Saturday, December 31, 2005

Everybody And Their Mothers

Everybody and their mothers...and more.

Yes. That's how the crowd looked like during the recent
World Pyro Olympics at the Esplanade in the Roxas Boulevard area: 'twas as if they brought everybody and their mothers to the event. And mind you, to say that the buong baranggay was there was to say the least. It was like EDSA People Power 1986 (or EDSA Dos 2001) all over again, only this time, 'twas totally festive and there were no uniformed men save for a few traffic enforcers and security guards.

The first two nights that I was there (yes, I'm a sucker for fireworks display...bite me), traffic was somewhere between semi-bearable and miserable. And without even caring which countries were participating in those respective days, I went to the event with Pink and didn't even bother going inside the venue where you have to pay a hundred bucks to listen to Orange and Lemons (and I think other bands) to perform Pinoy Ako of the famed Pinoy Big Brother reality show. After all, I've had my share of alternative and rock bands back in my UP days. We decided to just stand right in front of the gigantic brass globe outside the Mall of Asia a.k.a. superdooperovermegablockbusterhuge SM (which, mind you, is supposedly bigger than the Mall of America; and they said the Philippines is a poor country...third world my ass!), our umbrellas ready for when the slight drizzle turned into rain, and waited for the delayed show to begin. When the first of the many fireworks shot into the night, I started hollering and cheering as if it was the first time I ever saw fireworks. I was capturing it on video on my Nokia and 'twas practically my whoo-hoo's and yeeaaah's that dominated the audio of the video stream. And, oh, Pink and I kissed under the fireworks display and then sniggered right after we did it. Talk about "magic moment".

I missed day three, but not completely, because I was with my sister and Jasmine at Star City. They were visiting in-laws at Forbes and I decided to bring Jasmine to the carnival. Traffic was terrible that by the time I got there, Jasmine was already hungry, sleepy, and cranky. Well, so much for a fun carnival experience. At least after having tried the carousel (where the queue felt more like we were pigs waiting to be slaughtered), she finally lightened up. An hour and a half later, we were in a cab going back to Forbes where traffic was--whoohoo--still bad.

The last night of the competition was supposedly the best, considering 'twas going to be the finale, where all countries will participate and the Philippines, being the host country, will also take part. So we all decided to go--me, my officemates, friends, and acquaintances--and meet up at the venue at around 730ish. It was a legal holiday (Rizal Day) so I was coming from the condo. After much thought, I decided to just take my dinner at the Blue Wave instead of my condo, knowing full well that there's a plethora of restaurants and pitstops there to choose from. So as I was getting ready to leave, I got a chain of SMS messages from my "dates" for that evening saying that they were not going to go anymore, or that they will just try, or some other shit like that. Great. Talk about cowboys and INDIANS.

The cab driver I hailed had no idea he was going to traffic hell. So after merely 19 minutes from my condo to the CCP area, he was mortified to see the terrible congestion from the World Trade Center to Blue Wave. That strip, which normally takes about 8 minutes tops, took me 35 minutes. With my bladder threatening to explode and the vehicles moving about four centimeters every two minutes, I fished 150 pesos from my pocket (I didn't bring my wallet anymore) and dashed to the nearest toilet, which was still a 4-minute walk (I can only go in the john and never go on trees or walls!) and a lot of snaking through thick crowds. Thank God men's toilet almost never has long queues unlike ladies' rooms!

After I finished my business--and washed my hands, mind you!--I headed for the nearest restaurant. I almost had a coronary when I saw that ALL restaurants and pitstops were packed with hungry customers. Even kiosks and stands of Zagu or Lapid's Chicharon had winding queues, for crying out loud! After what seemed like forever in finding a place to eat, I rushed to Pancake House when I saw that it wasn't as packed like sardines as the other restaurants. I was ecstatic with anticipation for a warm meal...until the "lady guard" told me (and the rest of the other famished people around me) that they have decided to close the door to new customers. Perfect. I almost French kissed the guard when she said, as an aside, that take-outs are OK, however.

I ran inside and ordered what I thought what could be eaten with bare hands, with or without a table or a chair: tacos and fries. I waited outside and stole the guard's chair. While waiting, I called Nolet to pass time and catch up on what we haven't talked about in the last couple of days. While talking with her, a group of noisy ladies and kids sat beside me. I even saved a seat for one of the elderly woman because she had to go use the toilet. When it was my time to stand up and go fetch my take-out inside, I asked the same old lady to watch and save my seat while I'm gone. She looked at me as if she didn't know me from fifteen minutes ago, and said, "I can't save that because I don't have control over other people who might steal it". I almost picked up the damned chair and used it to whack her ungrateful and pathetic head.

After picking up my food, I decided I'd rather enjoy my food away from the ungrateful hag. And since the fireworks display venue was teeming with people in almost every nook and cranny, I spotted a free space in between two sedans in the parking lot. If I had a photo of me munching away the greasy, messy taco and soggy fries, I would have captioned it "Alone and Miserable". I was in that state when the first of the fireworks shot in the sky. I totally forgot the feeling of misery, and I felt happy again...but still wanting to whack that hag.

The display went on for about fifteen minutes, without us in the audience knowing which country/ies exactly were performing. When one fireworks display portion failed to give the tremendous oohs and aahs, an elderly Filipino man behind me commented, "Ay, panget. Siguro sa Philippines yan." What a sad commentary on the Philippines and the Filipino craft: just because it's ugly, amidst other countries, it is automatically taken as the work of the Filipino??? Sad, sad, sad.

By the second round of the fireworks display, which was about 30 to 45 minutes later, Sheila, Daniel, Jon, and the two kids have already arrived, thanks to the turtle-paced traffic from EDSA to the Esplanade. When the exhibition finally concluded, we all started heading for the main highway so we could hail a cab or a bus going back to Daniel's place in Libertad. If you saw the number of people headed from Esplanade to EDSA, the only thing it lacked was a picture of the sea parting in the middle, and you'd think you fell into a time-space warp and got thrown in the midst of the Israelites' exodus from the Pharoah. With no luck, we ended up walking aaaaaallll the way to Libertad.

Note to self: whack head for loving the fireworks display and hating the long walk.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pakso Paskiw

It's only been about an hour after the Noche Buena following the Misa de Gallo, and the traditional raiding of the Christmas tree for presents. I still hear some movement upstairs as my parents, my Tabachoy sister, and my adorable niece Jasmine get ready to sleep. I, on the other hand, am still down here typing away on my laptop and editing photos taken on my sister's new digicam (I was just semi-bitching about how the settings were messed up when she loaned it to her in-laws, and that now I'm going to have to fix all photos in Photoshop [which I normally do anyway, hehehe]).

I stood up (but not without having to disconnect the dratted dial-up internet connection [God knows my mother's going to wig out once she sees our telephone bill] and saving the draft of this blog entry in Microsoft Word) to grab something to eat. Yes, I know. It's ONLY been barely an hour and a half from our last meal...but I was busy taking pictures and serving plates, so I'm not exactly full. Grabbed two bundles of suman and dinuguan, and briefly considered getting a small helping of arroz valenciana, Chinese ham, and quezo de bola.

As I prop my feet on the center table in the living room, my laptop idling in hibernate mode by the couch, the Christmas lights randomly blinking, and I nonchalantly wolfing down the suman dunked in the sinful dinuguan, I look around and see that the foot of our Christmas tree, which used to be chock-full with boxes and bags and envelopes of presents, is now almost bare (save for the remaining gifts for godchildren that might visit later today). It felt a little bit somber and a little bit nostalgic, but nevertheless heart-warming.

Earlier last night at the Christmas mass, the priest said something in his homily that made perfect sense. According to him, we Filipinos seem to be totally "hysterically excited" about the coming of Christmas: come September 1st, we start playing carols on the radio alredy; we start doing a countdown to Christmas; and we almost immediately start our Christmas shopping (and still end up doing last-minute panic-buying). Likewise, during the Christmas season, the Jackson 5 hit "Give Love on Christmas Day" seem to have an immortalization, i.e. people seem to be, well, kinder and nicer. We try and forgive or make peace with people that we've hurt or have hurt us; we invite almost-strangers into our homes and offer them at least a bite or a drink; we reconnect with people (especially relatives) that we practically ignored the entire year; and we take time to make other people's days. But right after Christmas (sometimes not even allowing the last of the observance of The Epiphany pass), we seem to revert to our old selves: grumpy, snobbish, self-righteous/-centered, insensitive, and mean. Why is that?

