December 22, 2007
We still went to work yesterday, and tomorrow we’ll have things to put in extra work to finish a project before the year ends.
And again, I won't be going home this Christmas. I'm just looking forward for that short vacation from December 28 to January 2.
Sometimes I wish my family isn't so far apart. At times I wish I could have dinner with them everyday -- share their thoughts, listen to how their day have been, and be inspired on a daily basis.
To have these, I have to travel. And it could be so tiring.
December 16, 2007
December 11, 2007
The modus operandi of pickpockets or snatchers may already be familiar to most commuters of the metro. The details I know are based on accounts from those who've become targets -- or, in cases where the attempts were succesful, victims -- and from a personal experience not too long ago.
In over 15 years of moving around in the metro, last night was my second time to be a target (at least, one that I was aware of).
There were only four passengers in the UP Pantranco jeepney when I boarded it at Philcoa. A man, which hereinafter I refer to as Crook A, followed and sat at my right side. The jeepney has moved a few meters when another man boarded, and seated at my left side. I later found out that this was Crook B.
Crook A had his knapsack resting on his lap, and when he reached over to hand his fare, I got pressed between him and Crook B.
I was wearing formal slacks then. The pinch at my right front pocket was so light and seemingly so accidental that I initially thought Crook A was just digging in his own left pocket. But at the second pinch I saw in my peripheral vision that Crook A's right hand, partly covered by his knapsack, was unmistakenly scratching at MY right pocket, trying to squeeze out my cellphone.
I let go of the handrail and adjusted my seating position to give my right peripheral vision a wider view of Crook A. Unconsciously I started cracking my knuckles and flexing my wrists -- if I need to get physical with Crook A, the first blow has to be quick and sure.
I waited. In my head I was rehearsing: the cellphone had to out of my pocket and clearly in his hand, then a back-fist, grab his right wrist, another back-fist, push his face to the floor, place a knee on his back... (and praying my body would execute everything as planned).
Crook A must have sensed the change, because he withdrew his right hand and pretended to fuss over the straps of his knapsack, all the while slowly sliding away from me.
The expression of the man seated in front of me told me that he, too, saw what Crook A did.
Crook A became restless, and as the jeepney slowed down at the Agham intersection, he got off. Crook B, who was seated quietly and unmoving all the while (and, looking back, he didn't pay his fare at all), hurriedly got off too.
As the jeepney move, the man in front of me said, "Kasama niya yung isa, 'tol."
Geez. I completely forgot that crooks like these rarely operate on their own.
Sigh. Wishing everyone safe holidays. Stay alert.
December 03, 2007
I crawled out of the back door, clutching his stereo and whatever important-looking documents that were left inside the car. The other three doors were jammed, useless.
I slapped him on the back, marveling at the piece of miracle standing beside me. “You are alive and well. As I see it, your blessings never stopped.”
We stood there smiling and staring at his car, now a grotesque heap of twisted silver-gray metal. Joan and my sister-in-law were busy moving around it, taking pictures from different angles. “Maybe we’ll have one of these photos framed, as souvenir,” joked my sister-in-law.
It was a quiet morning of National Heroes’ Day. The company that towed and housed my brother’s wrecked car only had two staffs moving around the huge garage.
If there is a heaven for cars, this must be the purgatory. Cars with varying degree of damage are lined up neatly, waiting for their fate – whether to be repaired and revived back to roadworthiness, or be condemned to scraps.
One of the staffs approached us. When she learned about the accident, she told my brother, “Maswerte kayo ng kasama n’yo, Ser. (You and your companion were lucky, Sir.)”
Just a few hours ago, at 3:30 am, Joan woke me up and handed my ringing cell phone. My brother was at the other end, speaking slowly and sounding rather tired.
When he told me that he was in the emergency room of a hospital not far from our place, I jumped up and started dressing up. Joan, too, was immediately up and doing the same without a word.
By the time we left the house, my brother had given me the barest details of what happened: he and his colleague were driving back to the hotel where they were attending a conference, he swerved to avoid a car that suddenly counter-flowed, and hit an intersection barrier.
It was a nervous drive all the way to the hospital. Images of my brother covered in blood kept playing in my head, and the curfew placed by the government in Makati and other areas – after the stand-off staged by Senator Antonio Trillanes at The Manila Peninsula Hotel the day before – added to my anxiety.
