December 22, 2004

rest

there are a thousand and one things to do before this year ends, but my brain seemed to have already packed up and went on leave. ah! vacation will have to wait till the 24th for most of us here at the station.



last monday's christmas party turned out to be just as fun as in the past. the only difference is that there were hardly any kids, and the ones who came with their moms must have been terribly bored since there were no games. congratulations to tekpipol for winning the best presentation.



this afternoon, fellow tekpipol macky and archie will tie the knot at santuario de san jose, while vlad will marry his long-time girlfriend len at barasoain church on the 28th. pangga went to her friend's shower last night, with the wedding slotted on january 2.



wow... so many weddings...



congratulations and best wishes to you all!



well, that's it, my last blog for year 2004. it's been a very eventful year for me. while the time to reflect is such a rare luxury, i pray that all the year's lessons be remembered and learned. for now, i need to rest.



have a blessed christmas and new year ahead. ^_^

December 18, 2004

silent night

this monday we'll be having our office christmas party. no games, no raffles, no festivities. just a simple gathering of staffs, friends, and guests.



the office decided to give some of the funds meant for our usual christmas party to the calamity victims in quezon, and i'm so happy the management did that. beer is all that i need to be the happiest party-goer you can find. heehee! Ü



and there will be none of the wacky and noisy games. the passing of FPJ deserves solemnity -- he is, after all, the first cousin of papa bear, and he has always been generous to us. sometimes, i think God has a better plan for him, and He made sure that Da King leave this world still untainted by the ugly world of politics.



the other night, my housemate Ruby mentioned that FPJ's death wasn't as shocking as that of rico yan and nida blanca. true, and i thought i would prefer to leave that way: fading. it doesn't matter how, i just wish it would not be abrupt.



i remember, back in my highschool days, that i swore to never grow old, sick and helpless. back in those days i wished for death to be swift and if possible painless, should it be my time to go. i've seen how old people wither away slowly in pain.



my fear of slow death somehow pushed me to document my life through journals, pictures, and what-nots. my thoughts and memories can now be summarized in about five shoeboxes of letters and mementos, eight notebooks of journals, two webpages (including this blog), over three gigabytes of digital photos, six hardphoto albums, and many more unsorted hardphotos. except for a fully writen will and testament, i'm pretty much guaranteed of a well-documented life should i die anytime.



and i'm ready to die anytime.



but just now, it occured to me: why do i need those documents? has my life been so utterly boring to be even considered "living"? that i need these journals, poems, drawings, and photos so people close to me get to know who i really am while i walked this earth so quietly and inconspicuously? i have neither a nobel prize nor a worthy achievement to remember me by... so maybe i'm desperately piecing together a memory of life, stored in shoeboxes, sketch pads, and photo archives.



many have celebrated their 30th birthday last month. one of them told me how he felt: "i feel old at thirty, and what's worse is that i have nothing to show for myself except the abundance of flabs." i may not have that much flabs, but the truth in everything he said struck me like a sledgehammer. sigh...



this month, two of my friends will get married. they have somehow assured themselves a certain continuity by joining their lives with another. soon they will have children and families. their legacy to this life is coming to a full circle. congratulations and best wishes to you, arch and macky, vlad and len!! the christmas may be silent, but may you have lots of bangs this year-end. (hwehehe! grabe, green na ito ^_^)



merry christmas!! stay clear of firecrackers, okay?

December 14, 2004

forgotten?

first of all...



to Da King *raise mug of coffee* may your legacy never be forgotten.



okay, i feel genuinely sorry now for what i did (refer to prior entry and comments). i'm working to (try) make amends.



i'm not making excuses, i take responsibility for the whole thing, but something just occured to me -- no one has ever told me that someone is missing in the front page of the postcard. the draft went around (except, unfortunately, the person missing) for comments, but none has noticed that someone is not in the picture.



is it by chance that everyone is too busy to notice?

December 13, 2004

season's greetings





sorry

i must be a really, really evil enemy. my attacks are silent, cruel, and so instinctive that i hardly noticed the execution. i won't even realize the extent of the damage until my foe showed up devastated.



i guess it was a bit too much, what i did, even for someone like him.



was that remorse i just felt? that's a good sign, i guess. but sorry is the only thing i have to say.



sigh. i hate this side of me...



the monster within just smiled, licking its bloody claws in satisfaction.

December 09, 2004

storm

there’s a certain anger welling up inside me, like mercury steadily rising. the monster still has no face, it’s nature still eludes my comprehension. but it’s there, it’s real, and if don’t act fast it’s going to tear me apart.

December 08, 2004

dance,

like no one is watching...



it was in highschool when i first espoused this belief: have fun like nothing else matters. somewhere along those crazy years, despite the dominant feeling of invulnerability among us, my friends and i developed this view that any day could be our last, so we must make the best out of it.





sing, like no one is listening. love, like you'll never get hurt...



but things change.



gone are the days of immortality. we're not invulnerable, after all. the booze has got to stop at some point. smoke has got to go. your burned and scarred heart should have learned by now to automatically raise its shields if it doesn't want to bleed anymore.



and you worry now about a lot of things -- your reputation and that of the institution you represent -- you know, all that professional crap.



but change is good. the concept of fun will not always be the same. when i find myself in the quiet company of a good book, a mug of hot coffee, gentle sea breeze, in a pristine white beach, i realize that i'm having fun -- and that i can die peacefully the next day.



i can still dance... i can still sing... i love... and i will stay this way.



...



oh about that professional crap thingy, it's a different thing of course if it's your boss who's giving the thumbs up to let loose. and so at the Marketing and Opinion Research Society (MORES) christmas party last night at New World Renaissance Hotel CATZ disco, we did just that -- have fun.







l-r: mae, lynn, boss mahar, mear (partly hidden), mike, and me.

December 06, 2004

trains, buses, and happy thoughts

the friday evening rush at the mrt was jam-packed. sigh.



that particular friday, the malls at ayala and the one at north edsa simultaneously held a sale (kiss those 13th month pay goodbye, wage earners! har har!), and in my the trip back to quezon city, the train was full to the brim.



i was standing with my back on the wall next to the glass window. a lady took the space in front of me. as the train stopped at the next station, and another deluge of people boarded, we got squeezed together -- with our faces just barely a foot away.



no problem with me. i usually daydream when commuting by train, and my face usually looks blank when i'm at it, with my eyes fixed onto nothingness. one glance at the lady and i can say that she's doing the same: blank expression, eyes looking at nothing.



suddenly she smiled. nope, she's not smiling at me. i looked behind me to find no one, and nothing, except the glass window -- she was smiling at her reflection. she paid absolutely no attention to me, so i went back to daydreaming.



and then she stifled a laugh, covering her mouth.



it was hard to ignore her this time, "miss, bakit?"



"sorry, wala lang,” she said, still smiling.



...





wow, she just had one of those moments – out of nowhere, you remember something so funny and so happy that you can’t stop smiling at yourself, and even laugh out loud.



i remember having those moments when i read Pol Medina’s Pugad Baboy 2 (his funniest compilation ever, in my opinion). i had to laugh out loud by myself inside the UP ikot jeep, or else i’ll suffer from gas pain and stomach cramp (or worse, i might "break wind"). “para kang naka-joots, ah,” i remember my friend telling me.



