April 13, 2012

Street Survival

Before moving back home—before motherhood—my street survival skills were way up there. Give me rush hour, a jeep with one empty seat and a throng of people fighting for that one slot, and chances are I would end up doing the victory dance. Running after jeepneys, clambering up moving buses, squeezing into crowded trains—these served as my daily agility test of sorts. I may have sucked at physical education, but I did find practical uses for the simulated sprints and the jumping jacks.

Home provided little challenge to the inner agile me. Barring a parade, a procession or a funeral, traffic is usually five minutes, max. The ride home takes 15 minutes, eight if the husband is really, really hungry, in which case he morphs into Mario Andretti. Downtown is a crowd of people, not vehicles.

All that changed two weeks ago, though. A big supermarket had just opened, promising the attendance of a minor star. A senator was also in town for the state college’s commencement exercises. And, the husband had some place else to go so I—-who was born to ride, not drive--was left with some me time.

For once, there were no tricycles at the terminal. They were choked somewhere, and the two or three that were able to squeeze past were no match for the huge wave of people scrambling for rides. Something in me clicked, and fortysomething me assumed my street savviness of two decades ago.

My first attempt was almost a success. It was a success, actually, except I realized I was boxing out someone’s grandma. The second attempt was a cinch, and I rode on with a sense of smugness. Just as I was nearing third base, my bubble burst. The tricycle made a left turn, and I ended up someplace else. Obviously, in my excitement to practice my box-out powers, I misread the sign and took the wrong tricycle.

Alas, I may (still) have the agility of a twentysomething, but my vision is 20 plus 20.

February 13, 2012

Rainy Day Favorites

Yesterday, it rained buckets again. Our street was a huge puddle, and our backyard was a mini swimming pool.

As a resident of one of the rainiest cities in the country, I've known just about every kind of rain. Slight drizzles, heavy downpours, steady streams. I was once sailing in the middle of the sea when it rained so hard I was practically bruised. And there are the rains of the suspense-movie kind, the kind that you wait out in semi isolation and the kind that have you imagining scenes from Psycho.

My Blair Witch Project state-of-mind notwithstanding, there are no rainy-days-and-mondays blues for me. I love it when it rains, especially because of happy memories of no-school days, comfort food and paper boats.

My rainy-day favorites--then and now:

1. Cozying up with a good book, a piping hot cup of coffee and a warm woolen blanket

2. Sinangag, tinapa and kamatis, eaten kamayan-style. Sinigang, too. And instant noodles and Chippy. I guess the rains have a way of whetting the appetite.

3. Poking canvas roofs/tents with a stick/an umbrella and letting the rainpools gush forth. When we were kids and leptospirosis was not a concern, we would sneak out to the "floodier" part of the village and wade, wade and wade. Or we would sail paper boats.

4. Movie marathons. Call me cheap, but Patayin sa Shokot si Remington really had me in stitches. My other rainy-day must-views: Birdcage, In and Out, To Wong Foo Must be something about the weather, huh?

5. Lounging around all day in pajamas and house clothes. It's too rainy for anyone to call, anyway.

What are your rainy-day favorites?

February 6, 2012

Kodak Moments

I grew up in the age of branding. Toothpaste was called colgate, never mind if you're at the sari-sari store looking for Close-Up. Our ref, a trusty old GE, was called frigidaire, and when we ran out of LPG the boy would lug the Shellane tank to buy "gasul." During brown-outs, we would prop up the petromax.

"Kodak," by far, was the brand that easily found its way to "genericity." Mang Diego, the school photographer, was the para-kodak, and when we had to have our pictures taken, we had to go to the studio kay mapa-kodak. Fuji, Agfa and Polaroid were unceremoniously dumped into one generic label: Kodak.

Alas, Kodak--the brand--is no more. Almost, that is. The recent news that Kodak Eastman had gone belly up was inevitable, considering that the world has gone digital. The last time I actually used film was six years ago, when my daughter turned one.