Is there a "Christmas dust" that goes with the cold breeze of the 'ber months that seem to soften us and turn us into better people? Are we like wind-up toys that will only set into motion upon getting wound up and pushed to animation? Do we really need Christmas to actually make us better, nicer, kinder, more humane people? Can we not hold on to the brimming feeling of love and kindness and generosity and optimism, and then nurture it within our hearts throughout the coming year and the next?

They say that Christmas is just for kids these days. It's actually them who will be waking up early later on today, dressing up in their newly-bought clothes, tagging along their parents and guardians to go with them to visit their godparents, and hopefully get heaps and heaps of crisp peso (or dollar/yen/euro!) bills as aguinaldo. No wonder children "own" this holiday. It is during this time of the year that they feel that there are other people that love them, care about them, and that will watch over them. Who woudln't want that?

Obviously, I am way past the age when I'd be considered "a kid". But deep down, I wish I could have all of those things that children have: the love, caring, peace, and joy. This Christmas, there is nothing more that I want than peace of mind, patience, kindness, and lots and lots of love.

Joyeux Noël.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Kvetch Bonanza

'Tis the season to be jolly my ass.

Below are things that annoy me...or at the very least get me stumped. In my last few hours and days prior to Christmas and New Year, I say we kvetch away, and throw these negative vibes out the window one last time.

1. Albino lights. Yes, those bright white headlights that new cars and SUVs have, that seem to be in perpetual flare at night...especially when you are being tailgated. I swear, if given an opportunity, I'm going to snatch the damned driver off his seat, tie him to an industrial chair with nylon rope, yank his eyelids open, and make him stare at his own albino lights for a full hour. Let's see who'd be cursing at the lights.

2. It's a Guy Thing. You know those just-peed men who do not wash their hands? Uhm. Hello? As long as you do not shake my hands or handle my food, we're cool. Another guy thing that blows me away is this: men who maneuver their dicks in public (you know the drill: left hand on the fly, right hand goes for a dive all the way down the crotch, reaches for his member and moves it around...and there it is, the classic "kambyo"). Man, I am not shaking that hand.

3. Obviously trying-hard and faux American accent. Yeah, like, ohmigosh, uh-uh!!! In the midst of the current call center explosion, we are now officially surrounded by enculturized and "alienized" Filipino-turned-pseudo-Americans. Babe, you're with us Pinoys outside of your work shifts (assuming we'd get to hang out in the evenings, when you're usually working hard), so cut the twang. Unless, of course, you REALLY do sound like that. And in saying this piece, I'm not just talking of the call center accent. I'm also referring to the overrated kolehiyala twang. You're so, like, gosh. Please stop. My ears bleed.

4. Unisex greetings. You've ever been inside a mall or restaurant and you--as a single, individual male or female with no companion--were greeted with a "Good evening Mam/Ser"??? Somewhere in the middle of reading their training manuals and the actual implementation, these poor individuals were never really told that the slash in the "Ma'am/Sir" means "or". Why, thank you, Mam,Ser.

5. Ad nauseam conversations. When I say "no", it means no. When I say "yes", it's yes. When I tell you that it's "X", don't be automatically thinking that there's a Y or an XY; or a hidden agenda. If you won't take my word for it, then don't be too pesky. It ain't cute. Or would you like me to repeat it again twice for the second time around once more from the top?

6. Murphy's Law. Duh. Who likes this shit? Ever been in snail-paced traffic on your way to work...and running late, for that matter...or perhaps having diarrhea, and REALLY needing to go? Or your desktop pc acts up when you're like 5 minutes from a deadline? Or ordering all the not-available-just-for-today items on the menu when you're famished? Or rain pouring right after you're pulling out of the car wash? Bad luck. Irony. Baaaaad, Murphy.

7. SMS dates. Ever had a date who almost never really talked to you the entire date, but instead kept texting on his/her phone? He/She doesn't like you. Excuse yourself...leave. But please text him/her on your way out that you're walking out on him/her.

8. Know-it-all dates. Or what about the date who yaks about their accomplishments, travels, properties, trivial information, and other 411's you didn't need or want to know on date #1...WITHOUT YOU EVEN ASKING. Babe, don't they ever shut up in your planet?

9. Never mind folks. When people start their statements with an enthusiastic "Ohmygod!" or "Can I tell you something?" or "Uhm...I was thinking...", and then, just when your attention's focused on them already, they'll say, "Never mind". WTF???

10. Body odor. Jesus. Ever heard of deodorants? It's those things you roll under your pits to keep 'em dry.

11. Coffeeshop junkies. Let's face it. Coffee is MODERATION. And if you must stay in Starbucks or Seattles or Coffee Bean or Figaro with just a teenie weenie cup of espresso or latte that you've emptied almost two hours ago, please pound it in your inconsiderate heads that there might be other people waiting for a damned table. Get another cup! You're not helping coffee sales by just displaying yourself on the windowpane.

12. Picky cab drivers. Since when were cab drivers given the advantage of choosing their passengers and their destinations??? This is so Studio 54, except instead of getting picked because of your connections or looks or sheer appeal, they choose you if they FEEL like picking you up. Mister driver, if you never planned on fetching and dropping people off their destinations, DON'T be a cab driver. Go plant rice or something.

13. Fat women wearing body-fit clothes. Whoooooa! Love your confidence. Hate your look.

14. Discrimination at its best. Ever been given a suspicious look at US or UK or French Immigrations? Yes, it's your green passport. Or forced to be packed like sardines in the back trains of the LRT1 even if the first two trains are uncrowded. Yeah, cuz you're not a woman, you poor perverted man. Or those stupefying dress codes. Went to Pier One Bar and Grill at Roxas Boulevard a couple of days ago. First time there. As we were reserving for a Smoking Area table for five, I saw the dress code: "Casual but fashionable"..."No rubber sandals allowed". Ohmygod. Was there a fashion police inside? And shit, my sandals were Birkenstocks! I spent four grand just to be discriminated against? Please.

15. Free annotators in movie houses. Have you ever sat through a movie--no matter how interesting or boring it may be--beside anannotator? It's those pests that either tell his/her seatmate (with no realization that his/her voice is as loud as a megaphone on full blast): (a) what's going to happen next in the movie, (b) what's the scene about, as if the other person does not use his/her brain to understand it him/herself, (c) what he/she found interesting in this part of the movie, (d) a side-comment about a character (e.g. "This girl is sooo maarte" or "Ohno, ito yung masamang loob!"), or (e) "Ohmygod, don't miss this part!". Beware peeps. If you ended up sitting beside me, you better know how to annotate about chatty moviegoers' hairs getting drenched with Coke.

16. Blog Peeping Toms Turned Editors/Critics. You know how your blog's out in the open, up for grabs, free for all? If you're going to start bitching about inconsistencies in my entries, or have a leisure pursuit of proofreading 'em for typos or grammatical slip-ups, remember these things: (1) I ain't writing for you...I'm writing for nobody in particular; (2) If I wanted my entries to be immaculate from errors, I'd work for a major paper or magazine and hire me an editor; and (3) Geesh. Get a life. Write your own blog and stop whining.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Just Like Heaven

Watched the movie Just Like Heaven last night with Pink, Chrissie and Maita. Almost didn't catch the movie because of some things:

1) postponed watching it for a bittersweet, now-funny-and-then-poignant-later movie, "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros";
2) earlier scheduled trip to Bataan, i.e. on the 21st;
3) a last-minute decision to purchase a cheap-ass American Home microwave oven (for just P2689.00!!!!) to bring home to my folks for Christmas; and
4) the bad-ass traffic (we had to walk to Greenbelt 3 from my condo in Santillan!).

Got to Greenbelt at 720pm, ten minutes from screening. Still had time to grab a jumbo tumbler of barbecue popcorn, large strawberry-flavored lemonade (yum yum), and still made it to the little boys' room to tinkle. The house lights were just starting to dim when we reached our seats, and the movie trailers started showing (and me practically woofing when the trailer of Narnia was shown [I am SO going to hoard all the tickets to the first day's screening, so I'd get the entire theater to myself on it's showing!!!]).