...



the lady in front of me just had a happy thought. i felt a little envious.



my mind has been too pre-occupied with daydreaming, of planning what to do next with life, thinking of solutions to problems, and fantasizing what life and future would be without those problems.



my envy didn’t last long, though. i can look anywhere and find something that can bring forth a memory, a happy one. sure, life has been harsh and will always be, but as a good friend once told me “good memories should be written on stone and the bad ones on sand”.



i looked through the glass window, at the traffic below the railways. it was horrible. the buses that filled the streets were lined up almost motionless.



so many buses...



before i knew it, i was smiling.

of life and roommates

yesterday, i ran into my former landlady. she lives in the nearby barangay and runs a lying-in clinic, which i helped her put up. i was one of her last batch of boarders, and we're her favorites. *angel halo appears* ting! heehee!



we had our usual updates (and chismis). somewhere along the conversation a familiar name popped up, and the mood changed:



"me: any news about mon (note: not his real name)?"



"landlady: nope, none at all. mau's (note:not her real name, too) parents are tracing his relatives in cavite. that guy is so "madulas" (slippery), "parang siyang palos" (he's like an eel)."



"me: okay. i hope they find something. my regards to mau."



having spent my entire adult life in boarding houses, dormitories, and apartments, i had chances of meeting, and living with, the most interesting personalities i've come across with -- and the adventures (and misadventures) that go with them.



there are a few that i recall with a certain fondness, simply by their sheer uniqueness and the things they've done. here are my top three most memorable roommies.



first, back in undergrad, is the guy who takes a peek inside his roommates' pants every dawn. why? he wanted to see our morning erection and compare them with that of his own. in the absence of morning erection, he would try to induce it by you-know-how. omg! he already got punched several times (one of which from me), but that didn't seem to have any effect.



we've always been uncertain about his sexuality -- none of our roommates' "gaydar" worked on him. he's got a girlfriend, and he's an rotc officer too boot. that guy was transferred to several rooms, and victimized six other guys before finally getting kicked out of the dorm. last thing i heard was he got married and settled in the province.



second is the guy who ran away with my 5-month lodging fee (almost P10,000), my sony walkman, and my watch, and went missing for half a year. his poor parents in the province called me almost everyday, asking for his whereabouts. i had to file a police blotter at the local campus station, and face the ire of those he owe money to. six months later, he showed up asking for forgiveness. it took all my self-control not to beat him him up for what he put his parents through, but in the end i was just thankful he's still alive (though i wouldn't know for how long, considering the many people he owe money to were out to give him serious harm). he disappeared to his province (a very wise move, i say). he never paid me a single cent. his parents are small-land farmers, and i never had the heart to ask them for what their son took from me.



this guy is one of the most musically-talented persons i've met. he plays the guitar like something straight out of a spanish classical, and he can turn any song into a guitar solo. he was active in religious and student organizations, and i see him in every mass held at the campus dorm back in undergrad. we have common friends, who spoke positively of him as well. that was why we readily accepted him in as our roommate, and gave him my full trust. little did i know it was to be one of the biggest mistakes i'll commit, because suddenly he changed into someone we never expected, and caused havoc to his friends and his family.



he has all the talents i could only dream of, but i guess we'll never know what life has in store for any of us.



finally, mon, the pretty-boy who smokes pot, and got our neighbor's daughter pregnant. at the first few months, he was polite enough to bring his smoking outside the house. he's a nice guy, and a generous one too, as he would offer us his pot and supply of condoms in his cabinet, should we need them. a true vanidoso, he showed us a lot about male vanity and the art of female subtleties (here i remember the movie "the tao of steve"). minus the pot, he would have been someone i'd like to hang around with -- he works for an ad agency, while i'm into social research. we also share the same passion for beer. he's never said no to any of my invitation to visit the nearby campus beer garden, and we would drink and talk till wee hours of the morning.



but later on the smell of pot started seeping into our room, beds, and clothes. our landlady booted him out after a warning, but we learned later that he did more than just smoke pot. a few days after he got kicked out, the girl next door, mau, tearfully showed up with her father, asking where they can find our former roommate. it turned out that, when all his roommates are out, mon would invite mau inside our room, smoke pot, and have you-know-what (my my, whatever happened to all those condoms in his cabinet?). the guy now is in hiding. every now and then i would visit my former landlady, and catch a glimpse of the girl next door, with her cute and bouncing baby girl. sigh. i wish mon could see the baby. maybe, just maybe, he'd change his mind.



well, the rest are history. taking everything as a whole, i'd say i've been (and still am) lucky with the people i live with. these few exceptions are there as life's precious lessons as well.

November 30, 2004

the ties that bind (part 2)

i look at our family now and try to remember the last time we even resembled a "typical" family -- one that, for instance, gathers together for dinner and hearty conversations at the end of the day. or one that we can go home to for cheers and support everytime life gets a tad too harsh.
 
i remember the first one: for a few years during my elementary days, we were together like that -- waiting for everyone to be home so we can have dinner together. it started when my parents decided to live together in aklan. prior to that, i was living with my mother in manila, my sister was with my father in batangas, and my brother was with my grandparents in aklan.
 
we grew up hardly knowing that we have siblings. the pictures of us together as infants meant so little to me. in short, back then, all i know was that whoever these kids are, i must call the girl "ate" (big sister) and the boy "manong" (big brother). other than that, they mean nothing to me.
 
and so all hell broke lose when we were united in 1981.
 
i was 6 years old, my sister 8, and my brother 9. in those young, impressionistic age, we finally got to meet each other. we were strangers suddenly thrust together by circumstances we can't even understand back then.
 
the power struggle was horrific. not a single day would pass without one of us getting hurt. my brother would assert his authority, which my sister and i simply refuse to recognize. my sister wished that she never had brothers, and even tried running away from home, while i simply could not understand why i should yield to these two kids. the fact that we don't even look alike only worsened the situation then (my brother took after our mother-side lolo, my sister our mother-side lola, and i my father).
 
we fought over toys, books, pens... anything and everything! we scratched, punched, kicked, and wrestled ourselves to exhaustion everytime our parents were not around.
 
those were horrible years, indeed. i can still see the faint scar in my right foot where my sister stabbed me with a ballpen. haha! *shudder*
 
but slowly, we accepted and tolerated each other. the scratching, punching, and kicking slowly lost their appeal.
 
and finally, we started caring for each other.
 
my brother fought off anyone who bullied me around at school, and my sister helped me with my assignments. i would give my brother's bicycle its regular washing and oiling, and bring home my sister's favorite fruits and give her pet dog his weekend bath.
 
by the time we reached highschool, we were friends. we would invite each other to our respective school's events, even if they're rivals. my brother and i made sure we get to meet all of our sister's "manliligaw" (suitors), just so we can threaten them bodily harm should they try anything stupid on her. in my lowest and darkest hours back in highschool, i remember them rushing to my aid.
 
we see so less of each other now, but i guess that's the natural way of things.
 
sigh! i miss my family...
 
ah! christmas season does conjure a lot of memories.

November 26, 2004

sleep

i think i'm on to something -- if this is not a fluke, i'd say it's a breakthrough.
 
for the past two days i've been sleeping at around 11pm, three hours earlier than my usual bedtime. it started when i had oprah's show in the background while i was tinkering with some sketches. the show was about human internal organs, and later about how the body heals itself. i didn't pay much attention to the part where they show and compare the sickly organs with the healthy, normal ones. but the latter speaker discussed the body's innate ability to heal itself, and he mentioned meditation.
 
