December 26, 2005

Beautiful christmas

This Christmas was so silent, so still, and so lonely...

It was beautiful.

No sound but my thoughts, no motion but my mind, no company except myself.

Next year will be different. A lot will change.

But for now I can't thank the Lord enough for the blessings in my life, for the painful lessons, for the people who touched my life.

The coming New Year will surely be filled with sound, dancing, and people -- things I'm not used to, but beautiful nonetheless.

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

December 19, 2005

Freeze!

It takes me ten times the willpower to get out of bed these days, and twice the time to snap into full consciousness. Leaving the warm blanket and moving around the chilly apartment doesn't appeal much to me lately.

But yesterday morning I craved for rice and fried eggs, so half-awake I lumbered to the kitchen, prepared the rice for boiling and heated some corn oil in the frying pan while I look for the eggs.

I found them in the vegetable crisper compartment of the refrigerator. Took two out and, without thinking, cracked one on the edge of the frying pan.

Thack! *sound effect*

The egg was hard as a candy, the edge of the iron pan creating just a tiny crack. At first I thought it was a bad egg, the ones with extra thick sacs which egg dealers consider unfit for selling, but nevertheless edible.

I was not going to give up on that egg, so I pried the shell off until the whole content, albumen and yolk, came off cleanly and fell into the frying pan with a tiny thunk.

It was frozen solid.

We must have accidentaly set the refrigerator to coldest. Almost everything outside the freezer compartment -- butter, drinking water, coke, some energy drinks, leftover gin, and beer (nooooo!) -- were frozen solid.

Got my rice and fried eggs (it was weird rolling them around the frying pan to melt), but it was almost noon when I got my coke.

December 05, 2005

Bad and good

Remember how it felt watching Onyok Velasco lose to the Bulgarian boxer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? Bad, right? For days people moaned and groaned about how Onyok's score refused to move despite him landing blow after blow of crisp punches to the Bulgarian's face, about how we were robbed of the gold medal.

Well, I remember.

And I sympathize with some of the athletes and their supporters at the SEA Games because they definitely feel that way right now -- they were robbed of their gold medals.

There's no question about the integrity of results in events that involved objective accuracy such as races, ballgames, and most athletics. But when it comes to subjective scoring, I cringe at the blatant "inaccuracy" in some of the scoring.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe wushu Nanchan event is one example.

Joan and I have been watching the wushu competitions whenever we can, and even watched the replays on TV, up to its last day.

We've seen true winners who simply blew the competition away at their first few moves. We've seen tight situations where victories were secured because of a slight wobble here, or a weak shout there. And we've seen athletes ending up in second place despite flawless performances, and the gold going to one who, even to the untrained eye, obviously gave a lesser performance.

But heck, I bet amassing gold is just one of the perks for hosting the Games. I just content and try to assure myself that most of golds we've won are well-deserved.

I do not blame the Thai for suspecting fraud in the scoring system -- some events deserved that comment. Anyway, it will be them under the spotlight come 2007.

Also, maybe PGMA needs yet another diversion to veer our attention from Garci.

Just the same, cheers to all SEAG athletes for a job well done!

November 18, 2005

Faces

My dream of passing the creative torch to the new-bloods died yet another painful death this year, and the task of designing the station's christmas card falls on my lap, again.

It all started when I heard the station wishing for a more personalized greeting card to replace the UNICEF cards it customarily gave out on Christmas. In between research work, I played with Photoshop and Pagemaker, and submitted my first design.

It got approved (aha, madali palang i-please mga tao dito. haha!), marking my first break into (extremely) amateur graphics design, and my unofficial designation as the station's designs/layout artist. It was only a few years ago when my job description got revised to include those functions.

The task gets gruelling each year: now I have to fit 43 people into a half-letter size postcard while trying to make it pass for a decent greeting card. The pictorials get more complicated (thus messier), the designs more demanding, and the deadline more toxic than ever.

I have to find someone to do this next year! *reminder entered*

Anyway, there's (always) a certain high with designing the station's christmas card, however simple or amateur. Labor of love, maybe, and the chance to see the faces of people I hardly get to even talk to in this workplace -- taking note of the new faces, how the old ones have changed, and remembering those who were once part of this station's motley mob.

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Looking back: a draft of my first proposed design. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a copy of the finished product.

November 17, 2005

Funny: Of dog poo and HP 4

There's a game I love to play, even if I lose all the time. I'd stare at the ashtray and try to will all the cigarette butts away. I'd grow tired, step outside, and do the same thing with the dogshit that greet us every morning at the doorsteps with its ghastly poo-pee combo stench.

But, as I said, I always lose.

In the end I would have to scrub the dogshit off the doorsteps, and throw away the cigarette butts -- as I would the rest of the rubbish in the house to keep it inhabitable for the next five days.

Funny.

Because we don't have a dog.

And I don't smoke.

Ron Weasly is funny. The Weasley twins are funny. HP and the Goblet of Fire is (and most likely will stay) the funniest of the HP movies.

But life... is hilarious.


"Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten" -- G.K. Chesterton

November 03, 2005

Priceless

October 27, aboard Superferry OLO Medjugorje.

My big brother, my best man, sure knows how to make every moment memorable, and he's not about to let our 15-hour ship travel pass without a little sideshow.

A master marketing and salesman he is, he wove his magic and had the ship's staff list me on their videoke challenge at the last moment.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIt wasn't that painful singing Gary V's love song in front of the crowd. It helped that it was sudden enough so I had no time to panic, and that I was inspired enough to sing that kind of song.

And that I already had two and a half pitchers of draft beer.

I didn't win first price, of course. The lady that sounded like Sarah Geronimo deserves the Superferry travel bag and cap more. I'm happy with my Superferry fan and travel soaps.

The trip has been delightfully surreal so far -- the waitress who looks like Jodi Santamaria, my brother getting drunk and swearing that he's going change our wedding plans (gasp!), and me just smiling and smiling and smiling.

I'm excited, and terrified to the core, about my coming pamamanhikan. My brother was first to express his opposition to some of our plans, mostly on logistics, citing practicality to support his recommendations. I shudder at the thought of the possible barrage our wedding plans will face from my fiancée's family.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnyway, despite our opposing views, I feel happy knowing he'll be with me on Sunday.

October 21, 2005

Next!

Whew!

That’s two workloads off my back. I’m not proud of the output, but when clients demand timely delivery, perfection is the last thing in my mind. However late as it is, I’m just relieved I kept my promise to have them delivered today.

I’m usually prompt with my outputs (yeah right ^ ^’ ). No, really. But there’s a certain kind of pressure when you know that a client was once your officemate, and a senior to boot.

It’s somewhat different when you know this person has been to every nook and cranny of what you’re doing now. There’s an urge to go for that thing called perfection, just so that person would stop complaining about mediocrity, and shut the talk about us needing to shape up and be world-class.

I’m all ears to whatever one has to say on how to improve our work, and we kill ourselves to be good at what we do.

But something just doesn’t feel right.

I plead guilty to my own incompetent ways, and as the saying goes, “the customer is always right.” However, when I get measured by a stick fashioned after someone else’s personal greatness, they can shove it up their *tooot*.

Tao lang... Nagkakamali rin...

But it’s done and over with. On to the next project.

October 19, 2005

Strrrrriiiiiiiike...!

... Two!!!


Never had I committed so many blunders in just one week. And to think that it's only mid-week.

I know exactly what my problems are, but somehow solving them seems like an entirely different ballgame.

I've been spread too thin, and now I'm fumbling desperately to focus.

I have three days...

October 14, 2005

Small world

One of the most respected and feared professors in my undergrad has been nominated to be Fellow of mother station. From my experience, anyone nominated to Fellowship is as good as elected.

Especially if it's the station President (aka Papa Bear) who made the nomination.

Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, though. I regard the professor as one of the best, despite the tearful tales from those who've tasted her methods. Many lives were changed by this professor.

Mine included.

September 23, 2005

Ama

September 21
1:30 pm

My mom texted me: "(Forwarded inspirational message here)... Anak, your dad was rushed to the hospital this morning. Get in touch with toto."

That's my mom, always starting her SMS with words of wisdom and inspiration. I replied, "Will do mamidir. Ingat lagi. Labs u. Ü"

Dad must have neglected his medicines again. Or maybe he ate too much and his sugar levels and blood pressure went up. Funny because a while ago I was watching the news on Norberto Gonzales' condition.

Such are the health problems that run in my father-side family. Damn. I have his genes. Heck, I AM his living proof that he succeeded in making a replica of himself.

September 21
2:15 pm

"Mary Mediatrix. Possibly cardiac arrest. Still in ER." was my sister-in-law's reply. Short and straight.

It was worse than I imagined. Considering the time it took to reply to my text, I assumed my brother, if not everyone, have been too busy to reply right away.

I forwarded the message to my fiancée. We were supposed to go on leave tomorrow, Thursday, to attend to some wedding preparations. But now there will be changes.

I went to our office administrator, borrowed my leave form, and revised the Reason for leave from "Personal" to "Family emergency".

I should leave ASAP.

September 21
5:00 pm

I can't believe I'm still in the office. If this is Pinoy Big Brother, the viewers must have sent me to hell a thousand times now for not rushing to my father in his dire time.

Maybe because my brother texted me "Myocardial infarction. Na revive siya kanina by defib. Stable na sya at nakausap ko na siya ng matino. The aunts are here."

