Christmas made in China and other holiday trash
“Inset screw “A” to correspondent holes in brown panel like diagram” says the assembly instruction sheet of a Do-It-Yourself shoe cabinet. I struggled to put one together using both my poor “Chinglish” (Chinese-English) vocabulary and non-existent carpentry skills. Directions expressed in “Chinglish” are pretty common in many China products. These directions are a nosebleed and comprehending them is as tough as hard labor itself.
When assembling China-made furniture, I’ve made it a habit to actually use non-verbal skills and common sense, rather than rely on the instructions sheet for wisdom. In lieu of written directions, a drawing should suffice.
It makes you wonder how the users’ manual for the E-Pad, Hi-Pad or the I-Ped reads. These I-Pad clones may only sell for about P5,000 in Divisoria but the great savings may not recompense the inconvenience of understanding how they’re supposed to work, their questionable quality and their “limited use.” By “limited use” I am referring to the pain of having to use them only in the privacy of one’s own home unless one is devoid of shame. Whipping out an I-Ped in some coffee place in Greenbelt 5 is too daring for my taste.
There are also MP3’s and MP4’s that come in all shapes, sizes, and obscure brand names. There are I-Pods with inverted Apple logos and DVD players manufactured by the unknown. Mobile phones with I-Phone features also come in abundance in stalls that sell everything except truthfulness. As long as these gadgets cost less than a thousand someone would be willing to buy both the product and the frustration that comes with it. And I want to note that many of the obscure DVD brands sold in Greenhills would not even play the pirated DVD movies sold by the same vendor. Hmmm… choosy.
But despite these inconveniences (and the attendant embarrassment) many of us still fall for China-made products because they are cheap. And in this season of giving and as we count our blessings, China is smack in the middle of it. Toys, gadgets, food products, house ware, trinkets and clothes made in China cost much less than products made elsewhere in the world. If one has a long gift list, one may consider heaps of cheap China products.
Kids these days own toys I could only dream of when I was young. A Nintendo Game and Watch or an Atari game console can only come as a reward for good grades or when there’s spare from one’s parent’s Christmas bonuses – that or one’s parents are really rich and can purchase them at whim. Today PSP and all its Chinese cousins can be had from sidewalks and flea markets at prices below poverty line. Even kids with bad grades get their hands on them today.
Electronica is of course, top-of-the-line gifts to give. Other plastic toys for manual pleasure cost as low as 10 pesos and ripe for the picking in tiangges and even reputable stores that should be more discerning of lead content or quality. Many of these toys have a play life of 30 minutes – just about the time one needs to rush a toddler to the emergency room for choking on a loosely-mounted toy part. That’s because many parents ignore the words “3 years and up” on the package, which amazingly Chinglish has gotten correctly. “3 years and up” – the supposed age of discernment (which I seriously doubt) – is the only warning consistent in many China-made products.
They barely have warnings on possible lead poisoning from substandard paint, and neither will they tell you that their chocolates, cookies or beverage have Melamine or worse, Formaldehyde—preserving our bodies long before we’re dead.
And then there are a host of products for the ladies to make them look pretty… fake! Imitation a.k.a. “Class A” signature bags also “come a dime a dozen” and people buy them even if the most obvious sign it’s fake is the disparity between the price of the original version and their gross monthly salary including bonuses. Conversely, you can tell a fake LV bag from an original one by checking the owner’s payslip.
And then there are mysterious creams from Shenzhen that take blemishes away. Despite many BFAD warnings, women continue to purchase these suspicious chemicals in their lofty pursuit for whiteness.
If only there’s a cream that wipes away corruption then I’m definitely buying.
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EcoWaste Philippines and Green Peace advocate a cleaner and greener Christmas by enjoining everyone to help ease holiday trash and E-waste. Yes, that’s waste from electronic gadgets. Amazon.com in its survey said seven out of ten gifts (worldwide figures) are electronic gadgets.
“E-waste is an urgent topic of concern, especially for countries such as the Philippines, where discarded electronics from countries such as Japan and South Korea are exported as secondhand goods,” explains Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of Ban Toxics.
Improper disposal of these items may be harmful to the health or the environment and Eco Waste advises us to know the brands, components and harmful contents of these gadgets before buying them for ourselves or as gifts.
“The spirit of Christmas is not about things that are new, but things that have meaning,” says Mr. Rei Panaligan, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition. “It’s the thought that counts – and in buying electronic gifts, a little thinking goes a long, long way in protecting our loved ones’ health, and preventing more toxic e-waste from piling up in our already ailing environment.”
A green holidays, everyone!*