"the key to meditation is to pay close attention to yourself -- your body, emotions, and thoughts...", says the doctor whose name i can't remember.
 
it then occured to me how long it has been since i last practiced meditation. in my college years, we meditate before and after martial arts training. i was not insomniac then.
 
and so i stowed my pencil and sketch book, did a little stretching, and forced my body to assume the meditation position taught to us by our sensei. the discomfort didn't last, the familiar kneeling stance was soon recognized by my body as it settled peacefully after a short while.
 
my emotions told me of the fears and anxieties that i refuse to acknowledge and confront. it complained of being ignored as i bury myself with work, drawing, gaming, and many other things that keep me numb and pre-occupied...
 
i heard my emotions loud and clear, and just knowing what they are seemed to have rid my head of a terrible burden.
 
but my body suddenly told me that it's sleepy. that i have to rest my eyes and let my shoulders fall, and that my mind needs to rest as well, and allow it to dream a little longer.
 
i slept soundly right after that short mediation, and woke up two hours earlier than usual, with more bounce and vigor. i usually get that kind of energy level only after my first mug of brewed coffee for the day.
 
it's been like this for two days now. less drawing and gaming, but someday i'll figure out how to pull them neatly together in a manageable schedule. but for now, i need to sleep...

November 25, 2004

the ties that bind (part 1)

last sunday i met with my brother, the eldest in the brood of three (i'm the youngest). we we're to meet our uncle at the airport and treat him to some goodtime (great food and some beer, that is) before he flies back to the US.
 
and so we took our uncle to baywalk, roxas boulevard, had dinner, a little chat, and drove him back to the airport in time for his flight to LA.
 
as we left the airport, the conversation was fast-paced --  how's dad? how's mom? how's mama (our lola)? how are the kids? wife? girlfriend? business? work? new places you've been to? what's our plan for christmas? new year?...
 
by the time he dropped me off a mall in makati, we covered enough topics and got enough updates to last us till our next meeting, which would probably be next year.
 
i consider it a rare occassion just getting the chance to see him, however brief each occassion may be. he was the first to leave the nest, so to say, when he entered the seminary for highschool in 1984. since then, i only get to see him about twice a year. he now lives with his family in batangas, running a poultry business while working as a medical representative.
 
in 1985, my sister stayed in a dormitory during her highschool years, and goes home only during weekends. i began to see so little of her when she entered a nursing school in iloilo (central philippines), where she also stayed in a dormitory. the rigorous nursing curricullum forced her to spend her weekends in the school premises, doing volunteer work and getting more training. she briefly worked in manila after graduation, and flew to liverpool, UK, where she now lives with her own family (and where it's beatlemania all year round. yeah!).
 
my entire highschool and college life was also spent in boarding houses and dormitories. when i graduated college in 1995, our parents (after a BIG sigh of relief) decided to spend their time pursuing their own dreams. i can still remember, a week after my graduation, when they asked me if i still want my usual allowance. i made a big mistake of saying no (stoofid me! what the f*** was i thinking then!), and had to dig in deep into my savings (and into some of my friends', too) until i found a job. (hmmm, i wonder what my bro and sis answered to that question.) but hey i love them, and i appreciate them for letting me dive into deep waters on my own early on. i have absolute faith that they will be there for me should i need help.
 
my father is an intelligent and charismatic batangueno with dreams of running his own poultry farm in his hometown. but to be with his family in aklan, he had to work as a public school teacher. when i graduated from college, he retired from teaching and went home to make his dreams come true. i admire him for his courage and determination to be a good husband and father as he endured the hardships, trials, and challenges of living in a culture that's far different from his own (i say to you, tagalog men don't mix well with visayan culture. no siree, not at all). he is now living his dreams, and sharing all the good things he learned from visayas with his community. for instance, he started and established their annual new year's "bayle" (aklanon for ballroom dancing), which eventually lead to the barangay's move to change their fiesta from May 30 to December 31 -- exactly like the one we have in aklan.
 
my mother is a feisty aklanon, with dreams of taking public service, though education, to its fullest and highest level of integrity possible in the corruption-ridden system. she is an assistant schools division superintendent, with credentials and qualifications that belie her age. her unshakeable commitment to integrity made her target of dirty politicians seeking control of the system, as they had done easily to her predecessors. her ultimate dream is to be the mayor of her hometown, and so my daily prayer includes that she stay safe amid the culture envy and corruption that surrounds smalltown politics.
 
i give thanks to emails and SMS -- at least we get to stay in touch and talk about where, and how, to celebrate this christmas and new year -- even if we're not together, as always.  ^_^;

November 18, 2004

stay tuned (part 2)

last september 17, 2004, i found a long lost friend who doesn't want to be found, and wrote her a message in friendster. since then and until now, her page hasn't been logged-on. i doubt if my message was even read.



i guess the time still isn't right, and that nothing has changed...



sigh.



anyway, here's something new. last saturday an idea about putting up a common blog for the technical people of sws came up. i thought it was a good idea, knowing that some of my officemates really have something to share on the writing side.



and so http://samahang-walang-sabado.blogspot.com/ came about. so far it's just me you'll find there, but i hope people here at tech really use it.



er, stay tuned, i guess.

November 17, 2004

sampling samar

the smell of seawater seemed to wash away the aches and pains of the 4-hour bumpy ride from tacloban city, leyte, to calbayog city in western samar. i can see the beaches from the window of the mitsubishi delica van, but the cramped seating conditions (all ten passengers stuffed in with our baggages, plus the driver's assistant) prevented me from getting a clear shot with my camera (i missed the long bridge, too).



bagacay beach resort became my home for the next six days. it's a quiet place just a few minutes away from the town proper. i later realized it's also a prime spot for lovers to spend overnight or even "short time" (three hours or less) in one of its private rooms. how ironic -- i was there for a project about safe motherhood and reproductive health, and everywhere i look around the resort there's lot of S-E-X going on. but i'm not complaining. for once i've found a sex-ridden place that doesn't feel or look sleazy. all in all, i'd say my field anchor did a good job of securing a place that could serve as our field headquarter.



anyway, the resort has a lot of wholesome things to offer as well. the more public areas of the resort are always full of families and barkadas having picnics and playing parlor games. the restaurant also has a videoke bar that goes on until wee hours of the morning (oh my ghulay, my tenga). don't get me wrong -- the locals have awesome vocal prowess, but maybe only about a fourth of them could get the somewhat proper pronounciation for the english songs that they so love to sing.



i hit the ground running, and on the first day i claimed one of the beachside cottages in the name of sws. from then on, for the next six day, the locals would have known me as "the guy from sws". i stuck out like a sore thumb because of the bundles of questionnaires i carry around. from sun up to sun down, i checked the questionnaires, pausing only for meals, rest, and, if the pressure and drudgery get unbearable, a quick swim.





