Friday, December 21, 2007

A Fine, Fine Line

Few days after Avenue Q, I still have bits and pieces of the songs playing in my it's some sort of beef strip stuck in between my teeth (o, trivia, ano ang English ng TINGA?!)...the kind that will bother you until you've successfully dislodged it from your teeth. So, there. I finally sat down, Googled the damned song lyrics and got it going in my iPod.

A Fine, Fine goes like this, sung by Katie Monster:

There's a fine, fine line between a lover and a friend;
There's a fine, fine line between reality and pretend;
And you never know 'til you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb.

There's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of time.

There's a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie;
And there's a fine, fine line between "You're wonderful" and "Goodbye."
I guess if someone doesn't love you back it isn't such a crime,
But there's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of your time.

And I don't have the time to waste on you anymore.
I don't think that you even know what you're looking for.
For my own sanity, I've got to close the door
And walk away...

There's a fine, fine line between together and not
And there's a fine, fine line between what you wanted and what you got.
You gotta go after the things you want while you're still in your prime...

There's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of time.

I recently met someone...and I think...damn, I'm finally in love. After almost a year of being in the wrong/inappropriate dating scene...I may finally be ready to throw in the towel (I know, I know, you might think that that's not the right figure of speech...but c'mon...think about it...I'm just about ready to give up...on being hopeless, so, yeah, "throw in the towel" would be just about right). Images of "The Mirror Has Two Faces" and notes of "Finally Found Someone" all of a sudden plays in my head--full orchestra and TTBB arrangement pa!

I wake up in the morning with a great big silly stupid smile on my face. I strike a giggly conversation with God, telling Him He's such a mean ole' Being, making me wait this long for the right one. And He responds by saying, "Everything in it's own time, Ben. Congratulations...your name's written on this other person's it is written in yours, too." Blagag!

The other day, I was getting ready for work, I all of a sudden had an urge to mass text my family and tell them "I love you"...and that I miss them, and will see them this Sunday for pre-Xmas gathering. My Aunt replied by saying, "Mukhang maganda gising natin, ah". She had no idea. ;-)

There really is a fine, fine line between love and a waste of your time. I'm now ready to cross over to the other side.

To you, my Mahal, they say there's two types of people in the world--those that come into your life and say, "OK, here I am"...and those that say, "Ah, there you are!"... can I just tell you--for the nth time now-- "Ah...there you are. Found ya!" =)

I'll see you tonight. I made your favorite. ;-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It Sucks To Be Me

Watched Avenue Q last night--its first rerun schedule since it first came out in Manila on September--at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater in RCBC Plaza.

There's been a lot of fuss, apparently, but I've never really gotten bitten by the bug. (Wasn't I the last soul to ever get on the Harry Potter bandwagon?!) My officemate Yayie was raving about it almost two years ago, and even gave me a copy of the soundtrack. In between balancing work and life, I never really got to listening to it...not even Internet Is For Porn. ;-)

An acquaintance I made a few months back (his name's Arthur) was likewise raving about it--like he was naman with most musicals...and was feeling downhearted when he missed the September run. He vowed to get a ticket for the December rerun (which, at the time, was still a hush-hush). He didn't get to get tickets to the show, by the way (bummer, eh?!).

So when my friend Randy texted me a month back and asked if I was interested in watching Avenue Q, I gave a tentative, not-too-enthusiastic yes...but watched it long as it wasn't too expensive (December's for spending on gifts, ya know...). We got the upper balcony for 500 bucks.

Got to our seats 10 minutes early. I told Randy we were lucky the theater wasn't as steep as when I watched Chicago in Houston, Texas. At 200 dollars, the performers were about an inch tall. For just 500 pesos and about four inches tall, I wouldn't be one to complain.

Show started just in time...some of life's little blessings. No major overture/opening kind of shit that you normally see on stage. It actually starts with a plug-type of music streaming from a corner TV set. How very gives you a general idea this early that it will be, uhm, different.

The set is so much better than the Broadway--or at least in terms of color. Avenue Q Broadway was a tad bleak, almost devoid of life. Atlantis Productions' was--how do you say it--in living color. (Gotta get those pastels onto my walls now) The lighting was right, and spots were appropriate and almost synched with the main characters performing at the time.

The music. Ah. Where do I start? "It Sucks To Be Me" is just way too close to home. At a certain age, you just can't help but think this way--you're unemployed, you're single, you're a has-been, you've wasted your college degree, the works. I am yet to meet that person who cannot relate to this song. Now, "The Internet is for Porn" takes the cake in laugh-out-loud lyrics. And seeing Trekkie Monster mime his "horn-whacking" and spilling out his "porn porn porn" lyrics was more than enough to make me roll on the floor...or what's left of where we were seated. There was a touchy-feely poignantish song, "Fine, Fine Line", where Kate Monster was feeling downhearted after being dumped by Princeton (oh, yes, puppets do that, too!). It sank in on me that I was being a little bit of a Princeton to somebody...but that it was really how it was for me/us. So, imagine me empathizing with the two damned puppets and twiddling my fingers and looking down at my feet as I felt somehow awkward. The final song, "For Now" was a truly apt way to close the show...and give everyone in the audience something good to feel about. It goes, "Don't stress, relax, let life roll off your backs. Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now!...". (And, oh, that part about "Only for now! (Sex!) Is only for now! (Your hair!) Is only for now! (George Bush!) Is only for now!"...I really wish they changed "George Bush" to "GMA". That would have brought the house down!) Oh, Oh, the Manila casts' singing of "Give Love on Christmas Day" was just...beautiful.

The cast. Hmmmmm....I'd say these people are NOT--I repeat--not humans. With their exceptional talent in multitasking, voice-changing/masking, dancing and pretending to be real Americans (ehehehehehehehe), how could they possibly be normal human beings? Felix Rivera was very refreshing. He is, after all, more than just beautiful chest and biceps (LOL). So to that bitchy fag I overheard outside the toilet complaining (and comparing Rivera to Broadway's Tartaglia) about Manila's Princeton, I say to him--in my most puppety voice, "Felix was perfect for the, Fuck you!". I never liked Rachel Alejandro. But last night was a time I threw that dislike rag out the window and embraced her--voice, boobs, hips and all. Her Lucy the Slut performance was simply fantastic. Aiza Seguerra was perfect for the Gary Coleman role. Nooooo...not because she's a has-been! Or, OK, the very least, Gary and Aiza shared some lost-childhood moments due to I believe they couldn't have gotten a better Coleman than her. (Unless it's Matet? LOL) Joel Trinidad was likewise astonishing. He really brought Trekkie Monster to life. And although the Broadway Trekkie had more funky dance moves, Trinidad gave such justice to the Manila Trekkie. (Did I say the whacking was such a turn on for most peeps? LOL) Rycharde Everley was, uhm, aiiiight. It wasn't a stellar performance, but being a legit white guy, he couldn't have given Brian's role more justice. Frenchie Dy and Teenee Chan were, in my opinion, so underutilized in the show, moreso Chan. Dy still delivers her magnificent notes and almost perfect pitch, though the rehearsed Japanese accent sort of got in the way. I would love to see more Chan singing rather than just puppeteering and speaking. All in all, the cast was great. They seemed to have bonded well prior to the show as they looked very comfortable and very, uhm, "one" with each other...whatever that means to you.