"Myocardial infarction? Hindi ka ba nag-typo sa text mo kanina at dapat infraction yun? Defib? Dad went flat-line (wtf!)? So nandyan na ang mga tiyahin. Is it okay if I show up first thing tomorrow? Sige, see you then. Joan will be coming with me."

If this is PBB, I've definitely been sent to hell already.

Anyway, I'm just thankful to God for my Dad's second life.

His second chance to change.

September 22

The ICU looks well-equiped and sterile. After two visits inside to check on my father I realized I've been wearing the medical gown the wrong way. Dapat pala sa likod ang pagtali.

I can't stay long inside the ICU because my father cries everytime he sees me, and he would try narrate the incident before he had the heart attack over again. The attending staff would give me the Don't-make-your-father-cry-because-it's-bad-for-him look everytime I enter the ICU.

Before you guys think I am the onion of my father's eyes, let's just say he doesn't see me much for the longest time. His story is pretty simple, but one which I pray would not carry over to his son that has the biggest share of his genes.

September 12, 2005

Coping

Got tagged by Pie some weeks ago. ^^

1. What are the things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play?

Sleep. Read. Draw. Play online.

2. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? Make a list, post it in your journal.

- Playing my favorite online game. By far the one with the most efficient cathartic effect. Helps a lot especially when I’m close to losing my temper and when my anxiety level gets way too high.
- Exercise. Perhaps at par with online gaming, and more beneficial. I jog, run, race with tricycles on my bicycle, clean the house and lift furnitures around, etc -- anything to tire me out.
- Sketching. Simmering down stage. My drawings somehow look better with restless hands and a mind that’s still struggling to get a better perspective of whatever was that that stressed me out.
- Writing. Okay, mind’s working now. The blog and my handy-dandy journal become my good buddies here.
- A big hug from Pangga. Melts all my worries away. Works all the time. ^^

*********

Chemical Rhapsody is too toxic a place for thoughts on wedding stuffs and marriage, so Two Wings will have to cover that. It's just about to get busy so do visit us there every now and then. ^^ Cheers!

August 31, 2005

A love story, part 2

Dear friends,

Eight years seems too long a time especially for a relationship that was first measured in months, amid earlier doubts that it would not live past twelve.

But it did. We did. The months became years. And now at eight years, we started wondering how in the world did we ever get this far?

Let me just step back a bit. ^_^

Eight years ago, our partnership was forged under the June 28 rain. Prior to that is a tale that spanned four years of serendipitous circumstances, a year of silence, and another year of gray areas.

1991.

“were you dancing to the same tune?...”

She was seated a few rows behind me during the UPCAT examination in Iloilo. She was in the same plaza during the culminating night of the 1991 Kalibo Ati-atihan, shouting and dancing along hundred others as we celebrated the last moments of highschool life, even as the final fireworks failed to burn.

1991-1995.

“the vision wafted through the newly-polished hall, rising above the din amid the sea of unfamiliar faces...”

The vision stayed. She became my classmate, my sparring partner, my thesis advisee, and my friend. Fate played a hilariously frustrating game of hide-and-seek, bringing us closer everyday but never giving us the chance to be unattached at the same time.

1995-1996.

“destiny at the crossroads...”

We graduated. I worked, she went to law school. Our lives were pointing us to separate directions, but somehow in that quiet UP Campus street, near the place where we first met, magic brewed over again when I agreed to tune her friend's guitar.

1997.

“your kung-fu is better than mine... *smile*...”

Dream. Believe. Thrive. The time to know the real score has finally arrived. A time of charades, prose, rhetoric, and riddles that put sensibilities to the test. A time of debates that come with the decision to cross the line. The beginning of late long night walks and talks, and days that never end.

More importantly, a discovery of love, strength, and faith – the ones that we could share. The same ones that we share still, eight years later, the ones we’ll take further on.


Image hosted by Photobucket.comOn the eve of my 30th birthday, Joan has accepted my proposal and, in less than a year from now, we will take our vows to be united in marriage.

We give thanks, above all, to God for all the blessings and for orchestrating the whole thing.

To our friends who have played roles in bringing us together:

Vincent, for telling me her name on our first week in Kalayaan Residence Hall, 1991. ^_^

Euge, even before you were labeled “that quiet guy” by Joan way back during our Kalayaan orientation, you’ve been a buddy like no other. You were the first topic Joan and I talked about. You’ve become my confidante and the calm voice in my times of turmoil and euphoria. You and Cez were there all throughout as inspiration and source of wisdom, as you still are.

Cez, you kept me grounded when my heart overwhelms my head. Our every conversation was a learning experience. The snippets of advice here and there from you and Euge all counted. And, of course, we will never forget that Communication class that started it all (Mr. Grassroots aka Littlejohn).

Jen, it was you who spotted the signs, the twinkle in my eyes, and helped me make sense of it all.

Aids, you’ve been my ally in academics and in the lovefront. Your objectivity and sound judgment have been my stop signs at times when I’m rushing blindly head-on.

Our Tong Il Moo Do friends. You have ensured us healthy bodies and minds, hearts that feel, and memories to last a lifetime.

And to all others who know our story and saw us through it all.

Next year starts a new chapter, and you are all part of it.


Maraming salamat.

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Joan and Leo

August 12, 2005

Cold room

Our boss' room has always been freezing. For such a small space, it's cooled by the strongest and biggest aircon in the office. A fitting place for someone we at the office regard as the "Papa Bear".

Each visit to that room is a test of will and endurance. It no small feat to keep your teeth from chattering at the 20 degree air, blasted directly at you by the 2 horsepower aircon, while staying focused on what the ol' Bear is saying.

But today that room has gotten cold.

The irony is that today the Bear had gone red -- something I haven't seen for the longest time. He was angry and had once again bared his teeth and claws. I can only remember two persons who were the subject of his legendary wrath.

He later told us that there were five.

And the sixth person is not just our officemate, but a very good friend.

Used to be this process is decided on and carried out swift and simple. But perhaps because the person in question is no ordinary staff, the next highest officer felt the need to consult the operations committee.

The committee's consensus was to offer a second chance, but we all fell silent when facts were laid down, the policies and ethics reviewed, and where they were breached.

And there isn't much we can do about it...

I hate this.

***

We trip and fall along the way and that's life. Been down long enough, mourned my loss, had my rest, and kept my silence. I broke that silence, and now I have to make my moves.

I pray that I don't stumble over the same old rock.

August 10, 2005

In every end

It’s been two days since the organization I work with successfully celebrated its 20th anniversary. The event has left most of us physically and emotionally drained, having spent a week of sleepless nights in preparation – battling fatigue, sleepiness, and dwindling patience.

But it pushed through with much accolade to the staff. All in all, except for minor glitches like one of the speakers forgetting about the event (gasp!) and the typo errors in the souvenir program, which took me a month to conceptualize and just days to slap together, I say we’ve done one helluva good job.

The excitement has died down, and the dark rings in my eyes are beginning to fade. After one week, last night I felt how it’s like to have over four hours of sleep again.

The hard work preparing for the anniversary has served me a purpose: it numbed me momentarily from my emotions. A lot has happened this past week, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to feel them.

Confusing...

***

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It’s hard not to fall in love with pROSE online when you can see not just the blades of grass but also the soft face of the moon and the glorious cerulean skies, or when your character can jump from a cliff or a majestic falls, dress like a weak newbie (or "Visitor") while taking on a high-level monster, run around almost naked, use all types of weapons allowed by stats (and not by job type), and even cross-dress (male Muses only).

Most of all, you can into dive into a melee against a boss monster without fear because you know there will be good muses nearby to revive you when your character falls. And players still express gratitude every time you extend help.

Sigh. I'd hate to see this one end.

July 11, 2005

Changes

Over the weekend I had a bout of my illness called immaturity (my faulty circuits had gone haywire again), and started questioning the inevitable.

I was once asked these questions, and failed miserably to give an answer. So now it’s my turn to ask: “Where does love go when couples grow old? What happens to the fresh flowers on weekends, the love notes neatly tucked between the pages of a good book, the serenades, the loving looks, and the gentle caresses in the middle of a morning rush or amid a busy street? Why do people have to change?”

Some answers came in swift and certain: life problems -- that's what takes away the novelty of it all. Some answers came in a slow burn: love transcends into another life, another form -- like the cheerful laughter of a child, or the hands that stroke your hair at the end of a tiring day, or the will to learn fine Thai cooking.

Ah don't mind me. My story will be different from those I grew up with. I question not the inevitable. Not anymore. Without change, there will be no butterflies.

***

Speaking of changes, had it not for FVR’s proposal for constitutional amendment, People Power would have pushed through. I’m not sure if I agree with him, and though I smell something fishy in his proposal, I find his arguments quite refreshing.

***

Finally, this past week...

My search for something to recycle led me to a dusty box that holds my first-ever computer. Out of curiosity, I replaced my existing modem with the old, massive modem that’s been stashed for years. Lo and behold! It worked like magic, and belted out sweet, speedy Kbps – faster than the newer one. Fast enough for some Ragnarok vending.

And pROSE online.

