November 28, 2008


Unlike my mom and my sisters, I didn't inherit the clotheshorse gene. I don't have a closetful of trendy clothes. I am, in fact. perfectly happy with a few slacks, a handful of blouses, jeans and some shirts. Skirts and dresses I have long given up on, especially after gaining these unflattering bulges.

Ah, but such is not the case with Gianna. Call it a cosmic joke, but I find it really funny that the universe gave me a fashionista for a daughter. The girl loves dressing up, and the frilly clothes are sometimes a tad too much for me. She loves pink, shiny-shimmery stuff and has actually taken to mounting "modeling" shows for the lolo and the lola. She is not wont to throw tantrums at the toy section or at the candy store, but if she doesn't get this fancy pair of shoes or that flashy belt, you might as well brace yourself for a whining, whimpering spell.

Recently, Gianna has been training a critical eye on my stuff. And she has come up with her fashionista "recommendations." Ixnay on those bureaucratic "uniforms." Try on (pink) stilettos. Wear (pink) strappy shirts to the office. And use (pink) ribbons on your hair.

I get it. She wants me to be her clone.

Note: The "ensemble" on the picture is a gift. And yes, I have since chucked the belt.

November 21, 2008

Going to the Dogs

There's this makeshift sign on my neighbor's gate that warns of his German Shepherd. "Beware of TF Dog," it reads. I don't know about the F word, but where I work, there are days when I feel like spewing unprintables.

Every week, there are at least three dog-bite cases. They range from the usual accidental nip after roughhousing with the pet to the really serious (and possibly rabid). All of them are "accidental," although most could have been easily prevented if somebody exercised a little more responsibility.

Last week, a youngish mother came to the office asking for an anti-rabies shot for her two-year old, who looked as though he needed a really long bath and a really good scrubbing. The boy, it turned out, was bitten twice. On different occasions and by two different dogs.

The first bite the mother dismissed as "minor" and thus did not merit a visit to the doctor. The kid, after all, was "attacked" by the pet after the kid (intentionally) stepped on the tail of the then-sleeping dog. The second bite, which occurred two days later, was a lot more serious: a gash on the right cheek, just a little below the eye. This time, the boy who was supposed to be sleeping, tried to "steal" a new-born puppy from beneath the neighbor's nasty dog.

And where was the mother in the middle of all this? Why, she was happily exchanging juicy news with the neighbor over the gumamela hedge, oblivious to the wrestling match ging on between boy and bitch.

Twice or thrice, we have come across dog-bite cases involving babies. There's this case where the mother left the 10-month-old baby in the "care" of the family dog. And then there's the 20-day-old baby who was nipped in the mouth. The dad, it turned out, placed the baby--mattress and all--on the floor so that he could sleep without worrying that the baby might fall.

Hay naku! If our congressmen will continue to hedge on the RH issue this country might just as well go to the dogs.

November 13, 2008

Lord Hygiene

Just a quick post because I am at work and I'm supposed to be working (ha!). In any case, I came across this name which had me thinking of feminine wash and visits to the dentist: LORD HYGIENE ______.

I wonder, what could have been in the minds of the parents when they picked this most sanitary of names? Were they thinking, perhaps, of immaculate conception? Could it be that the parents are neat freaks and couldn't stand the idea of germs? Do they believe that cleanliness is next to godliness and decided to combine two concepts in naming their beloved son? And is Lord Hygiene living up to his vaunted name?

Argh! How can I possibly get past my computations when seemingly germ-infested questions are swimming in my head?

November 10, 2008

A Love Story (Not!)

Thirty years ago, this girl fell for this boy. Everyone thought--as they did then--that this was the stuff of Mills and Boon. That the girl and the boy would gallop off into the sunset to the tune of "We've Only Just Begun..."

Alas, things weren't meant to be. A few days after the girl asked the boy to have her cassette repaired, some other girl, in a classic case of "pikot," seduced the boy. To cut a convoluted story short, the boy married the other girl, leaving the girlfriend in tears and without her precious cassette.

But as young loves go, this one was soon forgotten. The girl upped and married, and happily, too. For a time, it looked as though the love story of 30 years ago never happened.

And then, their paths crossed again. For the boy, it was a case of moonlights and moon-glazed looks all over again. Not so for the girl. Having spent the past thirty years plodding through life in commas and semi-colons, she wasn't ready to forgive just yet. And the very first thing that came out of her mouth when they saw each other again?

