Saturday, March 28, 2009

ako'y isang nicotine patch

friday evening, as i was getting ready to leave work my phone rings and the ensuing conversation goes like this:
me: hey brod, what's up?
brod na itatago natin sa pangalang juan: where are you?
me: still here at work. why?
brod: let's have coffee.i'll pick you up there.
me: now? and what, may i ask, prompted this?
brod: let's just say that you're my nicotine patch
me: oh-kay...i'm not exactly sure what that to expound?
brod: i've been scrolling my phone book and thinking of calling one of *them*. let's just say i'd rather meet with you and vent than do something that i might probably regret later.
me: you do probably need that coffee. sige, i'll wait.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"In Defense of Individualism"

It's just human nature, and it's only the belief in yourself that propels you through all those things, and yourself is the individual. I got fired seven times. One time was it probably justified. The other times due to vagaries of the broadcast business, but each time I got fired the person that fired me said, "You know, you really don't have what it takes to succeed here. If you want to stay in this business you need to go into sales or something else. You really don't have that much talent," and I'm saying to myself, "How would you know? You've never let me exhibit it. You and your brilliant management have come up with ways that I could only say this here or that there, and I can only take that much time. How do you know what my talent is? And when was the last time you cared to really find out what my talent is?"

Excerpt from here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crazy Like This Sunday Morning

Coming out of the gate this morning, I was struck by a jarring thought that reconnected me with my current reality. I live in a dangerous community. Well, at least, my idea of dangerous where a few months back three men were gunned down in a street parrallel to ours. I've heard of mugging stories as well and some other petty crimes.

I guess living in the midst of that reality has made me oblivious to it. Anything that comes close to acceptable reality becomes ordinary. Something that I come to live with everyday.

This morning was no different from the previous days, weeks, months, and years. Except for one thing. As soon as I closed the gate and prepared to walk the alley going to the main street, I saw a group of kids blocking my way. It took me seconds to pick up the telltale signs of trouble.

My senses are hone to smell trouble if I set my mind to it. And this morning, there really was trouble. There was momentary relief when I quickly assessed the situation and noted that at least, it was not directed to me. I was just a wary witness, standing in the periphery of whatever was unfolding. But that didn't mean I was safe either.

The kids were blocking the entire alley so my choices were narrowed to three. 1) I could scurry like a scared rat back inside the safety of the house, 2) I could brave it out and walk through the trouble, 3) I could wait it out and hope that they finish their business.

I didn't know what made me choose number three but that was what I did. I'm not sure if I was even thinking then. In retrospect, what I did was stupid. I could have hurt myself in the process. But I was transfixed with what I saw. These were kids fighting like gang men in the middle of an alley. Four boys against one. They were throwing rocks to another boy who was alone not ten feet away from them. I was at the back of the four boys.

The boys looked young to me, maybe between 7-10 years old. Or possibly they were just malnourished so they looked that young to me. But still, young is young. It's an age for social play and learning good manners and right conduct. Instead, they were there fighting like goons and nobody was doing anything about it.

Solo kid was feisty and was retaliating. He was throwing rocks to his adversaries. The boys were really at it. Choosing the biggest rocks, some the size of my fist others even bigger. They had access to their chosen ammunitions because of some waterworks repairs or something going on streching down the road. Rocks flew back and forth like I imagine snowballs would on a snowy Christmas day.

I was surprised nobody got hurt. The four boys suddenly stopped and looked behind - past where I was standing. Four sets of eyes locked to another child, this one older, maybe 12 or 15 and ran to him. Older kid said something and they left. I guessed he must be a gang leader of sorts. Someone who commands respect from those boys.

The alley was passable again and I slowly walked on. All the while the while I felt a tingling at the back of my head. It was as if I was waiting for a rock to fall on my head. I caught myself wondering just how much blood would there be if that happens.

My heart went out to those kids. I wondered what kind of future they'd have living on the edge of danger everyday. Ultimately, it would be their choice. But I felt sad for the world that didn't have much to give as choices to children like them.