You should definitely watch it. Again, when you can. It isn't for the Manangs or pretentious holier-than-thous...Think of Sesame Street or Jim Henson Muppets having sex (ooooohhhh, yes, there IS full puppet nudity involved), cussing like truck drivers, and talking about drugs, and sex, and dumping girlfriends, and sex, and gay boys, and sex, and booze, and...oh, porn. That being said, parental discretion is totally necessary. You don't really want your 7-year olds shouting "fuck yous" at you, do you?

OK. I'm babbling. Now, where is that Avenue Q soundtrack...?

Shoo. Go now and Q for Avenue Q. (If you didn't get that, you are one stupid monster/puppet!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Get Enchanted

Get the must own musical from what's sure to be the Holiday Movie of the Year! Yes, it's a musical. Even Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden sing some tunes. And, oh, did I mention it was a chick flick? Hehehehe.

Featuring Carrie Underwood's brand new single "Ever Ever After", a new single from Jon McLaughlin, and songs and score by Grammy Award Winning, Disney Legend Alan Menken and Broadway's "Wicked" Composer Stephen Scwartz
Jon McLaughlin's song, "So Close" is a very beautiful, captivating song. A must-have CD single!

1. True Love's Kiss - Amy Adams
2. Happy Working Song - Amy Adams

3. That's How You Know - Amy Adams

4. So Close - Jon McLaughlin

5. Ever Ever After - Carrie Underwood

6. Andalasia
7. Into the Well
8. Robert Says Goodbye

9. Nathaniel And Pip

10. Prince Edward's Search
11. Girls Go Shopping
12. Narissa Arrives

13. Storybook Ending

14. Enchanted Suite

15. That's Amore - James Marsden

Gracias Hoserpo for the down/upload! Mwah!

And, oh...did I tell you I have the whole cd??? Download it by clicking here! Enjoy!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Road to Serenity

Patience, as we were taught in Sunday School, is a [cardinal] virtue--in the same neighborhood as justice, prudence, fortitude, hope, faith, and charity. And as such, it necessarily intimates a certain extent of moral excellence or goodness or righteousness. Individuals possessing this virtue have nothing but serenity, a sense of calm and tranquility.

Patience, however, like all virtues, is like a commodity or belonging--we usually start with an abundance of it, but it is likewise prone to being exhausted or squandered if we do not conserve or nurture it. It is likewise similar to a fuse wherein a certain level or strength of force can trigger certain buttons.

Just how much patience does one need to live by? Until how much can a person try and understand, condone and forgive a wrongdoer who repeatedly errs, violates or misbehaves? Up to which point can one take the blows and consequently decide to throw in the towel and summarily quit? Like commodities, is there some sort of inventory of its availability, wherein one can re-stock a cupboard or pantry when it goes dangerously low? Like supplies that are requisite stocks in a ration, how low can you go?

I remember growing up being taught by mother--whether directly/consciously or indirectly/subconsciously--the very virtue of patience. Although we were never exactly impoverished, my family was never rich financially. We had three (sometimes more) meals a day, a good roof above our heads, and decent clothing...but never those fancy cars or brand-name/haute coutre clothing or leisurely trips to Europe or extravagant parties or top-of-the-line gadgets and the likes. We were raised to work hard for the money [insert Donna Summer song here..hehehehe], for whatever we have our eyes and hearts set on. We were taught that nothing was served on a silver platter--or at least not to us--and that everything comes with a price that is not necessarily with a peso or dollar (or whatever currency) sign...and such price can only be attained or paid for by hard work and industry. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from more well-off cousins in the United States, and to be able to buy my own brand-new clothes (or toys or whathaveyous), I needed to work for it by, say, bringing packed lunch to school instead of eat at restaurants in order to save money; or work part-time at a Jollibee branch in Morayta one summer in order to sustain myself for the entire summer in Manila.

What came as a by-product of that kind of hard work was an inner patience that not only made me (and I am confidently assuming, my sister as well) patient in terms of financial struggles, but also in terms of patience with other people's shortcomings or even downright meanness. Ask my highschool and college friends to describe the state of my patience and they will, in chorus, say that it takes a lot to make me mad or lose my temper. Even a couple of years ago--right when I was at the height of my yoga frenzy--a whole room could be in strife or everybody around me could be at each other's throats, but I would still have my calm, focused and laid-back composure intact.

Up until a year or so ago, I think my fuse got worn out. Years of forgiveness, shrugging off misfortunes, bitterly looking the other way, and on-end "It's OK's", I think I snapped. My Anger Management sessions with life coach Carlos Aguilar, Jr., to date, ranks as the sterling example of such realization about the current state of my patience. I have been bombarded with a deluge of setbacks and disappointments (dare I say "catastrophes"??) in the last year or so. Had quite a string of rejections (overseas job posts, gigs at hosting or commercials and print, with prospective "promising" dates, etc.), loss, ailments, problems and heartaches...all of which did not seem to promise a better day. There were moments when it felt as if, while in this dark tunnel, the only light glimmering at the end of the tunnel were actually the headlights of an oncoming ten-wheeler truck that was about to hit me head-on. It had been one failure after the other...and no amount of crying in one corner of the church or imploring with God or endless repetitions of the Serenity Prayers could appease my grieving heart.

I was at my lowest of low when I caught a certain scene from the Steve Carrell-Morgan Freeman movie Evan Almighty. While it wasn't all that laugh-out-loud, a moment in the movie will stay with me forever. It was a truly defining moment that anyone in my--or even worse--state of mind and emotions could use. In a scene at a restaurant, where Freeman (a.k.a. God) was disguised as a wait staff who can anticipate your order or heart's desire (go figure), he asks Evan's wife: "Do you think that God gives us patience when we pray for it, or does he give us opportunities to be patient? And when we ask for courage, does he give us courage or give us opportunities to be courageous?" BAM! I felt as though my heart thudded in the wrong rib, and all of a sudden stopped beating, made me momentarily catch a huge helping of my breath...and started welling up in my eyes and uncontrollably sobbed and sniffed and heaved alternatingly. I knew right away: yes, these are all tests. These roadblocks are merely opportunities to make me exercise, practice, and nurture some more my patience. For what is patience worth if everything was in accord with what's perfect? Or, as I have customarily placed as my auto-signature in my Gmail account: "You will never appreciate the light until you've experienced the darkness" How could I have missed that?

At this crossroad in my life, I hold on to that Evan Almightly scene, as I repetitively hum India.Arie's song "This, Too, Shall Pass". God-willing, I will pass His test with flying colors.

Everyday Manners for Dummies

Have you ever felt victimized by people with no manners...or maybe have forgotten about them? I know I have been. Two in a row.