The movie started with Rheese Witherspoon sitting on an orange industrial chair in the midst of a divine garden of spring flowers, with Katie Melua's remake of The Cure's song "Just Like Heaven" (an even more divine rendition, I must say!) playing in the background, as she closed her eyes and mesmerized the dream. I'd say the experience was blissful to me, too, because the whole time the scene was playing, I was holding the hand of the love of my life. =) (OK, enough mush)

The premise of the movie wasn't exactly new and extraordinary, nor was it an attempt to be intellectual or "artsy", but for a chick-flick, this is a really feel-good (and yes, some mush involved, too) one: unattached, way-too-busy-with-work girl dies (unknowingly) and haunts her old apartment's new tenant (who's a guy hung up with his previous relationship's tragedy), and ends up falling in love with each other...and in some freaky twist of fate realizes that they were, indeed, destined to be together.

Yeah. Like that happens. Well, at least not to me. Argh. So much for soul-mates, destiny kind of bullshit. Anyway...

OK. This whole prelude's got no relevance whatsoever to this blog. I just wanted to post the lyrics of "Just Like Heaven" read on.

“Show me how you do that trick,
The one that makes me scream,” she said
”The one that makes me laugh,” she said
And threw her arms around my neck

”Show me how you do it,
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you.”

Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make her glow

“Why are you so far away?” she said
”Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you
That I’m in love with you?”
Soft and only
Lost and loney

Strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone…alone

Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me
Soft and only
Lost and lonely
Just like heaven

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The One True Thing

In our most recent teambuilding workshop last December 19 and 20 in Canyon Woods, Tagaytay, I touched on the issue of addressing diversity through trust. And in the session, I asked the group this simple question: "In a relationship, what is more important? Trust or love?" I got an echoing response of "trust".

In the work setting, one obtains trust from a superior or colleague by having a healthy balance of high character and high competence. Say, for example, a messenger is highly skilled: he reports to work on time, delivers the mails and parcels efficiently, has excellent organizational skills. He, however, is very ill-natured and unapproachable, spreads privileged information to outsiders, and has no consideration for others. This type of person will never get the trust of his peers. On an inverse example, say he is very pleasant, helps colleagues every way he can, and even jokes around with his peers. However, he is habitually late, delivers to the wrong recipients, and has very poor filing system. For obvious reasons, he will likewise not earn the trust of his peers.

This is a very Stephen Coveyish way of putting it, but it is the most simplistic. And it is the most universal. This does not only apply to the work setting, but in different relationships as well.

In a romantic relationship, trust is the one true thing that keeps people together. Yes, trust and trust alone. Not even love. For what really is a relationship worth if trust does not exist?

I fell in love with someone seven years ago and fell truly deep. I gave my very best, my all, and proved my worth. I was told that I was deeply loved...but that I wasn't exactly trusted. No matter what I did to prove myself trustworthy, I never quite lived up to earning it. If stayed out late, I'd be constantly asked who I was with, why I was still out, the works, even if it was a completely harmless junket of sorts. If my phone rang or beeped, I'd be asked right away who it was and what it was about. If I went online, I'd be surmised as going on those crummy dating or chatting sites even if I was just checking my mail. If I looked at someone fine-looking passing by, I'd be thought of as flirting, even if I was just--for Chrissakes--looking. Or, if went out of town on an official trip, I'd be practically forced to "report" my every move, only because I was being checked up on almost every hour, just to make sure that I wasn't doing anything sleazy. After two and a half years of proving myself trustworthy and still not earning what I truly deserved in the first place, I snapped. The very next day after the realization that I will never be trusted no matter what, I did every single "charge" I was accused of. and then I moved on.

Trust and Love. True, they do go together. But without trust, love--no matter how the magnitude is--is simply not enough. In my book, one can love without trust...but one can never trust and not love at the same time. When you trust someone, love automatically follows. It is the strongest of all foundations, superior to love, compatibility, focus, and loyalty or commitment.

Trust: the one true thing that matters me. What matters most to you?

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I wrote this poem (free verse? quasi-essay?) one million years ago. To those who miss someone so much it hurts, this one just says pretty much how that feels...

I miss the way you sarcastically roll your eyeballs every time you get jealous.
I miss how you'd slowly run your fingers through your you'd touch it as though it were the most velvety thing your fingers have come across.
I miss the way your nose wrinkles ev'rytime you burst into laughter.
I miss the tears that cleave its way down your delicate skin.
I miss the way you eat pasta; how you'd refuse to cut the noodles and slurp it down to its end.
I miss the way you snuggle close to me and never loosen up when the rain falls outside.
I miss touching the grooves and lines on your palms, as though there lies a secret message in it that only I can read--by merely touching it...our very own private language, so to speak.
I miss the way your hair clings to your face each time you sweat when we're jogging in the morning.
I miss your sweet scent that always turns me on.
I miss the way you blow your kisses in the wind, as though the wind could actually bring those kisses to me.
I miss the way your nails scrape my back when you reach your ecstatic moment each time we make love in the wee hours of the morning.
I miss the way you hug your right knee in an almost fetal position each time you read your cheesy paper-back novels.
I miss the way you dance--your two left feet and all!
I miss the way you change the CDs from my jazz selections to your Chopin and Bach.
I miss the way you "crinkle" your eyebrows and absent-mindedly bite your knuckle when you're absorbed in deep thought.
I miss how tranquil you look when you're sleeping on our couch, your breasts slowly rising and falling in a somnolent rhythm.
I miss the awkward way you try to speak the vernacular, the way you those words sound too foreign for your tongue.
I miss the tiny hairs on your nape.
I miss the love bites you give me on my chest and on my neck.
I miss your ethereal smile that never fails to perk me up.
I miss the way you kiss my bruises as though you were my mother and I your only child.
I miss the four-, five-hour phone conversations and e-mail messages.
I miss your soft, luscious lips that look so delectable in its moistness that I'd always wanted to "take a bite."
I miss the warm air that comes out of your mouth when you whisper your sweet nothings to me.
I miss the way you'd arch your back each time I tickle you.
I miss much that it hurts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

I recently finished reading Mitch Albom's Five People You Meet In Heaven right after I finished his other book, Tuesdays with Morrie, and I had a transitory moment of pensiveness (OK, OK, the Tuesdays made me cry a fitful). The premise of the book, in so many words, was that when you die (and eventually go to heaven [I wonder what happens if you did NOT go to heaven???]), you get to meet five different people who have touched or made a difference in your life (and vice-versa). These people may have caused you pain, or perhaps have caused some life-changing experience to you (and vice-versa). And the uncanny part of it all is this: you are not necessarily aware of the vice-versa part of it all!

Which got me thinking...who could be my five people? After some chewing over the matter, I started coming up with a shortlist. Now, some of these people are still living as of this writing, but since this is just me being pensive, ergo being way too imaginative, then I'm figuring when I'm six feet under, chances are one or all of these peeps could be there waiting for me...(unless of course I went *way* ahead of them)!

I think my first person would be my mother.
I think, next to "NO", the first word I said as an infant was "Mama". I remember growing up being teased as a Mama's Boy, having always been seen literally tugging at her skirt everywhere she went. (In seeing my niece Jasmine do the same thing to my mom--her lola--I can't help but smile a little.) My mom was a very uncompromising disciplinarian; she wanted nothing but perfection, the best. She would literally drag me out of the basketball court and make me hit my books, even if it was a weekend...just so I'd stay on top of my class. This was almost always the case, so my passion for sports (basketball in particular) vanished into thin air.

She wanted me to excel in everything so she pushed me to do my best. However, being only human (heh..heh), I sometimes let her down, and that disappointed the holy smokes outta her. At some point, after being valedictorian from Kindergarten to fifth grade, and then placing second to a wiz kid in sixth grade, she refused to talk to me...just for letting her down with my being "just" a salutatorian. I could tell then, that look of disappointment from her was going to get me scarred for life. Come senior high school, I passed the admissions test in the University of the Philippines. When I opted to take a non-quota course (i.e. Public Administration) instead of those "titled" courses that she wanted for me (e.g. Medicine, Law, Engineering, Architecture, etc.), she was indignant. She said I was her only hope (well, she gave up earlier on my sister because my Ate was a more resolute child; she'd fight for the decisions and choices she made herself and not our mother's), and that I should really modify my decision. I struck a deal with her...well, more a threat, that is. I told (er, threatened) her that if I took the degree of her choice, I couldn't promise her that I'd do good; and that if she let me take up what I desired, I'd guarantee her a medal on graduation. I got my wish...and my medal, eventually. But since I was "just" a cum laude, she was asking why I didn't make the cut for magna (or worse, summa!) cum laudes... Hay. Somebody give me a knife to slash my wrist with!