Of course, I have boxes and boxes of memories captured by Kodak--although at the time of the taking I didn't know they would be memories. My life thus far, in fact, is a catalogue of Kodak moments, from the black and whites to the grainy technicolor to the full color. I have memories of purging the more embarrassing parts, as well, watching idly as flames turned pictures into blotches of chemicals before reducing them to black powder.

Like everyone else who grew up with the brand, however, I feel a certain sense of loss. It's like the passing of an era, really. I felt the same when the last of the Polaroid factories closed down. Or when Sony announced that it would stop making the Walkman. Suddenly, I feel--ahem--creaky. And to borrow a word from my college days, terribly senti,. It isn't so much the brand itself as the romantic notions attached to it.

For the past weeks, I have been LSSing on this '70s song. I do thank Kodak for capturing the times of my life. As I'm sure you do, too.

January 30, 2012


Is it just me or did the Holidays just zip by? I feel as though I had just put up the tree, and now it's time to take it back down. I don't think I even completed my shopping list this year.

Not that I wasn't into the Christmas spirit. I was as wrapped up in the excitement as the little girl who had her own countdown. So many non-holiday things cropped up between the countdown and the real thing, though.

And now it's almost February. Which means it's too late for New Year resolutions. Late, even, for Chinese New Year resolutions. My planner is barely able to cope with the normal, everyday stuff to have space for the more creative thoughts, blog-worthy ones included.

Really, there should be a month between December and January. Time enough to tie loose ends before tying--and unraveling--new knots. Time enough to take a deep breath, survey the scene and move on to the business of moving on.

As it is, 2012 kicked in 30 days ago. The dragon has been here for a week. Meanwhile, I am still dealing with the dust--and the files--of 2011. Transiting from there to here, from A to B, is leaving me almost breathless.

December 21, 2011

Back to Grade One

I had my first Grade One party in a looong, loooong time. Since Grade One actually, which was decades ago. It was hard squeezing into a pint-sized armchair, and with 40 or so fellow stage mothers around it was one crowded affair.

But it was quite a happy way to start the party season. And since it was held in the room where I spent my original Grade One party, it was like teleporting back to the days when teachers can rap your hands with a ruler and still get a nod of approval from your mother.

Between then and now, a lot has certainly changed. Christmas trees and decor used to be communal efforts, and we had to bring ilo de bila(???) that we would tack to the sides of a big bilao to make a hanging Christmas tree. The Christmas balls served as art projects: we would string beads and sequins on pins and poke them into plastic balls. Today, the tree is made of tinsel--made in China, I presume. The balls, too, have the generic, shiny, from-the-factory look.

We had to rely on ourselves for entertainment then, but now there's Jollibee shaking his booty. I don't know why--or how--an oversized insect reached demigod status and but the kids really had a blast! Between Santa Claus and Jollibee, I'm sure they would settle for the bee.

There were no I-got-a-towel tears during the "exchange gift." Gone were the Curly Tops, the boxes of pretzels and the face towels folded into soap dishes of my Christmas parties. The instructions were specific: boys should bring toys for boys and girls should bring toys for girls. And so it was mayhem as the kids tore open their gifts, got a toy car or a stuffed toy or a doll and forgot everything else, including the party clothes that we forced them to wear.

The joy on the kids' faces was enough to ring in Christmas cheer. I had put off sprucing up the house for the holidays because the tree would end up bare anyway and it would take as much effort to take down as to prop up. Suddenly, though, it was Christmas all over, and I felt the excitement as well.

The kids were still playing and the clean-up duty was left to some of us. As I retrieved a broom that had obviously seen better days, I espied the Noisy Standing Pupils list in a corner. Being on the NSP was every grader's nightmare then. And if you ask my not-quite-naughty daughter, it still is now. I guess despite the time lapse some things never really change. And it felt really good to be back.

PS: A day later, it was our office Christmas party. Point of comparison: the kids were certainly more mature than some of the adults :p

November 10, 2011

My Desktop, Bow!