I was with a common friend Nel about two weeks ago. We were having our usual short brewed Americano at Starbucks. We were chitchatting and having some palaver that we'd normally do. Somewhere in the middle of our musings about finance and old dates and grade school memories, a friend of his came by--a badminton buddy. So they started their hi's and hello's and the palaver of their own, while I was there sitting and sipping my cup of coffee, staring at people passing by the coffee shop. All along I was thinking, Gee, I wonder if Nel remembers that I'm seated beside him and his friend...and will introduce me to him. Apparently, I got my answer to my musing...when the friend came, did their business, and left without being introduced to the warm-bodied homo sapiens seated not more than 3 inches from where they were. I was completely miffed. I mean, I know I was prolly being such a prissy John Robert Powers faculty member guy, but after thorough processing (yes, sorta-kinda like a Microsoft Visio-Tech flowchart format) of what transpired in that last five minutes, I realize that I was a victim of the lack of manners by a companion. I mean, if the roles were reversed, I would have--right off the bat--said, "Oh, by the way, so-and-so, this is [my friend ~ which means this modifier is utterly negligible]." (I won't even get started on the right means of introducing which to who--like if one's older, one's a lady, or if he's being introduced to a big group, etc.) Of course, there are certain recently-getting-common situations where we tend to forget the names of who they are--thus rendering us unable to introduce them without feeling embarrassed that we cannot remember their names (I do, however, use the technique, "Geesh, you know, it's one of those days when I can't seem to remember anything. What is your name again?", which usually works, and is really respectful)...but that still does not give us any reason not to introduce people within the vicinity, most especially if we intend to converse rather lengthily with them. Just freaking introduce your companion to the other person, and get it over and done with...and if that other person knows equally well his manners, he wouldn't even wait for you to introduce him, but will actually extend his right hand and introduce himself--thus saving you the trouble of struggling to remember his name. Certainly no excuses. Really.

Next violator: Gonzalo ("G"). I was having a photoshoot for Ayala Malls' 2008 calendar (that has got its own story later!) at the Serendra area in the Fort, so I made plans with G to meet up for perhaps dinner or my shoot starts at 530pm and would finish approximately at 7ish. So it was pretty much settled two days prior to the shoot...with a caveat that we should "text-text" in case schedules get changed. That was totally fine with me. So, a few hours before the shoot, I get a text that G was "just going to pass by and say hello"...and later still that he was still at the Glorietta mall (oh, yeah, I have yet another story about that mall later), waiting for his friend. So I said, "It's OK. I'm just wrapping up with the shoot" and for him to take his time, as it was still early anyway. So when the shoot finishes, I asked him, "What na?" He replies saying he was going to a party (actually, "crashing" was his term), and that he was going to be with his friends at the Serendra. I was a teenie-weenie-bit bamboozled; where did the friends start to get in the picture? Talk about schedules and plans getting major fucked-up. So when it was already 845pm, when my co-models and the crew were all gone, I phoned G to tell him that I'm headed home myself because I was already alone and had nothing better to do. He said that he'll be right with me in 15 minutes and that I should just wait for him, if that's alright. So, fine. I stayed and waited by the fountain area (which, in my own opinion, is a very nice architectural structure at the center of Serendra) and listened to Neil Gaiman's Stardust audiobook in my iPod. about 20 minutes later, G arrives. True to his word, he says hello and after introducing me to his friends--there were three others--his bodily movement suggested he wanted to leave already. So when he asked me rather perfunctorily if I wanted to join the dinner, I just declined and said I couldn't because I won't feel comfortable crashing their private dinner plans...and then uncomfortable silence. After a cough, a shift, and another uncomfortable ruffling of my hair, we bid each other goodbye. I sat a while back on the somehow comfortable concrete benches at the fountain area, now only half-hearing Neil Gaiman chatter...and thought to myself, "What was wrong with that picture?" I just thought about it: wasn't it good manners to show reciprocity in terms of valuation of time? I mean, in that particular case, the least G could have done was sit with me for the amount of time that he made me wait...or at least half of it. Seriously, I felt really miffed yet again. Thank God that that ugly incident was superceded by a totally wonderful date at UCC Coffee Shop at 6750 with a very wonderful and well-mannered person. Bitch fit averted.

In Service Plus, the very first Key Principle is to "Maintain and Enhance Self-Esteem", i.e. to make the customer (or in my cases above, the other person) feel important. That, in my assessment, is the very essence of good manners in terms of being with other people--endeavoring that the other person does not lose face or feel unsubstantial. It is totally about putting yourself in their shoes and realizing what repercussions or reactions your maneuvers would elicit. And not thinking ahead that way, does not just make you a person with no manners but also a generally insensitive or plainly unkind individual.

Would somebody please start distributing Emily Post's good manners book soon?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dyosko-day, Inday, Die!

If you've never heard of Inday--no, not the generic lady that Annabelle Rama refers to, but the infamous Inday of SMS frenzy--then you haven't checked your phone's inbox in the last two months or so (and having said that, where the hell have you been?!).

Inday. To the best of my knowledge--which, really, isn't much!--I understand that this name has a Visayan origin. Contracted usually as "Day", this is a name that, for some peculiar reason, has been affixed to household help (aka maids [which term, I personally refuse to use to refer to our "maids" in the province; "katulong" for me naturally translates to "helper" and not "servant", as how some people would treat theirs]), particularly the ones of Visayan descent. This is just as applicable as calling a little girl "Ne" (for Nene), a little boy "Toy" (for Totoy), and Inday's counterpart as "Dong" (for Dodong). Don't even get me started with names that are such Pinoy "staples" such as Bong, Baby, and Jun (or Junjun)...

Anyway, as Inday is almost always attached to a female household helper, it is yet another automatic pigeonholing that Indays are almost always naive--primarily because they are almost never schooled, very new to the metropolis, and are never exposed to anything or anyone outside of their wee little sparsely-populated barrios in the boondocks of Tralala County (Damn, this has got to be the most prejudiced, assholic, stereotyped blog entry I've ever made in my almost three years of blogging...and all in 58 words!). So one can just imagine the amusement (and apparent amazement) of now-millions of SMS users when Inday, an über-brainy household helper, made her debut in the lives of these SMS users.

This Inday is not your stereotype katulong. She is, as you could surmise from her statements in the now-more than a hundred variations of text messages circulating the country (and the world, thanks to international roaming [like I'd want to know about her while I'm relaxing and sailing in a gondola or bungee jumping in Bali] and forwarded emails), supposedly a college graduate with multiple degrees and even multi-lingual aptitude. Here are just some of her "scintillating" witticisms:

"Listening to the nonsense talk about someone's life is a pathetic way of entertainment. It doesn't contribute to the good of society. I hate character assassinators!"

- Reklamo ni Inday nang nachismis siya ng kapitbahay

"Nurture others with positive, truthful words, not words that hurt. It doesn't cost anything to do so. But mean what you say, and say what you mean. Do it everyday. This is one of the most obvious qualities of the most beloved people. If you cannot be generous financially, at least be generous with your words."

- Sinabi ni Inday nung di siya pinautang at pinagmumura pa ni Misis

"Stop your raucous behavior. It is bound to result in property damages and if that happens there will be corresponding punishment inflicted upon you."

- Hiyaw ni Inday habang pinagbabawalan ang mga bata na huwag malikot

"Despite my early repose, my subconscious persistently delivered a montage of harrowing images of absolute destitution causing beads of bodily fluids to break out from my epidermis resulting in the constant interruption of a satisfying sleep.

- Sagot ni Inday kung bakit sya tinanghali ng gising

"Off you go! Under no circumstance this house would relent to such unabashed display of vagrant destitution."