The reports coming out of the radio about the large number of curfew violators being rounded up by the police did not help ease the tension either. At 4 o’clock that morning, Makati’s busiest business district was like a ghost town, and at every turn I was half expecting a police would pop out of the shadows to stop us for inspection.
The nurses at the emergency section, upon learning my name, directed us towards a door with the sign “Critical Care,” next to a door that says “Acute Care”. I was about to ask the nurses the difference between the two rooms when my brother was wheeled out, an embarrassed smile on his face, but with no visible injury. His companion came out, walking on his own, apparently dazed but uninjured.
Bills were paid, reports were filed. The curfew lifted, and somehow the day began to felt more like a real holiday, a small celebration of life. It was a day of miracles, short reunions, and small yet important reminders.
October 30, 2007
Until last weekend.
I’m usually careful when it comes to a lot of things -- money, dealing with people, work, dealing with relatives, taking medicine, playing a character in an online game (lag and disconnection are usually my only reasons for "dying"), and, yes, driving, among many others.
Two-wheeled motor vehicles, however, are a totally different matter. I’ve lost count of the times I crashed on those delightful speed machines. I even had my share of miracles in one of my tumbling, skidding, and crashing moments.
But I still am careful if a have a passenger. ^^
My first encounter with a four-wheeled motor vehicle was in high-school. Every time I visit his hometown in Batangas, my father would let me drive their passenger-type jeepney in delivering eggs to nearby towns. He'd only let me drive on national roads, and would takeover once we enter the busy streets. Bringing the jeepney in and out of the garage was also my task each time I'm around.
Dad usually had his "training stick" when I drive, and he'd smack my thigh each time he catches my foot lingering on the clutch pedal. I once hid his stick, but his left hand was more than adequate in delivering the same effect.
"Never be a clutch driver," he would remind me.
Driving became scarce in my college-days, but it was then that I had my first lessons on a gasoline-engine, compact car – a Daihatsu Charade, to be specific (hi Cez!).
Cez was so kind (and brave) to let me practice on her car around UP Campus. I'm sure I gave her several heart-attacks in the process, but it was from her short and very memorable driving lessons that I ultimately got rid of my lead foot.
Since then, I was back to driving diesel-type vehicles – either my mother's old custom-built Wrangler, my father's owner-type jeep, or our handy-dandy AUV.
But all these years, and not a single scratch, much more a dent.
Until last Saturday, when I nicked the steel gate while maneuvering out of the garage, leaving a 2-inch dent on the right-side, front bumper of the AUV.
Sure, the garage was relatively new, narrow, and steep. Plus our neighbors love to leave their children playing at the driveway, and uhm I rather take the metro rail transit than drive. But... hitting the gate?
A gate! While leaving the garage!
Not from the horrible traffic in the streets of Mabini or Adriatico when Robinsons Place has its sale, nor from the typical Metro Manila motorists who love to get up close and personal with fellow drivers, nor from motorbikers who seem to think they are made of indestructible metal when passing in-between cars at top speed in EDSA.
But it happened, and now the dent felt like a stigma, burning my pride like a failing grade in PE, or an ugly, red mark in my transcript of records.
In the past few days I've been unconsciously surveying the vehicles I see, hoping to find similar damages, just to tell myself that things like this happen. The city of Makati, however, isn't helping my spirits at all, since most cars in this area look so shiny, squeeky-clean, and sooo scratch-free.
Sigh. First time for everything...
September 06, 2007
Until I heard it again – just a few days after I turned 32.
“Don’t you have a barkada you could go out with?”
A few factors must have made that particular moment different: (1) it was a Saturday and I was at the office rushing some work; (2) the question came from a friend who I haven’t seen for so long, and; (3) I just turned 32, still carrying the residues of a quiet and restful birthday celebration.
The answer used to be “of course I have barkadas,” referring to the times when drinking was almost a daily spree, and when there were at least two other persons involved in doing almost anything.
Those times suddenly felt distant, so ancient history.
The people that used to share the beer and crowded moments have evolved into emails, text messages, or photos in the pages of Friendster.
Then again, this evolution is primarily brought about by my innate propensity to put “go out with friends” at the lower half of my to-do list. Out there, beers still flow amid cheers and jeers. The only difference now is that I’m not in the picture. I guess I’m very lucky for simply having that chance to experience those moments despite being an introvert.