In all fairness to my momma, I know that she meant well. Being the good mother that she was, she merely wanted her children to be the best. Or perhaps, this was also attributed to her wanting to prove to her momma (my "Inang Justina") that she could be a good mother, and that she was good enough. You see, my Inang was the classic harridan, being the disinherited Spaniard Doña that she was, and anything my mother (and her other siblings) did was never satisfactory. So I guess, it was just passed on from mother to mother. And I just happened to be the unfortunate receiving end. Hay.

It is with these circumstances that I came to grow up as a person that was in a constant struggle to please my mother...or to prove to myself that I was good enough [for her approval]. And although it has been ages since I've vehemently convinced myself that I was, indeed, good enough--hell, sometimes even excellent!--in things that I do, I still haven't gotten to come to terms with it. In retrospect, I realized how I've been too strict with myself, even competitive, just to establish the fact that I really am good enough. This has (had?) been a major source of conflicts with me and whoever I was involved with in the past: every comment given me was someway taken as an attack, a criticism (no matter how well-meaning they were), and an assault to my ivory tower of self-adequacy. God knows, I'd love to get rid of this immature behavior/attitude. So, in my version of heaven, I will sit down with my mother, and tell her to just be easy on me; that I love her so much, but that she's going to have to make do with what I can do, because I give my best in every single endeavor.

Moving on to my next person, I wasn't the least surprised to realize that my second person would be my dad. My dad, being the good provider that he was, never really saw my sister and I growing up; he was in the Middle East (Saudi to Kuwait to Libya and Kuwait again) making a living for the family ever since my sister was just beginning to crawl. The only memories and images of my father that I held on to as a child wanting a father figure were his routine voice tapes, his musical/pop-up greeting cards, his legions of balikbayan boxes and Samsonite brief cases, the twenty peso bills per strand of white hair that I'd pluck from his head, and his mild-mannered self. His transitory vacations in Bataan from his 2-year contracts in the Mid-East were always looked forward to, especially by my mother. And since the only things that I associate with my father were those things I mentioned earlier, I never really got worked up as her (or my sister, who was the token Daddy's Little Girl).

Yes, he was a first rate provider, but the opportunity cost of the comfortable living, good education, nice and big house, and prissy toys was the void I had in my being: growing up not having a father I could play ball with, go fishing with, fix car engines with, go camping with, and have boy talk with. And in my formative years, with the lack of a father figure, I had to make do with a mother-and-father figure, thus the Mama's Boy prototype.

I was never really close to my father even up to now. Especially now. I remember him meeting an accident in his job as Chemical Engineer in Kuwait City. Aboard an elevator that nosedived 200 floors down to ground level, my father suffered injuries to his nerves in his head, thus causing him to be a little less mild-mannered, and a little crankier. The littlest things would set him off, and he got more and more distant. His presence got more fleeting; he'd stay in the house less (now that he's retired) and would be out trying not to be bored at home.

In my heaven, I would strap him on to a Barcelona chair--his dream chair--and talk to him. We'll just talk like two grownup friends trying to catch up on lost time. I'll tell him about what happened on my way adulthood, and I'll ask him what I did right, what I should continue doing, and what I could do better. I'd tell him how I learned how to do things on my own: fishing, carpentry, changing the tires of our car, cook, plumb, and a whole lot of others...and how I wish he was the one who taught me those how-to's. I'd tell him how I appreciate all the hard work and sacrifices, but will also tell him that I wish he stayed longer to make us enjoy the thing that mattered most: his time. In my heaven, I'd make time go back to when our house was still the modest wooden house, and I'd make him stay put in the country and play ball with me, and go fishing, and do dad-son stuff. In my heaven, it will never be too late for that...unlike how it is now.

My third person will be Armie Hazel. (Oh, God, please let me go before her. If I knew she died before me, my heart will be torn into pieces!) Armie Hazel--or in my endearment, "Arzel"--is my true soul mate. Or at least that's how *I* see it. She was my girlfriend for more than six years, and someway my fiancée.

I met her in high school, not really giving much thought that she would eventually be the person that would make my life come full circle. To borrow that totally cheesy, corny line from Jerry Maguire, she did, after all, complete me.

Arzel was this English-speaking (back when I could barely speak the language, me being probinsyano and all) daughter of an overbearing disciplinarian father, and a student who was almost never at school, well, after school. She was the most beautiful girl in freshman year. She was one of the smartest, sharpest, and funniest. It didn't hurt to also know that she had the sexiest boobs for a 13 year old. Hehehehe. And the thing that blew my mind was knowing that she fancied me--the geeky four-eyed baduy probinsyano from the boys' section right across their girls' wing. Writing her countless love notes--which, in retrospect, I think were written with poor grammar and sentence construction. Haha!--and throwing her stolen side glances, and a whole lot of other juvenile courtship tactics, I was finally able to get her "matamis na OO" and finally got steady with her. And, OMG. I think I was able to bring her home with me! Whoohoo. How's that for geek-gone-lucky?

It broke my heart when she told me that she and her entire family were migrating to the US, and that they were doing it sooner rather than later. She moved to California before I could even tell her how much she meant to me. Needless to say, I was never the touchy, feely, expressive person that I am now. And looking back, I realized that it was really her that taught me how important those were in any relationship. I never really told her that she meant the world to me. She never knew that whenever she walked in a room, time stopped for me and my heart would yell out that I was the luckiest man alive, because I was loved by the most beautiful girl in the world. I never really told her much, except that I missed her. (Well, a poem came out of all this--being inspired and all--and I'll be posting it after this entry.)

Arzel is now a mother. She's becoming more and more beautiful, and is turning into the woman that I have always wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She's now, technically, out of my life...what with her being happily married and blessed with an angel for a daughter who's becoming as beautiful as her.

In my heaven, Arzel will never be my coulda, woulda, shoulda, and what-might-have-been. In there, I'll be the better man that I've always wanted to be. Arzel will be the mother of MY daughter, and will be staring back into my eyes, not her husband's. In there, I'll tell her, "hey, I'm a better person because of you." And in my heaven, I will realize that I do not need to be in heaven just to be with her. After all, she IS heaven.

The shortlist ends here. My last two will come. I can almost feel their presence.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Baguio or Bust

I was having my depression attacks again when I decided to do two things: remove my Bank of Hawaii, Standard Chartered, Equitable Mastercard, and HSBC credit cards from my wallet and lock it in my drawer in the office. With more than 25 grand on my credit card bills, I decided this depression attack could not afford another perfume, pair of shoes, messenger bag, PDA, mobile phone, or furniture. Upon hearing the click of my office drawer's lock fusing each other, I gave Nolet a ring. I needed the next best thing to a depression splurge: a nonchalant food trip mixed with bottles of red and decanters of margaritas. Ten minutes later, a dinner date was scheduled for the next day. After all, it was already late notice to even meet up with me right away. I decided I can put a lid on the depression thingee for one more night.

We all met—Nolet, Carissa, her boyfriend Edwin, and me—at the promenade/fountain area of Greenbelt 3, and decided that we were going to drink that night. Since Nolet and I haven’t had dinner yet, we went walking around the strip of restaurants to find a good place to eat. Since My Little Kitchen was the only restaurant with an available table to seat the four of us, we went in…only to get disappointed an hour later because of the bad food and terrible wine. At least the company was excellent.

Nolet finally told us about her now defunct relationship with He-who-mustn’t-be-named; how they finally talked—in that same café where she had her "presscon" to the rest of the gang about their being "officially a couple"—after a prolonged awkwardness and quasi-animosity between the two of them; how it feels weird being friends again with her ex. It was a fun talk, or at the very least…OUR talk that night.