- Sigaw ni Inday habang pinapaalis ang makulit na pulubi sa gate

"The dwindling resource of hydrogen2 and oxygen present, coupled with the stable amount of precise heat in the thermal environ of the vessel, resulted in the premature hydration of the 'Oryza Sativa,' hence the calefaction factor was rendered lost and wandering when the algid formation came about."

- Sagot ni Inday kung bakit hilaw ang kanin

"What the...??????????????"

- Speechlessness ni Inday nang maligaw sa Chinatown habang bumibili ng herbal medicine

Drunken shrimp and blue lobster meat with caviar served with Milagrosa rice (red variety) and apricot sauce; Vegetables in balsamic vinegar splashed with extra virgin olive oil; Lychee and peach salad with sour cream topped with lemon zests...

- Baon na inihanda ni Inday para kay Jun Jun sa daycare

"Physical stress and excessive work may result to serious damage to one's body. It is therefore essential that once in a while, we take a break from our usual routine to replenish our lost energy."

- Sagot ni Inday kay Misis nang ayaw syang payagang mag day-off

The list goes on. She's even got French and Spanish statements (which where, later on, discovered to be inacccurate almost word-for-word translations, mind you), politically fired-up comments, love-struck messages (to and from her horde of admirers--the Manong guard, Dodong the driver, a gardener, and even Kuya [her employer]), catty-remarks to her detractors (her arch-nemesis, Ederlyn, primarily) and most recently, an irate counter-denigration to ABC's Desperate Housewives racial slur. For crying out loud, she's even got her own blog!

I know a lot of people are profoundly nuts over Inday and her supposedly hilarious comic statements. But really, after a certain point, even great stand-up comedians know when to stop. I think Inday's popularity is approaching stalemate status...and whoever is perpetrating or propelling the smart-aleckness of Inday is slowly running out of witticisms, and is now merely riding on popular issues to keep Inday's head barely above water. Face it: she's not even funny anymore. And as far as I am concerned, only the huge telecoms network are the ones laughing hard.

Utang na loob, patahimikin na si Inday.

And to quote my final Inday message:

Naranasan mo na ba yung feeling na hintay ka ng hintay sa text ng taong mahal mo, na hindi mo naman alam kung mahal ka din nya?

Hirap di ba?


Lalo na kung biglang nag-beep yung phone mo, then excited mong binuksan! Hoping na siya na nga yon!

Yun pala...

Isang putanginang Inday joke lang pala.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Leaving Yesterday Behind

No. It ain't the song. It's about leaving the past behind and knowing what you want to do with your present, and where you're going to bring it.

A month or so ago, I got an email from a friend from the US and she was feeling rather homesick and lost where she's at. She said she was at a crossroad in her life and that she didn't know anymore where she's going, and whether she's happy with what's happening to her or not.

I sent her this message.

Hey you.

I know exactly how you feel about feeling lost and not really knowing how you should move on. I thought I'd share with you how I overcame that feeling.

I left the USA and came back to Manila (well, you know the "press-release" story and the real story behind that, so let's not even go there!). I'm happy here because my family and *true* friends are here. True, the salary isn't exactly as stellar as being in the US...but I guess, the higher salary there is but necessary because that's just a commensurate compensation for the time spent away from your loved ones and your comfort zone. In here I do not live fears of being "deported" or laid off or discriminated upon without due process. After all, this is MY own country.

Sweets, if you remember when you attended one of my seminars there, I said that it's all about values. Ask yourself--what do you value highest in your life? Career? Money? Stability? Family? Peace of mind? You decide based on those...and you shouldn't have any fears or remorse or regrets after that.

The Philippines ain't that bad. I'm 31, and I'm a Corporate Training manager, earning enough to sustain my moderately modest lifestyle, and nakakapag-abot pa rin sa pamilya ko, and nakakapag-save and invest pa naman. Shempre, I had to adjust my spending/purchasing habits. After all, I'm not a dollar earner anymore. But again, nasa sa iyo naman ang pag-a-adjust e. Everything can be modified, you know.

Leaving the US was the best decision I've ever done. A lot of people disagree and say I'm such an idiot, leaving all that behind. On the contrary, I don't feel any remorse. My value dictates that I should go where ever I'm happiest, sanest, and closest to my family. Those are all here in the Philippines.

I hope you find the answers to your questions.

This, Too, Shall Pass

With everything that is happening in my life right now--painful relationships, seemingly-constant rejections, ailments popping out of nowhere, problems in the family--I couldn't help but feel exhausted. My friend Alex keeps telling me that God has a reason for everything. But at this crossroad in my life, I can't help but ask myself--and Him--what is His reason for this deluge of adversities...because I really, REALLY want to know.

I was in this grim disposition when I left Bataan to go back to Manila. In the bus, I conditioned myself not to sleep the entire journey so I wouldn't have a hard time sleeping in the condo. To keep myself distracted from the 3-hour travel, I turned on my iPod and randomly selected an album to play. I landed on India.Arie's Testimony Volume 1: Life and Relationships. I haven't really listened to the whole album so I figured I should. On album shuffle mode, it started playing. The first three songs hit me hard, and I started crying--yes, again, dammit--silently. I thought I'd share these songs (lyrics and downloads [click the title to view and/or download]) so you'd know what I'm talking about...

Song 1: This, Too, Shall Pass

I achieved so much in life
But I’m an amateur in love
My bank account is doing just fine
But my emotions are bankrupt
My body is nice and strong
But my heart is in a million pieces
When the sun is shining so am I
But when the night falls so does my tears
Sometimes the beatings so loud in my heart
That I can barely tell our voices apart
Sometimes the fear is so loud in my head
That I can barely hear what God says
Then I hear a whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the angel’s whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day one day will be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass
The one that loved me the most
Turned around and hurt me the worse
I’m doing my best to move on
But the pain just keeps singing me songs
My head and my heart are at war
Cause love ain't happening the way I wanted
Feel like I’m about to break down
Can’t hear the light at the end of the tunnel
So I pray for healing in my heart
To be put back together what is torn apart
And I pray for quiet in my head
That I can hear clearly what God says
Then I hear the whisper that this too shall pass
I hear the Angels whisper that this too shall pass
My ancestors whisper that this day will one day be the past
So I walk in faith that this too shall pass
All of sudden I realize
That it only hurts worse to fight it
So I embrace my shadow
And hold on to the morning light
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
This (This) Too (Too) Shall (shall) Pass (Pass)
This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
I hear the angels whisper
that trouble don't have to last always
I hear the angels whisper
Even the day after tomorrow will one day be yesterday.
I hear my angels whisper.
I hear my angels whisper.
This too shall pass.

