Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sunflower days

with Francis and Gigi, circa MA at PA (sabay selective amnesia)

I can't imagine when this picture was taken. I know for sure though that this was at my Lolo Inggo's house where we spent many summers. And that the photo was shot by my Lolo Pepe who never went anywhere without his camera.
Lolo is the Tagalog word for grandfather. My maternal grandfather was Domingo and so he was called Inggo. He lived in what we used to call the old house about 40 kilometers outside of Manila, surrounded by ancient coconut trees that bore the mutant macapuno which my mom would cook in sugar to make jam. There were also other trees which we would climb, fall from or just rest on during hot humid afternoons. Guava, santol, caimito, jackfruit, aratiles, mango and duhat trees were the sturdier ones and easier to climb with abundant fruit as fantastic motivators. The atis, balimbing, tamarind and guyabano trees weren't sturdy enough to carry our weight and so we either just reached for the ripe ones or used a long sungkit (a long bamboo pole with a metal hook tied to the end) to lower the branches and the fruits to reach.

In the afternoons just as the sun would be setting, the maya (housewren) birds converged on the tree branches and noisily chirped their goodbye to the day. This was a daily ritual which we never understood but was fascinated. When the sun disappeared into the horizon, the birds would hush to a silence and so would the chickens who also be perched. And like all kids, we would then tell stories about everything supernatural. We talked about the kampre (ogre) who lived in the tamarind tree and who smoked a cigar. And how in the early mornings when the laundry woman began her chore she said she smelled the cigar but she didn't get scared. Stories about the many dwarves who cohabit the property sometimes seen dancing on the fence, sometimes getting nasty and causing someone to be sick when pinched. And the tikbalang - the half horse and half man who was most frightening of them all. And the lady who walked around weightlessly who wore a long white dress and whose face was always hidden behind her long black hair. And when we got too scared, we raced up the old house and surprised the adults who then would scold us to clean up and shower before we sat down to dinner.

The next morning we would go through the same rituals of play, eat, scare and sleep. Sometimes we would join the other kids from the neighborhood and ride our bicycles, play patintero or piko (hopscotch) or stroll around the military base. We would wind a worm around a needle and catch some fish from atop the treehouse our Lolo made for us that dangled over the edge of the Bacoor Bay, which he called the 'Playang Munting'. And when we got tired, we released the fish back into the water which we would probably fish back again the next day. Lolo Inggo afforded us the country life and nurtured my love and respect for nature.

Summers with my Lolo Pepe was different. He lived just a few blocks from our house so we saw him often. We went to the malls with him and he enjoyed taking our pictures. I have boxes and boxes of childhood pictures thanks to him and his reliable Pentax. He was the ultimate spoiler. He bought us expensive clothes, shoes and even food that was only available at the commissary. When I was four and he travelled to Hong Kong, he returned with a three-wheel bicycle for me. It wasn't your usual tricycle. This one scream: sosyal! And I was the only one who had it in the world. Or so he made me think.

He spoke Spanish fluently and to this day I still call silverware 'cubiertos' and the newspaper 'periodico' because of him. He has memorized and would orate Spanish poems with so much passion. I still I find romance in how the foreign language and anything else that sounded like it - Italian, Portuguese or Latin.

And because we lived in the city, when the mercury climbed and we couldn't get to a pool, summer was about putting on our swim wear and running around the yard with the sprinklers on.

Here in Manhattan, the flower stores are now filled with sunflowers. I remember the ones my mom had grown on our front yard that had flowers bigger than my head. The bright yellow blooms that followed th sun's movement across the sky eventually will always remind me of childhood summers, grandfathers, and almost never thinking about tomorrow. I find myself lucky to have had a childhood that wasn't taken over by computers, arcade games and television. That I have become familiar with the rituals of nature and that things happen for a reason and that everything is but a part of a day.

The beauty of it all is that I cherish those blissful days of freedom. I can close my eyes and smell the fresh mowed grass or feel the warmth of the sun on my face at midday or the raindrops on my tongue. I know how the soil feels when you're barefooted or how to watch a solar eclipse without straining your neck or ruining your eyesight (from the reflection on the water from a bucket or a pond).

My summers, my childhood, my growing up years. How it has shaped me and why I am the way I am. And I hope the children of our future will have the same luxuries.

La Dolce Vita...


Jong has just returned from a two week sojourn in Batanes. After building up the suspense with just a single image uploaded on Monday, (as a reaction to my own joke that he was going to gag us with a million and a half pictures of Batanes) he finally resumed uploading the rest of the million and a half pictures from his trip.

Batanes consists 10 of the 1,700 islands of the Philippines. The three bigger ones being Itbayat Island (95 sq. km.), Sabtang Island (41 sq. km) and Batan Island (35 sq. km). Batanes is located at the extreme north of Luzon. It is the smallest province of the country, and because of the miles of rough seas that surround it, is also the most isolated. And thus it is an island where time has stopped. It is charming, romantic and laid back. And it is also weather-beaten, the path of many typhoons that hit the country. These do not make for a bitter land and people. In fact, it has shaped a people to be laid back, more accepting of the weather and life’s unpredictability. And its land is like no other. Long stretches of rocky shores, rugged mountains and breathtaking vistas that will remind one of Ireland.

I have never been there. Always dreamed about it, planned and talked about it but never really had the chance to actually visit. Now that I am on the other end of the globe I can only admire it from the Jong’s photo-blog site.

There’s more where it came from. See his pictures and be captivated.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

NY's Annual Gay Parade

Gay Pride Week culminated in one of Manhattan's happiest, should-watch parades today. The 2004 Annual Gay Pride Parade started at noon from midtown and crawled to the downtown west side amidst cheers, applause and partying.