in some ways i was thankful i hadn't that much time to look at the place, because upon closer scrutiny, one will see how mismanaged the entire resort is. there's not a single trash can in sight, and people just leave their mess around. the only thing that has kept this place's garbage levels bearable is that one guy who sweeps the place twice a day. in between his daily routine of cleaning the place, i would find him snoozing in a hammock under a tree. it became my daily habit to remind the nice ladies at the restaurant (one of them being the wife of the resort owner) to place a garbage can in every room and cottage. gosh i hope they paid attention.



it is in the evenings that the place reveals its full beauty and charm. the sea becomes still, and when you stand in its shoulder-deep waters, you could almost hear the sun set. and when the sun finally sinks beneath the horizon, fishing boats create myriads of lights that look like lanterns floating in endless stretch of black and blue.









calbayog city and its barangays are mainly fishing communities. it is somewhat baffling, however, to find the prices of fish just a fraction lesser than the ones you'll find in manila. ah it must be that inevitable tendency for prices to go up once the seller learn that you're not a local. even my field anchor, who is from leyte, had a hard time bagging a fairly cheap catch.





but it's in places like these where i can leave my supply of antihistamine behind, and have absolute faith that the fish and seafoods are fresh, fresh, fresh! (i somehow developed severe allergies to unfresh prawns and crabs. bad bad. you won't find the prawns and crabs here in the photo because i ate them all up.)









calbayog has the finest pedicabs i've seen, so far -- large, sturdy, and fast with the cab under full suspension. the pedicabs use the kind of bicycle just like what my lolo used in his younger days. the bodies are not alloy, and they's darn heavy. at first i thought they're cumbersome to use, but they adjusted the gears to deliver maximum power for a fast and easy drive. the steel bodies make these pedicabs one heck of powerloaders, too.









the pedicabs charge five pesos more than the motorized tricycle for long distance trips, but it's a nice, relaxing ride. i was told that the true makers of these pedicabs originated from catbalogan (the capital city of western samar), but the artworks has adapted a uniquely calbayog characteristics (i wouldn't know, haven't had the time to stop by catbalogan).









finally, i give thanks to the field anchors and field interviewers -- they are the foundation of survey research. these extraordinary girls have braved storms and slippery slopes, long walks and hostile territories. here, they share their success stories, as well as tales of horror -- and i will always wonder at the inner strength each one of them possesses.



going home, i decided to take the bus. little did i realize i was off to my last samar (mis)adventure. warning: do not ride buses with no signboard! the bus i rode was a "kolorum" (unregistered), and we got flagged by police and traffic enforcers in every checkpoint. in every occasion, the driver has a "lagay" (bribe) ready at hand, but not after a fifteen-minute or so charade and what-nots with the enforcers. my ghulay, corruption is alive and kicking!





and so after getting flagged six times all the way from calbayog to tacloban city, i was sure i'd miss my flight had it been on time. but the flight is RARELY on time in tacloban, as i was already informed by the office days ago that the flight WILL be one hour delayed. just the same, i learned my lesson to take only the tried and tested modes of transportation (in this case, Grand Tours or any of the established bus liners, such as Philtranco, Tritran, and Bltbco).



it's good to be back. Ü

November 06, 2004

wisdom of age

been trying to post this one for the longest time since i got back from fieldwork, but the darn email blogging won't work. and now i'll try copy-pasting it directly to blogger page. so here goes...



as we were travelling back to the office from a morning meeting in ayala the other day, my boss took out his new digital camera, and asked me how to change the picture quality -- he wanted to decrease the file sizes of the photos.



i looked over his shoulder from the backseat of the car, without thinking (because i was so sleepy), i said "try that one, sir, the format menu."



he is a good student, that boss of mine, and he has absolute trust in what i was saying, because he was quick to follow my instructions. too quick. the realization of what i just told him came in too late, and before i could say (or rather, shout) "wait!!", he pressed "execute".



the memory card got formatted in a split-second.



if i could describe my face at that time, it would perhaps resemble something like a squashed spider. my boss saw my expression, blinked a few times, turned pink, and said, "oh dear."



i was devastated. i knew he has not transferred any of the images to his laptop since all saint's day. the pictures of his vacation with his family, his meeting with amina rasul, his trip to cebu, the paintings of don jaime zobel, and many more (he's a trigger-happy snapshooter like myself)... all gone.



"i'm soooooo sorry, sir..." and went into more apologies. i never was the person to screw-up on techie stuffs, and i am careful and meticulous with anything that's new. but at that moment, exhausted from the 8-day fieldwork and lack of sleep, i made the biggest mistake of not taking that darn thing out of his hands and giving it a thorough inspection first.



"it's okay, don't worry about it," was all he said, made a little crying face ("booohoohoo, i promised amina i will send her our pictures..."), and laughed. he then proceeded with his morning phone calls like nothing happened.



but i wasn't okay. i remember exactly how i felt when priceless moments captured in digital images accidentally, or deliberately, get deleted. i wish camera manufacturers make it extra harder to delete images -- like adding perhaps an additional message "are you really, really, 100% sure you want to erase this image?" or something like that.



my boss noticed my misery, because i was unusually quiet at the backseat, staring blankly at the traffic. as he finished a call, he told me a little story:



"when i was in indonesia, i met a nice lady who lives in one of the oldest houses i've seen. the place is a treasure chest of antiques and memorabilia. one day her grandchildren came to visit, and one of the priceless antiques was broken while the kid was playing. but instead of worrying or getting upset about the broken item, she was thankful that the child wasn't injured. so you see, leo, don't worry about the things that's been lost, because worse things could have happened."



i guess it comes with age, this uncanny skill to draw light out of pitch darkness. my boss, whom my officemates affectionately call "papa bear", has gone through a lot of trials and challenges. but at 60, he still has the wonders of a ten-year old -- eager to try new things, and always finding ways to have fun. i dread the day he will have to retire and leave the office.



anyway...



hey hey hey! it's great to be back in manila. samar is beautiful, its beaches and the people -- but when you're stuck in a rural area, even just for eight days, you are bound to miss a lot of things (like blogging). i'll post something about my visit there soon. ^_^



taken at a beach resort in calbayog, western samar.



October 08, 2004

one figure

one figure...



it takes just one figure to remind the government of the severity of poverty that ails this country.



15.1%...



The Social Weather Survey for the Third Quarter of 2004 found a near-record-high 15.1% of household heads reporting that their families had experienced hunger, without having anything to eat, at least once in the last 3 months -- the second-highest national proportion since SWS began surveying it in 1998, after the record 16.1% in March 2001. (source: http://www.sws.org.ph)



the moment it was released, media scrambled to give this number a human face: vagrants that litter the city street, footages of families cooking and sharing food gathered from garbages...



government scrambled, too, to patch up the problem: food coupons for those with nothing to eat...



the solution is not lasting, but this is what gives meaning to all that i believe in: research... so we may see, feel, and understand the social conditions.



one figure...



enough numbers. how about showbiz?



my personal favorite starstruck ultimate survivor Jenelyn Mercado showed me what it really means to be a public figure -- nothing can stay private. eventually people will find out about her past, and she made a very wise move to tell the people about it way ahead of everyone else.



here's to you. *raise mug of coffee* you're a true survivor.