Song 2: Wings of Forgiveness

I just want you to know after everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
That I still love you
Had to go across the water
Just to find what was here in my heart all along
Spent so much time trying to be right
That I was dead wrong
If Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors surely I can forgive you for your passion
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
Had to run to the arms of curiosity
Just to find what was here in my life all along
I have found that the art of simplicity simply means making peace with your complexity
If Gandhi can forgive persecution surely you can forgive me for being so petty
I’m only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
I searched for romance, flowers, and affection
What I found is a lesson on what love really is
And how the game of love isn't
Bout how much you can take
But that authentic love is about how much you can give
After everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
Want you to know that I forgive you
(thank you for teaching me how to give)
Want to let you know how much you changed my life
Want to let you know you taught me how to fly
And I wrote this song to tell you this
I’m better ‘cause you taught me how to give
I took a swim in the sea of guilt and misery
To find myself on an island in the middle of nowhere
In my solitude I asked in all the highest truth
And what I was told was to thine own self be true
If Jesus can forgive crucifixion then surely we can survive and find a resolution
Let’s keep it moving
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment and fly high (and fly high)
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment and fly high (and fly high)
Let’s keep it moving
Let’s shake free this gravity of commitment and fly high on the wings of forgiveness
After everything that we’ve been through I just want you to know that I still love you
Want you to know that I still love you
(let’s fly high)
Want to let you know how much you changed my life
Want to let you know you taught me how to fly
And I wrote this song to tell you this
I’m better ‘cause you taught me how to give
I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I always will love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you
I want to let you know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
I just want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you
I want to let you know I still love you
I want to let you know I still love you
Just want you to know I still love you
Just want you to know I still love you
Want you to know I still love you
And I want to let you know I forgive you

Song 3: Private Party

I’m having a private party
Ain’t no body here but me, my angels, and my guitar, singin’ baby look how far we’ve come here
I’m havin’ a private party
Learning how to love me
Celebrating the woman I’ve become, yeah
I tried to call my mother, but
She didn’t get where I was going
I called my boyfriend and he said
Call me back a little later baby
I hung up the phone, I felt so alone
Started to feel a little pity
That’s when I realized that I
Gotta find the joy inside of me
I’m gonna take off all my clothes
Look at myself in the mirror
We’re gonna have a conversation
We’re gonna heal the disconnection
I don’t remember when it started
But this is where it’s gonna end
My body is beautiful and sacred
And I’m gonna celebrate it
All my life (all my life)
I’ve been looking for (I’ve been looking for)
Somebody else (else)
To make me whole (ooo)
But I had to learn the hard way (ooo)
True love began with me (ooo)
This is not ego or vanity (ooo)
I’m just celebrating me
Sometimes I’m alone but never lonely
That’s what I’ve come to realize
I’ve learned to love the quiet moments
The Sunday mornings of life
Where I can reach deep down inside
Or out into the universe
I can laugh until I cry
Or I can cry away the hurt
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday
[Chorus] x 2

I so have to keep these songs in eternal repeat mode and help me be a better person.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

As I Am Laid to Rest

My lolo, Tata Encio (short for Florencio), was laid to rest this afternoon, amidst the intense pouring of the monsoon rain, as if the weather was lamenting with the loved ones he left behind. My lola, Nanang Goring (short for Gregoria), showed no signs of frailty save for her occasional shaking and quivering (presumably brought about by her old age and sheer exhaustion), even as she bid him her last farewell during the final viewing of Tata Encio's remains. But as Tata Encio's casket was lowered into his final resting place, Nanang Goring shed her tears and quietly whispered "Encio, pano na ako ngayong mag-isa na ako?" Being only two persons away from her, I caught those last few words, and I started crying myself...thankful for the rain that would wash it off my face soonafter. I threw in my long-stemmed white rose and whispered, "Tata Encio, buti ka pa, tapos ka na...ako, mahaba pa 'tong lalakbayin ko" and absentmindedly wiped my tears.

As we gathered for the post-funeral merienda sena, we shared fond memories of Tata Encio. I didn't bother joining in--it was a predominantly old crowd and I didn't want to risk breaking down in front of virtual strangers. I did, however, remember, albeit privately. Tata Encio is not my "first-degree" grandpa but he was the only grandfather that I knew from my mother's side (his first cousin, my Mom's father, Tatang [whose name escapes me at the moment, as we've always called him as such], passed away even before I was born). My Lolo Dadoy (short for Conrado) from my father's side was the other. I remember Tata Encio being a very generous person--he was an only child, but he acted as a father and grandfather to practically legions of nephews and grandchildren. He was never mean; he was a real kind soul who never failed to smile or made us smile when we were feeling down. He and Nanang Goring were virtually inseparable--even when going to the toilet. They would take trips together (even when they already migrated to the United States), do morning jogs together, eat meals together and also go to church service together. Theirs was a union that only death could've severed.

Now, that union is missing the other half. I can only pray for strength--both emotional and physical--as well as inner peace for Nanang Goring, as well as the rest of the loved ones that Tata Encio left behind. It is a big waste for the world to have lost yet another kind soul.

Tata Encio, heaven has sent its angels down and given you wings. Do look out for us down here. You will always be in our hearts.

* * *

Last Will and Testament, Signed Ben Redulla

It was prolly the gloomy weather, or perhaps the general mood caused by Tata Encio's passing away, or maybe my near-death experience at the provincial hospital because of "integrated" dehydration-exhaustion-hypoglycemia and later discovering having dangerously low platelets count which could--God forbid--lead to chronic leukemia, that brought me in this somber state of mind. Whatever the cause was, there is no shaking off this grey clouds over me--asking, yet again, "Why, God, why?"

Walking to the memorial park behind Tata Encio's funeral car, I told my sister what I wanted for my last rites...or any event that supervenes upon it. So, in case that happens any time soon, and she forgets, please remind her. Her name's Rachel R. De Vera. She is my best friend in the whole wide world, and I love her to bits.

These are my "terms"...

- I don't want my wake to be in my house in Bataan; instead, in a memorial home here in Manila. I'd hate to have the feel of death linger in that house.
- I want photos of me and my friends and family framed and displayed during the wake. None of those big-ass frames of myself which gives people a maudlin feeling that I'm really gone.
- I'd like to be cremated. My remains put in a really unassuming urn made of porcelain--something to symbolize how fragile my life really was. I will be laid to rest in one of those places where cremated people go to...not in any of those mausoleums I've visited all my life.
- Music to be played as I am being sent to my final resting place should be the likes of Boyz II Men's Visions of a Sunset, or David Foster/Nita Whitaker's Heaven Holds the Ones I Love, or
Sarah McLachlan's I Will Remember You...and none of those old, overused classics like You'll Never Walk Alone, or Footprints in the Sand.
- All my savings and investments and policies go to my sister and her daughter Jasmine.
- I have a tin can in my condo--a round plaid one--that has "love notes" for people I have loved, hated, fought with, made love with, and made friends with over the years. Please have them take which ones are theirs. These will be those things that I failed to tell them while I was alive.
- Everything else goes to charity, as sorted out by my family and very close friends.

If I died tomorrow, I hope I die in peace--free of misery and pain, free of hatred, and flying on the wings of forgiveness.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

31derful Flavors

(delayed posting from July 08, 2007 11:12PM)

After splurging on shopping, airfare, and food in Bangkok, and practically the same expenses on Bora (sans the accumulated shopping expenses), one would think that that would constitute a guy's quota on trips for the year. But nooooooo, not this guy. After going through the whirlwind, shitty, retribution-worthy breakup with my good-for-nothing ex, I decided to stretch my budget even further and revert to my traditional out-of-the-country birthday trips (which, incidentally, wasn't followed last year because of the damned ex-factor).