Today, I decided to put some semblance of order into my desktop. Make that desktop of the not-so-techie kind. I have been running out of horizontal space, and retrieving things are approaching production-number proportions. Heck, for all I know, I can probably make it to an episode of Hoarders.
Some of the stuff--useless and useful and in-between--that I found:

A letter holder from Cebu, which holds anything BUT letters
Paintbrush, with bristles falling off. The brush is not for painting, of course.
Notes from HR
A hastily-scribbled note to self. I don’t know what led me to write 28 minutes of patience. I guess my memory is not that patient, huh?
Staple wire, staple wire and more staple wire. Oh and stapler and staple wire remover.
Post Its, a memo pad, two steno notes and four logbooks
Highlighters -- there's one in hot pink, one in subtle yellow and another in blinding orange
Ballpen cap
Bent paperclips
A paper fastener that’s missing its better half
A jar of paperclips and tacks
1 x 1 pictures that got unglued from the boxful of resumes stashed somewhere
A packet of ORS, ranitidine ampules, ambroxol tabs
Delivery receipts
Coffee mugs and coasters. The big mug is for my regular dose. The bigger mug is for when I am in semi-murderous mode :p

And that’s only skimming the surface. Wait till I get started on the stuff that I have managed to kick under the table.

October 18, 2011

The Night is Gay

The ate worked on the daughter, and the daughter worked on me. Of course, I had heard semi-horrific stories about Miss Gays, but because it was a Friday, and the "pageant" was just a few blocks away, off we went to watch Miss Gay Sorsogon Earth 2011 (!!!) for what I hoped to be a brief, after-dinner walk.

By the time we got to the makeshift venue, people were still milling about. Nothing ever seems to start on time in these parts, after all.  The organizers were still up and about, waving imaginary fairy wands to turn everything decidedly gay.  The one or two early contestants were balancing on dangerously high heels, practicing their killer walks. 

And then--ta dah--they started coming in.  Four to a tricycle.  It was hilarious to see them alighting from their modern-day carruajes all exaggeratedly dolled up.  It was even more hilarious to imagine what a drive it must have been for Mr. Tricycle Man!

The night turned really gay when the princesses started strutting their stuff.  "Miss Venezuela" was first.  Gliding smoothly despite the tons of plumage and makeup, s/he unabashedly declared that Miss Sorsogon Gay is "not about fame, fortune or fofularity.  It's about loooovvvveeee." Crowd favorite "Miss Korea," who lived a few houses down the street, is a "tweynty-one year old student taking up with computer programmer."  "Miss Egypt" was reed--er papyrus--thin, making him/her come across as closer to a mummy than to his/her idol Cleopatra. Why Cleopatra?  you ask. The answer was forthright: "She fought not only for her country but for the entire Egypt as well."

For someone who doesn't quite like watching beauty pageants because Q&As are just inches short of being human-rights violations, I truly, truly sat through the Q&A without feeling the slightest hint of embarrassment for the candidate.  Diction and grammar and non sequiturs aside, it was one amusing, literally gay night.  (Literal, too.  When asked to elaborate on why s/he wanted to be a "good server of the people," "Miss Africa" took a deep breath, gracefully gave a Sushmita-Senish bow and pronounced "it has always been my dream to have a restaurant where I can serve good food to the people.")

The "swimsuit" portion was the highlight.  There were ample warnings, of course.  (A pageant of the same nature ages ago had wayward sensitive parts popping out from constriction, and will probably linger forever in the pop history of Sorsogon.)  But when the princesses started coming out from the garage that served as dressing room, the collective thought was "how did they do it?"  Save for one who opted for the conventional one-piece swimsuit that looked terribly outdated in the sea of skimpy swimwear, it was a show of skin, skin and more skin.  There were no popping privates.  There wasn't even a hint that these weren't exactly girls!  Which made me rethink anatomy 101.  

In the end, the brief after-dinner walk stretched into hours and hours of out-of-this-world entertainment.  It's now Kasanggayahan Festival in these parts, and the daughter wishes that the Search for Miss K would be "for gays na lang."  I couldn't agree more.  I am now a convert, hehehe. And I feel vindicated for voting Ang Ladlad!