At past 11, we left MYLK and decided to invade (or shall I say "unite with"?) the chaos of Greenbelt Two. We got lucky and found a table at Cena, and got cozy right outside the resto. While basking in the refreshing breeze of the fan-cum-water-spritzer, we couldn't help but think: "Where the hell is this water in the spritzer coming from? Is this even distilled or filtered??? And to think our drinks are all vulnerable to those germs that this spritzer may be likely to emit!!!" Ten minutes later, Milo the Waiter brought us four glasses and a tall decanter of Mango Something (I forgot what the concoction was) Margarita. After we finished it in record breaking speed, we ordered another decanter of margarita, this time the Dalandan flavored one.

[There! Mango Mandarin!!!!! Yum. I am now officially a poster boy of Cena's Margarita liters.]

Upon gazing upstairs, I came to see a couple of friends who seemed to be having their own decanters and bottles and glasses to I thought I'd drop by and say hi. Barely ten minutes later, upon coming back to our table, I was just told that--by unanimous vote--we were driving to Baguio first thing the next morning. I agreed right away. Fuck that depression spell...I am having fun with my good friends...and away from the city that's giving me all this bleakness.

As if I wasn't exhausted yet from all the drinking, I bid them goodbye--with the agreement to meet at Jollibee Muñoz at 8 the next morning--and went change and go clubbing with my best friend Pat. Went dancing and drinking some more, and then went home at quarter past four. Since I've already packed my bag the night before I left for the club, I decided I could take a nap first before showering around 6am, to them proceed to our meeting place.

The dratted Nokia alarm went off perhaps one million times but I was only able to wake up at quarter of seven!!! I almost decided on not showering but upon smelling the fricking cigarette smoke in my hair, I instantly jumped in the shower. One jeepney, MRT and bus ride later (the walk from the MRT station to the next bus stop took about one hundred years, thanks to the maze-like pink bus stations of MMDA), I found myself staring at my take-out food from Jollibee. Hurray for double burger pates with tomatoes, lettuce and cheese, lava-hot hot chocolate drink, and un-soggy fries.

With Edwin driving and Carissa in the passenger seat, Nolet and I got cozy at the back seat. My evil plan to sleep on them the whole journey to Baguio was thwarted by their beating me to it...and my two phones constantly beeping or ringing. Argh. To make matters worse, my portable DVD player with LCD just wouldn't read any fucking CD! So I just tranquilized myself with Carissa's theme- and concept-less CDs playing in the CD changer (hehehe). I eventually got tired (whether of the Johny Mathis/Elvis Presley/Paul Anka songs or of the boring sceneries, I couldn't tell!), and fell asleep. I woke up at Pangasinan a couple of hours later, badly needing to pee. Thankfully, Edwin and Carissa had a stop-over somewhere near, so I was able to use the commode. Yeah, yeah. I am not one of those men who could just stick out his weiner and pee anywhere. And, no, I am not being conservative; I am being more of a superstitious provincial folk who's scared of offending the unseen forces of nature by accidentally peeing on their territories, and having my manhood enchanted and magically turned into something huge. WAIT A MINUTE!!! On second thought, with that premise, I think I should start peeing all over the place!!! Hmmmm.... ;)

Almost two more hours later, we caught a glimpse of the gigantic lion's head. Aaah...Baguio at last. We didn't bother getting off and getting touristy by taking photos. We were too damned starved to even do anything but imagine the taste of freshly cooked food touching our mouths.

Soonest we arrived at the city proper, we drove to Burnham Park and found ourselves pointing at countless things to be barbecued: tilapia, eggplants, and pork ribs, together with a mango and fish paste salad. Yum.

Needed to pee. Thank God for clean public toilets...or at least that's what the humongous signages claimed to be. When I reached the door, I was stopped by a local not-too-old lady and asked me in her booming voice--which I hardly understood the first time she said it--"Ihi lang o tae?" That did it for me. I almost burst out laughing and peeing on myself once those words were out of her mouth. Apparently, it's two pesos and fifty centavos more expensive to do number two. Just for the heck of it, I said "tae po" in a similarly rambunctious voice, and proceeded inside...with approximately eight sheets of single-ply toilet paper in my hand. I think I may have sprayed pee on the floor because I still couldn't stop giggling like a hyena...and the huge posters/signages inside proclaiming "Ihi lang: P2.50; Tae:P5" did not help alleviating the laughing fit either.

After almost an hour of driving and wedging through traffic, and being told by two or three hotels that they were fully booked (or that their prices were too much for our budget, like The Manor!), we ended up in a modest inn called Citylight. After I swiped my card, we were able to secure two twin sharing rooms. Don't even get me started on the debate that ensued on who shares the room with who...because I might get someone (heck, both of them) in trouble. Hehehehehe...

We slept for a good hour or two, and then Nolet and I hit the SM mall to climb its balcony that overlooks the whole of Baguio City. It was slightly drizzling, so the already cold weather turned even more chilly. Thank God I had the presence of mind to bring my jacket!

Another hour later, with a new boxer brief (which, I must add, was sexy...hehehe) in tow, Nolet and I walked back to the hotel...but not without passing by (which is, by the way, SO out of the way going towards the hotel!) Mc Donald's to get ice-cream. How's that for "redundant"...cold weather and ice-cream?!

An hour after we got home, we found Loony waiting for us in our hotel. Apparently, she just missed the last bus going home to Ilocos at Dagupan, and Baguio was the next best idea. We all dressed up and then hit the road to go have dinner at Camp John Hay. Since it was pretty late when we got to the camp, we only had two choices: a quaint diner called Everything Nice, and a small booth of Brothers Burger. We went for the former...and had a blast with their tea, which all needed at least 95 degrees of quite-boiling water to taste wonderful.

After a couple more pictures and laughters and walks inside the camp, we decided 'twas time for a drink. We went to this place, which was supposedly "the happening place" according to my friends Alvin and JP, who I SMS'd earlier to ask which place we should hang out in, the Nevada Square. The most interesting bar we saw, i.e. with the rowdiest crowd, the friendliest-looking pack, and the hippest music, was called we settled in one of the tables right outside it, and started drinking away. Three or four bottles of beer and a pitcher of Mindoro Slide later, Carissa and I (and later on, Nolet, too) went inside to dance. After all, Pussycat Dolls' "Dont'cha" was playing incessantly and everybody and their mothers were dancing like there was no tomorrow.

Inside, the devil in me started squirming out of my persona. I instantly scanned the place for a ledge or something like it. There was no fucking ledge!!! I pulled two chairs together, stood up by the big speakers, and then started dancing madly on my makeshift ledge. Five minutes later, the strobe lights were stopping and focusing on me...and the other people that made their way to my makeshift ledge. There was one lady named Nicole, a cross-dresser with no name, and a boy named Arman (haha!). With Carissa and Nolet just below me dancing like crazy, too, we literally stole the attention from everyone...including the bar manager's. He gave me his card, with a promise that the next time we are back in Baguio, he'll reserve a table inside for us...and that hopefully, by the time we get back, he'll have a real ledge and pole for me to dance on. HAHAHA. There goes my next career!

Went home at past three...only to leave the hotel again to meet up with someone. Let's just say that I had to spend the night at their place and didn't come back to my friends until 9 in the moring, when they almost sent a search party for me. Yes, Nolet, thanks for the advice of wearing my new underwear to the post-clubbing date. ;)

The next morning was a blur. But the highlight of that next day was the lunch buffet at O Mai Khan where our stomachs almost literally burst (thanks, too, to the fresh strawberry shakes!!!). Whose stomach wouldn't, what with at least three helpings of Mongolian!!! The funniest part of the day, however, was when Loony gave me a hard look (as we were walking to the car) and blurted out nonchalantly, "Ben, you have a really nice body...but you don't have an ass!" I almost slapped her. WTF?!! That was what I got for telling her that her old Nokia 6210 was an ugly-ass phone. Now THAT was what I call sweet revenge...she hit me where it really hurts. HAHAHAHA.

Since we were really exhausted, we decided to go to Burnham Park...TO SLEEP in the car. While Nolet was busy shopping at the flea market, Carissa, Edwin and I were "busy" sleeping in the car. Loony already left to catch her bus back to Ilocos.

When we woke up, we went back with Nolet to do our shopping at the flea market. They bought loads of fresh veggies, to my dismay ('cuz I couldn't really cook in my condo, as we do not have a working exhaust fan). So I just contented myself with the fresh fruits, cheap cashmere-like fabrics and comforters, and with the dozen white Calla Lilies that I got...for TEN fucking pesos!!!