October 05, 2004

of luck, mooncakes, and cinnamon

the office will hold its annual mooncake festival this afternoon. i still haven't won grand prize -- that gigantic hopia called chong wan (?) -- after *ubouboubo* years. maybe my luck doesn't include rolling of dice -- just as i am with any form of gambling (i play some card games and can actually win, but somehow when there's money involved, i would either lose or break even). my luck with small time raffles is average, i guess. let's see... within *ubouboubo* years, i've won a washing machine, a second-hand computer, two oven toasters, two electric fans...
 
oh well, that's just luck. it's life's blessings that i'm always thankful for.
 
last weekend, my housemate showed me that a little cinnamon powder can jazz up your ice-cold milo drink, and it's also an alternative to salt when you lick-shoot-and-suck tequila. lip-smacking good!! XD

whoa!!

i haven't read any of its reviews -- i just know that Resident Evil: Apocalypse takes off where Resident Evil left. i entered the cinema with no expectations at all, except to see Mila J. kick zombie ass again.



the surprise was delightfully mind-blowing!



the idea of putting in more in-game characters in the movie was already brilliant, but getting the right people to play the part is a colossal feat. whoever drafted Siena Guillory as Jill Valentine is a genius. she is awesome! -- with just the right blend of being nice and nasty. Resident Evil: Apocalypse really satiated the Jill-fan in me, and finally convinced me to add RE in my "must-haves" list of movie collection.



i have to review my copy of Ludlum's Bourne series. i was expecting Bourne Supremacy to set the stage for the showdown between Bourne and the legendary hitman The Jackal, and also introduce Bourne to his future wife-doctor, who plays an important part in the last book, The Bourne Ultimatum. the movie gave very little attention to Bourne's headaches as well (in the book the headaches were more incessant and almost debilitating). oh well, i guess my memory is failing me and had this all mixed up with the rest of the Bourne novels.



anyway, enough movies. got my bicycle last sunday. i'm calling it Red (the body name is Vortex Montana, but it's the color that made the first impression on me). it's been a while since i last rode a bicycle (ugh! painful on the butt). sigh... i hope UP admin still hasn't converted that piece of grassy land behind UP math building into a parking lot or something.

October 01, 2004

Godspeed, Major!

it's been a blast working with you, Major, and we wish you success in all your future endeavors!





Major with the gang at the end of his last working day at SWS (l-r: mear, vlad, mike, lynn, penn, me, major, and mae) he won't let go of the blue pillow -- a gift from our friend Rain (hi Rain!). ^_^

September 27, 2004

smokin'!!!

i've given up smoking years ago. but recently i had an affair with this candy-flavored, clove-scented slims from indonesia -- Sampoerna A Mild.

my encounter with sampoerna happened last july during my visit to jakarta. my friend took me out for some sight-seeing around the city. somehow, everytime i'm in a new place, it has always been my tendency to be curious with sidewalk sceneries -- where are the traffic and law enforcers, how they look like, what's their version of "bangketa", street vendors, what are the wares being sold (dibidi, bisidi... yup they have that too) etc etc.

my friend, who is a smoker, showed me the more popular local cigarette brands, gudang garam and sampoerna -- which i ended up buying as pasalubongs for my smoker officemates -- and he specifically recommended that i try the latter.

i did, and that's how it started -- i went home with two packs (note: dalawang kaha) of sampoerna for myself. "sampoerna", by the way, means perfection in indonesia.

i smoked the last stick yesterday. with one long drag and puff, i ended my affair with smoke, and will not get into any more smoking activity unless it's a chance to puff a rare cuban cigar, or if my friends treat me again to a hookah bar. ^_^'

speaking of hookah, i got another look at this memorable smoking pipe last weekend when my girlfriend and i watched "La Bayadere" by Ballet Manila. "La Bayadere" is:

A three-act Petipa/Chabukiani/Minkus ballet masterpiece set in India, which tells the story of Nikiya, a bayadere or temple dancers who is caught in the middle of a forbidden love for the warrior Solor and the unrequited love of the High Brahmin. Forced to wed Gamzatti, the Rajah's daughter, Solor watches helplessly as Nikiya is murdered during the celebration. An opium-manifested dream reunites the two lovers in one of the most demanding acts in Russian Ballet - the evening's finale set in the Kingdom of Shades. -- Malaya Online

it's all about forbidden love and opium-induced dreams, thus the hookah stood symbolically on the stage at the end of the last act.

The ticket was sold at Php125, and later can be exchanged at star city for a ride-all-you-can ticket. not a bad deal at all. nothing like a good bumper car ride to get the blood flowing after the two-hour show.

September 22, 2004

a time to play

last week, my housemate/officemate brought his two kids for an overnight stay at the house. the boys, one 12 years old and the other nine, browsed through my collection of ps1 cds that's been gathering dust in the shelf. in about two hours, they tested all the games i have -- some of which i don't even remember playing at all -- while us adults drank beer and watched (we only have one tv so we let them have the fun).

it's amazing how fast the kids grasp the mechanics of each game on their first try. they didn't bother much with RPGs. in the end, the games that emerged as favorites (because they stayed up late playing these) were crash bandicoot warped and oz world.




thanks to the kids, i now remember the games in my collection. here's the list, and my status for each:

- final fantasy VIII: finished twice (first w/o walkthrough, next w/ walkthrough. quistis! *sigh*)

- final fantasy IX: finished
- legends of leigaia: finished
- legends of dragoon: finished
- thousand arms: finished
- threads of fate: unfinished
- tomb raider revelation: unfinished
- street fighter ex: played (i can finish the game boss only if i use guile)
- snk vs capcom: played (guile is still my favorite)
- oz world: unfinished (i find the character a bit gross, but the kids love it)
- crash bandicoot warped: unfinished (either the final boss is just too darn difficult to beat, or my hand-eye coordination is beginning to fail O_o)
- final fantasy VII: unfinished


- final fantasy VI: unfinished
- resident evil 2 and 3: unfinished
- fear effect: unfinished
- chrono cross II: unplayed (damaged? drats!)
- die hard: unfinished


- south park rally: unplayed

- battle tank: unplayed

- duke nukem: unplayed

- nba 2000: unplayed



the next day, with my permission and their father's strict reminder to be careful, the brothers browsed through *gasp* my most sacred corner of the house -- my pc table/shelf. there stored are my prized collection of comics, magazines (no smut in there, promise), and books. the pc used to have dune, starcraft and warcraft, but when i started working on my thesis, i deleted all the games except for pharaoh (cmon, everyone needs a break). they borrowed my entire collection of culture crash (oh dear, i hope they take good care of it *shudder*).



at the office, the pingpong table was wiped clean and set, so the kids played while the rest of us worked. at the strike of 615pm, we were playing with the kids and i ended up with blistered feet for playing on my formal shoes.



the house and office were again quiet the day after the brothers went home. the ps1, now free from dust, is back in its shelf, and the pingpong table is back in storage. everything is back to normal (except they still have my culture crash!).



ah kids!

