Saturday, December 29, 2007

Last Entry for the Year

I talk too much. But of course, you already know that. Maintaining this blog kept me going through everything I went through the past year. That’s more than I care to admit. What else can I say except thank you! Thanks for hearing me out. I hope you’d continue to share your stories and insights as well. A great and happy 2008 to you and your loved ones!
xoxo Thad

My Last Trip to Baguio

Hanapin mo kung saan ako. Sirit? Hehe I’m the boy in the black shoes with no socks, green shirt, and hand-me-down blue jacket, looking like Jolina Magdangal on a bad hair day. Lol! Ok, so I won’t win best dressed award, but this trip in 1987 (after EDSA revolution, and just before the great earthquake that razed the Hyatt to the ground) was one of the best memories I had in my childhood.

I’ve always had a couple of screws loose, which made everything quite interesting. Tooth-pulling, boxing, and championing Chinese garter games were my “thing”. What a hoot!

Friday, December 28, 2007

There and Back Again: The Arduous Trip to Maasin

It was my fault. I thought the trip from Tacloban to Maasin, Southern Leyte was a mere 2-3 hours, so I made no preparations at all. Wearing only my PE T-shirt and jeans, and bringing only my digital camera for the task my father assigned me to do (plus a tiny mp3 player with earphones permanently attached to my ears), I went to the station to meet with my sister-in-law with my nephew.

The sky was overcast, and we waited about 30 minutes for the bus. The ride to Abuyog (my father’s hometown, where my in-law was headed to) was uneventful. The real trouble started when I took the bus to Maasin. From the town of Abuyog, there were no more vans available, only rickety buses coming from Tacloban which are usually filled to the brim with passengers.

I took a seat nearest to the door, the hard bench pressing against my bottom (which by the way, was only seated halfway because the man next to me was the size of an ogre and his ass claimed 75% of the bench area). I gritted my teeth and decided to just endure the ride. The problem was that the bus kept stopping and adding more passengers (I wondered where they planned to put them) and at one particular stop, an old lady got in.

I tapped her on the shoulder. “Lola, didi nala.” I said, offering her my seat. She smiled and took the seat. Meanwhile, it had begun to rain so they closed most of the windows. I was afraid I’d throw up, sandwiched by other passengers at the middle of the narrow aisle.

Finally at the stop in Baybay, a seat was available. I saw this particular side that was vacated. As the bus started to move forward, I realized why no people sat there- the seat in front of me was on top of the huge engine and the seat I was sitting on radiated heat. Great, I thought, I’d be lechon by the time I get to Maasin. I tried to sleep it off, but the seat was really uncomfortable. Ask my ass- she isn’t happy.

I arrived at my destination four hours later, with my bladder so distended I had goosebumps on my arms. I found a clean restroom and peed an entire river. As if on queue, my phone emptied its battery and now I’m stuck in a city I’ve only been to once when I was ten, with no contact with my cousins.

“Excuse me, asa dire pwede mag-charge?” I asked haltingly in the best bisaya I could muster (Waray dialect is different from bisaya, by the way). I negotiated with the lady in the eatery that I’d pay her an amount if she allowed me to charge my phone just enough to make a phone call. She agreed.

Finally, my cousins came and rescued me. We went to the two-storey property that was in the family for generations; my father had wanted me to look at as he was thinking of having the place renovated into a commercial space. So, being sent as the “architect” (note the quotation marks) I did my sketches and took photos and everything I remembered about site analysis.

The fun part came after the task, where Manong gave me a tour of the city. Cacao Mountain Resort with its falls was particularly lovely, so was the beautiful restaurant overlooking the pier. The city also boasted of a 17th century church and a Museum of Art and History, but the most noteworthy was the image of the Assumption of Mary perched on a hill overlooking the city. Think Rio de Janiero’s Christ the Redeemer (on a smaller scale, of course).