Though I miss those moments and everyone that’s been part of them, I must have evolved, too. A single bottle is all it takes now to get me woozy, and every birthday greeting through email, text message, or call gives me a greater high that no amount of intoxification can match.
Thank you for the greetings and well-wishes! Cheers!
August 18, 2007
A week after Catholic churches began saying the Oratio Imperata Ad Petendam Pluviam (Obligatory Prayer to Request for Rain) and Intercessory Prayers for Rain, the long-delayed super typhoons have suddenly lined up and took turns inundating the metro.
Whether or not the rains are hitting the dry spots, or proving to be more of a trouble than help, they came and brought water – that’s real power.
This morning, news reports say the Archbishop has issued a statement that it is okay now for priests and the laity to discontinue the Oratio Imperata.
Good call. Classes in the metro and other provinces have been suspended in the past three days, I’ve been coming to and from work wearing shorts and mojos, and Quentin Tarantino rode a pedicab and wore jogging pants with his barong tagalog at Malacañang.
Here’s praying that the rains go to places where they are needed most.
August 12, 2007
The others, on the other hand, are those that I still can't bring myself to post.
Writing for me comes quick. Spontaneous. Impulsive. Honest.
And at times, too honest for my own good.
I'm glad this month will be busy; not much time for me to blog.
July 19, 2007
These creatures have amazing agility. They can outrun and outmaneuver anyone, including elderly women, to get seated.
And once seated, they could be the fastest sleepers you'll ever encounter. Record time would be 10 seconds on a full-packed train.
Funny how they tire so easily, despite their age and strong-looking physique.
They are those who are blind, and can't distinguish an old lady from everyone else, even if they're standing in front of them.
They suck me dry of happy thoughts every morning each day, depriving me of the joys I usually get during my transit to and from work.
Normally there would only be one or two them, appearing sparsely throughout the week. Somehow, after a year of living in Makati, I learned to counter whatever dark aura they leave behind.
But this week is different. There's a new breed of Dementors. They are young, but just as blind and weak.
The horde I saw this morning was something I least expected. They carry books, and I saw one that has that oh-so familiar green, gold, and maroon sticker logo.
May 28, 2007
I'm particularly sluggish today. Yesterday, Joan took me on a tour and trial workout in her fitness club. For five hours we tried out the machines and attended two of the club's group exercises: tai chi (the "silent body killer") and Body Balance (the "not-so-silent body killer").
Note to self #1: Never take tai chi and Body Balance together in one afternoon, or even on the same day.
Note to self #2: I have no problem whatsoever achieving the wuji or empty pose of tai chi. Nose aligned vertically to the navel, knees slightly bent, shoulder relaxed, hands hanging on front of the thighs, tailbone tucked, and butt pushed slightly forward.
A lanky frame that spends most of the time seated in front of the computer + a not so well-endowed butt = wuji.
Tai chi instructor: "Maganda ang pose mo, pare..." *Runs his hand down my lower back*
Ooops, spider sense is tingling.
Two hours of basic Tai Chi put most of the pressure to thighs and legs, while the so-called Body Balance is a mix of Tai Chi, yoga, and pilates, strung together in a one-hour full body workout.
Now my abdominal muscles are so sore it hurts to just cough or laugh. Walang magpapatawa today! Arrr!
But it was a refreshing weekend, plus it's a good way to bond with your spouse. It reminded me of our martial arts sparring days, back when our motto was "I will hit you because I want you to learn" or something like that. ("Here, Mahal *pushes you to into a leg split*)
Arrr! That stretching did good to me seafarin' legs!
I'd hate to be the captain of the Flying Dutchman.
One day at shore and ten years at sea?
May 20, 2007
This would be my fifth election since I reached voting age, and the fourth since I joined an organization with an advocacy to listen to public opinion, including voting preferences.
Being in such an organization has its perks and disadvantages.
I had not voted in the 1998, 2001, and 2004 elections because we were stationed in the provinces to observe and supervise the conduct of the exit polls. Region VI, which includes Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, and Negros Occidental, was my typical area of responsibility.
But while I had not exercised my right to vote, I had the chance to travel and meet some of the most interesting people.
