she said with skepticism in her voice.

Since you’re so sure…