My “suking” internet cafe handed me an installer of Level Up’s latest online game. Since there are still very few players logging-in, I could play the game at home through dial-up connection and still enjoy its 3D graphics and gameplay seamlessly, without the lag or choppiness.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe fun! Two hours of playing and my Hawker (standing behind a female Soldier(?)) is halfway towards Raider-hood (edit: let me correct myself: my Hawker is miles away from Raider-hood. *sweat* I think I'll make a Battle Cleric instead.). The personal Quest log also gives the player more purpose and direction in life (reminds me of Blades and Swords and Legend of Mana). I love how the game reflects every piece of equipment accurately on the avatars, thus giving the players more options to be unique.

And, best of all, it’s still free. Plus the players are still the nice and polite humans (not the mindless bots infesting pRO). Damn!

Anyway, here's a more informative site about ROSE online.

Have a great week ahead, everyone.

July 08, 2005

Critical

Cory has spoken: GMA must resign. This exponentially stregthens the calls of the people in the streets for her resignation.

I wonder what Cardinal Sin would have done, had he still been alive?

The President's former cabinet members and economic managers have taken their stand as well: she must also step down.

I await FVR's take on this. As one of the prominent People Power personalities, his public pronouncement will ultimately add the final ingredient to the People Power recipe.

God bless this country.

July 06, 2005

Darn!

I wish I could be happier when my mother told me that she is now acting as the top education official in our home province. Yes, I’m glad and so proud of her, but I couldn’t help but worry with the circumstances of her ascension.

Her superior was murdered, stabbed 92 times.

Ninety-two stab wounds, 15 of which were fatal... Good grief.

Here’s a cached copy of the Philippine Star July 1 news from the archives of Google (link). Though still uncertain, the latest news as of now is that local authorities believe one of the motives was political.

My prayers go out to my mother. Sigh.

June 30, 2005

Erratum

That let-me-eat-your-burger ad I was ranting about in my previous post was about Meralco and not about VAT, my mistake. These ads sounded the same to me.

June 28, 2005

I am sorry...

I could use the same line
For those whom I’ve done wrong
I have used the same line
A hundred times and a
Thousand times more
While it will never be enough
And never could explain
I used the same line
And served it with heartfelt gratitude
For friends whom I’ve done wrong
I pray that those lines
Set us all free
Lest I carve the same lines
On the gravestone
Of our buried memories.


***
Here we go again. All the Queen’s horses and men have made their move – a well-rehearsed speech of admission and apology. Outstanding facial expression, I say. We’ll find out very soon how the public took this in.

Sigh.

Let me just get this crappy feeling off my system...

Whoever came up with that two pro-VAT ads must be a twisted genius. He or she must have known the power of negative recall to the Filipino psyche, and our propensity to be desensitized to all sorts of hanky-panky.

First, the let-me-explain-VAT-while-I-eat-your-burger ad. Great illustration of proportions, fairly basic and easy to understand concepts. But why the heck should the thin guy lose his precious snack to the fast-talking, fat-bellied guy? Wtf?

Second, the let-me-explain-VAT-while-I-sneak-away-without-paying ad. I need not say more on this one.

Not enough government funds to conduct a decent ad testing? Had there been one, surely someone would have raised the subtle, negative values these ads are portraying.

But hey, maybe for every negative value, there is a corresponding good value that goes with it.

Let’s see. When a guy eats your snack and gets away with it without a bloody nose, that’s kindness and tolerance, right? When you catch a customer sneaking away without paying for her goods, that’s being alert or “listo”, right?

I just don’t get it. Why do they always have to resort to these antics just to make a point. I miss the days of health secretaries Flavier, Dayrit, and others who try to overcome their lack of luster in front of the camera by being straight to the point, with minimal fanfare.

VAT, anyone?

June 24, 2005

Wrong lane

It's friday night. I'm on a warpath, but no one is standing in my way to die...

This week started with subtle messages that somehow I drifted in the wrong lane: Nothing will go right, just everything against my way.

The messages were too subtle, unfortunately, that I didn't notice.

Or, rather, I ignored.

I laughed when my bike went badly uncalibrated because some lunatic played with its gear shifts. I played Legend of Mana when I was too worried about a text message that doesn't arrive when it should have. I smiled weakly when I revised a horribly boring design a hundred times to satisfy the fickle-minded, only to see that the final product looks horribly exactly as the first design.

I sang Nexxus, Savage Garden, and Martin Nievera when the rain poured so hard that the whole village went into blackout. And when the electricity came back but our house is still in the dark, my housemate and I sang Eagles, Rivermaya, Eraserheads, Def Leppard, After Image, and every familiar artist we can find in his old song magazines.

It was too late when I recognized the messages...

I've been angry all along, and I realized that no matter how fast I ride my bike through the rains, or no matter how raw and blistered my fingers get playing the PSOne and the guitar, or no matter how hoarse I get singing that blasted song in the Koreanovela, the answers are not coming my way.

I'm in the wrong lane, and just when I'm ready to explode, kill, and be killed...

There's no one around.

Thank goodness.

*logs on to Ragnarok*

Hmmm mm mm mm....

...

*smile*

June 16, 2005

Lost

My creativity (if indeed I have such) is at its lowest ebb. Tomorrow I have to present design proposals for three projects to ManComm, and I’m nowhere close to finishing a single design for any of them.

Oh pressure, where art thou, pressure?

Sigh.

The colds virus that’s been fermenting around the workplace finally found its way to my system, and now my nose is stuffy and my eyes watery. Cough is slowly creeping up my chest as well.

One of my officemates called in sick. He’s down with fever.

Beer doesn’t taste as good. The balut (boiled duck egg whatever) we eat every night at Manang Paopao’s somehow tasted bland.

Our Chinese student trainee ran away at the sight of balut being eaten.

She still looks a bit pale and weak after getting really sick with cough, colds, and fever two days ago – five days after arriving from Hongkong.

Wait...

...colds, balut, Chinese, cough, Hongkong, balut, fever, virus, student trainee sick two days ago, colds and cough, balut=duck egg, duck=bird, fever=flu...

*Shudder*

The Gloria-gate CD is playing incessantly all around. The recorded voices are beginning to feel like dentist’s drill.

“Hello Garci?”


The rains have taken on a different tune – sadness. Maybe it’s been like that for so long, and it was I who refused to wake up and listen.

Looks like it’s going to rain tonight, again.

My umbrella just broke.

Darn these no-drowse phenylpropanolamin paracetamol tablets.

June 14, 2005

Atty. Jay’s fat-burner soup

1 head of cabbage (chopped finely), 5-7 tomatoes (quartered), 5-7 white onion (quartered), 5 small red or green bell pepper, 2 cubes knorr chicken broth. Boil together. Makes 1 big kaserola.

June 06, 2005

That late-night trip

My frequent late-night trips within the metro through public transport are proving to be quite a challenge for my guardian angel – I bet she’s working doubly hard to keep me out of harm’s way lately, and last night was again another brush with potential danger.

The strong rains kept me from leaving my girlfriend’s house early, and it was already 11:30 pm when the rains let up a bit just enough for my jacket to handle.

Commuters en route to Quezon City from Makati usually become sparse at past 12:00 midnight, especially on Sundays. It takes me three jeepney rides to get from my girlfriend’s house in Makati back home to Diliman. I just got off at Quiapo, right after the bridge and near the church, to get my third and last jeepney transfer when the rains came back hard and strong.

And then it happened.

I saw the first Project 2-3 jeepney coming down fast from the bridge. I raised my hand to flag it down, but it stopped at the end of the bridge, several meters away from me. It stayed there, but no one was alighting.

The rain was fast soaking through my jacket, so I ran towards the jeepney (heck, I don’t want to get sick!).

As I approached the jeep, the man seated at the front alighted and hurried off. As I was about to enter through the back entrance, two men got off in a rush and I have to back off into the pavement to let them through. One was carrying a knapsack while other was busy stashing something into his denim jacket.

There were four passengers left inside the jeep, and everyone was talking to each other in excited voices. The only lady in the group was pale and in the verge of tears, holding her chest as if it was about to explode.

“Akala ko nagbibiro lang siya (I thought he was just joking)...”

“Pare, natangay ba yung cellphone mo (Pare, was your cellphone taken)?...”

“Kawawa naman yung estudyante, tinangay nila pati yung knapsack niya (That poor student, even his knapsack was taken)...”

“Mahirap makipaglaban sa tatlong yun, ang hahaba ng mga panaksak nila, stainless pa (It’s hard to fight those three, they have long icepicks, stainless steel even)...”

“Yung nandito sa harapan, may baril (The one here at the front has a gun)...”

“Buti na lang naibayad ko yung 100 pesos ko. Mama, yung sukli ko po. Yan na lang natira sa akin. Kinuha rin nila relo ko. (Good thing I paid with my 100 pesos. Mister driver, my change please. That’s all I have now. They took my watch, too)...”

WTF! These passengers just got robbed!

Sigh!

Incidents like this one had that taught me to develop a habit when traveling at night: I empty my wallet of any important documents – IDs, ATM cards, photos, driver’s license, SSS, etc. – and transfer them to “my other wallet”, carefully stowed somewhere in my person. I would also take off my old wristwatch. There’s little I can do about my cellphone, but I plan to get hold of that nifty “SIM-saver” gadget soon, so I won’t feel sorry for a lost SIM card (and all the contacts in it).

I would leave just enough cash in my wallet for jeepney fare and for what I called “props” – at least about a hundred bucks, in small denominations (for an illusion of quantity), so any potential robber would (hopefully) not suspect that I have my cash stashed somewhere else. There’s no point getting anyone hurt for small amounts.