Went to The Mansion next. Took touristy photos. Then moved to Mines View. More touristy photos. And then decided that we'll just pass the traffic by staying a wee bit longer in Baguio. Went to SM again and had dinner at Gerry's Grill where we, as expected, binged yet again. After a series of burps, we hit the road and bid Baguio goodbye.

Slept pretty much during the journey going down to the city that gave me the depression spell not more than five days ago...but this time, feeling more recharged, more happy, and feeling more blessed that I've had a great time with great friends.

Pagudpod or Panglao, anyone?

Friday, November 4, 2005

The Big C

It ain't Cancer, you moron. It's Commitment.

Is it just me or is commitment such a scary word? (See, even my keyboards agree as I typed that! I just got the nastiest static electrocution ever since I came back from Vegas...)

OK. OK. It ain't as if it's such a horrendous thing that sends shivers up people's spines just by the mere mention of the's just that these days, commitment seems to be, well, shady. These days, it's either you're a commitment-phobic or a commitment-manic freak...and either way, it's not looking too good.

I was recently told that I was "too nice", "too good to be true", that I was "too sweet, it's getting nauseating" (yes, folks. Somebody slap whoever told me that...before I beat you to it)...and only because I wasn't the commitment-phobic type. I mean, come on. I'm not getting any fuckin' younger. So, what's wrong with wanting to finally commit to someone?

Funny how in the somehow distant past, I've been totally freaked out at the idea of being "tied" to someone, that a relationship was your life sentence, and not to mention a sure way of admitting to yourself that you'll be having sex with the same person for the rest of your life. Bummer. And now, I'm Mr. Commitment. How freaky is that?

So, there are people like me: the I-gotta-have-you-I’m-not-getting-any-younger commitment freaks. And then there are the meatheads who just don’t do commitment…ever.

My previous business colleague and good friend Vicki dated a fellow Ateneo alumni a couple of months ago. She has never had a boyfriend since she broke up with her boyfriend of ten years, Hans, who is now in Switzerland pursuing his MBA. She would date occasionally but found nothing special with these dates (or at least nothing like what she and Hans had)…until Mitch came in the picture. Mitch was a blind date, set up almost unplanned by our friend Rhett. He was a Pre-Divinity major for some time until he realized that he did not want to become a priest, and thus shifted to Economics. And although—as they discovered later—they were classmates in college on some Management subjects, it was only when Rhett set them up that they were able to take notice of each other.

After barely three weeks of dating, Vicki introduced him to our group. This was something. She never introduces a date to us unless he’s got to be something special. So when we finally decided to meet up—‘twas in a restaurant in Rockwell; Vicki, Mitch, his friends Martin and Rose, me, my friends Rhett, Raymond, Jason, Mike, and their boyfriends/girlfriends Ethan, Alfred, Mia, and Joseph—the brouhaha was killing us all. And as if my queer friends’ occasional (and dare I say dopey) blurting out of their “How far have you gone, guys?” question wasn’t enough, they were bombarded with questions like “What’s your anniversary date?”, “Is he a good kisser?”, or “Dammit, do we hear wedding bells, then?” Only for us to be disappointed by being told that they are just dating, still getting to know each other, and “taking things slow”. Yeah right…or at least, that was what everyone else said. But we let them be.

And after more than three months of “just dating” and “taking things slow”, I finally pulled Vicki by her hair and extorted the truth from her. What she told me paralyzed me from the neck up. She and Mitch were still in that phase. And, what’s worse, she was so ready for a commitment…but Mitch wasn’t. This, she found out when, in their most recent conversation, she asked him where their dating was going to lead to…or if 'twas even going somewhere. In fairness to Vicki, she’s been everything but a nag in terms of going steady or exclusively dating. But three months was just such a long time to “just” date. At least that’s what I think, too.

So in their last where-is-this-leading-to talk, Mitch said those classic “I just want to be sure”, “I’m not sure if I’m ready”, “I still want to get to know you more”, and “Let’s take things slow” lines. With those lines recounted to me by Vicki over a Tall Chai Latte in Greenbelt, I slammed a paperback copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You” on her lap and told her to stop and smell the not-so-sweet-smelling, almost-wilting flowers: Mitch was not THAT into her as she was into him.

And, oh, here’s the killer: as they were having that talk, Mitch kept referring to commitment as “the ‘C’ Word”. What C? Coward? Cad? Craven? Childish? Chicken? Crazy. That’s what I say it is.

Commitment. What’s so scary about it? Fine. People like me are bizarre in wanting commitment so soon. But we’re just seizing the moment…living in the now. After all, getting to know the man or woman of your dreams can be done when you’re both already in the relationship. It’s not like there’s an irrevocable contract you have to sign prior to committing, that you can’t part with when you realize somewhere in the middle that you aren’t meant for each other. For crying out loud, even science says that you can never be too certain of something until you keep experimenting, making mistakes, learning, and unlearning from the experiences.

Now, are you saying that we more of a freak for wanting to be with someone, giving ourselves to him/her, and committing to a (hopefully) lasting relationship, that is, compared to those who are mortified of the idea of spending the rest of their lives with someone other than their lonely selves?

Ah. No-brainer question, ain’t it?

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's My Wedding And I'll Cry If I Want To

(delayed post from 10.16.05)

First off, OK. It's not MY wedding. And it really goes "It's my party..."...but then again, ain't a wedding a party, too? You just wait 'til you read about this wedding.

October 15. It was the usual Saturday in my life: waking up at 10am, begrudgingly going down the stairs to do my customary hundred and so sit-ups and crunches (which, God knows haven't done anything to my abs), having my milk and cereals, going down on all fours in the toilet to scrub the tiles white with Tilex before actually showering, and then leisurely dressing up to hit the mall to work out at Gold's Gym and then window shop.

Whoa. Wrong Saturday. Reality check. Let's do that again.

October 15. Woke up at 6:15am. No sit-ups/crunches, no milk and cereals, no Tilex. Just one quickie shower with no leisurely dressing up, and most certainly no gym or window shopping. With the Customer Delight workshop (aka immersion) at 8:30am, I quickly stuffed my white Banana Rep long sleeved shirt, my two dollar blue and green striped silk tie, and my cheap ass off-the-rack suit into my garment bag. I dashed out the condo. I had a seminar to teach and a
wedding to host. Busy, busy, busy.

At 4:15pm, I regretfully left the workshop, what with the more important part of it just getting brought into focus. But my call time at The Orchidarium, where the reception was to be held, was at 5pm. With my garment bag in tow, I hailed the cab and was off to Roxas Boulevard. I had plenty of time to rehearse and get jiggy at the venue.

Or so I thought. Upon reaching Quirino Boulevard, I was flabbergasted to find out that the entire stretch of Roxas Boulevard was closed--without any advisory--because of a fucking anniversary concert-party by Channel 23. With all the detours that we had to do, the wrong turns, and the God-I'm-going-to-bitchslap-the-cab-driver-pretending-to-be-Mister-Know-it-all, I reached the venue at 5:30pm. Thankfully, the wedding entourage was still having their photo session at the San Agustin Church, so that bought me more time to get used to the place, the coordinators, the DJs, and the early guests.

When cocktails was served, I opened by welcoming the guests to the venue, introduced myself, and told them, "This is so-and-so's wedding reception. Please make sure you're in the right wedding." When that got the hoped for snickers, I started easing out; this crowd wasn't stiff after all. Cheerio to them. Good for me.

When the couple arrived, I signaled the guests to hold on to their envelopes of live butterflies so they could release them when the bride and the groom enters the patio (of course, some of them were totally clueless about this, and so have wretchedly crushed the poor things). Immediately after my spiel about the symbolism of this butterfly ceremony, the couple entered the garden, and on my signal, the entrance way got showered by a lot of beautifully-colored butterflies and the sound of roaring applause. Ah. Off to a good start.

During dinner (and even before the program started), I was constantly told that I looked just like the older brother of the bride. And I constantly replied with a polite, "that's prolly because I'm a Gomez, too, Madam/Sir." But when I finally saw Ryan, the brother, I freaked out. He certainly looked just like me: his height, his facial structure, his smile, his eyes,his hairstyle, and even his freaking accent/voice. Freaky. This posted photo of us isn't exactly a testimony to that...but don't take my word for it; take theirs. I am now officially thinking whether I was the adopted one or Ryan...and that we could really be twins.
At least now I have a place to stay at Los Angeles next time I went to visit.

