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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, February 18, 2023

entry arrow4:54 PM | The Famous Pinoy Commercial Calendar

Growing up, I found this kind of oversized commercial calendar ugly ... but apparently so many people have great affection for this style, which has been in circulation for decades. A confession: this aversion was certainly the terrible snob in my younger self. For one, I hated that it was so blatantly commercial, with a store’s name emblazoned on every page. My brother Edwin, who lives in Switzerland, also used to send us beautiful wall calendars with picturesque Swiss views with the pages bound by some nicely designed springs, and I preferred those compared to this gargantuan calendar that always seemed to be too big for any wall it was set on. They usually ended up on a kitchen wall. It also didn’t help that I seem to have a hardwired trait of ignoring calendars, and even until now I have difficulty determining dates. [Case in point: I used to design posters for the Silliman University Culture and Arts Council, and I remember tasking one fellow member to always check the dates I put in on the posters because I always got them wrong. I have “calendar blindness. So, yes: calendars and me don’t mesh well together.]

I was shocked, and amused, to find out that other people actually love this calendar. But I also understand. It’s frills-free, and reminds you of each date, in your face, with their humongous type. My mum-in-law and the s.o. are in pieces at the end of each year looking for stores who give these away for free. This calendar disappears pretty fast every year.

Dumaguete-based Pakistani farmer/poet Mohammed Malik noted to me: 
This year is my first time using it and I find it a very compelling design. Extremely functional. It's the functionality of the design its fans point out the most, conveniently summed by Cebu writer Janet Villa: My Mama loved those calendars, Ian. Kay dako ug letra, red ang Sunday, and then naay phases of the moon [Mama was superstitious] plus naay high and low tides [important if living near the beach].

Almost everyone tells me that the inclusion of tidal information was very important to them, or to their family members.

Sanda Fuentes, whose family owns Lab-as Restaurant, says: 
My mom uses this too for the tidal info which is very essential to the fishpond operations. Which Siaton poet Grace Monte de Ramos affirms: I love this calendar because it has the tides, ebb and high and the time, in addition to the phases of the moon. Another writer, Andrea Teran, says the tidal information was important to families who love going to the beach. Tidal info for when to go to the beach, she says. But there’s more: My dad would write utang on it, too. The calendar was huge enough for family to tack on reminders on it.

Plus there’s the added factor that it’s cheap. This calendar is usually given away for free, by suki nga mga tindahan, and even larger retail stores like SM. Sanda says: 
I still recall waiting on Nijosa to hand us their calendars when we did our December shopping. Janet further reveals: Unya libre pa jud gikan sa hardware nga suki ni Mama, or gikan sa Aboitiz. And it's on cheap paper so Mama didn't cringe at writing on it or crossing out dates.

This calendar is such a fixture in Filipino households that many who have migrated have taken this to be a token for that longing for home. Poet James Neish, who now lives in Canada, affirms this: 
Reminds me of home for sure. This nostalgia has pushed another friend to be creative about it: A couple of years ago, Dean Visitacion tells me, I printed my own calendar na ingon ani format. Pawala kamingaw ug tambal sa homesickness.

Who started or designed this calendar? Googling doesn’t bring me any relevant information. I’d love to know!

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