Feeling like royalty with my umbrella

THE other day a friend of mine, Zona “Onic” Gamones, commented over at my Facebook page that I am “sosyal (classy)”since I don’t use “payong (Tagalog word for umbrella) anymore.”

She made the comment when she saw my photo while attending the 4th of July celebration here at Birkdale village. Zona didn't know that I am still using an umbrella. In fact it's a permanent fixture on me along with a cell phone and a book during summer.

As you can see I love my umbrella. It's summer and I couldn't handle the heat or the heat couldn't handle me either whenever I'm complaining about it. Very few Americans use umbrellas, they do so only when it rains hard and in fact even if it rains, they just run to the nearest building or shop.

I always “umbrella myself” so to speak back in my native land, the Philippines; now here at Tar Heels (North Carolina), I have many umbrellas of different colors and kinds because the summer heat can get really uncomfortable.

Some people look at me as if I am crazy every time I carry my umbrella or “payong” since I'm the only one doing it within their immediate vicinity. But now I've mustered the courage to use it, not caring about what the others think.

Four years ago I was conscious about using an umbrella since my hubby advised me that “American women don’t use umbrella even if it rains”  

I asked: What happens when it rains? He replied, ”run." It was okay at first, but after several days and after seeing the marks on my face, I told myself, no way this is damaging.

I have to insist what is best for me and that means using the umbrella whenever I go out no matter what people say about it. This resulted in me consulting Wikipedia about the umbrella's origin.  

“The first umbrellas were for protection from the sun and were possibly inspired from the canopy of a tree, which would offer a cool shade from the heat of the day,” according to Wikipedia.

The same Wikipedia page also said the origins of the umbrella came from China in the 11th century B.C. although ancient sculptures showed it was found in Nineveh, Persepolis and Thebes (Egypt).

Parasols were also used in India. The first umbrellas mostly came from big trees or a hat on a stick, which gave rise to the umbrella, as we know it today.”

Use of the umbrella passed through civilizations and would you believe only the wealthy and members of the ruling class used the umbrella? From Rome, Greece, France, to Egypt and Middle East, the royals use it then—hence why I felt like royalty.

But of course, it is not the umbrella that we see today. The umbrella of ancient times is quite big. Imagine Cleopatra carried by slaves with someone holding the umbrella for her. Then the umberlla found its way to China.

Almost all umbrellas are made in China now (I am not surprised China made everything from small to big items)

In many parts of the Philippines, the umbrella has many uses: 1. It is used to ward bad elements, the tip of the umbrella if sharp or pointed are used as protection against thieves and robbers; 2. Or inside public utility vehicle when males push their way intentionally to feel up the breasts of a female passenger, who then uses an umbrella to parry these unwanted advances; 3. Not only from the sun but rain; 4. To prevent getting sunburn; 5. Decoration 6. A cane 7. A non-talking companion and so many other uses.

But now, I used the umbrella for my beauty needs. I told my husband if somebody asks him you why I use an umbrella, he would answer “she is of royal blood, and a princess in the Philippines.“

An American lady approached me the other day and told me it's “pretty good to use that.” For me, the umbrella is one of my last links to the country of my birth.

Photo taken from Wikipedia

(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas. Visit and read her website at www.susanpalmes-dennis.simplesite.com. Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the Carolinas.com. These and other articles also appear at http://www.sunstar.com.ph/author/2582/susan-palmes-dennis.

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