When evening came, I was confronted with the problem of accommodations. My cousins were worried I won’t be comfortable with the “boyscout set-up” they had despite my insistence, so they found me a place that was air conditioned. I would have wanted to stay at Cacao, but I didn’t bring my ATM card and I only brought 500 bucks (thinking I’d be home by the end of the day).

I left very early the next day, just leaving a note for my cousins. Unwashed, tired, and disheveled, I finally made my way to the highway to catch the bus to Tacloban.

6 more hours of bus ride, good luck to me!







Tagay!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Best of Me

I know that’s a song title. Lol! For some reason, I’ve been a little pensive these days. Listening to love songs, sitting on my bed and just going through my old things (you see, I was in the process of cleaning my room).

Grabe, ang bilis ng panahon- mag 2008 na pala ano? That means I also turn 28 next year. I still can’t believe it. So this is how it feels to be old! Hahaha sorry, I just got used to being young that I thought I’d be 25 forever. Unless I get into a party where everyone is 40, I don’t think I’d have that feeling back.

This probably also explains why I’ve had these “hormonal surges” telling me to settle down. Let’s face it- I’m already at the marrying age and the best age to have kids (so that if he finishes college I’d still be… 48?). Of course, that remains to be a big question mark. When my Lola asks when I’m getting married- I look at her, and even without explaining the whole ‘I’m queer situation’ I simply and honestly say, “I don’t know.” I really don’t.

In a way, I sort of envy the life of generic straight people. You’re born, you grow up, go to school, have a girlfriend, marry her, have kids, and die. Cut and dried. No coming out, no sneaky dating, no thoughts of IVF. Simple, right?

But despite the whole situation, I was just thinking, there are other things on the table. I still can live a meaningful life without necessarily following the norm. I forget I’m good with weird things and unconventional paths.

So it’s settled then, I’ll carry on this very queer path I’ve taken and still give it 200%.

3 Days, 6 Hours, and 90 Minutes in Ormoc

IV.

I woke up that day feeling as gloomy as the skies had become. Today, this little fairy tale I’ve weaved is about to end.

My sandals were wet, and so was the back of my leg from the rain. Rich wore the same clothes as he did last night. “What are you having for lunch?” He asked.

“Kahit ano.”

He grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. I looked at his face, he was mouthing “Cheer up!”

I smiled. “Kakainis, I have to go back to school and catch up on what I’ve missed.”

“So you regret being here.”

“No. It was worth coming here, I just hate it that it’s ending,”

We were silent while we ate.

I was thinking, perhaps this was just meant to be a great couple of dates and nothing more. A relationship was possible, but with the distance and all- it won’t work.

“You’re quiet again.”

“I’m just a little tired. When are you leaving for Cebu?”

“Bukas pa.”

“Kung wala lang akong unit test I’d stay. Sayang.”

“Next time mas matagal tayo mag-stay. We can go to those beaches in Samar you showed me pictures of.”

“Yeah.” I looked away.

-oOo-
The van was almost full when we arrived at the terminal. Rich handed me my backpack.

“Ingat ka.” He said, smiling.

“You know, I’d kiss you right now, but the guys in the van might beat me up later.” I laughed.

He held my hand for a while.

“Text me when you get home.”

“Sure.”

I get in the passenger seat and gave him a wave.

He waved back and smiled at me. I shut the door just as the van started moving. I hugged my backpack close to my chest and stared at the distance.

-End-

My Wedding Song, if Ever

(Sniff)My good friend is getting married next year. I sure hope she doesn't steal this one!

The Problem with Dating Someone "Out of Your League"

Picture this: you are finally having a date with your dream guy and you just can’t stop fidgeting. You worry about every damn cute guy (or a woman, if he is straight) who would enter the room and catch his attention.

You manage a smile when one of his friends come by, but start to panic once the friend acts as if they’re ex-lovers. Or were they really? You wonder. Meanwhile you double check your fingernails to see if they are dirt-less, then you pick up a spoon and try to desperately get a glimpse of your reflection. Is my hair still in place?