As I was shopping for budget fares, I bumped into Earl at YM and told him my plans for my birthday. He, knowing how big of a ship wreck I was after the breakup, knew that I badly needed to get out the country, run away from it all, and get my mind shit-free at least for my birthday. I told him that I found a cheap roundtrip fare to Singapore via Tiger Airways worth less than five thousand bucks. In that very same YM chat session, he said that he just realized we've been friends for ten long years since college and he has never given me any birthday gifts. And like luck would have it, he had an expiring voucher for a ticket for two from Tiger Airways to any Asian destination. With that, and prolly without even thinking (thank God for that!), he pledged the other half of the roundtrip ticket as his birthday gift for me. We've decided to go to Phuket Island in Thailand and stay there for the duration of my birthday weekend before heading back to Singapore. A few days later, I was printing my confirmation email and e-ticket from Tiger Airways, I was reserving a bus seat for the Clark International Airport, and we were billetting ourselves at a hotel in Patong Beach--the damned red-light district of Phuket.

Immediately after conducting my weekend Teambuilding for the Office Admin group in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, I Speedy Gonzalez'd my way back to Manila to pack my things for next-day's trip to Singapore. Right after packing, I crammed as much mp3s in my brand-spanking new iPod, and went to sleep--hardly, as I was too freaking excited for my first time in Singapore and Phuket. The morning after the packing twister, I wedged any last-minute items into my carry-ons and headed to the bus station in Pasay. A few hours later, I was disembarking to the gates of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. I got there way too early for my 7pm trip--at around 4pm. I queued rather patiently (considering it was sweltering and humid outside, and not to mention the presence of all the overly-chatty OFWs that snaked their ways into the line ahead of me), only for me to find out when I finally reached the entrance to inside the airport that only those departing at 5pm are allowed entry to the pre-boarding gates. I was like, WTF??? I threw a royal fit, but to no avail. Apparently, this miniscule international (hah!) airport is only "big" enough to accommodate just one batch of outbound flight at a time; ergo, all the other passengers who are departing within the same day can never have the privilege and comfort of resting in the airconditioned environs of the airport while they await their flights to be called. All of these poor passengers are required to stay outside in the cramped, soppy, and open-air waiting area, together with all the leisurely flying flies and occasional mosquitoes.

One million years later, our flight was up for boarding. Thank God. About an hour later, I was boarding the plane. The one thing I disliked about taking a budget airline is that you are really made to feel that--it's a budget airline. No complimentary anything, and you are to deplane at a "budget" airport. So about four hours later, I was queueing at the Immigrations lane of the BUDGET airline--yes, there is such a thing in if to single out the "second-rate" travelers from the first-class vs economy wasn't enough segregation. Few minutes later, I was setting up my call and SMS roaming services on my phone--which will cause me major coronary a month after I receive my phone bill (try five thousand for roaming charges alone)--and then got in touch with Earl right after I got connected.

While waiting for Earl, who was still commuting via train, I helped myself to all the tourist information brochures and maps and guides that I could get my hands on. This, I realized later, would prove very helpful because, apparently, Earl wasn't able to put in his vacation leave early enough, so he wasn't allowed to miss work on my first three days in Singapore...which meant that I was going to explore this new place by my lonesome, for the whole day, until Earl clocks out at five in the afternoon when he can finally meet me somewhere and resume our touristy activity. Earl arrived at half past midnight and we right away took a cab to his 12th floor company-subsidized pad down by the Sengkang MRT station at Compassvale Road. We had a lot of catching up to do, and so we ran to a 24-hour McDonald's and ordered some weird-looking burgers and drinks. Talk about regionalizing McDonald's. At 3am, we decided to head back to Earl's pad, because he still had to wake up at 7am to go to work. I was finally able to sleep at around 430am or 5am.

Thanks to my self-sufficient auto-focus built-in camera-in-phone--and my relatively long arms--I was able to take photos of my morning escapades. How I managed to swing the three days with virtually no help from Earl or anybody was something that still never ceases to amuse me. I had food trip at several Food Republic outlets (Popiah the best!!!!!),
splurged on cheap-ass perfumes and bags and of course pasalubong at Bugis Street, went ga-ga over electronics at Sim Lim (where I got a cheap-ass 7megapixels digital camera), and of course took a legion of photos in touristy places such as The Esplanade, Citimall, Orchard Road, Vivo City, and even Kinokuniya! With Earl volting in with me in the evenings meant more photos, more adventures, and lots of boisterous laughters, okrayan sessions (between the two of us, and other Singaporeans), and more food tripping. By day four, I was already exhausted and almost I stayed home and just took a rest, in time for our flight to Phuket the same night.

Taking the same budget airport--yes, it was a freaking gift voucher, thank you--we headed to Phuket Island. Less than an hour later, we were in a cab heading for our red-light district hotel. Like my experience in Bangkok, I realized that English wasn't exactly a staple language in Thailand, so I had to pluck all the Thai words, phrases and greetings from my already failing long-term memory. How do you say "Goddammit" in Thai lingo anyway???

At exactly 11pm, my phone started beeping and ringing with birthday greetings. Ah, almost forgot...Thailand was an hour behind the Philippine timezone. I was, officially--with matching gasp and heaving sigh--thirty one years old. At 12 midnight, Earl and I were gormandizing on seafoods and some seemingly-exotic food in an open-air restaurant fronting the gay-meets-world alleys. We had a good laugh (and me a good 1,000 bahts to pay for the birthday meal). We decided to swig a drink or two in one of those bars across the resto. After paying for our vodkas and gawking at--and being gawked at by--people and tourists, we headed back to our hotel room. For the price we paid for it, it was REALLY nice.

Went swimming the next day, only to realize that Patong Beach was really a surfer's heaven--replete with 5- to 8-feet waves. It got me thinking--Phuket is so overrated; even Puerto Galera would outdo this Thailand I really do not know where all the fuss about Phuket beaches was coming from. These freaking White people who advocated these beaches (ditto Bali beaches) have obviously not seen either Bora or Bohol beaches. Duh. Barely two hours later, not getting excited about the idea of adding more melanin to the just-whitening Bora complexion, Earl and I hit the road again...this time to score some more yummy Thai food and later on find good-buys in either malls or bazaars. We ended up in a mall that evening, where we determinedly waited for the supposedly famous Jung Ceylon fountain and light show. But as we were waiting, we killed time by taking more crazy choreographed photos, and then shopped for sexy underwear and made friends with some locals.

Went clubbing in the evening, and was shaking my head when I discovered that at one in the morning, despite the hard trance music courtesy of some import French DJ blasting from the oversized speakers, the dancefloor was still literally deserted: it was just Earl and myself...and Earl didn't even dance! So try to imagine a skinny (ahem) Filipino boy holding a Heineken bottle dancing and shouting whoo-hoos alone (and rather intoxicated beyond driving limits) at the dead-center of the dancefloor, and you've got a pretty crystal image of me in Phuket. Was so wasted, I may have given my numbers to half a dozen locals and Austrians and some other United Colors of Bennettonish race. Went back to the hotel and slumped on the bed...only to wake up eight hours later with a major hangover on the floor next to my almost worn-out sneakers.