But thank goodness I myself have never been a victim of robbery, and I hope it stays that way. *knock on wood*

The rest of the trip from Quiapo to Sikatuna, Diliman was filled with conversations. I just listened and watched the victims talk it out, seemingly trying to ease, share, and release their emotions – fear, anger, and relief (especially for those who managed to hold on to some of their belongings, like the guy who somehow succeeded in concealing his pricey cellphone).

For a while, they were like good friends, and not the faceless commuters you see everyday. Their experiences for the night somehow bonded them, even if it was just for the rest of that lonely, late-night trip.

May 31, 2005

Two weddings

I was invited to spend the weekend at my girlfriend’s hometown in Capiz, first, to attend two weddings of their close relatives and, second, to discuss more important matters that I may or may not mention here.

Two weddings, with different stories behind each of them. One a picture of trials, obstacles, and forebodes rough sailing. The other a picture of shared happiness and promises of harmony.




The former tells a story of two young people, much too young by provincial standards that the girl’s parents refused to their engagement twice. The boy, a fledgling seaman, was able to convince his family to push through with the wedding without the consent of the girl’s parents.

The wedding was carried out wholly under the plans of the boy’s family, with girl’s family being informed of it just barely weeks before the event. Had it not for the bride’s supportive relatives and cousins, some who came rushing all the way from Metro Manila on short notice, the bride’s family would have been severely outnumbered and overshadowed by the groom’s clan.

That scenario is somewhat of a no-no by rural traditions. In most provincial weddings, families usually showcase the cream of the crop, the best of the bests, from their clan – lawyers, engineers, doctors, priests, seamen, teachers, businessmen, archbishops, etc etc.

But still, you would know that there is something is wrong with the picture when the priest starts the wedding by saying, ‘Dear (names of the couple), this marriage will not work, and I’m giving you ten minutes to change you mind...”

Of course, later in his homily, the priest clarified that “this marriage will not work, because you have to make it work...”, but not after dishing out painful jabs and pokes here and there about the circumstances of the wedding and the emotional maturity of the couple (who kept on talking to and staring at each other like some lovesick lovebirds. The priest even had to call their attention and ask them to pay attention to the ceremony).




The second wedding tells of a much happier story, with a much brighter picture despite being simple and less lavish.

It boasts of a relationship that seemed aged and tested through time, an entourage that was well-coordinated and dynamic, and a best man and maid of honor in their most efficient. The program was well-prepared and meaningful.

And, most of all, the couple was surrounded by friends and families who share their beaming smiles.

Two weddings, two stories that will continue on.

Someday, I will have to tell our own story...




I’m looking at weddings now in terms of resources and preparation, and this weekend I’ve witnessed a logistical nightmare of holding a wedding in the province. Here’s the simple equation:

One invited person = 3-5 guests.

Nice. ^__^’

May 27, 2005

Unproductive

The entire day ended with me staring at a heap of papers looking forlorn in the middle on my table. This week passed like a blur, and although I was able to finish most of the crucial works, I feel dismally inefficient.

Clouded, my focus seems to be.

Sigh!

My visit yesterday at a publishing and digital solutions company made me see my inadequacies. The owner has been a long-time acquaintance and my contact everytime our company needs designing and publishing jobs.

A true digital designs master. In minutes he can accomplish what would take me days.

Inspiring, he truly is.

Stupid, I’m beginning to sound.

At least now I can see my table.

And exciting weekend, this will be.

Aaaa! Out of my head, you get out, Master Yoda!

*Dies*

May 23, 2005

To be good

I am convinced that I’m lightyears away from that so-called “emotional maturity” that, for the longest time, I have aspired for myself.

This realization was somehow triggered just this past weekend. First, after watching Starwars: Revenge of the Sith, and second, by the extent to which I get affected by someone’s opinion.

First, the movie.

Anakin did pretty well in pleasing his master Obi-Wan, despite his inherent propensity to rage, which is a no-no to a Jedi. At one point Obi-Wan has absolute faith that his friend-protégé will never fail him. In the end, his reason to embrace the dark side was simple: love. But hey, despite the constant display of remorse (crying after a good round of murderous bloodbath), I say Anakin looked really relieved to shed the mask of goodness and reveal his true colors in its full glory.

Second, about myself.

As far as I can remember in my entire adult lifetime, I have been trying to veer away from the path of mistakes my predecessors have committed. There are parts in my family’s past that I’m not particularly proud of, and somehow that past has successfully embedded itself to the name I carry now – like an ugly scar. There are already places where the mere mention of my family name conjures rich, colorful stories spoken only in hushed voices.

My dreams are simple, however ambitious: learn from the past, and break the chains of history that I’ve been carrying on my shoulder like a cross. I do not claim to be pristine, I am well-aware of the evils that lurk within my genes. I’m used to people who can’t see past my ugly scar, and those who hardly know anything but pass on judgments like cheap candies. I listen and care about the opinions of only a few.

But still, somehow, sometimes, I still get hurt from what I hear. Either my shields faltered, or I have misplaced trust on one person too many.

In the end, however, it’s entirely my fault – because I chose to be affected.

I just want to break free from the past. I just want to be good. I just want to stay in the good side of the force.

May 20, 2005

Happy birthday, Chemical-Rhapsody

It’s been a year of sharing thoughts and what-nots here at blogger.

It was only four years ago, in January 31, 2001, when I uploaded my first journal entry. Since then it’s been a love-hate affair between the web log and me. A number of sites have been created and brought down in spurs of inspiration, joy, despair, anger, hope, dreams, and even madness. Some are left in cyberspace, almost forgotten. Some are stored in the recesses of my hard disk, and some in CDs gathering dust in my boxes of memories.

Ah! Four years of blogging, and it still eats into my working hours just doing it. The inefficiency! It’s a small price to pay, though, considering the times it has saved me from insanity.

Anyway, there isn’t much to say lately.

No, change that.

There’s a lot going on inside me lately, but words are failing me.

For now, something has caught my attention.

A prayer that my officemate has posted prominently in her area...



“Lord, grant me
the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
the courage to change
the things I can,
and the wisdom to
know the difference.”

May 16, 2005

Typo-Freak

Darn! It’s one of those Monday blues again. One of my officemates wore the same color scheme and polo design as I have on right now. No way!

Anyway, the past weekend have been a blurry of short, quick trips around the metro, enduring heat and bureaucratic red tape as I continue my (epic) quest of reconstructing my church documents, as well as scouting for wedding ideas (nothing official yet, though ^__^ ).

Let me just get this off my system....

It was a test of patience watching the staff of the parish mistype the information they copy from either the record books or from a letter-size paper where you wrote the info in BIIIIIG, BOOOLD letters. I’m so close to believing that the people in the church records section have gone reeeeaaally rusty with eye-hand coordination (kokopyahin na nga lang eh, mali pa!), or they simply have no idea how important it is to be precise and accurate in their line of work.

That staff spoiled three sheets of pro-forma affidavit before she got the details right. Gosh!

I may sound sweeping with my observations, but I am not singling out that staff because when I requested for the baptismal certificates of my brother and sister, the other staffs who attended to it had their fair share of typos. One out of the three churches which issued certificates of no records also mistyped my informations.

Goodness. It must be the heat.

I guess it was in this aspect where my parents made the mistake of being lax with their children’s live birth and church records.

And now their children pay for that laxity, and go through the arduous task of correcting their mistakes.

For all parents out there, please do be conscientious with your children’s records. Spare them the frustrations and wasted time they have to endure in the future correcting the smallest of typos. It matters not how many sheets of nicely-printed papers of documents these records people waste, just please please please make sure the information is correct.

Have a nice week ahead, y' all!

May 13, 2005

Winds of change?

For the past weeks I have been rubbing elbows with people who have made anti-corruption their crusade. Their zeal to smite the deep-seated culture of corruption is really contagious, and yesterday I had a chance to be with them again.

The signing of a covenant of cooperation and support to the European Commission-OMB’s corruption prevention project by over 50 stakeholders from participating government agencies, civil society organizations, and collaborating government agencies highlighted the 17th anniversary of the Office of the Ombudsman.

This may be old news, especially to those who have grown old and skeptical about government’s anti-corruption efforts. But hey, whatever it takes to make a difference, the least people like myself can do is give support.

A graft-free government in 3 years, Madam President? Sure. Why not?

May God bless this country.

Should you want to know more about counter-corruption projects and networks, you can visit www.tag.org.ph.

May 12, 2005

Young minds

Summer is about to end, and the folder on my table labeled “Internship” has noticeably gotten fat.

The word “intern”, according to Webster, means advanced student or graduate undergoing training.

It also means “to confine”.

Being confined, however, is the last thing we’d like to impose on the student trainees that are placed under our wing (and *sigh* my supervision).

Being an academic institution, we try to give as much intellectual freedom possible to student interns and let them decide on what they want to do, and accomplish, during their practicum in our station, while still subjecting them to the seemingly menial tasks but just critical aspects of NGO work (“Coffee, black and no sugar please... jk!)

We had two student interns this summer, so far, both from reputable schools. And now that they’re done with their internship, *sigh!* I now face the task of refining their works – academic papers, articles, and what-nots – still rough on the edges, but with promising perspectives.

May 11, 2005

In the name of the son...

I have my elder brother to watch and (try to) learn from about raising children. Like most parents, he and his wife dream of the best for their three kids. I don't know much about what our own parents had dreamt for us, but I’m beginning to hear some mumbles here and there about their youngest son being still unmarried. *uboubo!* Hehe. Patience po, my dear parents, we'll get there soon.