People of all ages, creed, race, gender and background converged on 5th Avenue and flaunted their sexuality. For me, I have never seen so many men - so beautiful, so perfect and so uninterested in what I have to offer - ngiii. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against gay men. Some of my very best friends are gay and they are the smartest, wittiest and truest of men I have met in my lifetime. They happen to make up the few who are loyal, straight-forward and true. Romantically, however, I certainly hope I stay with the straight male.

Enjoy the pictures!

Where the Boys Were

Queen Canary and a Vin Diesel wanna-be

More from the Costa Rica float

Colours of the Day

Love and Springtime

“who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves”
by e e cummings

It is spring and a perfect time to be in love; to smile with no reason and be noticed that your eyes have a glow; to have to walk on air, almost constantly floating; to have someone to think of last thing before you close your eyes at night and first thing as you wake to a new morning. And Spring with its promise of new beginnings, compounds each moment ten-fold.

My friend is on cloud 9. She calls me up with all excitement to narrate to me the details of the latest phone call with a new beau. ‘Killer statements’, she’d emphasize some classic lines he may have spewed during the phone conversations that would last hours. Statements which were either ‘kilig’ or makes her anxious because it sounds so ‘serious’. She would then re-tell over lunch while another girlfriend and I would now analyze each section of the conversation and try to derive its ‘hidden’ meaning. Then we all giggle in glee while the rest of the population in the office cafeteria who are within earshot roll their eyes in disbelief.

This reminds me of high school crushes and first love during the teenage years - when love letters were dissected to its last bit of sense, ignoring the poorly crafted and grammatically challenged compositions but instead focusing on the subliminal meanings. When all the girlfriends were the experts on relationships and everyone gave their ten-cents worth.

"Love is like playing the piano. First you must learn to play by the rules, then you must forget the rules and play from your heart. "

Advise: Sound as though you’re interested. Don’t cut the conversation short to take another call or worse, say goodbye. He’d think he’s totally boring you to death and will be embarrassed to call again.

Therefore: Phone Call Number 2 lasted 2 hours and she timed it for the sake of the advise-giver.

Advise: (After he gives her his cell phone number) Call after the 5th time he calls. That ought to be a comfortable stage when you can already ring him up just to say ‘hello’. Also doesn't denote: I'm aggressive or desperate.

No result yet, last night was just the 3rd phone call.

Advise: Ask him to email you his picture so we can already settle this issue of what ‘salt and pepper’ look he really brandishes – does that mean 'still have hair but has some gray' or does it mean literally, mature-looking (nyek).

Unexpected: A friend who had initiated the match making has invited him to a party this coming weekend and so they’ll take a picture of him and send it to her. Yawza!

Advise: Don’t dwell so much on the details that were important in high school. Does it matter what school did he go to? Isn’t it more important that he makes a lot of money now?

Question: What school did he go to?

"Love is like the measles, all the worse when it comes late in life."

Love, falling in love and being in love doesn’t suit any specific age. I feel as much giggly and overwhelmed now with someone as with my first valentine at Grade 3. I go around Manhattan and watch in admiration couples in the winter of their years walking around holding hands or exchanging knowing glances from across a dining table. A little boy of about 4 blushing when his girl classmate takes his hand in a class excursion to Central Park.

Seeing someone experience new love, though, at the age when most of our friends are raising families implants hope to the heart of the one who is a spectator. "Love is always in the mood of believing in miracles." (J.C. Powys)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Hello and Goodbye

When is the right time to say goodbye? How do you know when a relationship has taken its cue for an exit? Should you wait until one or the other has become so miserable that existence has become a torment? When things have started to reach that point when too many complications has turned into drama – must you stick with it and try to work it out or cut it clean before it becomes a sad affair? Up to what point should ‘working it out’ be the battlecry? Soon enough is either giving up too soon or too late. And too late would be when the relationship has become about sadness and the hurting instead of mutual joy, happiness, love and bliss. So when is it the right time to throw the towel into the ring?

Last week I came to terms with these questions that had been bogging me for months. I was no longer happy. I realized that my partner and I had outgrown each other. He feels I have become too demanding and that he can no longer cope. Most of the time when I need things to get done, he reciprocates with a stall and then just gives up.

Like new relationships, we started out fine. We were enjoying each other’s company perfectly. Not too heavy with life’s accumulated load yet, we became each other’s perfect companion for many nights and weekends. At the end of the day when I got home, I was more than happy to bond with him, sometimes engaging him with my stories until early morning. For more than 10 months he had become the repository of my thoughts, my dreams, frustrations and just about everything that I wanted to share intimately. He and Nicole got along well, too when she was here briefly for a vacation. He is not sociable and often when I had guests at home often preferred to stay away from the banter.

Two months ago, however was when I began to see the signs. Visibly, we had outgrown each other. He could no longer cope with me and my demanding lifestyle. And because I felt like he wasn’t trying to keep pace with me, the more frustrated and resentful I got until it came to a point when we hardly had anything to do with each other.

Last week, I finally made a decision. It was time to accept the fact that we had to move on – without each other. He has found someone new and I hope will be one he will be happier with – in California where the sun always shines and where life is a little laid back. This morning, we said goodbye.

I have someone new in my life now, too. He is not a replacement, just one I hope I can be happy with, who can appreciate my devotion and who will be able to keep up with me when I get hyper. One who could travel with me wherever I wanted to go without strings and attachments. He arrived yesterday at 10:45 AM and I waited in anticipation by my window for the brown truck to bring him in. And when he finally came, we connected trouble-free. And I have named him ‘Angelo’.