You hang on to his every word, thinking of a witty reply. You sigh with relief, once you manage to say something to his liking.

“Excuse me.” You say, leaving for the restroom the nth time to make sure there’s nothing stuck between your teeth, or perhaps a drop of sauce on your shirt. How embarrassing that would be!

When you return you think of other things you can discuss that you have in common- music perhaps? Movies? Wait, we already talked about that. Then oops, suddenly you spilled your drink on the table.

You make a joke out of it and try not to catch even more attention. Then, nearing the end of your dinner, you get nervous about how the date would end. If he kisses me, should I kiss him back? Or maybe not.

You finally decide to head home, and he waits for you to get a taxi. “I had a good time.” He smiles.

“Me too.” You say politely, too afraid to make a move.

The taxi pulls over. He leans towards you and you move your face towards his awkwardly to kiss him on the cheek.

As the taxi pulls off the curb, you breathe a sigh of relief.

Bzzzz! You check your phone, which you’ve set on vibrate. It’s him!

Dream date: Nytnyt! I’ll see you again soon.

Your reply: I had a great time too. It was great seeing you tonight.

Maybe he does like you, you think, otherwise he won’t be texting you now. Bzzzz! It’s your bestfriend calling.

“How was your date?” You slump back on the seat of the car.

“Exhausting!”

3 Days, 6 Hours, and 90 Minutes in Ormoc

III.

His hand felt warm, and felt nice to snuggle up to him inside the cold theater. Boy, if only I was still in my reckless phase I would have grabbed something else by now.

Through the darkness I saw the shape of his face- those lips that were in half a smile, his lashes, his slightly unruly hair. Right then, I just wanted the moment to freeze. Me in the arms of a guy I really like.

“I’m a little hungry, let’s get some food.”

“Sure, I say.” I walked quietly beside him. I let go of his hand after we went out of the theater lest I elicit curious stares from people. He put his arm on my shoulder and squeezed.

I look up and smiled at him. I know that look, and I know what that meant.

“Take out na lang tayo ha. Wanna go to my place afterwards?”

“Yeah.” He said, as we approached the counter.

-oOo-


We barely got through the door when he started kissing me. Oh gosh, I forgot how good it felt to have a man take me in his arms. I kissed him back, and roughly removed his jacket (just like in the movies!).

“Have you called your relative’s house yet? Are going to stay- ”

He kissed me again. Heck, let his folks worry about him later, Gracia na ito! I laughed to myself.

I put his t-shirt over his head ad start kissing his chest. When I look up a moment, I saw his eyes were closed, cheeks flushed, and lips parted.

I grab his belt, and kiss him as I unbuckle it.

He pulls up my shirt and sucks on my nipple. “Oh man.” My heart pounded. This is it- the point of no return. I kissed him again before I go down on him.

-oOo-

He already dozed off when my phone buzzed. I ignored it, and snuggled closer to him.

I’m so happy! I thought, resting my head on his shoulder. Through the glass windows, I saw the stars were gone, and it had begun to rain.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Job Posting: Full Time Dad

Are we ever really ready for a job like parenting? Five minutes ago, I was feeding my ten month old nephew Gavin (who made a complete mess of his high chair, by the way) and I imagined myself what it would be like if he were my son. The first reaction would probably be panic. I was there when little Gavin was born, and when I saw him for the first time I was a little alarmed with his cone head (the sutures on infant’s skulls are not really “sealed” allowing it to be pliable as the baby passes through the birth canal). My heart pounded, thinking that it was some sort of abnormality, but of course I’d later learn that this was not unusual at all.

The first time I held him in my arms I was afraid I’d break him. I walked slowly- afraid I’d trip and fall to the floor and hurt this bundle of joy. When his fist grabbed my index finger my heart simply melted. I’ve never seen a creature so pure. Every difficult circumstance- my brother getting my sister-in-law accidentally pregnant and his reluctance in marrying her, my grandmother’s indifferent attitude at the time, and my late mother’s frustration at my brother’s behavior- they all simply dissipated. His innocence wiped away everything that was negative. Truly, being given a child is a gift.