Speaking of patience, I now see my brother and sister-in-law as the epitome of patience.

Last Saturday, May 7, my brother’s eldest son celebrated his 7th birthday at a clubhouse in Batangas, with a kiddie pool and two clowns to entertain the guests. The little fellow, in his spanking new clothes, fell into the pool even before the party started. In an astounding display of patience worth seven years of parenting, neither mother nor father showed any sign of anger or exasperation.

Simply amazing. It reminded me of my blog about ol' Papa Bear in "the wisdom of age".

The event somewhat became a gathering for our families. My mother arrived from Aklan with a few friends. My father came with almost all of his brothers and sisters, and most of my father-side cousins showed up with their own children. My brother’s diverse network of friends from both Luzon and Visayas also arrived.

It was a good exercise of linguistic skills as my immediate family kept switching from Batangueño to Aklanon and back as we moved around the crowd.

The singles have become overwhelmingly outnumbered by the married among us cousins, so all eyes are on me – the one whom they least hear about, and the one whom they rarely see. They never seem to run out of surprised reactions every time I show up in my father’s small hometown in San Jose.

But for them, the bigger surprise that day was that I brought someone along with me: my girlfriend. For over seven years, they have only known her name and her face from the pictures in my wallet. To finally see her in person was something they've been looking forward to. It's that Tagalog culture of "kilatis" (close scrutiny) at work, I say, but with the advent of Visayan women getting married into my father's closely-knit family (one of them my mother), gone is the age-old Bisaya stereotyping among Batangueños.

It’s a well-observed custom in my father’s hometown that a man present only “The One” to the family, and introduce her to the eldest (and usually the wisest) member of the family. In my case, that would be my last living grandparent, “Mamay” (Batangueño term for lolo or grandfather).

So there. There’s much to do from this point on, and more formal meetings to arrange. But for now, welcome to my family, Pangga. Thank you. Lyp! ^__^

That last meeting with Mamay somehow left a certain heaviness in my heart. Less than a year ago, Nanay (grandmother) passed away after lying in coma for two years. In those two years, Mamay never left her side, and cared for her as he had always done even in their younger days. For me, they were a match made in heaven.

The brilliance in his eyes has somehow faded. He now speak of pain, sadness, and even regrets. He briefly spoke of his frustrations with his son – our father – and of the things he has not accomplished, and the things we should remember when we have children of our own.

Tired, sad, and weary as he is, Mamay is still the same wise person whom my cousins and I always seek for advice. I look at him, my mother, and my brother, and see the lessons that I could possibly learn. I look at my father and see the mistakes I could possibly commit. I look at myself and see everything else that lie in between, and beyond.

Ah! ^__^

Here’s something I must remember: the lechon my Mom brought to the party is definitely the best I’ve tasted, even if it traveled for about nine hours all the way from Aklan to Batangas. Lip-smacking good! She told us that the cook himself handpicks the live pig and does something to it to make it really tasty to the bone. Hmmm...

One of these days I’ll have to find that cook.



my pamangkins Victor, Renzo, and Angel, with Shorty the clown -- minutes before birthday celebrant Renzo fell into the pool (and ruined his slick hairdo). he wasn't hurt or anything, but the incident dampened his mood a bit. ^__^

April 27, 2005

Dismantling 101

Two nights ago I decided to take matters in my own hands and did something I haven't done since grade school: dismantle a camera.

My first victim was my grandfather's vintage Kodak, one with the eyepiece located at the top and weighs about a quarter of a pound (back then, it was pretty heavy for me). I was grade three then, and with dreams of becoming an inventor, if not a robotics scientist.

And so when my grandfather gave the go signal for me to try and "repair" his camera, I wasted no time and attacked the poor thing with nothing but a pocketknife and lots of imagination.

Although it didn't get fixed, I ended up making an improvised periscope out of it, which became a big hit with my classmates because we can spy on the big house near our school without scaling their tall fence wall.

The second camera would be my recently damaged Nikon digicam. This time, though, I have system.

I learned in highschool CAT (Cadet Army Training) that the basics in dismantling any firearm is FOLI – First Out, Last In. There I learned to dismantle .45 caliber pistols, and the standard M-14 and M-16 rifles. I remember our humble squad winning the mini-competition in CAT, where each one of us dismantled the firearms in the shortest time, in blindfolds.

And so two nights ago, just like my grandfather's Kodak, the poor Nikon digicam looked like a sacrificial lamb on my worktable -- ready to be slaughtered, and has resigned its fate to unlearned hands.

But I was determined not to turn it into another periscope or something, and I've armed myself with a complete set of precision screwdrivers, brush cleaners, super glue, and dust blower, with a soldering gun at a standby.

It took me about an hour to crack it open and strip it down to its barest essentials. The culprit was a tiny speck of Pagudpud sand lodged deep within the lens mechanism. I have to remove most of the gears to get the sucker off and give the whole thing a thorough dusting and cleaning.

Dismantling the camera was easy enough. The real challenge for me was putting it back together.

I wonder how many watches, toys, clocks, and radios were dismantled in my childhood days, and failed to put back together? Countless. Most ended up collected as scraps in a box that still sits in a corner in my room in the province, while some got recycled into toy robots that my mother put up in display at home. She told me that one day she will contact the TV network to make a feature on my trash robots. Oh nooooooooo! *pure horror*

Okay, enough robots. Back to the camera.

It's working fine, and although it now makes a sound like that of a dentist's drill when you zoom in and out, the images are just as fine as it’s always been. The FOLI principle did its job, so I'm back to my old camera-totting self (Wheee!).

Dang! This is one tough camera, and looks like it'll last for another thousand pictures. ^__^

April 25, 2005

Never ending

It’s a feeling similar to finding a 20-peso bill in your pocket when you’re dirt broke. Or when someone pays you money s/he owes you a week before payday. Or when your highschool crush, whom you haven’t talked to since you both graduated from highschool, confessed that she had a crush on you, too.

Small and unexpected things that never fail to give you a lift and make you smile.

I’ve spent my entire student life under the impression that my IQ is Above-Average. I left college with neither fame nor award, except for a single recognition of being a college scholar for one semester (ancient history blah blah). I was happy and contented with that, knowing that that’s what I am – above-average. Also, many would agree that communication research majors have the toughest math and statistics subjects in the college of MassComm.

But just recently my mother told me that my IQ is, in fact, Superior. She found my elementary school records with the IQ test reports. This newfound info is making me think now how things would have been had I lived my student life believing that I am, indeed, superior in IQ.

Sigh. This is what happens when you’ve spent most of your adult life away from the family – you fail to learn a lot of things about your own self.

At least now I feel a little more assured that my future kid would have a better chance of having good IQ. I read somewhere that 30% of the child’s IQ depends on the mother’s, about 10% from the father, and the rest from his/her first formative years.

I pray my future child won’t get his/her EQ from me, though. Haha!

Last Friday we had our annual physical examination at the office. The following are my vital stats:

Blood pressure: 110/70
Pulse rate: 70/minute
Respiratory rate: 19/minute
Eyesight: 20/20
Blood type: O

Here’s what I didn’t expect:

Height: 5’ 7.5”
Weight: 144 lbs.
Body Mass Index (BMI): 23 Overweight

Not only that I’m taller than I thought I am, it turns out that I’m 4 pounds heavier than the suggested normal weight indicated in the BMI. Dang! Everyone in the office is either overweight or obese. I had to re-check my BMI using one of those hi-tech contraptions found in Mercury drugstores and malls. The results were consistent.

I guess all that beer-drinking sessions paid off – I don’t feel scrawny anymore. Ü Here’s to good health! *Raise pale pilsen* Cheers!

April 24, 2005

Almost famous (Laoag escapade part 3)

Here's the blog that hotmail lost somewhere...

Our second day in Laoag (April 3) was a flurry of sightseeing and city tour. Aileen’s cousin became our all-around tour guide and driver for the day. And since my digital camera decided to die on me the day before, we were so grateful Aileen’s uncle lend us his trusty Canon instamatic. Yey!

First stop was the Marcos Museum. On Sundays only parts of the museum is opened, including the mausoleum where the body, or should I say a replica, of the former strongman lies preserved in a glass coffin.

Cameras are not allowed, and people entering the mausoleum are not allowed to stay too long inside. That’s fine with me, though. Not only that I don’t have a camera, I’ve no plans of lingering inside that dark and musty room – I think I have seen much the late dictator in action during my younger days to even bother looking at his lifeless image now (darn, am I that old?). It was interesting, though, browsing through the artifacts and mementos shown in the museum (Marcos’ handwriting was rather, uhm, scratchy).

Paoay Church was our next stop, and the first thing that caught our attention was the UN citation posted at its front grounds. It named the Paoay Church as one of the five baroque churches in the Philippines, and that it is important that these structures be preserved for the benefit of mankind. Okay. That made me think. I need to read more about the baroque churches of the Philippines, and why UN wants them preserved.

When I was in highschool, I was told that one is entitled to three wishes on their first visit to a church. Since then I made it a point to visit a Catholic church, and say my little prayer with the three little wishes in it, everytime I’m in a new place.

The practice has become special to me somehow. More than the wishes, it’s the chance to leave all your burdens and problems to the Higher Being through prayers – and the aura of old churches like Paoay Church seem to offer a solace that is hard to find these days.

