September 27, 2009


My best friend Maricar and I once waded in thigh-deep murky waters near the Trabajo market. It was getting darker and darker, and we had no choice but to walk the entire stretch from Espana to Sta. Mesa. There was filth everywhere. At one point we had to navigate past a dead cat. Needless to say, it was a downright disgusting experience--one that forever opened our eyes to the horrors of flood-prone Manila.

Yesterday's and the previous day's images of Ondoy made me think of the horrors that most of our kababayans had to go through. It is one thing to wade--even swim--in murky flood waters. But to wait helplessly as the waters invaded our own homes?

A friend lost all tangible memories of her son's growing-up years, painstakingly chronicled in scrapbooks and albums. Another lost the books carefully collected over the years. Rob was trapped on the second floor with no food, no potable water and little hope of being rescued. Au stayed on the roof for two days. Yvette watched in horror from her unit nine floors up as her street became a river and deposited mud and filth into her now unserviceable barely month-old car. Camille lost everything but the clothes on her back and her laptop.

These are of course but six of the six hundred thousand stories--each in varying degrees of severity, all equally heart-breaking.

As I sat glued to the TV set, I realized that technology may have made the world a lot smaller, but it has also made so many of us feel helplessly, hopelessly isolated as we watched Ondoy's wrath from the warmth and comfort of our homes.

September 25, 2009


After basking in the singles scene for so long, my friend A finally put a period on singlehood. She got married in a quaint, middle-of-the-ricefields chapel in the best way she knew how: in style.

At the reception, the speeches were all about good wishes and hopes for a happy future. About living with and accepting (hah!) each other. Take away the good lucks, the fair warnings and the mild admonitions, and you get this: marriage is a process, not a product.

As one who is a year short of being a veteran at this marriage thing (we have yet to pass the seven-year itch, or test, or whatever you call it) I can say that really, marriage is not a destination. It is but the start of a long journey that is at times traveled on the smoothest freeway and at times on roads littered with broken plates and sharp expletives (don't ask me, ask the neighbors, he he).

The start of the journey comes with the usual--and sometimes unusual--send-offs: punch bowls, flat irons, wall clocks, the Buddha, a potty full of coins, the Bible in a Walker briefs box, coy singles dodging the bouquet and the garter. Above all, marriage is a rite of passage that effectively puts an end to the irksome “kelan kami makakahigop ng sabaw?” and opens doors to the even more irritating “may laman na ba?” or "kelan masusundan?"

Of course, A knew better. She didn't ask me to deliver my piece. :p

September 22, 2009

Last Song Syndrome

I am by my lonesome in a cold, cold office and all I can think of is "Zombie, zombie, zombie hey hey hey." Bad case of last-song syndrome really, blame it on the next-door videoke queen who is probably maxing her Video Singko rental.

And bad for me, because two clients are already here. It's an effort to keep a straight face while scanning the death certificate and trying really hard to shake off the lyrics. Zombie, zombie...

September 21, 2009

All Quiet Now

For two days, the neighborhood came alive with fireworks, parades and all things festive. The next-door videoke queen sang her signature "Happy Birthday Dear Heartache," announcing to everyone that the Video Singko machine is back on track. Cars crowded our otherwise empty streets, and afternoons rang with shouts from the makeshift cockpit just a block away.

It's all quiet now. There is nothing that hints of the village fiesta anymore--except for empty beer bottles, plates that need to be dried and kept, hopelessly soot-covered pots. That and an earful of chismis more exciting than The Buzz, courtesy of course, of the family "chronicler."

The quiet takes some getting used to. As the neighborhood gears up for yet another post-fiesta weekday, I am back to my usual nocturnal soundtrack: barking dogs, the drone of recycled air, and snoring husband.

September 20, 2009


Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.
Bill Watterson

Some of the "pointless" things I might do this long weekend:

1. cultivate my digital farm
2. stalk Wil Wheaton on twitter
3. scrub the tiles
4. put up with unlimited texting (no thanks to "unli," the help barely gets anything done. except "texting," of course.)
5. convince Gianna that there is no such thing as a 100 in a report card. or is there?
6. take out my #26 needles and conquer the world one (cross) stitch at a time
7. go on a diet--and on our village fiesta, too!
8. play tennis, golf, baseball, bowling and boxing. but only on wii

I'm gearing up for a real, real weekend. I hope you are, too.

September 17, 2009

Vanity Fair

Ever since I fell asleep during yet another attempt to tame my hair and woke up with an ugly burn on my forehead, I have totally shunned beauty parlors. Make that parlors run by gays who can talk up a storm and categorize things and people into "chaka" and "bongga."

Last Friday, though, I put traumatic (beauty) experience aside. Friend A was getting married and there was a collective thought bubble if the gang could get me to go the extra mile. Me, whose idea of makeup is a thin film of sheer lipstick. Me, who signed up for elective woodworking and electrical wiring in high school and NOT cosmetology.

But while I could do away with dressing for the occasion, I could never resist a challenge. With Excruciatingly Thin (and Fashionista) Sister, I ventured into the path less traveled and came face to face with TWO nightmares: one who immediately went for my eyebrows and another who undid my ponytail, surveyed my hair and pronounced the dreaded "C" word.