So I finally said farewell and goodbye to my nameless Toshiba notebook and hello to my dear ‘Angelo’ – my new Dell Inspiron 8600. Pentium M, 15.4” WXGA, 40GB HD with wireless internet surfing and all the works. And this is his picture on my desk…

Friday, June 18, 2004

Don't Let me be Misunderstood

Writing for me had always been easy. As I child I enjoyed writing long letters to my grandmother who lived in San Diego, CA. I remember Francis, Gigi and I on the living room floor in front of the piano creating our ‘scribbles’ for Lola. I do not remember if Francis or Gigi wrote or drew. But I know that was how I discovered the joy of writing down my thoughts and sharing them with someone.

In the age of the internet, I find myself in touch with so many people – old boyfriends, previous workmates, relatives, friends from way back, and even people who were not really that close to me but somehow during email exchanges developed a certain affinity with. I belong to 3 e-groups (one with friends from grade school and two from previous companies I worked for) and so my Yahoo mailbox averages a deluge of emails daily. And this doesn’t include the spam and the junk mail. It’s a good thing that Yahoo had just recently increased the email storage of free subscribers to 100 MB.

I write as I speak. If you knew me and how I managed regular conversation you will attest to that. My laughter is exactly how I would put it into words, too: mwahahaha! I try not to dwell too much on how the email is composed. I dispose of all the grammatical rules and go by what I feel will be comfortable for my reader to understand my message. And my messages are often benign and light. Life in general, insights, my rants and raves and the little sprinkling of drama that comes up with those with whom I may have shared something deeper and at times, profound.

It is a not always a good thing, even on a strictly friendly email exchange I realized that it is dangerous to let your guards down and be comfortable with words and emotions played online. It could be misinterpreted and the receiver might be misled to believe that you have other interests or agenda. I was a victim to this.

My email friend was someone I worked with who was not really very close to me when he was still in New York. It was the usual 'hi’ and ‘hello’ and the innocuous flirty exchanges whenever the playfulness seemed appropriate. If you knew me you’d also agree that flirting to me comes as easily as breathing.

When he left the country and returned home, we resumed a comfortable exchange that included sharing some very personal unraveling. We exchanged a lot of pictures (he of his travels and I sent him mostly pictures of parties with friends we used to work with).

The exchanges became regular which initially were quite friendly and then later transgressing to becoming more intimate. If it made me feel uncomfortable I took with a grain of salt and shrugged off the uneasiness as my own fault for being too uptight and blamed the Catholic upbringing. Until later he sent me an email that literally made me fall of my chair.

“I think I should talk to you frankly because I think there is a bit of confusion…Please do not mix up a friendship with something else, it is not my intention and I hope you understand that…”

He knows I have a boyfriend. I have shared with him my tirades about my imperfect perfect relationship but I have never faltered in underlining the fact that despite its imperfections, I am comfortable and happy with what I have. This is with the premise that there are worse soap-opera situations that prevail in the romantic scenario category.

The email he had sent me had short circuited me and my once-eloquent capability to compose emails with comfortable ease and informality. The consecutive emails I received from friends were left unanswered for days. I couldn’t contemplate how to reply to them with fear of sending out a wrong impression or message.

In response to the email, in panic I had typed a lot of idiotic nonsense in the hope to recapitulate my friendly intentions and then had hit the send button to regret it almost the immediate second the draft flew into cyber space. As you very well know, trying to salvage a shattered ego, explain your innocent intentions and attempting to be polite do not go get diluted very well in a four paragraph email typed in haste.

I had no one else to confide to. He was a close friend of everyone else in my group. Eventually when the drama had become too much I decided to tell my boyfriend and had expected a backlash. He was understanding and had reminded me that some men will put malice to my actions. It didn’t even have to be sweet, flirty or caring. If a man who is not used to getting the kind of attention I give my friends suddenly finds himself in the midst of that doting, he may misinterpret it for anything else other than friendly intentions.

And then in his usual acerbic kind of humor, he tried to cheer me up: …”at least now you can say you’ve had it all. You just got rejected by someone you weren’t even interested on…”

I have resumed with my emails with the other friends. Yesterday he emailed me back after almost a 3 week break and apologized for his 'weird behavior' and opened the idea again of resuming the exchanges. I had tried to compose a reply several times during the day. My fingers on the keyboard would freeze, unable to find the words to respond. It is as though my brain draws blanks whenever I am reminded of that message he had sent to me. Despite the prodding to 'move on' and 'get over it' I had been chanting to myself over and over, I just couldn't move forward.

Exactly how far can you be affable with a person of the opposite sex without stepping beyond the borders of friendship?

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood..."

Elvis Costelo

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


"Perception is real, truth is not. I'm not fighting for money and possessions. I'm fighting for something more precious. I pray that as we enter the cyber age -- the Age of Transparency -- the facts and the truth will out."Imelda Marcos, cited in The New Yorker, April 1998 (by Margaret Phillips)

Ramona Diaz captured the most entertaining Filipina ever in her documentary, ‘Imelda’. This ‘star’, as she refers to herself, did not appear in any episode of the telenobelas or Kuya Germs’ That’s Entertainment. For us martial law babies, she was the constantly gown-donning, well-coiffured First Lady who could cry at the drop of a lace hanky or laugh or smile on cue. She was also the reason many of us despise the song ‘Dahil sa Iyo’. Ramona Diaz’ film does not condemn her nor ridicule her. In fact, the subject of the documentary pretty much excels at accomplishing the latter herself without help from anybody. Neither does the film justify her eccentricities. It creates moments of enlightenment as to how famous people become self-absorbed and self-centered.

