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)