Not caring sucks. It feels like it's draining my humanity slowly that I hardly acknowledge the gaping wounds I see everyday.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

25 Albums

Tagged by Mayee. Ang hirap pala nito hahaha! Di naman kasi talaga ako ma-music na tao...I think. Anyway, best effort na to :-)

"Maglista ng 25 albums na nagkaron ng 'profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.'”

1. Nursery Songs from Around the World (circa 1970's) – ayan, dead giveaway sa age ko hahaha! actually I'm not sure if that really was the title of the album. The cassette tape came with the big red box of a reading 101 type packet that was a gift from my mother. I was 4 or 5 years old. The songs came from all over the world and I can still remember most of them.

2. The Joshua Tree, U2 (1987) - mainly because I'm a U2 fan, fancied myself in love with Bono and that awesome song, With or Without You.

3. The Best of The Doors, The Doors (1973) - I love this album, wala akong maitapon sa tracklisting. Riders on the Storm, People are Strange and Hello, I Love You though top the list of my personal favorites. Used to spend time listening to the album while trying to stay awake reviewing Psych and Chem textbooks for quizzes and exams.

4. Tracy Chapman, self-titled (1988) - I associate this with some sisses. Parati kasi namin pinapakinggan. One time I remember we were just cruising in a quiet road from Magalang going back to Angeles City in Pampanga and it was just a perfect day. Clear blue skies and verdant green fields around us. Mareng Tracy was crooning inside the car. And I remember thinking it was truly a one fine day.

5. Greatest Hits, The Cure (2001) - naalala ko ang high school at early college days whenever I hear In Between Days, Friday I'm in Love and Boy's Don't Cry

6. Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (1988) - Katipunan days. I shared this apartment in Katipunan with three other sisses. This was the time I was exposed to different genres of music everyday. One of them was studying ballet at the College of Music and her collection of albums were mostly classical. The other one was into alternative and rock while the last one was into pop music. I was the one who just listened to whatever was playing and learned to appreciate what I heard. Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars was one of the alternative/rock sis' collection. What I am and Circle are my top choices in that album.

7. My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) - I first heard the album during the trip from Jakarta airport to Jatiluhur. One of my teammates already watched the movie before we left for the SEA Games and she liked it so much she bought a tape. It was the only album we listened to the entire trip and by the time we got to Jatiluhur I vowed to myself that as soon as we're back in PHI I'll watch the movie.

8. A Walk To Remember Soundtrack (2002) - This was another bus-ride song. Japan 2002. We were on our way to Kansai airport in Osaka from the Asian Championships held in Aioi City. It was the first soundtrack CD I bought because I fell in love with the songs especially Switchfoot's Dare You To Move. I thought the men's team would find the music cheesy but surprisingly, they ended up humming along with some of the songs. Hmmmm.

9. The Celts, Enya (1987) - My top pick among her albums. I always imagined myself transported to Ireland. I could almost sense and see those images that the songs hauntingly paint in my mind.

10. Chant, The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos (1994) - soothing and mysterious at the same time

11. Sounds of Silence (1966) - 4th year high school English. We spent three hours "decoding" the song. I learned to appreciate the song better after that. Recently, I heard a hauntingly beautiful version while watching Watchmen and it's been in my mind since.

12. The Sound of Music, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II (1959) - ang kulit ni Maria at ang cute nung mga bata. at siyempre crush ko si Captain Georg Von Trapp at muntik nang maiyak nung kinanta nya yung Edelweiss. (other fave songs in the track: The Sound of Music, My Favorite Things, Climb Ev'ry Mountain and Do-Re-Mi)

13. Les Miserables, West End version (1985) - Fantine's I Dreamed a Dream, Young Cosette and Madame Thénardier's Castle on a Cloud, Javer's Stars, Beggars and the others' Look Down, Valjean and the others' One More Day, At the Barricade, Eponine's On My Own, and A Little Fall of Rain are my absolute favorites until forever.