Fr. James Reuter, SJ recalls how when he had come to visit her, she talked endlessly about herself for 3 hours that he did not even have the chance to utter an ‘oh’ in between her monologues. And when after 3 hours she had gone weary, she had put on a video of herself on the TV for him to watch. He ended up being inundated by two Imeldas – one in person and another on the dumb box (pun not intended).

Diaz gives equal air time to the so-called Steel Butterfly’s detractors and loyalists. It is however Imelda who creates the over-all tone and message for the movie. Her obsession to replay images of her and her husband during their glory days on video and even as her children take their turn into the political arena, her focus is still on how they will describe her to be the master in the art of politics. She will even nudge the viewer to pay attention to how Bongbong and Imee will exalt her in a few seconds. And then you will relish how her face acknowledges with approval and agreement her children’s praises.

The flaunting of the ostentatious lifestyle is of course, inevitable. A parade of her burdado gowns and the infamous 3500 pairs of shoes (which is claims isn't true as there are only 1,200), the parties with George Hamilton serenading her, the diaper boxes with the jewelries all reminded us once again why the anger among the thinking Filipinos eventually led to the EDSA revolution.

A hilarious moment is when she tries to prove to her audience that she has a philosophical streak. She begins to explain using picturegrams her ‘Seven Portals to Peace’ which eventually wound up to ten to which she concludes that computers, this one a drawing of an apple (yup, sweetie, your Mac) are somehow linked to the great Creator. You have to see the movie to appreciate that joke… err, philosophy pala.

On the web, a post-movie visit should be: The Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos.

You shouldn’t miss the movie – regardless if you are Filipino or not. It once more underlines the truth that the rich are not like you and me. And for that I say: THANK GOD!

"If you live the way I do, you think heaven and paradise is after death, after the sementeryo. No sir! It can be here. And so can hell be. So you've got to have the right attitude to be in paradise. And I want you all to be in heaven with me. Really, it's true. I can assure you really. I will find for you paradise and heaven even after I come down from Malacanang. And I will have happiness and paradise even after Malacanang." -- cited in Beatriz Romualdez Francia's Imelda: A Story of the Philippines

P.S. As per Philstar on June 17, Imelda has filed with her lawyers a request NOT to show the documentary in the Philippines.

Monday, June 14, 2004


It's Sunday morning. I slept through til 7AM until Jiji called asking me what I wanted to do. Told her I've not had much since yesterday. Been alone. The friends have their own agenda. I cleaned the apartment yesterday, did the lousy chore of laundrying and met a new girl from the apartment who has the same rants as I do. She's returning home to Israel end of the month for good, though. She had been in the city for more than 6 years. Another possible friend leaving the city. Oh well..

We have been having great weather, not humid, light cool breeze and lots of sunshine. One of those rare spring days we didn't have last year at all when it remained wintry and rainy during the weekends.

Yesterday morning I checked online and decided to see the street fair on Second Avenue. I took the bus from Lex and got off 14th Street and then walked up til it ended on 23rd. I had my camera with me but I didn't feel like taking pictures. These are the same stalls we saw last year anyway. Same oily Italian sausages, watered down lemonades and cold spring rolls. I wandered aimlessly, seeking out something that wasn't in any of the white tents. An Asian man smiled at me and asked if he could help me find what I was looking for. He had some leaflets that he was giving out. I smiled back and shrugged.

I have no idea what I am looking for. I don't even know if I have it already.

He smiled back and I think we understood each other. We probably have the same life - in a box.

All Mondays I would send you pictures so you would somehow share with me my weekends. The walks in the park, the spring flowers bursting, children playing, dogs wagging back at me. This weekend I have become camera weary.

My images do not capture the photographer's emotions. When I sent you colorful boats on the pond in Central Park you had imagined my playfulness, laughing with the children, sitting on the benches and raving about spring and the city and life. I didn't. I took the photo and sat on the bench and watched the children and sought for the laughter from deep inside of me. I dug deep and low and it hid in the shadows. I had to move aside the huge chunk of ache of loneliness that kept getting in the way. I then got up and moved on. That is life is all about anyways, getting up and moving on.

There are no 3x5's in the mail tomorrow. Maybe if I withhold the images, you will miss them and the vignettes of the city that I have continuously supplied to you by long distance. Maybe I can get you to hop on a plane to see for yourself, immerse in the paced lifestyle, bask in the early arrival of summer and watch people passing by, from a bench on the park at 47th just across from the church.

You'll be with me next time I go outside
NO more 3x5's
I guess you had to be there
I guess you had to be with me
Today I finally overcame
tryin' to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood to
lose my way but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You'll be with me next time I go outside
no more 3x5's
just no more 3x5's

3x5 John Mayer from the album Room for Squares

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Movie Buff

I had bought myself a DVD player during one of the Memorial Day Weekend sales. It was an impulse buy. I had a list of priorities currently in my list of to-save for and to buy-first but I ceded to my instincts that this would be a good buy. Goodbye, really to my cash but I had been enjoying it so much that I do not mind starving myself for a day or two to make up for the diversion to my household budget. Hahahaha, and bundle that with a membership with Blockbuster. Good decision to have taken the new promo deal which is $24 for unlimited videos, two titles at a time.

I have caught up with some of the many movies I have missed (yes, despite my average showing at the movies, I still miss one or two) as well as the episodes of 'Sex and the City' Season 6.