In the past three elections, we were like storm chasers braving natural and man-made dangers, interviewing as many voters as possible during the voting period, executing a week's worth of preparation in just one day.
It was exhilarating, and at the end of each election season, whether or not the exit polls hit the bulls eye in predicting the election results, the feeling of accomplishment was indescribable.
This year's election is a bit different.
There's no exit poll for us, but what we lacked in the day-of-election survey, we made up by pulling off as many pre-election surveys as possible, keeping the media busy with an average of three media releases a week and accommodating as many TV and radio interviews as possible.
In short, we made sure the name SWS was in at least one major broadsheet daily, and mentioned in the airwaves at least once everyday, before we take a break on election day.
I guess we did a decent job doing that.
Techies had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, and take a short break.
That night, a bottle of beer saved me.
And that night, after the longest time being cooped inside my cubicle struggling to keep up with the deadlines, it felt good to see my fellow Techies again in a different light, and listen to them talk in a different language.
I missed them a lot.
We went on a trip for a much-needed break on the day of elections. I’ll write about it next.
April 04, 2007
It’s 8pm, and I just finished sending out the station’s last media release before closing shop for Holy Week break.
At least now the media will have something to work on during this long weekend. I can’t wait to see how they will “re-write” the report.
The people from tech-support and I have been really good friends lately, given how crazy the station’s internet and web server has been acting these past few days.
I remember a portion in their report: “…the recent attacks were the most patient and sophisticated method we have ever encountered. In time, with the right skills and motivation, the attacker would have succeeded…”
I never thought anyone would go through that much trouble to break into our servers.
I’m the last one to leave. Again.
Time to close shop.
A restful weekend to all.
April 03, 2007
Thank goodness for this year’s longest weekend. Every lull moment in between the daily grind gets allocated to: extra sleep, leisure/hobbies, upkeep of dwelling place, and reflection.
I miss doing the last one.
I have been trying to trace the patterns that shape my being – how I came to be who I am now, and the way I view the world – through my childhood and my parents. It’s a never-ending attempt to self-understanding that never runs out of interesting revelations.
More than just the how my parents brought me up, their psycho/physio-genetic features provide useful insights: the emotional fortitude (or the lack of it), the ailments that I will inevitably have to contend with, the propensity for good and evil, among others.
These insights were the basis for my personal vows – those that still stand and those that were already broken – in hopes of continuing the good in our family’s little cycle of life, and ending the bad.
As I grow old, however, I see more of the bad, entwined across the generations like a web. The vague stories shared in hushed whispers since my childhood slowly made sense, and I, slowly and painfully, understood how deep the web goes.
But, mercifully, the patterns became just as clear.
Entering the married life opened me to a whole new set of patterns to unravel, and the possible decisions to make in the hope of breaking the cycle.
It would be yet another set of patterns when we, if fate be kind, began to take the path of parenthood.
History has its lessons and the patterns have their stories. Learning from them is another thing.
A safe, restful, and blessed Holy Week to all.
February 22, 2007
She got bitten by a dog. Again.
So a dog is a dog, and biting is a dog thing however we look at it. It’s as natural for them as peeing on walls and tires.
But I feel especially betrayed by this mutt.
The dog belongs to our landlady, and we’ve endured its stinking pee at our doorsteps every morning since we moved into our temporary apartment last January. For the next eight months, until the renovation in our apartment is complete, Joan and I have agreed that we'll try to make friends with this hyperactive animal.
Things were looking up in the past weeks. The dog doesn’t bark as hard and stink as much as before (has he finally succeeded in killing our olfactory nerves?). We could walk near his cage without triggering a frenzy, or move around the compound without him barking at our butts.
That's why last Sunday was a surprise.
We arrived from our weekly grocery, with Joan carrying the bag of meat and poultry. I walked ahead and passed by the dog, appearing totally oblivious of him as I always did. And like before, it ignored me, giving only a few half-hearted barks.
But I walked too far ahead of Joan.
Unlike me, she could not put on the same mask of nonchalance towards dogs. She had fourteen shots of anti-rabies when she was ten, and the fear of dogs did not really disappear through the years.
She faltered in the steps, and the dog, sensing her fear, zeroed in on her and planted one canine to her left heel.
My apologies to all dog lovers, but let me just share this…
This is the first dog that I’ve personally seen bite someone, and live.