14. Josh Groban, (2001) - kasi natuwa ako sa Vincent at The Prayer nya

15. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (1997) - because life is ironic :-)

16. Vauxhall and I, Morrissey (1994) - because "The More YOu Ignore Me, the Closer I Get".

17. Parachutes, Coldplay (2000) - dahil crush ko si Chris Martin at gustong gusto ko yung Yellow

18. The Best Of Juan Dela Cruz Band (1980) - napapakanta sa Himig Natin

19. UltraElectroMagneticPop!, Eraserheads (1993) - yung mga kantang una kong narinig sa Para Sa 'Yo Bagong Isko concerts ay napapakinggan ko na sa mga radyo at telebisyon. the succeeding albums still reflected the character of the group at for that, they really made their mark in the local music scene.

20. The Beatles (1968) - blackbird singing in the dead of night...

21. Left of the Middle, Natalie Imbruglia (1997) – Torn lang ang kaya kong kantahin sa videoke, siguro dahil sa kapapakinig sa kanya, natutunan na rin ng vocal chords ko na aralin na kantahin siya.

22. Third Eye Blind (1997) - parang The Doors to sa kin. pang relax pag inis or kung type kong wala lang, makinig lang at wag mag-isip.

23. Crowded House (1986) - don't dream it's over when it's clearly over was a relentless attack to an already crushed heart

24.My Girl (Koreanovela Soundtrack) - kahit di ko naiintindihan gustong gusto ko naririnig. Ganda kasi nung tv series. Dalawang beses kong pinanood to.

25. I Am Sam, Soundtrack (2002) - love the movie. brought the CD with me at The Hague. I came back, the CD didn't. That was one of the other stuff I left, along with my heart, at The Hague.


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Essentials According to Jack Kerouac

I took a leaf from Mayee's book and answered the "What Kind of Writer Are You" quiz in Facebook. The result says I'm the "Jack Kerouac kind". Not sure what that meant, I immediately googled his name. Voracious reader as I am, I honestly can't remember having spent sleepless nights devouring words from his books.

I found his list of thirty "essentials" interesting and for fun I checked out how close to being his kind can I ever get:
  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy - check
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening - check
  3. Try never get drunk outside your own house - work in progress
  4. Be in love with your life - check
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form - hmmmm, still thinking
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind - i think
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow - work in progress
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind - work in progress
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual - hmmmm not sure
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is - check
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest - needs pondering
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you - check
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition - uh-oh...will work it
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time - hmmmm
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog - check
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye - check
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yrself - check
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea - check
  19. Accept loss forever - work in progress
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life - check
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind - check
  22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better - check
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning - work in progress
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge - work in progress
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it - not trying
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form - not sure
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness - check
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better - check
  29. You're a Genius all the time - the secret
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven - work in progress
Now, if only I could get a good serving of his talent I'd probably be writing to my heart's content somewhere in the boondocks.

Monday, March 16, 2009


It's been one year last February since my friend's brother disappeared. He was abducted by heavily-armed men in front of their house and he has never been seen again.

There were people who saw what happened but to date, not a single witness has stepped forward to make a statement despite the family's repeated pleas. My friend said some people even told them to think again before pursuing what limited investigation they're doing as this might just endanger them.

A human being has gone missing. A sister lost a brother, a mother lost a son, a wife lost a husband, and a son lost a father.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine the grief and loss of people when you think about it as statistics and numbers. People disappear, people die, bad things happen. Until it happens to someone you know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Where the Water Flows

Manila Ocean Park was a sanctuary yesterday. I went there for a meeting and it was my first time to visit the place. I didn't know what to expect but I wasn't expecting to be surprised either. It was a weekday so the place wasn't as crowded as I would imagine it would be during weekends and holidays. But still, despite it being a weekday and just less than an hour after opening time, there were already groups of people trickling steadily to the oceanarium.