Next stop was Fort Ilocandia.

My first impression was the whole place was dedicated to catering to our Asian neighbors. Posters of various promos and packages in English, Korean and Chinese abound. Pictures of Ms China, Ms Thailand, Ms Singapore, among others, from the Ms Earth beauty pageant decorate every wall. I was later told that the property is indeed owned by a Korean national. That explains it.

Too bad we didn’t get to play at the casino, which opens at around 12 noon. We were there at 11 am.

So off we go to Malacañang Palace in Ilocos.

The structure is unmistakably reflective of the opulent lifestyle fit for a head of state and his family. I have nothing much to say, except that I wish the palace tour guide speak a bit clearer and louder. It’s nice, though, that the local government preserves places like this one.

After lunch, we went to Vigan to visit the famed old street and search for the famous Vigan empanada, Marsha’s bibingka, and Lynn’s ever-elusive fabric called “hablon”. After asking around, however, we doubt if the latter even existed in Ilocos. Maybe Lynn meant “abel” and not “hablon”.



The famous old street of Vigan is a wonder in itself – a small stretch of cobbled street that, with enough imagination and appreciation, can take you back a century in time.

Antique furniture littered the sidewalks, matching the faded facades of row houses that showcase old architecture. Galloping handsome horses with guardia sibil riders in spanking starched uniforms occasionally fill the street with a staccato of clippetty-clops of shiny horseshoes on old pavement. Ladies in baro’t saya walk around, chatting among themselves while easing the hot weather with their lovely fans. Borgee Manotok walking alone, inconspicuously weaving his way through kalesas (horse-drawn carriages), sightseers, and church-goers, followed by a small band of crew lugging cameras, tripods, and lighting equipment.



Okay, the last one snapped me back to present day.

Eating is always the best part of the trip, and two orders of empanada at the Vigan plaza really hit the spot. Yum! A quick stop at Marsha’s for bibingka and brownies completed the day. The queue of buyers at Marsha’s reminded me of Collette’s buko pie. It really pays to be the best in something, especially when it comes to food. I hope my friend pushes through with her dream to compile her list of the best of the best in Philippine foods (Hi Rubs!).

It was raining when we got back to Manila the next day, Monday, at 3 in the morning. Office work and Monday blues await at 9am. Back to reality, and reality bites, but life is a joyride, after all. ^__^

April 20, 2005

bugger...

hmph! blogger is not blogging my email blogs again...

April 11, 2005

Behind enemy lines (Laoag escapade part 2)

My first visit to Pagudpud last April 2, Saturday, would later on prove to be memorable.

Not because I almost got into a wordspar with a girl who made fun of my companion's appearance. Truth is, I hate arguing with people, especially obnoxious ones, and I'd rather stay away from these vexations. But if my precious peace is broken and one of my friends is being blatantly maligned, I usually take a swing at them.

And so this lady came back to their cottage -- next to ours where I was snoozing -- laughing loudly and cackling about a dark-skinned girl she saw at the beach. I opened my eyes and saw a fat girl in one-piece swimsuit, bulges jiggling as she laughed and told her friends about "that dark-skinned girl" at the beach.

My my, look who's talking, I sighed and tried to shut out her squeaky voice and go back to sleep. Funny, though, her friends were not laughing with her...

"... you guys should go there and see for yourselves. It's such a funny sight. Look oh! She's over there, the one in the middle..."

WTF!

I got up and sat motionless for a few minutes. Getting disturbed from a nice snooze and losing your temper at the same time don't really sit well in my head -- kinda gives me a small but sharp headache. I saw some unripe mangoes at the table, and remembered that Aileen was so nice to even give the people at the next cottage some of it.

Oh well, a diplomatic approach wouldn't hurt... maybe... Making a scene is never my option.

I got the mangoes, fixed my shades, and walked to the fat girl's cottage. I approached her friend who was still eating some of the mangoes given by Aileen earlier. The rest of her friends were huddled outside their cottage, drinking beer and paying no attention to the fat girl.

"Hi! Here, we still have some mangoes left. My friend gave you some of these a while ago. If you remember my friend," I shot a glance at the fat girl who was suddenly quiet, "she's the one with the 'dark skin', as you were saying a while ago."

Both fat girl and her friend went silent. The latter was smiling, while the former was looking at me with raised eyebrows.

"Miss, that's so bad of you to make fun of my friend." I said and started walking back to our cottage. I was not in the mood to linger around. At times, I am guilty too of being carried away with boisterous fun and end up being tactless, making fun of other people. But I do try to go at some lengths to make sure that no one gets hurt. The fat girl may have no idea that the dark-skinned girl is my friend, but just the same, I feel I should tell her something, at the least.

The fat girl said something behind my back. "Tell her she should have it covered." I stopped and looked at her. My goodness, the audacity of this person is appalling. There she sat on her fat ass like some beached white whale and still she has the nerve to malign others like that.

Breathe in, breathe out, Leo...

"Miss, please, we're in a BEACH... *bitch*" (how I wish I said the last word a little louder, but apparently the fat girl didn't hear it).

I waited for another retort and, thank goodness, none came. I walked back to our cottage in silence. I searched for beer but, of all luck, there was none left (Graaaaargh! Potah ang mahal pa naman ng beer dito! Mas mura pa ang beer sa Boracay!). I sat there nibbling leftover "bagnet" (an Ilocos version of lechon kawali. Oh my ghulay, such a delicious and deadly food this is. Cholesterol!!) and watched my three companions sunbathe, with Aileen lying in the middle. Sigh! She was wearing shorts, so how, for the life of me, can that fat bitch tell she has dark skin "there"? Also, Aileen's been my housemate for over two years now, so how come I don't see that? (Haha! Just kidding, Ai!)

As we were wrapping up to leave, the fat girl was nowhere to be found in their cottage. Sigh! Wouldn't it be so nice if she could just see what how pretty and sexy Aileen is when she not lying face-down and half-covered in sand? (Libre naman dyan, Ai! Hehehe!)



My first visit to Pagudpud will be memorable, not because of this, but because this is where my second digital camera will, later on, meet its end. Come evening that same day, with no hair dryer available, the sea spray and sand did their work, and finally rendered my old digicam useless.

*Sniff*

But the photos at Pagudpud and the nearby old lighthouse were worth it. At the last moment, that humble Nikon 2200 never failed to amaze me. Adios for now, my good ol' camera. I pray that we find a good repairman soon to bring you back.

That evening we were treated by Aileen's cousins to a nearby KTV bar. I must have given the best I got, but my highest score was just 96. The locals even sung a Tagalog rap song using the tune of "Make it Real" by The Jets, and still they got perfect 100s.

But to heck with the videoke scores. Free beer! Thish ish the layf! *hik*

April 06, 2005

Laoag escapade (part 1)

As I always tell myself, great gimmicks happen when they are least planned. Ü

Last weekend's trip to Laoag has been planned almost a month ahead. The gameplan was simple: take the van, hire a driver, leave on friday after office hours, then tour Laoag the whole weekend.

But then came the glitches: both van and driver won't be available. On public transport, the budget for the whole event went up by almost half. One by one, those who signed up for the trip backed off. By thursday morning, only our host, Aileen, was intent on going.

I was intent on going, too, with or without the driver or the ride. Problem was, I wasn't so vocal about it by the time the glitches came up. I only spoke of it on Thursday evening while having some beer with the officemates. It must be the spiral of silence theory at work -- the drinking session ended with three of us going, and one more joined us come Friday morning.

The bus trip wasn't bad at all, despite tales of legendary rigors of traveling to Ilocos by land. The key is finding a good sleeping position (which may require that you are in good terms with the person sitting beside you Ü), keeping yourself warm (bringing a scotch tape to plug the aircon duct worked pretty well), and making sure your fluid retention capacity is at their fullest before the bus leaves the terminal.

We left Manila Friday, 10 p.m., and arrived at Laoag Saturday, 6 a.m.

Our first stop, and already quite a find, was the house of Aileen's grandmother. "Bahay ni Lola", as I call it, has the distinct architecture reminiscent of the olden days -- capiz shell windows and window panels that allow natural lighting, mostly hardwood construction, and an array of memorabilia in every corner that boasts of over three generations of families. I lost count of the doors and rooms that have no clear pattern of entrances and exits. Truly an antique.

After a quick breakfast and some preparations, we're off to Pagudpud on a handy-dandy owner-type jeep with jolly ol' Manong Edi at the driver's seat. From Laoag it took us less than two hours to reach Pagudpud (I never thought a Saturn engine owner-type jeep can go that fast).

The place has all the makings of a great beach -- light, powdery sand, blue waters, and a view that was made even lovelier by the surrounding mountains. But my first question was, "Why isn't there anyone swimming out there?" People were just wading at chest-high waters a few feet from the shore.

I found out that the beach has one of the steepest slopes I've ever encountered -- standing ten feet from the shore with arms stretched upward, the water depth already exceeds the tips of my hands (I'm 5' 6"). Good thing the undertow is minimal and the water is amazingly bouyant, otherwise this setup makes for a perfect trap for non-swimmers.

I tried swimming farther out to check why no one ventures into deeper waters. I got the answer right in my face (or should I say, entangled in my goggles).

Seaweeds. *Ack!*

It must be the weather that day and the high tide. The wind and waves were unusually strong and chilly. Underwater visibility was unfavorable. I dived just in case there's something to see at the floor, but found only cloudy sand and some fishes.