Initially, I averaged one movie a night. It wasn't surprising therefore that I had become an instant familiar face at the Blockbuster video store a few blocks from my house. These days, I have resumed my social life outside of my apartment and just watch when I have time.

It is nice to have an alternative when there is nothing interesting on TV. I have to underscore however that I am not a TV addict. most of the time, as it is this moment, I keep it on just to have some noise in the apartment. My only real favorites include Friends (now just on re-runs) and West Wing (which just ended its season). I have not developed any interests on any of the reality shows except for 'The Apprentice' and only really watched it when it wound down to its last 2 epidoes with Bill and Kwame. I rooted for Kwame so when he lost, I have lost faith on such TV genre as well.

Now, in case you have time to go to the video store later, I will name some of my favorites so far and I hope if you decide to take them as suggestions, you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Ranked in no particular order but will start with my most favorite so far:

1. Chocolat with Juliette Binoche
2. Finding Nemo with the clown fish
3. Mystic River (I just adore Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn is the best!)
4. Y Tu Mama Tambien (it has english subtitles and is the 2nd time I am watching it)
5. Good Girl (Jennifer Aniston gets serious)
6. My house in Umbria
7. Cinema Paradiso (my next MOST favorite)

I will continue to update you on my movie adventures next time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Puerto Rico: Windows to the World

A few weeks ago I travelled to Puerto Rico for a vacation. My first time at the Caribbean and I was truly excited to finally be near a beach again. When we left New York, it was nippy and the temperature hovered in the 60's. Thus it was a welcome change to exit the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and feel the much warmer weather of the islands.

Like the Philippines, Puerto Rico lived much of its history under the Spaniards. The influence of Spain is prevalent from cuisine, the language, the pace of life, the architecture and religion. So much like being home, I couldn't help but compare it with what had been familiar to me, growing up. The siesta, the laid-back lifestyle where everything grinds slow, the people hanging out at public square, parks or malls just people-watching.

Old San Juan was awesome. The short drive from Isla Verde where we were staying to the old fortress was brief and scenic. Nicole was the great navigator who could always pinpoint where we were on the map. Upon arriving, Old San Juan's cobbestone streets immediately transported me back in time to my old favorite location - the streets of Vigan in Ilocos Norte, the Philippines. Ang ganda, feeling Maria Clara nanaman ang drama ko.

The cobblestone streets of Old San Juan

And another similarity are the balconajes, the windows and the grand portals that open to the streets. In old San Juan, though the houses are painted in bright pastels. It seems that life for the old generation of people who lived in these houses and the always present windows or balconajes (and those also in similar homes in Taal, Batangas and Vigan) made sure the breeze circulated into the living spaces and I presume, because they spent so much of their time looking out and interacting with the community. These were the tmes before the TV, the Gamebox, DVDs and Blockbuster and the internet. Windows had a bigger purpose to the household than bringing in air and light. It was where the young women stole flirty glances at their beaus passing by on the street, where neighbors greeted each other and where life literally passed by.

Windows to the world

On our stroll around Old San Juan, two posted signs caught my attention. One, that these people know how to enjoy life. HAPPY HOUR On Fridays from 8PM to 4AM. Beer is at $2.50, which according to my dear friend Jorge is CHEEEEP!!!

Another signage that was totally out of this world was from a place called Mr. Froggie which read: SORRY! We are open! 11:59 til you drop! I mean, what were they apologizing for? Is the food that bad???

Much of Old San Juan has been preserved and re-lives the struggle of Puerto Rico for its independence and its name. The palatial Capitol stands imposingly against the blue sky and onto the sea. At the end of the Paseo dela Princesa is a grand sculpture and fountain which pays tribute to the various ancestry that make up the Puerto Rican heritage.

The fountain at Plaza Princesa

The view from the Fort El Morro of the bay is breathtaking. And as if to add more drama, the clouds turned gray and threatened to heave some rain but didn't. The weather stayed mild, not humid at all. There was no way you could complain about the weather in this island paradise.

The people are warm, very welcoming and the old folks smiling. I think Puerto Rican women are really beautiful, no wonder four Ms. Universe titleholders and many a finalist have hailed from here. The men are like the familiar Filipinos - machismo definitely oozing from their genes. And what a funny coincidence, the weekend past-time is also sabong or cock-fighting.

As we returned to our hotel in Isla Verde from Old San Juan we passed by low income residential buildings that reminded me of the Bliss structures in Manila. Gigi narrated that these were built by a politician to integrate the low income bracket into the once high class expensive environs of the Condado. Exactly the story of our own Bliss.

Puerto Rican version of the Bliss housing

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Working Smart

Tinanggalan nila ng internet access si bestfriend Dennis sa office. Kainis. Di na tuloy nya mabasa ang blog ko. Di naman niya ma-alala pag nasa home computer na siya kasi syempre, puro ka-personalan ang mga ina-atupag niya. Di na rin daw siya maka chat sa MSN. Kaya sa yahoo na lang niya ako pilit hinuhuli. Kaso naman lagi ako 'invisible mode' sa aking yahoo. Hindi tuloy niya ako ma-timingan kung kelan ako nasa mesa ko. Lalo pa ngayo't madaming trabaho na nalalayo ako sa aking computer.

Bakit kako sila tinanggalan/binawasan ng access sa internet? Kakaibang pangyayari kasi halos naman lahat ng opisina dito sa Istets eh binibigyan ng access ang employado sa internet. Ang objective syempre is 'for official use only'. Sa amin, nagagamit ko yung aking internet pang-research ng mga balita mula sa ibang bayan na nauukol o nakaka-apekto sa aming mga opisyal na tungkulin. Pero syempre, minsan (minsan lang daw o!) nagagamit ko para i-update ang aking blog at maki-usyoso ng blog ng iba. Yung mga chat naman eh nagagamit namin inter-office para makapag tsismisan ukol sa mga kasama namin sa opisina para di obvious.