Now, going back to the "party" argument earlier.

As the principal sponsors, parents, and wedding entourage were called, every pair had a different soundtrack that they literally danced to from the entrance way down to the dance floor, while they wait for the bride and groom to complete the wedding party. From Benny Hill to A-Team to Superman to The Empire Strikes Back to Who Let the Dogs Out, the entourage built up to the bride and groom's entrance music: Theme from Rocky, i.e. Eye of the Tiger. Beat that.

High fives flew in the air as the couple joined the entourage. Now THAT was a way to usher in a bridal party.

Yes. It was their party, and they did cry when they wanted to.

That was fun. And I was a couple o' bucks richer. They're happy. I'm happy. My manager's happy. Now, wasn't that a PARTY, indeed? ;)

Terpsichorean Extraordinaire

(delayed post from 10.14.05)

Amidst the pandemonium going on in the office, what with the Customer Delight workshop rollout on full blast, I received an SMS from my events hosting manager, JP. He had invites to the 16th anniversary of the Illustrado Restaurant in Intramuros, Manila for that evening. From his perspective, this was a good opportunity to introduce me to the events management circle (since I do hosting and entertainment [see my biz card]).

From mine, it was a perfectly good chance to unwind from all the workshop preparations. So I left the office at 6pm pronto to meet up with him and two other friends, Rica and Martin, at Starbucks.

A couple of minutes later, we were in JP's SUV traversing the thankfully-relaxed EDSA. About 30 minutes later, we got to the place. It was a warm night, and since the venue was held outside in the garden, the guests were profusely sweating, but nevertheless seemed to be having fun.

The event was cleverly planned. Since it was the 16th anniversary, everything came in 16's: 16 hors d'oeuvres, 16 wine varietals, 16 main courses, 16 soups, 16 desserts, and games and entertainment every 16 minutes or so. How witty.

Halfway through the night, in between my sipping of Merlots, devouring of Paella, and nibbling of Raclette, cultural performers were ushered in to do a series of Polynesian dances. The dancers started off with a Hawai'ian exhibition dance where the men were juggling and twirling batons that were on fire on both ends (I have seen actual Hula in Hawai'i and Guam...and I can say that these Pinoy performers were really good). It was followed by Tahitian dancers and other performers that made you reminisce of the good Hawai'i Five-O days.

When they finished performing, the hostess of the evening, a young daughter of the restaurant owners, announced that there were going to be games, and that to start the series of games and revelries, a Polynesian dancing contest was in order. The young ladies quickly went to the crowd and grabbed unwilling gentlemen to join the included.

As if the thought of being made to dance in front of anonymous
alta sociedad people (well, plus one of my company's CEO's was there also...promising me that he would video the whole thing and MMS it to my boss) wasn't enough, the unwilling contestants (well, there were about two of them who were so much willing it totally showed on their faces that they were faking consternation) were made to wear grass skirts and hold pom-poms. I was contestant number four of six. Great. So not my lucky number. Hurrah for that.

As the three were already dancing and people were merely half-cheering, I said to myself, "Fuck it. I'm totally a freeloader tonight, might as well work for my food!!!" My turn came...and as if on cue, Hawai'i Five-O started bellowing on the speakers. That and the glasses of reds did it for me. When the two ladies with no bones at the waist and ribs ( should see them's hypnotic and salivatory) came to flank me, I gave them the performance of my life. My years of social dancing, street jazzing, tae-boing, aero-kickboxing, and Ricky Martin moves were instantaneously upstaged. This, ladies and gentlemen, was my dance of the millennium. Nyahahahahaha!

When the sixth contestant was finished, the hostess announced that the winner will be judged and declared by virtue of the audience's applause. Still huffing-and-puffing from my performance level moves and chitchatting with the boneless ladies behind me, I went towards stage center when my number was a thunderous applause. The fifth and the sixth didn't even bother going to the front. I won the damned contest, still hysterically laughing my ass off. And as the "King of Polynesia", I was made to wear a headress made of tea leaves, to complement my grass skirt...for the overall Hawai'ian look. With me in the middle, the speakers blared yet another round of Polynesian dance, to which all the sixteen boneless, hypnotic, salivatory ladies started dancing around me in a huge circle...replete with bumping of their hips and asses on my...drumroll...crotch. I wondered: are all Kings of Polynesia impotent or have crushed balls as a consequence of this ceremonial dance?

With a loot bag in my hand, I strutted back to our bar table. People were congratulating me and so I stayed in character by giving them my beaming smile and graciously thanking them for their kindness. Rolly, our company CEO told me that he has already MMS'd Boni a video/photo of my performance. Great.

Now, here's the one that cracked me up big time: the owner/manager of the Polynesian dance troupe asked me if I would be interested in joining their touring team. NYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

If you'd excuse me, I still have to have my new grass skirt fitted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In the Palm of My Hand

Ten reasons why I should buy the new Palm TX:

10. I'm depressed.
09. I deserve it...or I think I do.
08. It should miraculously fix my chaotic life(style).
07. Wi-Fi and a big screen. That's HUGE.
06. 13th Month Pay and wedding hosting fees.
05. It's SO handsome that perhaps it will make me more handsome, too.
04. Ella and I want it BAD we'd turn into Tweety Hyde if we don't get it.
03. My Paypal has a fund just enough for it.
02. It's so whooo-hoooo! Woof! Woof! Awoooooo!
01. Because I said so.


Monday, October 17, 2005

4Ts: Totally Trivial Tidbits Today

Last Sunday, I was just killing time and watching reruns of Band of Brothers on my DVD player. It got totally lackadaisical at a certain point and I decided to just open my mail, sort through unread/filed messages, and trash unwanted forwards. Then the rain started pouring like hell just as I was pouring myself a glass of shiraz and slicing a sinful helping of Black Forest. Perfect for being even lazier than lazy-afternoon.

To complement the leisureliness of the afternoon, I decided to indulge my friend Dennis on his, uhm, survey. I just call it the Purposeless Juvenile Slumbook. Read on.

Name: Ben
Birthday & Time: June 28, 5:45AM
Birthplace: Sta. Mesa, Manila
Current Location: Makati, Philippines
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Jet black
Height: 5' 10” (OK. I'm like 0.00005in short of 10" Dammit.)
Right Handed or Left Handed: Right
Your Lineage: Pure Pinoy Dad, 3/4 Spanish Mom
The Shoes You Wore Today: Adidas sneakers
Your Weakness: Perfect set of teeth
Your Phobia: Spiders bigger than a quarter, church-side cemeteries
Your Perfect Pizza: Pepperoni, no anchovies please
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year: Start construction of my 5-door rental apartment
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger: Nge
First Thought Waking Up: "Ohshit, I'm late."
Your Best Physical Feature: My eyes...or smile. Dunno. You tell me. Your Bedtime: Before 2am
Your Most Missed Memory: Riding my road bike by the beach
Where did you go to College: University of the Philippines

Pepsi or Coke: Neither. I'm Diabetic!!!!
MacDonalds or Burger King: Can't I have a Whattaburger???
Single or Group Dates: Single
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Tazo Mint Tea
Chocolate or Vanilla: Choclit if it's dessert. Vanilla if it's Designer Whey/Protein Shake
Cappuccino or Coffee: Coffee. Brewed.

Do you Smoke: Quit almost four years ago
Do you Swear: These days, a couple of times. Haha.
Do you Sing: Yes
Do you Shower Daily: Twice or thrice a day
Have you Been in Love: Hmmm...rhetorical question?
Do you want to get Married: Not seriously considering it right now
Do you belive in yourself: Yeah
Do you get Motion Sickness: Nope...unless it's MAJOR turbulence
Do you think you are Attractive: I'd like to think so. ;)
Are you a Health Freak: Now that I'm ageing, I am
Do you get along with your Parents: Yep
Do you like Thunderstorms: I oddly find it soothing
Do you play an Instrument: Guitar, keyboards, flute (just a bit)

In the past month have you Drank Alcohol: Yeah
In the past month have you Smoked: Nope
In the past month have you been on Drugs: Nah-ah
In the past month have you gone on a Date: I'm a serial dater.
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos: Nope, but I finished a big-ass pack of ChocNut!
In the past month have you eaten Sushi: Yeah, baby!!!
In the past month have you been on Stage: Yes
In the past month have you been Dumped: Hmmm...kinda. Damn.
In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping: Haven't tried. But I'm considering it.