Before I got there, I was already mulling about what I would possibly do while waiting for the people I was meeting with. I deliberately went there earlier than scheduled because I figured I needed extra time in case I got lost or have a hard time finding the meeting place. We were meeting at the Starbucks there and I didn't have the time to check their website for a map so I was going in blind.

The moment I stepped out of the cab that brought me there, I immediately had this weird and intense feeling of lightness. I don't know what caused it. Perhaps it was seeing the place for the first time amidst a backdrop of intensely blue sky. Maybe it was the silence despite the people taking pictures I saw on that stone marker they have at front or it could be the gentle breeze that momentarily touched my skin and left a lingering sense of peace. I stood there for a while gawking at the impressive edifice and I knew I did right by coming there.

Inside was quiet activity. Restaurants were just opening and people were walking around idly, some waiting for others for their tour while others seem to be just happy chatting with friends. I headed straight to Starbucks and I was overwhelmed by emotion when I stepped inside. The store was located in a corner with a very good view of Manila Bay. The bright sunlight illuminates it and puts everything in stark clarity.

I think it was the mix of raw feelings that triggered the swirl of emotions. I think it had something to do with seeing the water again. Manila Bay is not exactly a Boracay but the water was so flat indicating its calmness at that time of the day. I looked at it and a surge of memories came back. Years of being on that water everyday probably caused this invisible bond with it that not even time can erase. Like most people who frequent the bay and spent hours at a time caught in its mysteries, I have become attuned to its wiles and accepted that it is as unfathomable as nature would ever get.

I just sat there at Starbucks, alternately gazing at the water and reading a book. I once again felt this strong connection with the universe. And it was pure bliss.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Small Steps Out of the Batcave

Things I'm looking forward to in the coming days:
  • MBC Summer Sea Sports Festival - where the national rowing team will join in the mixed division of the dragon boat race. I'm gonna be in it only because they don't have enough girls to complete the mixed line-up. I'm sure it'll be fun. I could already imagine myself on that boat full of rowing athletes who're all excellently trained. They'll have the power and endurance (and probably a lot of dragon boat technique familiarity as well) while I'll be bringing old techniques and a fervent prayer to have enough stamina to last me in the x number of heats.
  • The upcoming joint exhibit of dragon boat and rowing at Manila Ocean Park.
  • Sagada...and Yoghurt House
Mostly it's about being out and about again, seeing new things, different perspectives, and feeling - yes, feeling - that in my smallness I'm an awesome piece of the universe's puzzle.

(Image courtesy of the Internet)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hats Off

I feel kind of sad that I didn't watch the Eraserheads' concert yesterday. Mine's probably the lamest excuse ever to pass up on that one especially since I was guaranteed good vantage point and seat from the VIP area courtesy of a sis who was there in behalf of one of the many sponsors of that event.

Unfortunately, just thinking about the crowd that was expected to turn out - for a lot of kick-ass reasons - already drained me of energy. It's probably one of those preternatural glitches in my genetic make-up or I may just be getting old but crowds, especially huge crowds, always leave me feeling weak.

I would have wanted to watch the group perform. To be honest, I can't even claim to be one of their most loyal fans as I don't know a lot of what transpired to them since they've gone mainstream. But I have huge admiration for them, especially for the individuals who I remember quite fondly and with huge respect.

My first memories of them were during those annual Para Sa 'Yo Bagong Isko free concerts that our sorority organized. Eraserheads performed in those concerts at least thrice and I remember one of those performances were during that time when they were already beginning to make waves in the Philippine music industry. I thought then that they wouldn't agree to perform for us because we didn't have the budget for talent fees of famous bands but that didn't stop them from making their fans, especially the freshmen, happy.

The band had such a huge following in campus at that time that I could still remember students risking missing dorm curfews just to watch them perform in various gigs at school. And when they went mainstream, I remember that some of their fans were dismayed for reasons I couldn't quite understand. Unlike most people, I'm not that good in navigating the intricate roads of music. I admire music like one who admires genius or any exquisite work of art. I may not be able to completely figure it out, but I'm touched by whatever raw power and talent that created it.