The next day, we went to Phuket Town on an adventure--we gutsily took the bus (spent only 25bahts compared to 400baht for a lousy 30-minute cab ride) and headed to Central Mall. There we bought more sexy underwear (nyehehehehehehe) and more pasalubong, ate at a cheap-ass but first-rate Japanese restaurant, and then took the bus back to the hotel so we could finally pack up and then head back to Singapore. Few hours later, we were waiting for our delayed budget airline in the budget airport with our budgets being blown because of overspending.

Saturday, instead of our originally-planned day-trip to Malaysia (yes, I merely wanted a Friendster-worthy photograph at the foot of the Petronas Towers...and decided it wasn't gonna be worth it), we headed to Sentosa Island and played tourist some more. Later that night, met up with fellow Pinoy friends Raymond, Chris, Jeremy and Benjie at a club downtown and then after getting wasted and getting tired looking at the "hipons", headed for a carinderia-type compound where we all ate goto (or something that looked just like it) and some funky looking noodles. Went home wasted at around 4 in the I could sleep a couple of hours before heading home to Manila.

Few hours later, Earl and I were having snacks at the airport and I was secretly praying that my luggage--packed with Ikea stuff, food, pasalubong, and clothes--wouldn't weigh beyond 12 kilos. Upon checking in, I got 11.8 kilos. Good grief. After filing for my tax rebate at the counter, and gathering my final carry-on items, I bid Earl and my Singapore-Phuket adventure adieu. I headed back to Manila in my 31 year old self, hoping that this year turns out to be one of less heartaches, less stress, less financial crisis, and instead of more love, more blessings, and more sex. ;)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

No Me Mientas...Solo Dime La Verdad

Lie. n. 1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; a falsehood. 2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture.

Everybody lies. Your President, your parents, your boss, your bestfriend, your next-door neighbor, your daughter-in-law, your co-worker, your parish priest, your FedEx delivery boy, your investment banker, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your maid, your spouse, and even yourself. Show me a man/woman who claims he has never lied all his life--no matter how big or how small it is--and I will summarily tell you he/she lies in his/her throat...or I have finally found a canonization-worthy saint.

Back in grade school Cathechism class, we were taught about mortal and venial sins...and at that tender age, I remember questioning the nuns how telling a lie can be a venial sin (n. a sin that does not deprive the soul of divine grace either because it is a minor offense or because it was committed without full consent or understanding of its seriousness) when it was deliberately done...thus qualifying it as a mortal sin (n. a sin, willfully committed and serious enough to deprive the soul of divine grace). Sister Mary Therese failed to answer that question and just gave me a heaving sigh and that rolling of the eyeballs (which eventually became MY trademark condescending gesture). Through the years, I've learned that liars don't go to hell...they simply go to law schools and subsequently run off to courtrooms to take over souls of most innocents.

Big lie or "white" lie, why do people tell lies in the first place? Some do it to advance their own agenda. Some to protect themselves and cover up their mess. While others do it simply because they are an incorrigible case--or are compulsive liars. We have been told time and again that "a little lie" wouldn't hurt...and so that very stance has driven some or most (if not all) of us to unconscionably romance the truth.

But what exactly is the extent of a "shruggable" or forgivable lie? Is there some sort of a "Lying Curve" wherein the slope of the linear or sinusoidal curve is directly proportional to the excusability of it (e.g. the steeper the slope--or the more preposterous or outrageous the lie is--the less forgivable it is)? Is lying--in most cases--really justifiable?

Your boyfriend told you you look great despite the fact that you look like a Cabbage Patch (or Garbage Pail) Kid bursting at the seams, just so you wouldn't feel worse than you already are feeling about yourself. Forgivable?

You slept with someone who swore he was clean, and the two of you had unprotected sex. And then you find out six months later that he was HIV-positive. Forgivable?

You plugged your office pantry's 110-volt Krups coffee maker into a 220-volt socket, caused it to short-circuit and explode...and then lied about not knowing what happened when asked by a colleague about it (because you absolutely have no more budget to spare for that). Forgivable?

Your live-in partner slept with other people behind your back, took advantage of your kindness and sacrifices, broke your heart and then twisted the story and told people YOU were the one who was unfaithful, mean, a usurper, and a scum that took advantage of him. Forgivable?

Your friends, family, and colleagues keep asking if you were OK because you were losing way too much weight. You tell them you were just insomniac, stressed out and worrying a lot about things so you're losing sleep just so they wouldn't treat you differently...but in reality, your doctor just told you that you are sufferring from chronic leukemia and might have only a year left to live your life. Forgivable?

At the end of the day, lying is not meant to be justifiable. Sometimes, however, we lie because we are not sure if people can handle the truth. And most of the time, they can't.

But, hey. I'd rather you told me the truth--all rawness and bluntness of it. I'm a big man. I believe I can handle it. Solo dime la verdad...just tell me the truth. And you can expect me to give you the same courtesy.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


A friend of mine sent me a link (one of those forwarded messages with "click me" or "try this one" or "check this out" URLs embedded in 'em) some months back. Being really busy at the mo' she sent it, I decided to just flag it in my Pending folder. It was three months later when I finally came back to that folder and rediscovered the email containing the link(s). As I wasn't that busy, I decided, what the heck, to give it a try...

The URL brought me to a profiling page wherein you'd be asked to choose or rank a series of photos (based on questions like, "which of these is your ideal blahblahblah") and after the chain of questions, you'd be given a results page--one which "summarizes" your personality according to moods, fun, habits, and love. This was my summary...(just click on the miniatures to launch the bigger version)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bora Republic

delayed posting from May 12, 2007 10:12 AM

It's been six years since I last walked on the pristine sands of Boracay Island. At the time it was almost pure and unspoiled, the neighborhood unpolluted and moderately quiet and peaceful. A couple of years later, I saw it on TV as the complete opposite. Coming from and living quite long on the "real" islands (i.e. Marianas, Tinian, Guam, and Palau) where I frequented Bora-meets-Palawan-like beaches (which are, mind you, free of charge...down to the ferry ride to and from the islands), going to Bora now--what with its current state--didn't seem like a truly enticing idea. Barely a year ago when I spent my birthday in Panglao Island in Bohol, I made up my mind that I'd take Bohol over Bora any day.

Any day but a post-breakup day.

Because of the Labor Day weekend, which was going to give us, give or take, four or five days off from work, the gurls (Maita and Chrissie) prodded me to go with them to Bora. I was in the tossup phase in my mind when Jedi and Aries--one after the other--asked me whether I was interested in joining them to Bora for the long weekend. Heads or tails notwithstanding, I felt like I was going to get swayed. So after checking our training schedules on the then-becoming-filled-up calendar and ensuring that the May 1 weekend wasn't going to be crucial for us trainers, I went online to my savings account. After all, I just went to Thailand and spent quite a pocketful. When I figured I could still afford to swipe my ticket and not get broke or bankrupt, I went online and started booking flights to Bora.