I grew up in a neighborhood that doesn’t tolerate dogs that bite.
Biting, in that part of our town, is a dog’s death sentence. Always, a dog guilty of biting anyone in a public area won’t be leaving the “crime scene” alive – somehow somebody with the guts to kill a dog will be nearby.
If the owners of an erring dog do manage to protect his or her pet, it’s a dead dog walking just the same. Chances are, the neighborhood thugs will finish the job – either by tossing poisoned food to the dog, or finding a way to have the dog served as “pulutan” in their next drinking session.
I know it’s a harsh way to treat even the erring animals. But with the town’s relative inaccessibility back then, anti-rabies were expensive and often short in supply. For the majority of the townsfolk who couldn’t afford the complete treatment, the alternative is a painful procedure that involves bleeding and several rounds of washing the wound with boiling-hot herbal concoctions.
Those were the long-gone Dark Ages, but it managed to de-sensitize much of our generation to this kind of cruelty.
I have to admit I was murderous upon seeing all the blood oozing out of Joan’s heel. Had it not for the immediate medical attention required then, my first reaction would have been to rush to the apartment, get the old nunchuks hanging behind the door, and send the mutt to dog heaven.
But when Joan started blaming me for walking too far ahead, I bit my lips, brought her to the clinic, watched her in pain as the tests and shots come in. She is scheduled to a few more shots to complete the treatment.
The dog’s owners were apologetic and offered to pay every expense incurred for the treatment. They were kind, and must have been in similar situations before.
Deep inside, however, I was hoping to get even with the dog. The owners must have sensed this because they said, “pasensya na talaga, hindi namin siya pwedeng ipapatay.”
Sigh. I’m bad, I know.
Yesterday, I stopped by the dog’s cage, and sat next to it for a few minutes (hoping to see any sign of remorse, maybe).
He just stared back at me with sleepy eyes.
Is it the rabies taking effect? Oh please tell me you’re dying, dog.
Because I might not be able to hold back next time.
p.s. As of blog date, the dog is as healthy and noisy as ever, and his pee still stinks at our doorsteps. I've contented myself to just fantasize a gruesome demise for him when his karma catches up.
February 20, 2007
And so, from the handy-dandy notebook...
My uncle - Mommy's younger and only brother - celebrated his 50th birthday last December by taking on the responsibility of being "Father of the Year" for 2007.
A little background about this "Father of the Year" thing…
Every New Year's eve, my hometown Batan celebrates its grandest, most opulent social event of the year -- Father's Day. Organizing and hosting this event is the year-long responsibility of the Father of the Year.
One becomes Father of the Year by first satisfying some basic requirements: you have to be a native of Batan, or married to one, and you have to be a father (I leave the Philippine Family Code to define this).
Next is to get the blessings of the town's powerful few. I believe this is a requisite that tests the integrity of the wannabe’s family origins – just identifying who these people are could be very tricky. These individuals neither hold public office nor have their names plastered in big letters at the town plaza, but their sheer influence over the town’s affairs is unmistakable. Think Godfather. Or the Jedi Council.
And finally, for formalities, a new Father of the Year must get majority votes from eligible fathers present during the celebration. Yes, nominations are entertained and the motions of voting are still exercised, but everyone already knew who the anointed one is days before the event.
Of course there are those who misread (or completely miss out) the unspoken consensus and unwittingly take the charade in an entirely different way. Thus, the celebration of Father’s Day has seen its share of lively brawls.
So now that my uncle got the much-coveted title (with no kicks and punches thrown, thank goodness) all he has to do now is to spend a year preparing a grand party for a town that has an estimated population of over 27,000.
The Father's Day celebration in Batan has gained notoriety among those privy to its history because of the rather simple standard by which its success is measured for the past 72 years: more than the never-ending supply of food and wine, great sounds, breathtaking cultural performances and intermission numbers, the event is ultimately evaluated by the number of men (and lately, women and youngsters) who walk (or crawl) home drunk with happy smiles on their faces.
Whether tales of brawls or antics borne out of euphoric stupor, the key is to be remembered by the most number of people for the longest period of time.
What a way to end a year for such a sleepy town, and what a way for someone to leave behind his name in history.
With my uncle now wearing the legendary Father of the Year hat, 2007 will be a busy year for the clan. Ideas for souvenirs, anyone? ^^