September 21, 2004

"it's about time"

three words that has been lingering in my head since i heard it from john maxwell last september 15 at araneta coliseum. as i looked at a special page in my handy-dandy journal labeled "wishlist", i couldn't agree more.



speaking of wishlist, the rising tricycle fare is forcing me to address that item at the bottom of the list -- "a new bike". it's been eight months since my old trusty mountain bike was stolen (sniff!), and i badly need the exercise.



bike-hunting in quiapo this weekend sounds like a good idea. hmmm...

beer for benefit

last night we drank for a cause at dusit hotel, makati. "Project Sheel Happy Hour" was launched to raise funds to help our friend, Wata, in financing her daughter's battle against the big C. here is Sheel's story:

"One night my throat was swollen and my mommy thought that I got bit by a bug. My throat didn't hurt though. So she gave me medicine you take when you get bug bites and it didn't work. Later that night I had a hard time breathing so we went to the hospital and they told me the cancer was wrapped around my breathing tube and that's why I had the bump and couldnÂ’t breathe. Now I have to go through three years of chemo." --- (Jalen, 9, FL)

"When I was 10 I broke out in what looked like a rash and when I went to the doctor they knew it was no ordinary rash and ordered blood tests. The next day I went to a new doctor for more tests which showed my blood counts were not normal but it was not easy for them to diagnose me. It took about five months and many more tests to get a final diagnosis of a form of leukemia that is rare in children but common in senior citizen men." --- (Tiffany, 11, MI)



Until mid of last year, Sheel was your typical 7th grader, who memorizes boy band hit songs by heart and keeps life-sized posters of her favorite band. She has been living a typical teener's life, cheerful and carefree, until one July morning.




Just like Jalen and Tiffany, Sheel's condition started with something that seemed simple and unalarming. In July 2003, she noticed her left eye was puffy and a bit protruded. She was taken to a series of specialist, from opthalmologist to internist and finally to her doctor in the past year, a pedia oncologist. Her doctor never mentioned the word Cancer but Sheel knew what chemotherapy is all about. She cried about the possibility of having to miss school and the idea of losing hair.



It's been a year since. Sheel had undergone all the requisite treatment. She did not miss school as she was earlier anxious of, but skipped classes during days when she was required to undergo her chemotherapy. These were the days when she would be totally drained due to bouts of throwing up, one of the side effects of her treatment. While Sheel was able to hold on to her studies, her hair is a different matter altogether though. She inevitably lost strands of it, but learned to manage her bad hair days with the help of her bandannas.



Sheel has been living with the Big C that causes the bad hair days for a year now. The tumor was found to be Rhabdomyosarcoma of the Orbit -- a rare type of cancer found among children. For awhile, Sheel thought she was free of the nemesis when her oncologist declared that she's officially on remission. But it was not meant to be. Yet. A few weeks after the remission, Sheel's eye started to protrude again. And this time, it's bigger than the earlier bout. Apparently, she had developed resistance to her earlier chemo drugs. After another round of consultations, and tests, the doctorsÂ’ mandate is for Sheel to undergo another series of 5-day chemotherapy every three weeks, using another chemo drug stronger than the one used on her last year. When Sheel first heard of this, she told her mom that she is too tired and spent up to go through all these all over again. Well, who wouldn't be? Instead of spending time with her barkada, or indulging in activities typically enjoyed by kids her age, she would be trapped inside four white walls for days in a row again. But knowing chemo is her only choice, Sheel eventually geared up for this re-match. She is on her first session now at the NKI. Hopefully, she responds to the chemo well and the therapy will be over in 6 months.



Sheel's first year of battle was difficult. But with the help and prayers of relatives and friends, she has come this far. This round of chemotherapy is expected to be more rigorous and more draining, physically and financially. But with your help and prayers, Sheel and her mom are hopeful that Sheel will win the battle against the Big C this time around.



Cancer can be beaten...

but not alone.

So let's be with Sheel

as she goes through this battle
Sheel Blanco Lamar's Fund

BPI Family Bank

Matalino Branch Quezon City, Philippines

Joint Account holders:

Joy Casuga and/or Melinda Marcelo

Peso Savings Account Number: 4255 0569 19
Sheel's total medical expenses for each 3-week course is approximately Php97,500. there will be more upcoming fundraising events, and i hope many more can join.
l-r: joan, me, angel, joy, jojo, and alex


September 17, 2004

stay tuned

what do you do when you find someone who doesn't want to be found?
 
it was by sheer chance that i saw her name and picture in my friendster network. it's been years since i last heard any news about her, more so the last time i saw her.
 
she was once part of our team way back in my early years with the office. back then, the office was young and in a perennial struggle to stay afloat, and thus work was much more demanding and harsh than it is now. back then, we're the leanest, meanest, overworked and underpaid team of slaves the office has ever had (we still are, i guess *uboubo*). it was in those dire times that the best of teamworks were born, and the bonds of friendship were tempered. we were the miracle workers.
 
i have nothing against people moving on, but i find it so saddening for anyone to entirely cut off ties, specially when the series of events that made her leave the office with a heavy heart were not, in any way, the team's fault. we searched high and low for ways to get in touch with her, but even her family helped in covering her tracks from us.
 
she doesn't want to be found -- that's simple enough a message for me to understand, and after some time i stopped wondering and tossed all my questions to the wind.
 
everyone has good reasons for their own actions.
 
back to friendster...
 
it's been years since i last saw her, and the photos in her friendster page show the same smile and laughing eyes that hint the slightest touch of mischief that i remember so well. i clicked on "send a message", and was about to type a stream of hellos and kumustas with genuine happiness bursting in my chest, when it occured to me: this person doesn't want us to find her.
 
i wonder what others would have done, if they're in my situation?
 
ah! it's not everyday that you find a long, lost friend, even if she might not even consider you as one anymore. so i let everything out of my chest -- without thought and with all honesty -- all the stream of hellos and kumustas, all the happiness i feel for having "found" her.
 
i wonder what happens next...
 
whether or not she responds, i will know how much has changed after all these years.

September 14, 2004

changes

my hair and fingernails are growing faster than they should. tsk! it must be the stress that comes with the season -- the semester is about to end, and you know what that means.



anyway, yesterday i went to supreme court to represent the office in the opening of project proposals. this was something new to me. coming from the point of view of an NGO person like myself, my experience with government transactions, until now, has not involved opening project proposals in the presence of all bidders. i was later told that government has implemented a stricter guideline in dealing with private consultants and contractors, and opening of bids in front of everyone involved is one measure they adopted to guarantee transparency and corruption-free transactions. any issue, discrepancy, or revision in any of the proposals was discussed and resolved by the committee-in-charge and fellow bidders. the project's funding institution also requested for such transparency to be in place.

of course, one should expect only the highest level of integrity from the supreme court, but the good news is that the same exercise is also being implemented in other government agencies such as health and agrarian reform departments.


it was a grueling three-hour meeting (including the 2-hour wait... sigh. i guess time-management in government still needs improvement), and the air-conditioning was horrible. but i'd gladly go through hundreds of these meetings -- if each time would mean one less corrupt government agency in this struggling piece of country called Philippines.



last sunday was another adventure. my girlfriend and i went to arroceros forest park in manila to check out the place and see why there is so much media fuss about the mayor's proposal to demolish the place. when they say forest, i was expecting lush greens and majestic, old trees, and the like.



well, the place fits the description, but i'd add the words "spooky". i wish i had my camera then. the place is a great spot for a fantasy photo shoot (imagine faeries and "lamang-lupa").



i'm now one of those who oppose its demolition.



sigh! i have to design a new christmas card for the office. i wonder how i could fit over 30 faces in a postcard? wow, how the office have grown. ^_^

September 10, 2004

rest in peace

i was cleaning up my emailbox this morning (something i haven't done for a long time), and chanced upon my old email addresses.
 