Sabi daw ng IT department nila, maraming natatanggap na spam (hindi yung de-lata) kaya tinanggalan sila ng internet. Dahil hindi nila magawan ng mas epektibong solusyon yung firewall niya at ayaw na nila bumili pa ng mas mahal na software o mag-isip ng ibang strategy para i-tama and problema, ginawa na lang eh inalisan ng Internet Explorer yung mga empleyado.

Na-alala ko yung sinabi sa aking ng aking kaibigang si Ron na taga-LA nung nasa Pinas pa ako. Na-kwento ko kasing mahaba ang aking oras ng trabaho dahil maraming responsibilidad at deadlines. Sinabihan niya akong kailangan kong matuto 'to work smart'. Eh ano yung work smart? Ibig bang sabihin nun ipapasa ko yung mga trabaho sa mga iba para wala akong ginagawa? Tapos kapag tanungan na kung sino nakatapos eh magnanakawan kayo ng credit? Lalo pa't kung panahon na ng performance appraisal at evaluation ng increases. O sasabihan ko yung mga naghihintay ng output ko na kailangan sumunod sila sa deadlines ko dahil hindi ko gustong magtrabaho ng sobra?

Ano nga ba ang working smart? Hindi ko na intindihan yun nung nasa Pilipinas pa ako. Kung ay kailangan tapusin, quesejodang alas singko y medya na sa relos, hindi ako makakabangon sa aking magkaka-upo sa harap ng computer hanggat hindi kumpleto ang mga dapat tapusing mga reports, proposals, spreadsheets at memos. Kahit pa alas nueve na ng gabi. At paano kung di mo na kaya ang trabaho? Eh di humanap ka ng ibang hindi ganun ka dami ang responsibilidad! Bakit nga naman di ka na lang mag-sales lady sa SM para standard operating procedure mo eh simple: 'sorry, no more in stock' or 'ewan' lang ang i-mememorize mo. Walang stress, di ba?

Nung nakarating na ako ng Istets atsaka ko lang naintindihan kung anong ibig sabihin ng working smart. Dito kasi smart ang working style ng mga tao. Binabagalan ang paggawa para di bigyan ng dagdag na trabaho. Sa opisina ko, yung mga pinoy ang pinaka stressed. Mabilis kasi sila magtrabaho tapos pulido ang mga natatapos nila. Madetalye, malinis kung gumawa. Kaya kung merong mabilisang kailangan tapusin, inililipat yung load mula sa iba papunta sa mga pinoy (hindi naman lahat. Meron din namang mga Pinoy na matatalinong marunong na din mag-work smart). Unti-unti ang transisyon. Minsan di mo na namamalayan. Bigla na lang magtataka ka kung bakit yung katabi mo eh laging nasa telepono at walang ginagawa habang ikaw eh hindi na makapag tutbrush at maka suklay sa sukdulang dami ng kailangang tapusin.

Tapos bigla kang matitingala at magliliwanag ang iyong kapaligiran. Isang pagmumulat...

Monday, June 07, 2004

EMAIL: Pinoy Jokes from Jong

I got these today from Jong this morning and he literally sent me to the floor rolling in laughter. Enjoy...

NAP: Saan ka movie outfit nakakontrata?
MANILYN: So far, hindi ko naman pinoproblema ang mga wardrobes ko kasi
ex-deal naman eh.

JULLIE: O Vi nag-guest na ko dito sa show. Ikaw,kailan ka naman magge-guest sa show ko?
VILMA : Alam mo naman Tita Jullie, busy kami ni Ralph sa pag-a-arrange ng kasal namin. Siguro pagkatapos na lang ng marriage!

3. If I were to compare the stars of my era with the star discoveries of Dr. Rey delaCruz,it would be like placing the Taj Majal of India side by side with a Volkswagen. * CELIA RODRIGUEZ

RITA: Here's your question, hija: Are you still a virgin?
MARIA ISABEL: If I say I still am, can I bring home the crown tonight?
RITA: Good answer!
MARIA ISABEL: What about you Ma'am, are you still a virgin?
RITA: Hija I have 5 children with 5 different fathers,what do you call that, Immaculate Conception???

5. Ang ganda ng gospel number na yon, napaka-enlighting. Teka magpupunas lang ako, I'm sweatening.*VILMA SANTOS

6. Thank you, Lucky for the flowers...where did they came from? *VILMA SANTOS

7. Being Miss Universe is like having a birthstone, you may lose it. Being a Filipina is like having a birthmark, it's forever. *MARGIE MORAN DURING THE Q AND A PORTION OF THE 1973 MISS UNIVERSE, ASKED WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING MISS UNIVERSE AND BEING A FILIPINA

8. Salamat po sa Board of Judges. Ito na ho yata ang pinakamaligaya kong pasko at manigong bagong taon sa inyong lahat. * MELANIE MARQUEZ'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH FOR WINNING BEST ACTRESS IN A METRO FILMFEST

9. Successful naman ang libing ng nanay ko. *BABETTE VILLARUEL

10. "Sa tingin ko ang pinaka-asset ko sa mukha ko ay ugali!Mabait kasi ako eh" *MR. POGI CONTESTANT'S ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: ANO SA MUKHA MO ANG PINAKA-ASSET MO?

11. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I am Ma. Rosario Liboon, I come from the beautiful city of Pangasinan...City! *SHE'S GOT THE LOOK CONTESTANT

12. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I am Carmelita HErnandez, I come from Pasay City and I want to be a medicine! *ANOTHER SHE'S GOT THE LOOK CONTESTANT DURING THE PARADE OF CONTESTANTS

13. BOY A: O Melanie, do you have any message to your mother-in-law in case nanonood siya ngayon!
MELANIE: You know what Kuya Boy, I have to speak in English cause she cannot understand Tagalog. "You know what Mrs. Dee...I've long been wanting to tell you this... Ang labo mo!"

14. EDU: So who's to blame?
VILMA: Excuse me, it's not my fault anymore. It's your fault anymore!

GIRL : My God you're so late. Where did you...Where have you...Where do you... saan ka ba galing???


DESSA : O kala mo ikaw lang ang mataas ang boses.Kaya mo yun?
REGINE : Eh ano ngayon, maganda ka ba?

SABRINA M: At least hindi naman ako katulad ng iba diyan na retokado ang boobs.
OSANG : Hoy Sabrina, oo nga itong boobs ko retokado. Pero at least ang ngipin ko hindi pustiso tulad ng sa yo! Ooops huwag kang magagalit baka malaglag yan sa sahig!

19. "I am inviting all the televiewers to watch our movie "14 Going Steady" on the twenty-twoth of November...." (HAY NAKU, O SIYA....) -Nadia Montenegro

20. "Sana po'y panoorin natin ang The Life Story Of Julie Vega...alam kong masaya si Julie ngayon dahil it's just around the corner. (GAWIN DAW BANG CHRISTMAS SPIRIT SI JULIE?) -Nadia Montenegro

21. "I am not an addict. I am the victims!" (WALA TALAGA SIYANG
PAGOD,NO?)-Melanie Marquez

22. Host: "Ano ba ang pinaka-favorite mong movie lately, Melanie?"
Melanie:"Maganda yung kay Emma Thompson at Kate Winslet, yung "Simple and Simplicity"? It's supposed to be Sense and Sensibility

23. "Magandang Tanghali po, ako po si Luzviminda Cortez mula sa Camarines Sur, sumalangit na po ang inyong kaluluwa!" -Miss Gay Philippines candidate during the parade of candidates

Bb. Filipina contestant was asked by Apa Ongpin which of the five senses she could do without, she answered "my eyes." Apa asked, why her eyes? She replied, "Because I've got beautiful eyes." (with matching sultry look)

When asked what place in the Philippines she would boast about, Calendar girl contestant replied: "Bocaue" Intrigued hosts ask, "What about Bocaue? What's in it to boast about?" Girl replied: "Why, the Bocaue rice terraces of course."

A reporter complimented Mark Anthony Fernandez: "Mark Anthony, ang cute cute mo, you've got rosy cheeks just like your mom!" To which he replied: "Syempre, it runs to the blood e."

1. melanie marquez and boy abunda:

boy: o melanie, paano na ang showbiz career mo ngayong nagmo-mormon ka na?
melanie: a okay lang yan boy kasi matagal na rin akong semi-retarded.

2. super sireyna contest:

emcee: anong masasabi mo sa death penalty?
bading: a ano po yun toot por toot, eye por eye.
emcee: paki-eksplika nga?
bading: ganito po yun: kung pinatay mo ang nanay ko, dapat, patayin din ang nanay mo!

3. little miss phiippines contest

emcee: anong gusto mong maging paglaki mo? little miss contestant: maging lalaki po.

4. mr. world philippines contest

emcee: what do you think should a man possess to be successful?
contestant: i think, that for a man to be successful, he should be a responsible, because if he should not be a responsible, he will not have a successful. that is all. i thank you.

5. kuya germs, interviewing the boygroup, 98 degrees

kuya germs: are you already married?
98 member: no, i'm still single.
kuya: WOW! imagine that! what a koynseedense! three years ago, you are here, you are single. i am here, i am single. now, three years after, you are still here, you are still single. i am still here, i am still single! it's anbeeleebabol!

6. hetero talent scout, sighting a super gorgeous girl, and trying to score points

talent scout: excuse me. are you a commercial? (after five milliseconds and realizing booboo)..model?

the weird part of this story is that, kumagat ang girl. at magsyota na sila ni mr. booboo. baka mas malala pa ingles ni girl kasi.

7. leonardo litton and rodel velayo, guesting on keep on dancing

charlene gonzales: hi leonardo, hi rodel, welcome to keep on dancing!
leonardo litton: welcome din po!

Alma Moreno wrapping up the conversation with guest Joey Albert in her now defunct show Rated A. Joey de Leon was the co-host.

Alma: So Joey, paki ulit muli yung concert mo sa University of Belt.

Joey de leon : Ness naman eh, kaya tayo pinagtatawanan eh, University Belt

Eto bloopers sa now defunct game show na GoBingo!