That, my dears, was just going to be the start of my ordeal. Apparently, everybody and their mothers were going to Bora for that weekend. So, after having teamed up with Chrissie in scouring the net for good deals (whether or not it was a package or just plane fare, at that point, we really didn't care). Having braved hours on end of being placed on hold and transferred from one extension to another (sometimes only to be disconnected or made to call again) and weekend, lunchbreak or after-office sprints to airline and travel agents offices, we finally secured tickets to Bora...with matching cheap-ass accommodations courtesy of Jedi at D'Mall.

When we got to Bora, it was NOTHING like how I remembered it six years ago. There was prolly a gazillion people (and about a tenth of that number in canine population); restaurants, stalls and kiosks/stands everywhere; blaring music (or noise?) from humongous and multiple amplifiers/speakers everywhere; and makeshift stages for events (at the time we were there, there was the Smart Buddy event as well as the Century Tuna Beach Body thingee competition). The quiet, laid-back, soothing air of Bora was nowhere present...unless maybe when you go have a massage in one of the expensive spas.

With the Training Department digital camera (this time, officially NOT mine anymore) in tow, we started heading for our 500-shots quota. But what probably rivaled our photo ops frenzy was our food-tripping. Barely finishing one "cocktail" at one restaurant and we'd be heading to another restaurant to eat again! And I am not talking of light meals here but food like carbonara (for the "cocktail", mind you) and then later on baby back ribs, pork barbecue and garlic fried rice. We were all having a great time...until of course my ex emerges from the crowd--flanked by the new boys (emphasis on the plural form, ladies and gentlemen...apparently my replacement, after barely one week; can you spell out TRASHY?) and having the temerity to even doing beso with my friends...and me. For about five seconds, I believe my glaring coldness froze the summer heat of bora...until the wretched pack of skanks left the vicinity. So much for an enjoyable Bora trip.

After dinner--and apparently after "thawing out" from the cold moment--I had the requisite Bora henna tattoo. For 250 bucks, I got myself a fancy tattoo on my left arm. If I wasn't a keloid former, I would most definitely have that same exact henna tattoo tattooed permanantly on my much for not being a wooz but not getting away with it. Took more photos and walked by the shorelines. Went to check out the Century Tuna event. But after seeing that it was "invitational only", their pa-über-social effect being waned by the isawan flanking their perimeter, and the event not even starting after more than an hour and a half, I walked out and headed back to the upstairs attic (we rented out those attic-type rooms atop establishments at D'Mall) and slept. At half past midnight, I took another shower (perhaps the fifth for the day, thanks to the humidity) and headed for a walk towards the "clubs"...or the beach versions of it. Met up with Aries (Jedi and the girls were already snoring and wouldn't budge, those Manangs!) at Hey Jude and had a couple of beers (saw the ex passed by with yet another set of new boys [again, emphasis on the plural form], copulating like there's no tomorrow, I noticed). Was enjoying the trip-hop music at Jude when they started playing Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby. That did it for me, and I dragged Aries to go to another bar (which name escapes me right now...Beachsomething). Music was house, and no signs of Vanilla Ice in the playlist, so I took a swig off my fourth bottle of SanMig Light and joined this exotic looking couple on the makeshift ledge (actually, a low table). Barely five minutes into the gyrating on the ledge, exotic looking guy (think Black Eyed Peas' Pinoy guy meets Jackie Brown afro hairstyle) dances with me, got my name, introduced me to his "girlfriend" Sandy (another exotic looking babe, similar afro hairstyle, only less poofy and more kempt). Danced, gyrated, chitchatted, and guffawed some two or three dance songs...and Male Jackie Brown was doing an indecent proposal. "Erick (yes, I go with pseudonyms at bars, thank you!), you really can move. My girlfriend and I were wondering if you were THAT good in bed, and if you'd go with us to our hotel room!" Boink. Yeah, like that was going to happen. I politely told him that I'm not into that (although I've had my share of that back in my younger years), and continued gyrating myself to kingdom come. I was totally weirded out with the fact that I was on the ledge dancing with only a tank top, sarong, and slippers on. Something you could NEVER wear to bars/clubs in the Metro. I enjoyed the moment, oblivious to the bad henna tattoo job I had earlier, which was literally dripping all over my arm. Met someone interesting, bought a beer or two for us, and retreated to a more quiet area of the beach where we could get to know each other better. At daybreak, the two of us were still on the same spot, and decided to walk by the shoreline. At the first sight of the sun's rays, we got possessed by the moment and kissed each other on the lips...and parted ways, knowing that we may not see each other again. Ah. 'Twas all good.

The gurls and I decided to sunbathe--OMG, like when did I think I had any more light pigment in my skin that could allow further darkening--and just laze away the remainder of the day. At some point, Aries introduced me to a group of showbiz people, and I was like, "Dude, you look really familiar. Have we met before?" to one person...only to find out later on that he was Bamboo of Rivermaya. I was laughing like crazy. I absolved myself from that episode. I am not a big fan anyway. The highlight of our trip, however, was the paraw boat ride around the islands. We went to this secluded spot where we had the most expensive pasta and nilagang baka. Haha. Well, it was worth the travel and the wait anyway. And the owners were really cool about us wetting the cushioned chairs, so 'twas all good. On our way back, while at sea, I stood up one of the planks of the boat and screamed the ex's name and cussed and hollered and invoked evil to the wind until I grew hoarse. With my last drying tears in my eyes--easily mistakenable for sea water--I was resolved on thinking that I'm glad that was over. I'm finally free.

In another swimming splurge, Jedi and I met two interesting individuals--one a dog, and the other one a "boy" (well, anyone younger than Jedi, Aries, the gurls and I are tagged "boys" and "girls" anyway bweheheheh). The dog's name was Noy the Dog--the sweetest, most adorable Golden Retriever you can ever find (quite opposite the person I named him after). First time I met him was back at the baby back ribs place where he was just looking at me, wagging his tail and playing dead and sitting on my command. He swam to me and Jedi far from the shore, and I panicked that he'd drown, so I tried to save him...only to find out that he was an excellent swimmer. That's how we met Jojo, the "boy". He was amused at how good "our" dog was. "Aso mo?" he asked me. "I wish. Askal to, pero may class. Hehe," I said, giving Jojo a big grin. We guys developed a bond almost instantaneously, this boy being his first time in Bora. Apparently, he went with his family, and they're literally knocked out by 9pm and he's got no one to go out with. Having said that, we all promised to meet up at a certain hour at a certain place...and conveniently forgot to exchange numbers. But as chances would have it, we bumped into each other after dinner and later on showed him around. I saw myself in Jojo when I was still googly-eyed and excited about the idea of being in Bora...and so I let him enjoy the island. I wonder if we have the same perspective on the island. After all, he still hasn't got a point of comparison. So, I guess not. Let Bora tease him first.

More swimming, sunbathing, tanning, photo ops, barbecues, baby back ribs, ex sightings, beautiful sunsets, beer bottles, pasalubong shopping and sunscreen later, we headed back to Manila. I was, apparently the only one who turned negro. The two gurls had way too little melanin in their system...damn them.

Back in the office, sporting my new tan, I've received two separate compliments on how manly (as opposed to...?) and "yummy" (haha) I was with my new complexion. So, having heard that, I reckon I'm keeping the new skin tone...and I guess Glutathione's never going to make any profit on me, eh?

Now, now, time to logoff, as it's time for my 500 digicam shots...