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?