It's now almost two decades since I first saw them, easily a long time to forget. But if nothing else, I can still vividly remember those occasions and still feel my heart constrict with pride and admiration for a group that has managed to create their unique brand of music and touch people's lives with it.

I don't know enough of what they did after those early days. But I know this - they will always have that special place in the hearts of the people who have, at some point in their lives, listened to their music and were moved by it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Angels Without Wings

Seems to me that angels without wings have this uncanny ability to lift my spirit just when I'm slipping to the lowest point. Today, there were several instances when I've seen how by just simple gestures and efforts they can unknowingly bring a smile that goes deeper than what superficiality demands.

Angel without wings surprise #1: Neko Senryu 2009 Calendar that I've been wishing for and a box of chocolate-covered almonds. A nice way to start a day, especially following the grueling and depressing turn of events yesterday.

Angel without wings surprise #2: A patience worthy of all the saints' praise. The openmindedness to just listen and understand. This one has a strength of character I deeply admire. A true friend I've often leaned on. Silent, deep, and real.

Angel without wings suprise #3: One of the few who truly believes in me. I'm still surprised as to how I connected with this person but despite our different personalities, we somehow found and held common ground. A leader-believer kiti-kiti meets passionate-believer serious-looking girl.

There's more of them out there. But today, these three touched my life in ways that uplifted my soul. And they don't even know they did. :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reality Check

Knowing is different from actually feeling and experiencing what you know. For the longest time now, I've always known that I'm slipping farther and farther down the wellness and fitness scale but I've been too lazy to actually do something about it. I've satisfied myself with short bursts of speed and power that got me through those once a week Futsal games and managed to convinced myself for a year that it was enough.

But lately, there's this growing restlessness in me. I feel that I've not been replenishing my energy as much as I should and been wasting myself slowly for nothing. I guess I'm slowly beginning to accept that I've made choices that got me stuck somehow. Although nothing is really a bad thing especially if I somehow pick up something from it, there is still a need to re-evaluate and make some changes, beginning with the simplest ones.

I started with the most basic one for me, my health and fitness. Despite my love for Futsal I decided to take a break from it for a while because it's not giving me what I need. I want more serious play time and the challenge to stretch myself to the limits. I need to feel that level of exhaustion and see if I can summon enough willpower to hold on regardless of all the pain and aches I feel. I want to feel I've improved somehow. But these are personal expectations and sometimes there are games we need to play just for the fun of playing it. I guess that was what Futsal was to me.

Yesterday, I began training in boxing. Boxing is one of the core skills in Wushu-Sanshou so I've a fair enough idea of some of the basic moves. I consider this as an opportunity to hone my skills in Sanshou. As my Sanshou coach often told me before, it's critical to master the basics of the sport if you want to excel in it. He said that most times, it gets frustrating for athletes to keep doing the simplest routines over and over and over again but that's the foundation. To have a solid foundation is a key to optimizing the skills, determination, and willpower. Talent is good. No, talent is important. But talent without mastery of the basics is wasted talent.

First training day of boxing was a pleasant surprise. I can now say I've made the right decision because I've found what I've been looking for. The trainer was good because he spent time teaching us. He also didn't treat us like fragile creatures and gave each of us a training that matched our current skills (or lack thereof). All in all, it was a truly tiring yet exhilirating 1 1/2 hours. I felt my muscles complaining barely two hours after the session and this morning, I literally peeled myself off from bed because I was sore all over. Aches and pains aside though, I've never felt better.

If there's one true lesson I've learned in moments like this when every muscle in my body seems to be in terrible agony, it is that the only way to end the pain is to endure more until such time I become stronger and better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bend It Like Toph

Which Bending Power Resides in You?
I took this quiz I found from one popular social networking site. I love the Avatar series and Toph is my most favorite bender.

At some point I actually wondered how the results would turn out. I thought I'd have air bending or something coming out from that test. So I was pleasantly surprised with the result. Aja!