More to follow. Ü

March 25, 2005

Peace

No sparkling white beaches. No glorious sun. No swimming nor diving in pristine blue waters...

But this year's Holy week gave back some of my small luxuries.

Friendship.

Tried and tested wisdom is hard to find these days. How long has it been since you had a good chat with a long-lost friend? Well, not really lost, but someone who's been away for the longest time? In these trying times and age (our age, that is *uboubo*) -- where turmoils, doubts, and disappointments ferment with amazing ease -- a talk with a good friend is a refreshing balm to your weary soul.

Silence.

It's going to be just me and a good novel tonight. Ü

Hope.

Holy Week indeed heralds hope in many forms.

Just weeks ago I gave up playing Philippine Ragnarok Online due to severe botter problems. I logged on yesterday, Maundy Thursday, to finish my remaining play time...

And surprise surpise! There's not a single botter in sight!

This delightful development proved me wrong: there is a solution to botting, however short-term it may be (let's face it, botters may be back in no time).

But Midgard without botters, even for just for a few days, is good enough for me.

And this reason enough to start playing again, although with lesser intensity.

There is hope.

A blessed Holy Week to all.

And Happy Easter!

March 14, 2005

left out

they say the workspace is a reflection of your mind. here's mine...
need i say more?


i wonder what happened to my parents when i was born? somehow, in my recent efforts to assemble my childhood records, i'm beginning to suspect that they suddenly suffered from temporary loss of IQ upon the birth of their youngest child.

last saturday i went to san rafael church to get my baptismal certificate. the clerk at the records section found the names of my brother and sister -- but mine was nowhere to be found. i called my mother and verified her claim. "you're born in balut, tondo, anak, and baptized in san rafael." when i told her about my missing record, all she said was, "be patient, anak."

ok, so life is unfair, again. now i have to go to the three churches nearest san rafael, get certificates of no record (interesting... triangulation?), and bring them to the archbishop's office in intramuros so they can issue another certificate which will prompt san rafael to reconstruct my baptismal certificate.

the cause of all these woes is simple: my parents didn't double-check the spelling of my name when it was being typed in my birth certificate.

what, for the life of me, were they thinking then? playing around with fancy, complicated names ("oh i like this and that, and let's add this and that"), and then leaving my fate to a half-literate typist?

and come baptism day, my parents again left my fate to the wind -- not even bothering to check with the parish if my records were correct, or existent, for that matter.

"so what other requirements should i bring with me?"

"... that's about it. oh, you must bring a baptismal photo."

what the...

"... you do have a baptismal photo, don't you?"

"my first photo was taken when i was already two years old."

sigh!

indeed, one can learn a lot from their parents.

March 07, 2005

gone

like firelflies
in the fading light of dusk
they pass me by
fooling me into dream world
where i cast a light of my own
let me close my eyes
and wake up to reality
to find the light of dawn
with a single firefly
resting in my hand.

March 03, 2005

sudden

somewhere on my way home last sunday evening, i felt something i haven't felt before -- that worry of dying.

the feeling kept me awake during the entire trip, however sleepy i was. my eyes strained to watch every person nearby, and their every movement.

it was tiring and draining.

the reasons were simple enough: my brush with violence two weeks ago, the recent spate of bombings, and that sudden realization that there's a lot to live for.

but that worrisome feeling is gone now. death is a destiny we all have.

ah! that's about it with death. it'll be life from now on. ^__^

February 23, 2005

priceless

my tolerance to sunlight has greatly declined. everyone thought i went to boracay when truth is that i got my slight burn from the two-kilometer walk from church to cemetery under the blistering heat at noontime.

mama, my lola (grandmother), was laid to rest last saturday. i'm not well-versed with the traditions that accompany the rites of the dearly departed, as i usually shy away from attending such occasions, but my grandmother's wake and interment were by far the most elaborate i've personally observed -- replete of traditions and meanings.

mama is the third to pass away among my grandparents. the first was my motherside grandfather who died eight years ago, and second was my fatherside grandmother, who passed away two years. in both occasions, the wake lasted for four days.

mama's wake lasted for nine days.

my brother and i got home two days before the interment (feb 17). by then the guest book already has a tally of 893 visitors, coming from across the region, with more scheduled to arrive by batches. the actual number is higher, as i noticed some of the guests, usually the rural folks, don't sign the guestbook.

i guess this is a manifestation of the combined network established by my mother, currently an assistant schools division superintendent, and my late grandmother, a retired district supervisor. the people helping around the house were mostly teachers and friends (our clan is relatively small). the food logistics was breathtaking: it's like having a fiesta everyday, minus the merryment and music, where you serve snacks, lunch, and dinner to an average of about 100 guests daily. on the eve of the interment, i was told that four pigs were killed for next day's lunch and dinner (oh those poor pigs).

for two nights i stood vigil (hey my insomnia is good for something, finally), and learned some things about our local customs. here are the ones i took note of:

first, during the wake, the bereaved family should not say "salamat" or thank you to those who give "abuloy" or contributions. they didn't explain exactly why, they just politely corrected me when i blurted "saemat guid" (thank you very much) to a group who shoved a jar full of coins and bills into my hands. a simple "sige" or "okay" will do. thanks and appreciation (personally or through thank you cards) may be given after the interment.

second, a guest leaving the wake must not be escorted to the gate or exit. this too i was corrected, as i thought it's just polite to walk our guests and friends up to the gate. some say it is to avoid bringing with them the air of death. *shudder*

third, as the casket is carried out of the house, it will stop just outside the main entrance. the grandchildren must then walk under it, immediately run through the back door, through the house, and out again through the main door (wheee!).



fourth, after the mass and on the way to the cemetery, family members are not allowed to step anywhere within the vicinity of the house, even on the grass at the frontyard. sheesh! this one caused quite a commotion among my elderly townmates because they thought i was going to enter our gates on our way to the cemetery. they were like "ayaw ayaw ayaaaaw! ayaw it agto una! indi ka mag-suoed! aaaaay!!!" (no no nooooo! don't go there! don't go inside! aaaaay!!!) haha! i was informed ahead about this one, i was just walking over to my friend at the sidewalk who was handing out umbrellas for us. but my ghulay, such passionate townmates we have!

finally, everyone outside the bereaved family must sprinkle ashes at the entrance of their own houses when they get home from the cemetery or from the house of the bereaved family. again, something about not bringing the air of death inside the home.

looking back at those two days, i realized how much a stranger i am in my own town. had it not been for my brief TV interview in ABS-CBN last valentine's day, i'd say most won't even know that my mom has a third child -- "uy ikaw ro ha-interview sa channel 2, di ba-ea? ga-e ko man pamilyar ro apelyido, nanay mo gali ni Ma'am Vi." (uy you're the one interviewed in channel 2, right? no wonder the surname was familiar, Ma'am Vi is your mom.)

those who do remember me treat me like a manileño -- they would speak to me in tagalog, and be surprised when i answer in the local dialect. "ay antigo ka gali gihapon mag-Akeanon! (ay you still know Akeanon!).

my name... such a difficult name to remember. a name that has been my problem since i took the college entrance examination, which required me to use the name indicated in my birth certificate (it has the wrong, one-word Leorando instead of the one i grew up with, Leo Rando. i'm still working on having it corrected at the local civil registrar).

i wonder if people will remember me when it's my time to lie inside that casket? in my last trip towards my resting place, i'd be lucky to have even just a fourth of the number of people walking behind my lola.

i have no doubt that she is in a better place now. rest well, mama... you've been through a lot.




"i am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then i shall come back to take you with me, that where i am, you also may be." - john 14:3

February 20, 2005

unnecessary

after long hours of travel from my aklan hometown, i was already planning the very first thing i'll do when i arrive in manila yesterday -- play ragnarok.

but i never imagined i would be washing off blood from my favorite pants and shirt instead.

it all started when i boarded the jeep to anonas after getting off the batangas bus at kamias, cubao. it's already late in the evening, the jeep filled up slowly. i was seated at the middle portion on the left side -- the side facing the sidewalk. a man sat at the jeep's entance, beside me, reeking of alcohol. i can tell, though, that he is not drunk -- his movements were still smooth and his eyes still alert.

the commotion started when two girls boarded the jeep. the first one to board the jeep suddenly blurted, "mama, ang bastos nyo! nanghihipo ka!" (you pervert! you groped me!) her girl companion joined her in accusing the man of touching her friend's butt.

the man didn't react. he just kept his head down, staring at his hands. the two girls got off the jeep, but not before giving the man an angry poke in the head.

the man appeared to be surprised, and started muttering to himself about not doing anything at all. the two girls boarded the next jeep, telling the driver about the man who allegedly groped her.

the driver of the said jeep got off and approached the man beside me. "lasing ka ba? bakit mo hinipuan yung ale?" (are you drunk? why did you grope that lady?). the man strongly denied the accusations, explaining in an angry tone that he was merely reaching for his wallet when the lady boarded the jeep and accidentally brushed his hand on her butt.

the driver backed off, and started walking back to his jeep, with a parting shot, "huwag kang mambabastos dito... kundi mabubugbog ka." (don't fool around here... or you'll get beaten up.)

it should have ended there.

but the man beside me, obviously having a poor judgement of his environment -- maybe it's the alcohol, or his need to prove his manliness -- retorted something that ultimately spelled his doom: "sige, bugbugin mo ako kung kaya mo!" (go ahead, beat me up if you can!)