Ever been Drunk: Major. Blowing like a mad man
Ever been called a Tease: Always
Ever been Beaten up: Nope
Ever Shoplifted: Nope. Too scared shit of getting caught. Haha

How do you want to Die: In ecstasy. LOL
What do you want to be when you Grow Up: Good Lord, I'd like to hope I'm all grown up!
What country would you most like to Visit: Europe and Africa. My next destinations.

In a Boy/Girl..
Favourite Eye Color: Hazel
Favourite Hair Color: Any, as long as they ain't too loud
Short or Long Hair: As long as it looks clean
Height: Tall enough as to not look awkward when we're together
Weight: Not too thin, not too huge
Best Clothing Style: Preppy with a twist...or corporate
Number of CDs I own: Oh God...I dunno. A thousand plus?
Number of Piercings: One pair
Number of Tattoos: Zilch. I WANT ONE!!!!
Number of things in my Past I Regret: I'd rather not sulk and regret...I'd like to think I've learned from them.

Now, wasn't that fun? ;) I say, you go pour yourself a tall glass of red--with or without the Black Forest; and then email me back with your own reply. Will I read it? Hell no. Or maybe I will.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stitches and Burns

Thank God for small favors: big needles with a couple of cc's of anesthesia, endless supplies of ice for cold compress, lots of milligrams of sedatives and painkillers, underwear underneath obscenely-cut hospital patient gowns, gourmet hospital food, and the comfort of loving friends.

Yesterday, I came out of a 46-minute surgery. It was otherwise minor, qualified for an outpatient procedure, but still I had to be confined overnight for pre-operation prep, considering that the operation will be at 9 the following morning.

Two days ago, just a few hours after I published the Death by Overtime blog, where I tried to desperately look splendidly fine-looking in spite of the harrowing thought of teaching seminars I wasn't much a crackerjack of, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning (at 3:25am, to be exact) with an excruciating pain in my mid-section. I tried all sorts of relief I could imagine--homemade milk of magnesia, forced defecation, Chinese-meets-Western ointments and teas, book of prayers, involuntary heaving, accupressure, and passing of gas--but nothing worked. Right when I got to the office, in between outbursts of shooting pain in my visceral section, I formed two theories of the possible culprits: (1) that bottle of extra-spicy Spanish-style sardines (with wheat bread) that I had for dinner (which was pretty imaginable); and (2) the anxiety from being unprepared for a series of consequential training programs that have been dauntlessly plotted into my now-multicolored and virtually cramped calendar (which was more likely).

As I was still iffy to have heavy intakes of food, I agreed to meet up with Manolet to have a hot bowl of soup inGreenbelt for lunch. Half an hour later, the same bowl of soup was staring back at me...from the toilet bowl. With a "Shit, I seriously need to haul my brown ass to Makati Med right this very minute and admit myself into my small Ps 1,950.00/day private room" thought in my head, I shutdown my PC, lugged all my stuff--replete with a Customer Service book, which I have been intermittently reading for a seminar, my UK Men's Health magazine, and my legions of forms for PhilHealth and the company hospitalization insurance--and checked myself in room 453 and snoozed for a good three minutes.

Barely three minutes into my forty winks, the nurse came in for my orientation of the facilities and the rules and regulations of the hospital (e.g. that if I wanted to charge my mobile phone, I will have to go up the tenth floor!). She advised me later on that there were more people coming. And true enough, in almost less than ten minute intervals, my door opened to legions of hospital doctors, nurses, orderlies and staff: for my remote control, my complimentary bottle of mineral water, my first, second, and third blood pressure, breathing and temperature check, the rounds of doctors, and the dreaded blood test. I finally got to drift to sleep at around 4pm, only to be roused from it by the incessant ringing of the room telephone. It was a lady named Rosanna who was telling me that my company was not accredited by the admitting physician...ergo, that I was there, technically, unofficially. And since she neither comprehended a single word I was saying--although spoken in basic, unsophisticated, layman's English AND Tagalog--nor even offered to just phone my company to settle this obvious misunderstanding, I had to do all the phone calls and settling myself. Geesh. Thank God I was a patient for minor surgery and not cardiac arrest!

My friends started to come in between my series of tests and x-rays and being wheeled in and out of my hospital room. Yes, Sheila, you were the very first one. And the doctor thought you were my wife from how we were touching each other when he came in with his staff (whose namesake was Rob)! Hilarious, eh? At half past ten, the last five of my visitors came to say goodnight. Since I was on NPO (or nothing per orem/by mouth) after midnight, I practically begged my companion Jeffrey to just intravenously feed the darned instant capuccino into me at around 1am. He didn't budge. Damn. He was already sleeping and lightly snoring on the couch while I stayed fully awake, watching endless reruns of TV shopping ads (which used to always put me to sleep). Finally fell asleep at half past three, with images of belly fats melting away because of the wonders of a daily 50-minute use of the Spa Belt. I should get one of those darned things soon.

The morning nurse Julie woke me up for my ultrasound. I wasn't even able to take a shower! Still wearing the same clothes from the previous night, I went to put on my hospital gown and got wheeled out of my room, into the elevator packed with passengers looking at me questioningly (and even one teasing me about my gown, to which I teased back, "there's really nothing underneath this flimsy gown"; that shut her up), and into the ultrasound room. I was told there by nurse Mitch that my pancreas seem to be hiding from her instruments, that my tests would cost Ps 3,300.00, that I should stop drinking and eating "fun" foods because my cholesterol level isn't exactly impressive, and that I was lucky my prostates are still in tiptop shape (Can I get a Whohoo?).

I was wheeled into the operating room right after, because I was running late for the 9am surgery schedule. Changed into a new green laboratory gown, and then started getting prepped by the O.R. assistant nurses, beginning with a requisite disinfecting of my mouth with isopropyl alcohol...or what tasted like it. My three doctors all came in with their sinister smiles and warm tools. Oh, I meant warm smiles and sinister bad; must be the anesthesia still jetéing in my nervous system. Four pokes of oh-so-painful and oh-so-thick and oh-so-warm anesthesia and barely four minutes later, I couldn't feel my lower lip. Next thing I knew, I was seeing (through a peep hole from the lower portion of my eye cover) streams and spurts of blood and tissue and skin cells. I was stitched up towards the tail end of the 46 minutes, and was wheeled into the recovery room. This was so reminiscent of my first operation at the Makati Med last October 2000 for a fractured and dislocated right pinkie. I will not get into the nitty-gritties, but let's just leave it at this: the condition of the fracture was aptly called "Boxer's Fracture". ;)

Although my lip felt like I was the male version of Angelina Jolie and Goldie Hawn COMBINED (dare I say Tony Ferrer???!!!), my lip looked perfectly normal. Must still be the anesthesia and its feeling of numbness that was causing that impression. With instant noodle soup dripping down my chin from my lip's inability to achieve chewing with a closed mouth, and the anesthesia starting to wear off and thus causing such a bitch of a pain, my friends started coming in again. It was going to be such a long day. And me not being able to speak in a normal way was going to be such a welcome treat for all of them. Haha.

Lunchtime and the gastroenterologist came in with good news: that I was cleared for discharge in the late afternoon, and that the pain I was getting from the day before was attributed to the clogged up intestines (read: fecal matters and acids), stress, and that I should also just infuse my diet with lots of fiber. In his own words, he said that no matter how much of a regular guy I was, was just "puno ng ebak", i.e. by those that were left over because of possible unhealthy eating regimen. Yes, I can now safely acceede that when someone tells me I'm "full of shit", I should just take that literally.

Now, armed with my antibiotics, painkillers, antacids, fibers/laxatives, mouth disinfectants, and my box of Black Forest, basket of fresh fruits, Zip-loc of Trail Mix, bottled water, and soft roll clusters, I am home. I am now lounging around sitting on my gym ball typing this blog, tearing piece-by-piece a sandwich and sipping low fat milk through a straw for breakfast, and then getting ready to watch the Shall We Dance dvd that I bought the other day.
I am going out in a while to upload this one at the internet café downstairs, and to buy more happy pills for my next few days of medicine intake. Yeah. I am a druggie.