Question: Saan sinusuot ang basketball jersey?
Answer: Sa paa

Question: Anung Nationality ng sanggol na may amang Filipino Catholic at Protestanteng Ina?
Answer: American

Question: Ano ang ginagamit ng mga Eskimo sa halikan?
Answer: Dila

Question: Ilan ang paa ng pilay na pusa?
Answer: Tatlo

Question: Hindi ito boob, hindi ito tube, pero tinatawag ng iba na boob tube. Ano ito?
Answer: Bra

Question: Anong bukol ang makikita sa leeg ng mga lalaki
Answer: Kiss mark

Question: Ano sa Tagalog ang asul?
Answer: Blue

Question: May dalawang baboy sa kulungan. Tumalon ang isa. Ilan ang paa ng isang baboy?
Answer: Dalawa pa rin

Question: Sa anong bansa nakatira ang mga Hindu?
Answer: Hindunesia

Question: Ano ang isinusuot ng taong walang buhok?
Answer: Kalbo

Question: Ano ang kasunod ng kidlat?
Answer: Sunog

Question: Para saan ang anti-dandruff shampoo?
Answer: Kuto

Question: Kung manicure sa kamay, ano ang sa paa?
Answer: Kuko

Question: Ano ang nasa gitna ng donut? Answer: Palaman

Question: What is the capital of the Philippines?
Answer: P

Friday, June 04, 2004

What NOT to Blog

Francis complains that I do not have new entries everyday. 'Keep up with your readership,' he scolds me on YAHOO chat. That is, of course a concerned brother's way of keeping me close to the keyboard and away from trouble. He knows me well.

I do stay in trouble and I do make a lot of entries into my blog. Unfortunately, not all of them see the light of publishing. Often, they sit in my folders as DRAFT entries. There are even some unfortunate times when what has already been printed gets to be pulled out due to some valid concern brought forward to my attention by the more dissenting reader. Trust me, I write and if I judge it to be sufficient for public consumption, it makes it to the site.

What is NOT bloggable, however? That would vary per writer. Ludette had me pull out the pretty little article I had written out about springtime and new love. I was sooo kilig an article, anyway!

I also got reprimanded by strictest editor and greatest fan c",)for writing about the flailing love stories of two dear friends which they shared while we were having tapas and wine in Brooklyn. My main critic reminded me that half the people from my work reads my blog and he felt uncomfortable that they would have to know of our friends' heart aches. Good point.

Personally, I will not write about very personal matters. I think I crossed the line when I wrote a blog about my personal rantings a while back.

No sex, no violence, no admitting to anything that I cannot add a disclaimer to after, or anything that will be hard to retract with regard to my love life, morality or lack thereof will not be bloggable. Trust me, be a mom first and know what I mean. The least of my concern is my daughter getting back to me with a: "you did it!" premise to an argument. Nah, she doesn't resort to that. She has a more lethal arsenal of premises to put forth before me than that. She'll say such a strategy is too "80's". Go figure.

My closest relationships - that of my family, romance and friends are all too intimate and precious to be shared. Consider me selfish there but that will not see print. Not even a picture. A picture of me? Ha! There is one but find me in the crowd - hahaha!

Like what I have quoted from Dante (above), I would like to have the fantasy that I am writing for just myself and no one else. I have encased in these HTML pages my 5 cents worth (and sometimes more) on everything that goes on in my head. This blog had literally been the showroom for my psychoses and neuroses. I have evolved from the closet psycho to the runnning-naked-on-the-street loony. It comforts me, however that I remain a faceless voice narrating from a stage to a dark audience.

My blog doesn't intend to be political (my work doesn't allow me to do that) and my intellectual capability doesn't have the depth to plunge on such a labyrinthine and intricate path. I'm admittedly the shallowest of the shallowest. I am so shallow, my knees are always dry (mani, mani...I know).

So what NOT to blog:

1. past, present romances (future, in an attempt to tease fate, I will do that...hasn't hurt so far)

2. health situations - specifically: MINE

3. what I did that day my cell phone was off, my landline kept ringing and the machine was full, my emails got backlogged and I literally fell into the black hole

4. my plans in August

5. pictures of me, Nicole, the family (hmmm... Gigi and Gabbie exempted from that for obvious reasons)

6. anything work related (give me a break - there isn't even anything worth writing about it!)

7. relationships - mine and my close friends

8. my weight, my shoe size or my bra size

Hmmm... so I guess everything else is GAME!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Me Don't Like You

I don't like you. You're nasty. When I make up a fight you don't make carino me. You make the bad things because of me unlike before when it was always your fault and you always said sorry. Now you don't say sorry anymore. You just spin the un-ending arguments with me. Like you're buying time on the phone to keep me there.

It's not as fun as it was before, when you'd humor me when I had my tantrums. When everything that was nice was always about me and the bad was always about you. I used to be the sweetest girl you have ever met but not you don't say that anymore. You used to make dinner for me and coffee and foot massages. Now that is history.

You used to email me as often as you can to say nonsense. You used to go online to chat with me for more nonsense. No more sense, nonsense or in-betweens. These days its just always about work and the weather and everything in general.

I miss the days when things were fun and nothing was serious. When you would remind me that life is not always about fun and serious. Now I do not get reminded anymore. Of anything. Just the weather and work and life in general.

I don't like you anymore and if I could, I'd return you to the store where I had found you. But you are non-returnable and non-replaceable. It's a one-time thing. In some places you are what they would call a consumable.

I am consumed. I am tired of this routines we have to go through to tide over the emptiness, the loneliness, the sadness. I am tired of waiting and of hoping. I am tired of constantly telling myself that I am alright because more and more I know I will not be until we can be together again.

I am sad but I cannot cry. I have lost your memory to time. I cannot remember how you smell or how you feel or how you hold me when I am sad like this. I have forgotten the sound of your voice, the smile on your face and your palm on my lips. And the feel of that afternoon growth on your chin on my face at the end of the day.

I feel like a soul with no destination wandering the streets seeking her home. I have this emptiness that needs more than the emails, the calls or the other temporary ways we have come up with to ease the distance.

Anchor my heart and still my aches, come home to me and mend this sadness. I don't like you anymore. You have made me sad, alone and still in love with you.