the driver doubled back to face the man, "kaya ko! bumaba ka dyan!" (i can! get down here!)

the man beside me was brave. he may have reasons to be: he is big, muscular, and has a build that reminded me of the stevedores and hard-laborers in construction sites. as the scrawny driver walked back to him, he had his fists clenched and arms tensed up to fight, while continuosly muttering "tangina mo... sige... tangina mo..."

but he failed to see something from the very start -- the scrawny driver was not alone. "mama, tama na yan..." (that's enough...) i tried whispering to him as i watched a crowd of men closing in on our jeep. these are not just spectators. we are in a jeepney terminal, and drivers do stick for their comrades.

it's too late.

i saw the first blow coming from the window behind us, hitting the man squarely at the back of his head. then another, and soon fists and kicks rained on him from the window behind us and from the entrance of the jeep. as the man gets pushed back and squeezed towards me, i shielded myself with my backpack from the stray blows. it's already a "kuyog" (swarm), and the man can neither flee, nor fight effectively -- he's trapped inside the jeep with us.

our quick-thinking driver roared his jeepney to get away from the mob. as we sped away, i saw that the man was still fine. punches and kicks are hardly fatal, especially if there's very little room to deliver a hard blow.

we thought it was over, and i even had the calmness to ask the man if he's okay. several passengers got off, and some tried to joke about the whole thing.

but our driver was still tense as he frantically zoomed at every opening in the traffic and every green light.

in a blur of motion, i realized why.

as we slowed down at an intersection, a man from the jeep following us jumped out and rushed at the man beside me -- steel pipe at his right hand and a foot-long icepick on the other.

the attacker, a very small man, was amazingly swift. in a blink he was upon the man beside me, alternately swinging his pipe and stabbing with his icepick. the man barely had the time to defend himself, taking the blows in his hands, arms, and head.

the man finally was able to kick the attacker away from him, and i pulled him towards the middle part of the jeep. "takbo na, manong!" i shouted at our driver. as our jeep lurched forward, for a horrific moment i thought the attacker would cling on. but he jumped off, and ran back to the pursuing jeep.

our driver managed to run the next red light, leaving the pursuing jeep behind. the man was alreadly drenched in his own blood. the passengers were shouting for our driver to bring him to the nearest hospital. some were suggesting the police station.

the wounds were not fatal, but he was bleeding like hell, his face a grotesque mass of blood oozing from the deep, long cut across his forehead. the man insisted that he get off at next intersection, where most of us got off as well. he took off his shirt and wrapped it on his head, and ran away.

tough guy.

i walked home with the sickening squishy feeling at my feet. only then did i realize how much blood i had on my feet, hands, and clothes. the stench of dried blood was nauseating. eeew!

tsk! it's amazing how quickly someone could end up dead, and another one a criminal.

still, thinking about the whole event, maybe the man was egging to be punished. i can't speak for the other people present at that time, but he was certainly the kind that invites trouble. an apology, even if he indeed did not grope the lady, would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.

i don't mind fighting "mano-mano" (hand-to-hand) and unarmed brawls, but it's an entirely different thing when deadly weapons are involved. these are the men i fear the most -- scrawny-looking men that carry the longest knives, ready to kill, and an entire mob to back them up.

sigh!

i missed manila, but i hope i won't run across something like last night again.

but what's this? amatsu and kunlun soon on pRO? wheee! *smile smile smile*

it's nice to be back. ^_^

February 14, 2005

HVD stuffs

Some time ago, my friend and I had a very brief discussion about this question: whom would you choose, (1) someone you love, or (2) someone who loves you? Last week, a tv talkshow had this exact question as its topic. The panel of debaters from both sides all have interesting and sound insights, but at the end the polls show more votes for the latter option.

The question assumes a clinical environment that eliminates the gray areas, as well as the "ideal scenario": choosing someone you love and loves you at the same time. Taking away this ideal scenario, I would have also chosen the second option. Some say it's a selfish choice, but I believe learning how to love is easier and more realistic than learning how to be a martyr or learning the pain of a broken heart.

I wish we have more data explaining why there are fewer Filipinos saying "they are happy" with their love lives compared to two years ago. I wish I could find more explanations for the growing discontentment with love life among women. Have economic problems dampened personal feelings of satisfaction with love life? Is this also why Lovapalooza 2 reached only up to 1,500 couples, failing to break the 5,300 record last year (INQ7 news)?

Anyway, enough reality.

Congratulations to my pal on her wedding -- in International Ragnarok Online (iRO). Her iRO character Ireko married her real-life boyfriend's character, *Maximo Swinne*. They are one of the two couples chosen from each server to be wed by the GM Team. Their love story and wedding photos will be posted soon at iro.ragnarokonline.com. *Awww, so sweet* I look forward to the real thing, dudes! *wink wink!*


Happy Valentine's Day!
- my fanart of Nayomi-chan's rogue (Lorne) and my monk (Rajah).

February 10, 2005

someday

let me just note this date and time: february 8, tuesday, 3 pm. this is the date and time that mama, my grandmother, passed away.

i haven't much fond memories of her to speak of, but no doubt she has taught me some of the best and worst things in people.

in my elementary years, i remember trying my best to live up to the brand "apo ng superbisor (grandson of the supervisor)", watching my every step as i move around our little provincial town under the watchful eyes of people who are quick to pounce on other people's mistakes and shortcomings.

we grew up observing traditions under her strict guidance. for one, i owe her my habit of hearing mass on sundays, as failure to do so back then means having a taste of her twenty lashes using a single strand of walis-tingting (uhm, coconut broom-stick?).

she may not have the most pleasant of methods, but we never doubted her good intentions. i wish i could say more. someday, maybe. i will miss her.

February 03, 2005

addiction update: RO

i got the Ragnarok Online bug, again.



my resolve to wean out of this game was utterly destroyed when Gravity installed its biggest patch yet, Juno, in pRO last december. a week ago, i had my first 2-2 character -- the monk.



did i say "first"? ack, please strike that out. i promised my friend (Rubs, hear this!) that this monk will be my last, and the one which i will see through the rest of ragnarok gameplay (to level 99, rebirth, and 3rd job -- and whatever else is due to pRO).



i thought this would be just one of my usual fad addictions, just as i had with other games. but it somehow stayed longer and seeped deeper than i expected: it influenced my drawings, i have its manwah and guidebooks for collection, and the only thing stopping me from joining its cosplays is lack of time (and guts, but hey it's the first time i serously considered cosplaying).



*sigh* at least, there's a concrete end to this addiction. the only question is when it will come.



ROk on!

open door

i've been standing and staring at the closed door for some time now. i've never really understood what's stopping me from walking through it. maybe it's the fear of the unknown, of all those “what ifs”, or my stubborn tendency to hold on to a long-lost dream. all i know is that once i step in, there will be no turning back.



several times i reached out and tried the knob. it's always been left unlocked, it's just there waiting for me to decide...



is indecisiveness a weakness? isn't it a decision in itself?



my everyday life in social survey research has trained me to treat responses such as "undecided", "don't know", "can't say", or "don't know enough to have a choice" with equal importantance as the "yes" or "no" answers.



is it a sign of immaturity?



i've known many who have set sails to unchartered seas at the first signs of good weather. while some have ended sailing blissfully in never-ending journeys under raging storms and cerulean skies, i must have grown up surrounded with tales of horrible shipwrecks and broken lives. i need only to look at my own family to attest to these sad stories. i must have heard too many secrets, spoken amid tears and regrets, that speak of lost dreams...



all because they once made a wrong decision.



i know life is all a gamble -- anywhere and anytime the probability of sinking is just the same -- but would i be a lesser captain if i stayed docked until my ship is truly seaworthy, and dream of a miracle that promises endless cerulean skies?



i am far from being seaworthy, and i'm a hopeless dreamer.



anyway, it doesn't matter anymore. maybe there’s really no more reason to stay standing and staring at the same door...

January 27, 2005

unusual

our major annual public symposium went smoothly yesterday. my boss is out of the office. there are a lot of things to do, but i feel unusually relaxed and easy-going today. tired, but relaxed.

maybe it's the new pair of shoes i'm wearing. amazingly bouncy, but still a bit rigid and strained my feet after walking three blocks from our house to the office (my bike's rear wheel got punctured two days ago -- the machine shop somewhere near our house are so sloppy with their scrap wires scattered on the roadside).

it must be the exercise, and i'm getting sleepy.

i slept at 3:30 this morning. two days ago i had a ym chat with a good friend. it's one of our rare times when we catch each other online. our conversations never fail to take me to the extremes -- my spirit is lifted to stellar heights, and at the same time gets buried six feet under a thousand times.

by the time we said our goodnights, i'm always left with a choice to either hold on for as long as i can to stay beaming and flying up there in the clouds, or quietly settle down to the grim task of digging up my decayed, regret-festered, coward and sorry self.

either way, i will be sleepless. either way, eventually, somehow i'll be back to where i am, always looking forward to our next conversation.

ah.

two of my officemates recently bought their digital cameras -- one a 4 megapixel canon, and the other a 5 megapixel sony. i feel so obsolete now with my 2 megapixel nikon. /heh

looking at the first batch of photos and random shots they shared on the LAN, it feels strange. i guess i'm just not used to seeing myself through other people's lenses.

ah. sleepiness is gone. back to digging...