I’ve considered being a single parent- that would not be such a bad deal. Even in straight relationships, how many couples actually do get married? And for those who marry, how many of them actually do stay together? Single parents are all over the place. On one side, you have the advantage of never having a partner hurt you again, because you already have that little person who will love you. Still, the biggest disadvantage of being a one-man team is having the burden of providing food and clothing, raising and parenting your child, not to mention shouldering the cost of education of your child from Kindergarten to College all by yourself.

Maybe we all have this instinct that is imbedded in all of us that enables us to care for our young. Having the full-time responsibility in caring for one’s child, whether you are a single parent, or a couple, married or unmarried, would take an enormous amount of effort. But judging from the delight in their faces at seeing their kids grow and take steps toward becoming grown-up individuals- it’s probably worth it. How do I know? I used to see that same look on my late parent’s faces, especially when I’ve done something right.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Why Do I Still Get Misty When I See This?

3 Days, 6 Hours, and 90 Minutes in Ormoc

II.

“Been here long?”

The speaker was an attractive chinito wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

“Richard?” I asked.

“Yup.” He smiled.

I was suddenly shy. Damn, looked cute! I ran my fingers self-consciously through my hair.

“Kain tayo.” I pointed to the burger and fries on the table.

“So it’s your first time in Ormoc?” He smiled.

“Not really, daan lang several times on the way to Cebu.”

“I grew up here, bago mag-college.”

“Saan?”
“San Carlos.”

“So, saan mga nice places dito sa Ormoc?”

He rubs his finger on his chin. “We could have a picnic at the beach..”

“White sand ba?”

“Nah.”

“Sayang, kung malapit lang Samar we could go there instead. The beaches are pristine and absolutely fantastic. I think I brought my portfolio.” I reach into my backpack and take out the file containing glossy 8R photographs.

“Impressive.” He says, going through the pages.

“These monochromatic shots were taken at Busay Falls in Babatngon. And this…”

I carefully remove one photo from the file. “This is Calicoan Beach in Guiuan.”

“How far is Guiuan from Tacloban?”

“About three hours.”

“So if we come from Ormoc, it’ll take us five hours.” He grins sheepishly.

“More or less. Sayang talaga, if only we had more time I could show you around.” I returned the photo to its place and put the file back in my bag.

“Where to?” I asked.

-oOo-

We ended up going to Orchid Resort. It was a pleasant enough beach- wide expanse of water, gray sand, palm trees, and cottages that dotted the shore.

The cool salty breeze always soothed me, and at a distance I could see a ferry headed for Cebu.

“Let me carry that for you.” Said Richard, grabbing my backpack.

“Thanks Rich.”

I took out my camera and start taking pictures.

“Hey!” He said, covering his face.

“O, bakit?” I laughed.

“Di ata ako didikit dyan. Bihis muna ako.” He gets his shorts from his pack and starts looking for the dressing area.
“Ni wala atang shower area.” I remarked.

He returns to the cottage with his shorts. “Dito ka na magbihis.”

He pulls down his pants and start changing. I grab my camera and start snapping pictures. “For posterity’s sake.” I said, laughing, as he tried to evade the lens.

3 Days, 6 Hours, and 90 Minutes in Ormoc

I.
Ever since meeting him in person, I’ve had this weird melancholy feeling each time I see his face. The same sort of emotion I felt watching the opening sequence of Sunday Night Specials on TV when I was younger, just before the featured Hollywood movie starts. It would be a great film, for sure, yet I had this feeling of dread that it would be over soon. The magic would soon dissipate, and I’d be back to reality, preparing for a hectic Monday.