"@#$%@*&()_^%! Give me back my cassette."

Closure, it seems, is the handsome new component that now sits proudly in the girl's living room.

November 7, 2008

Life and Death

It was the onset of the '90s, and in our aquarium of a workplace, I was the youngest. I was slowly building up a library of sorts, and the guys at the office had their recommendations. From Nini, it was Kurt Vonnegut; from Achilles, Joyce Carol Oates. Mr. Moss introduced me to the works of Saul Bellow and Nadine Gordimer; Tata to Michael Chrichton.

But it wasn't an introduction to the Michael Chrichton of dinosaurs, deadly strains and scientist-as-God plots. That would come later, when I needed page-turners to stay awake on days (and nights) that I needed to be awake. Instead, it was to a metaphysical, and equally engaging Chrichton. In Travels, he wrote of journeys made and taken: journeys that went beyond the physical.

Michael Chrichton is dead, and this isn't meant to be a tribute. I am hardly a sci-fi fan, after all. It's just that with his passing, I remember Tata, she who gave me Travels. I worked with her again in two other publications, during which she progressed from colleague to commuting buddy to confidante. We took journeys physical and spiritual, journeys that took us from Edsa to Banahaw, from the conference room to past lives and lost loves.

Alas, the road would soon end. Tata lost out to breast cancer almost ten years ago, just as Christmas was setting in. As I blew the dust off the book that could very well have been the story of our friendship, a yellowing piece of paper fell. On it is a verse the source of which I had already forgotten:

Death is the passing of life
And life
Is the stringing together
of so many little passings

November 5, 2008

In the Dark

At around 11 am, Weird Sister --she who, in her younger days, professed a loathing for law students, married a lawyer, and eventually went to law school--called to give a semi blow-by-blow account of the Presidential Elections.

While I have no interest in politics or foreign affairs, I wouldn't have missed the speeches. I don't know, but since Peggy Noonan did her bit with "a kinder, gentler nation" for Bush Sr. I have always found an element of redemption in White House-bound (and unbound) speeches, rhetorical though they may be.

The thing is, the electric company chose this very day to do its "periodic" eight-hour "maintenance check" (read: blackout), rendering us CNN-less and Yahoo-less.

And so it came to pass that for the better part of the day, I was as in the dark about the elections as the guy who was interviewed on TV a week ago. When asked who he thinks would have a better chance, he gave the TV camera a quizzical look and acknowledged that he didn't know Obama or McCain.

All he knew, he said, was the "father and son": "ang alam kong tumatakbo yung mag-ama. Yung sina Butch."

Busy Nothings

"Life seems to be nothing more but a quick succession of busy nothings."

I can't remember from which movie this was, but this line has become pretty useful. It has actually become some sort of mantra, especially when I am busy beyond busy. When I feel like I am, among others, general manager of the universe. I only have to recite "busy nothings, busy nothings" over and over again, and suddenly there is a perspective to things.

Like today. As soon as I woke up, I was already on the mobile, sending out frantic messages. A project had to be documented, a meeting had to be scheduled, and a venue had to be reserved. Three hours later, as I took a call for the nth time, epiphany struck: I realized I am on sick leave and there is nothing in the commandments that says you have to torture yourself with busy nothings when you are down with the flu.

The world will not end if I don't document this workshop, or if I miss this meeting. It won't disintegrate just because there is one folder that can't be found, or one letter that has yet to be written.

This flu is my body is telling me that I need to rest. And I will.

November 3, 2008

November 1

The last time I spent an hour or so at the cemetery must have been five or six years ago. Two of my aunts were then in the thick of a raging battle, and the tug-o-war for the "loyalties" of those who remained in neutral was just too much. Since then, my November 1 "tradition" included everything but a visit to what passed for an extended family mausoleum.

This year, I broke my self-imposed moratorium and trudged the almost forgotten path. Ma needed company, and since the two aunts weren't home, there was little chance of my ears being bombarded with the "hush-hush latest." After a few tricky turns--during which I realized that it wasn't such a maze after all--I finally found the almost-empty mausoleum.

For something like ten minutes it was peace and quiet and all things in between. And then, cousins and aunts (wives of uncles, actually), started trickling in, and so did the litany of who-did-whats, who-paid-for-this', and to-whom-it-may-concerns.

By the time I left an hour later, my head was throbbing. And it wasn't from jostling my way past the then already surging crowd. Lesson learned? Pay your respects, but not on November 1.