i counted three yahoos, two hotmails, and one asianavenue. each of these emails have been used for a variety of purposes -- setting up personal webpages, subscribing to a community, free online services, messengers, blogs (like the one you're reading now) and what-nots. each contains pieces of my identity, past, and secrets -- deep, dark ones. *evil grin*
 
today, i use only three email addies: a yahoo, a hotmail, and an office-assigned email. the others i've laid to rest in the sea of cyberspace.
 
every now and then, just as one would visit a grave of someone dear, i would visit the pages, diaries, and images that i left strewn in the web. at each visit, i would marvel at the memories -- all the joys and pains, all the wisdom and foolishness -- and the wonders that passed through my life, captured in words, lines, and pictures.
 
until now, wandering browsers still chance upon those forgotten places, and some would still leave messages -- some inspiring, some consoling, some appreciative, and of course, some nonsense. nonetheless, i read all of them.
 
at each visit, my chest still register that faint, familiar tightness. i guess some wounds take more time to heal.
 
here's to the ghosts of the past *raise mug of coffee* rest in peace. you will always be remembered...
 
sigh! i hope chemical rhapsody and leigaia at DA won't end up like that.

September 09, 2004

better things

my friend bought an exercise gadget called orbit track -- a sort of cross between a treadmill and an exercise bike. yesterday while we were working on our school report (she's my classmate, too), i had the chance to give it a try.



it was good. in less than a minute i felt my muscles straining despite the fluid motion and seemingly effortless movements. another perk that comes with the machine is you could watch tv while sweating it out. cool! amazing technology.



my interest with the gadget was shortlived, though.



for me, nothing beats the feeling of jogging in the crisp open air, with the sight of lush greens and people's faces passing by, and the sound of your own breathing and footfalls mingling with the occasional bird songs and the white noise of traffic.



ahhh... thank goodness for all the good things. ^__^

September 08, 2004

taking a closer look

i've been looking forward to "Twilight Samurai" by Yoji Yamada at the UP Film Center last night. i have read some of its reviews and i was convinced that the film would probably be at par with my all-time favorite "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa. i've been emotionally preparing myself since weekend to fully enjoy this film.



the film starts at 7pm, and i was already packed up and ready to leave the office at 6pm. the review says that the film would be two hours long, so i texted everyone (close to me, that is) of my whereabouts by then. in short, I AM EXCITED about this film.



but like all there is in life, some things are bound to go haywire. ^0^



big papa bear, as we staffers would call our boss, needed some last minute data from a project. i wasn't directly involved with the project, so i could have left the office already. but, instead, i stayed and helped out.



i'm glad i did.



we finished at 7:30pm and got to the theater at 8:00pm. all of the technical staff tagged along to watch the film with me. afterwards, we had dinner at krus na ligas (a place in UP-Diliman), and had some beer at sara's (another landmark at UP-Diliman).



it was a good evening. i may have missed half of the film, but i gained something better: a chance to better know the people i work with -- my team -- however old or new they are.





l-r: (standing) mae, mike, major, mike, vlad, aileen, (seated) lynn, mear, and me.

September 06, 2004

"Prof. Good"

the midterm exam last saturday was a disappointment. as we expected, it fell short of stimulating critical thinking -- which we hoped the entire course would foster. it only gave us aching fingers for writing kilometric "define-this-and-enumerate-this-and-that" essays -- not worthy of the staying up that late with a throbbing solvent-induced migraine. as i said, bookish bookish booooooookish!
 
aaaargh! someday i'll get my karma for saying all these.
 
in fairness, the teacher i speak of (whom i will call Prof. Good -- *this is a giveaway clue to UP students from the college of *ubouboubo*) has outstanding credentials, considering the published works under his/her belt. but darn -- it feels as if s/he has lost all his/her creativity in imparting quality education to his/her students.
 
to demonstrate: at times, s/he would turn the class into an oral reading session *gasp!* by asking everyone to take turns in reading aloud a blasted 20-page article. darn! i have to fake a sore throat to get away with it. each time she does that, it's an entire 1 hour of the 4-hour, once a week class down the drain.
 
another case: i wonder if s/he even keeps abreast with current events, especially those related to our course. if not for my more news-savvy classmates, we would have often ended up discussing events that happened four years ago (which, i guess, were his/her glory days). 
 
i'm so sorry for all these harsh words (i just have to let it out). sometimes i get so frustrated for the time and money spent for education, and not getting the quality of teaching everyone deserves. sigh! my mother is a teacher, and in over two decades in the profession, never did i see her lose steam or dedication to improve herself and her craft. i know it's wrong to expect every educator to be like her, and i guess that's just the way things are -- whether or not it is anyone's fault. everyone's different, period.
 
here's praying for everything that's good for those in the academe and the teaching profession. i believe most of them are, still, among the most noble and dedicated individuals you'll ever come across in your lifetime.

September 03, 2004

scatterbrain

the smell of primer and paint has been driving us crazy in the past five days. the team of carpenters renovating our section promised that they will finish by weekend. thank goodness. my nasal membrame can't take any more punishment. i wonder if this perennial, painful throbbing in my head and drowsiness is already the so-called solvent high?
 
not good.
 
i have a mid-term exam tomorrow. good news: my teacher isn't that imaginative and creative with her exams -- everything could be found in the books. bad news: i haven't done any reading.
 
not good at all.
 
hmmmm... maybe it's the solvent...
 
there's still hope. tonight. crammer time!
 
must... stay... awake... zzzzzzz.....

August 20, 2004

gifts

this year, i'm treating myself to two of the material things i've been wanting to have for the longest time...

first, a drawing tablet. come august 29 (ehem, my birthday *hint hint* Ü), i'll pick up a wacom graphire 3 from my suking tindahan. ooohhh excitement!

second, a new guitar. it's been almost a year since my housemate accidentally broke my old lumanog (an heirloom from my mother *sniff*), and i've already forgotten most of the chords of the songs i love to play. yesterday, the donjon company had a sale at robinson's place malate, and the price is too sweet to resist. but more importantly, the feeling is right -- it's about time i play some music again. and so i went home with a blue, fiberglass-backed, amplifier-ready beauty. hmmmm mmm mmmm...

above all else, though, it's the blessings i've been getting this past year that i'm most thankful for...

i'm blessed with the most beautiful nephews and nieces. two boys and a girl from my sister-in-law, and just last march my sister gave birth to their first baby girl. i'm honestly not fond of kids, and they tend to cry when i'm around. but these four young souls are different, and i love them so much.

my parents are in good health, thank goodness. my mother has kept her blood pressure at normal levels. recently she went down with pneumonia, and had to stop work for four weeks, but she's well now (and gained weight as well from all the rest and recuperation. heehee!). my father's diabetes is under control, and i hope he's sticking to his regular exercises.

i'm in good health. i added a few pounds and gone are the dark rings around my eyes. the gym has worked wonders, too. it's been years since i felt this good.

for the friends that never left my side, wherever they may be, and for the friends i never realized i had. now more than ever i value all those who never pull their punches when i deserve them, because they also are the ones who will never abandon you. for those who never forget who i am and what i represent, for those who were there for me in my darkest hour, for those who have forgiven me even before i could begin to forgive myself, for the new friends that came into my life -- i'm forever thankful for them.

these, and the countless other blessings life has given me, whether or not i even comprehend them, i'm most grateful to God.