Twenty or so minutes of facial assault--during which I thought up every possible way of exacting revenge--Nightmare One finally got out of harm's way and left me with my mirror image.

Only, it wasn't me.

Because Real Me doesn't have Bella Flores' eyebrows. And Real Me has frizzy, untamed hair. And Real Me would never make an appointment for a (re)bonding moment with Nightmares One and Two.

September 15, 2009

Drowning in Digital

I signed up for FB because I so wanted to play Farmville. And because Arni tipped me in on the picture taken more than a decade ago. Five minutes or so after (finally) getting the codes right, my inbox suddenly came alive with friend requests and confirmations. It's as if some portal opened, and techie-unsavvy me was sucked into an otherwise digital blackhole that nonetheless made the world a lot smaller.

I'm enjoying the reconnections, of course. But as I am still drowning in digital, it may take some time for me to get the lines right. And so friends, if I don't hop over to your sites just yet, or if I don't write on your walls or do the thing that I am supposed to do, I am not practising my masteral in "dedmatology" on you. It's just slowpoke me trying to get the hang of this FaceBooking thing.

And I guess learning to love it, too!

September 14, 2009

Jack's Cousin

The daycare center's "Jack feel down" found a cousin. Posted on the high school's fence is this streamer proudly proclaiming some population-related activity. And the theme?

"Educating the youth to FIGTH against poverty."

Hmm. Maybe we should educate our youth on the rudiments of spelling first.

September 9, 2009

Daycare? Daydon't!

While silently lamenting my fate at having to work on a Sunday to spread PGMA's charity virus, my proofreader's eye zoomed in on this

and this

and this.

The misplaced apostrophe syndrome, it seems, starts here. In Daycare.

September 6, 2009

Movie Moments

Buday's tongue-in-cheek take on the industriya had me mining my brain neurons for "scintillating" moments in (mainstream) Philippine cinema.

The last time I sat through an entire screening was in the late '90s, when I was "peer" pressured to watch TGIS the Movie. I can no longer recall what the movie was all about--save for the fact that it was an almost two-hour spectacle of hysterical and angst-ridden teens pretending to be grownups. I went purposely because I thought Bobby Andrews was cute. Halfway through, I realized that his range of acting mostly involved squinting his eyes and parting his lips--the better to show off that gorgeous Adam's Apple. Call it a shallow aha moment, but it was then that I realized that I was too old for TGIS.

Before (mainstream) Philippine cinema entered its The Movie phase--you know, with titles the likes of Okay Ka Fairy Ko, The Movie; Wansapanataym Da Movie, Maalalala Mo Kaya, The Movie (thank God there was no Eat Bulaga, The Movie ha ha ha)--there was an intermittent pa-relevant phase. I thought it would be a plus for then NGO-worker me to watch this glorified movie about comfort women. Unfortunately, I thought wrong.

I'm sure there must have been some semblance of story there, but to this day, all I can remember is that scene where the women beat the Japanese to a pulp with a basketful of sitaw, ampalaya at talong. My gulay! I guess only in (mainstream) Philippine cinema can veggies do that much damage, he he he.

Mainstream, of course is the operative word here. My friend Milo makes award-winning indie movies, and Cinemalaya continues to attract brilliant directors and brilliant movies. Recently, I did catch a TV run of Donsol, a movie that was shot close to home. It had none of the big-name commercial stars, (let's face it the better actors and actresses do not fit the masa's mold of artistahin), which is why it did not do as well in its limited commercial run. Despite--or probably because of--the unshowbusiness of it all, Donsol was quite engaging. If I had caught it on the bigscreen, it would have been worth my box-office money.

Oh well. If something the likes of Donsol suddenly finds its way to the mainstream, I would lift my more than ten-year-old moratorium on Pinoy movies. Until then, I will have to say that back when I didn't know any better, I did contribute immensely to Mother Lily's and Boss Vic's coffers.

September 2, 2009

A Tale of Two Parlors

Business must be bad for funeral parlor A. While its competitor two buildings away never seems to run out of "customers," there it was, almost always eerily empty. The space where "mourners" usually nurse their grief over (rowdy) rounds of gin and poker remained just that: a dead spot.

Three weeks ago, a parlor of a totally different kind suddenly sprouted on the dead spot. Feng-shui experts would probably balk at the placement, but the beauty parlor seemed to do well. Never mind that there was only a thin film of curtain separating the pa-beauty gadgets from the display of coffins.

The beauty business, however, was cut short when--after a long, dry spell--a wake was finally held at the funeral parlor. I don't know if they made the mourners more self conscious, but it must have been a challenge to cheat at pusoy with the (beauty parlor) mirrors all around.

In any case, the wake is over and it's business as usual for the beauty parlor. This reminds me of my conversation with my QC neighborhood parlorista, the one who introduced me to the wonderful world of gayspeak:

L:"Tita, shocking pero si P, ayun sumakabilang parlor na."

Then naive me: "Ha, wala na dito si P? Saan sya lumipat?"

L: "Ano ka ba tita? Tigok na as in dead, patay, dedo na sya.
Kaya ayun, may I lipat na from the beauty parlor to the funeral parlor
ang bakla."

Oh, and by the way there's another business at the back of the beauty and funeral parlors: an ice-cream factory. Ugh.