August 10, 2004

images

i've taken over two thousand snapshots in the entire two years i owned a digital camera -- a gallery of scenes, faces, places, and random images that now takes up over a gigabyte of my hard disk.
 
officemates, foreign places, festivals, grasslands, friends, school scenes, classroom scenes, churches, church scenes, strangers walking by, strangers talking, passing cars, dog in the street, cat in the corner, a flock of birds, drunk friends, flowers, caterpillars, rainfall, friends in the rain, sea, ships, boats, beaches, beautiful people, sunset, sunrise... so many images, taken as random as my eyes can blink, each holding within a small memory.
 
and just now i learned that only less than a hundred contain my image. Ü

August 04, 2004

again. again! again!!!

it's august. this is my month.
 
the air gets colder, and mornings get more vibrant each day. it heralds the coming of the "ber" months, just one of many reasons why this month is special.
 
it also triggers a storm in my faulty-wired head -- that overwhelming urge to look back at life in the past year.
 
so many failures, so many unlearned lessons... Life is again poised to crack her whip at my already raw and bleeding hands.

July 30, 2004

time

every now and then i would falter, look back and stumble into the very abyss i've been trying to escape from. every now and then i would delude myself that my head can now silence the heart, and face the old questions that's been haunting me, hoping that there will be answers that would finally put me at peace.
 
but it doesn't hurt as much, nor am i as troubled. there is a comforting thought that somehow, someday, all these will be just be memories -- the old questions will lose their meaning, and the answers will no longer matter...

July 20, 2004

faith

last sunday, all of my housemates went home, and i became the apartment's supreme overlord -- the living room, the tv, and the cozy beanbag are mine all mine! *evil laugh*  not wanting to do anything or go anywhere (procrastination... taking... over...), i fell into one of my rarest pleasures -- solitude. just me, my thoughts, and my rock ballads collection.

 

the thought of hearing the afternoon mass occurred to me, but somehow it wasn't that compelling. come to think of it, i never considered myself as a devout catholic, and i somehow never had the drive to learn and understand more of the church's teachings beyond what is preached in its halls on sundays. i still cannot recite most of the prayers and responses verbatim (in any of the three philippine languages i know -- shame shame on me), nor do i understand the reasons for most religious holidays, among others. i shy away from debates about faith and religion, which i find completely pointless (reminds me of the classic "ang tamang daan" versus "iglesia ni kristo" word battle and mudslinging, aired over their respective tv networks on primetime. ugh!).

 

what bothers me is that this doesn't bother me at all. i was never the one to have spent parts of adult life suffering from religious identity crisis because it never mattered to me in the first place.

 

not yet, though.

 

sooner or later, i will have to compel myself to fully understand the faith i was raised with. someday, if fate be kind, i will be raising my own kids, and i will have to answer questions about faith from their young, inquisitive minds. for now, i comfort myself that my faith is there, alive in my own understanding.

 

kids? oh no! i am getting old. ^_^;

July 15, 2004

picture perfect?

there's no ending to the wonders liquor and good company can do. inhibitions crumble and secrets rush forth like breached dam. we talk of betrayal behind the best of friendships, of infidelity hidden in the shadows of seemingly flawless relationships, of the innate weakness of the human heart, of broken vows, of great foes and even greater loves  -- all conjured from the recesses of our memories...
 
the brightest picture hides the darkest negative.
 
sometimes i wish the memory of last night's conversation would just fade away like some terrible hangover.

July 12, 2004

filial fighting

last night, for the first time, i worked out in a gym. the instructors are pleasant and they have the looks to show their expertise (next to them, i feel like some pathetic ectoplasm). while the gym's space is somewhat lacking, the equipment and facility are fairly adequate. the people are generally nice to look at because most have clearly been spending some time working out. the instructor started me with chest and triceps workout. he told me that if i want faster toning and definition, i should do more reps and sets than my usual home routine.
 
and so now i can hardly lift my arms (and still a mass of flabs. haha! dream on!).
 
but i like it, and i'll go back for more.
 
back in the good old college days, we would spend 2-3 hours, three times a week, punching, kicking, throwing, and grappling in a so-called martial arts training. it was a small organization, with active members averaging only to ten. for over two years, we've sparred and trained with almost the same group of people, with occasional inter-chapter trainings. having spent that much time together, every punch, kick, throw -- among other sorts of painful exercises -- has developed a certain bond among the us.
 
filial fighting.
 
how hard you hit your sparring partner, how high you throw them in the air, is how much you love them. we were taught not to pull punches if we want our partners to improve and be pushed beyond their limits. we would end each training session tending to each other's bruises.
 
i got punched real hard just days ago, my chest still ache a bit... but i know it's for my own good, and i know that it is out of love.
 
it sucks, though, tending to your bruises on your own. Ü

July 07, 2004

of rain and reminders...

it was in january 31, 2001 when i wrote "personal webpage" in "my things to do/have" list. it ranked just below "digital camera" and above "flatbed scanner" (originally it was "own car", but i scratched it out and wrote it next to "own house"). in march 15, 2001, warped gaia was posted. just a test, i thought then, of what i can do online.
 
the webpage turned out to be more that i expected. with it i learned new skills and discovered the joys of recreating the world as i see it in words, forms, motions, and colors. it was a recreation of my being -- online. it felt good. it was intoxicating. it matched my every mood, thought, and emotion...
 
i abused it.
 
having lost the time to channel my thoughts through pen and paper, the webpage became refuge to my deepest and darkest emotions. it became a dumping ground of all my angst and frustrations, among other things that eventually made warped gaia unfit for sharing. in august 15, 2003, i deleted it...
 
it was at its darkest.
 
almost a year after and here i am again, finding escape, survival, and solace in these pages. i can never tell how dark it will get, but i comfort myself that there will also be brighter things.
 
thanks for bringing in the sunshine, rain. Ü

June 23, 2004

temptation...

it occured to me just now how much bladed weapons i keep in my possesion and in my surroundings. in my bag i have a swiss knife and a balisong (fanblade). in my pocket is a switchblade. in my office drawer is another balisong. in my pc desk at home is another switchblade. finally, in my bedroom i keep the rest of my collection: three balisongs of different designs, a swiss knife, and a penknife. let's see... that's a total of ten knives. i have more stashed in my home province.
 
collecting knives has been a lifelong fascination. it started when i was growing up in the provinces. babies like me (half-batangeuno, half-aklanon who just moved in from the city) were especially susceptible to aswang attacks. for protection, i wore an assortment of charms and talismans. to complete my defenses, my mother gave me a dagger made of pure copper -- the only metal that can inflict serious damage to aswangs. until i went to highschool, this dagger was under my pillow when i sleep, and in my bag when i walk to and from school.
 
maybe when i get a place of my own (not a rented apartment), i can finally move on to longer blades like the kris and daikatana. until then, i stick to handy pocket knives.
 
i never look forward to actually using them on others, or on myself (and not just for peeling apples). the one in my pocket is there as last option. i've gotten so used to them that i hardly notice their presence. it's only now that they seem to have leapt out of their hiding places, screaming for my attention -- longing to be used...
 
tempting...
 
waaahahahaha! i'm going crazy...