His name was Richard, and he was a student from Cebu. My spur-of-the-moment trip to Ormoc was a desperate attempt to revive my flagging lovelife. We met through an online site. Our conversation went like this:

Dec 21 17:57

Richard: Rich here, 5’8 fair and fit. Care to be friends?

Me: 25 discreet male (I’ve been 25 yrs old for three years now) here from Tacloban. Cute. Lol!

Richard: Nakapunta na me dun during your city’s fiesta… I like Sto. Nino Shrine and Red Beach

Me: Yeah, the Pintados is a big event out here. Next time ha text me when you get here. 0900 888 8888.


Dec 22 21:17

Richard: Sorry for the late reply, I went offline yesterday. Sure! Text me din if you get to Cebu 0900 999 5555. Are you working already?

Me: Nah, a student. I worked for a while but now I’m taking up Nursing. U?
Richard: Hehe pareho tayi bai, Nursing din course ko, graduating this year.

Me: Uy congrats! Hehe dapat pala magpaturo ako sa’yo.

Richard: Anong subject?

Me: Anatomy ; )

Richard: Hands-on gusto mo? hehe!


Dec 24 03:31

Me: Hey! Online ka pala..
Richard: May surprise ako sa ‘yo

Me: Ano yun?

Richard: Punta ako ng Ormoc next week. I’ll be visiting for three days.

Me: Ormoc is just two hours away by bus from Tacloban.. I have a class though.

Richard: Meet me in Ormoc. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

Me: We’ll see..


Sunday, December 23, 2007

What if..

Noble as the teaching profession is, I am not cut out for it, so I’ve never considered it among my career options. But say, if in a parallel universe I somehow become one, I’d probably teach a course that I myself enjoy- like Monochromatic Drawing or Communication Skills (some of the courses I actually look forward to attending, back in Diliman).

The thing I hate the most is repeating myself- I mean one probably would handle at least five classes, right? What am I supposed to do, deliver the same lecture over and over (including punchlines to my jokes)? That was why I refused to be part of the Training department once, at work. They lacked trainers that time, so Team Managers had to fill in temporarily. It was a simple class about certain software which I knew by heart, but twenty minutes into it I was bored out of my wits. I preferred the excitement and tension at the call center floor itself, where the agents actually handled live calls.

Teaching art is easy, I imagine, since students are pre-screened- they need to have the inclination for it. It is just a matter of teaching and applying techniques to broaden the student’s skills.

Comm 1, on the other hand is a requirement for everybody, whether one has an inclination for it or not. I remember my professor, a Jesuit priest who wrote a column for the Today newspaper, he was quite sharp for an old man (probably in his late sixties or early seventies at that time, I’m guessing) and was a delightful speaker. I looked forward to his classes even if it was at 7:00 am on a Monday morning.

I’d probably do the same thing- 70% of the time, the class would be made to compose one essay after another, the rest will be devoted to reading the Classics followed by a discourse after each book.

I’m a lazy person, so my grading method would probably make use of rubber stamps with comments like: “You suck!” (kidding, of course), or “Vanilla” (for those lacking flavor), or perhaps “Sublime!” to those who deserve it. It is probably better to tell it like it is, right? Or perhaps sugarcoat it a bit- “It’s almost there, dearie. You just need to work on your style.” Or maybe just a plain, “Your composition put me in a coma, good thing my cleaning lady revived me.”

Seriously though, I’ve promised one day to volunteer as a teacher at my beloved Leyte National High School. A sort of thank you for all those years of public education. Good Lord, I hope I don’t become one of those teachers who say, “Ok class, kopyahin ang nakasulat sa blackboard at bigkasin ng paulit-ulit hanggang mag-time!”

Surfacing

It had always been my greatest regret, leaving school. I had just turned twenty, and was raring to go and conquer the world despite my unpreparedness. Although I’d already finished my thesis, I still had a couple of back subjects, and at the College of Architecture in UP, this was not an unusual situation at all.

Then my father and I had a huge argument and for months we were not speaking with each other. I decided to look for a job immediately, because my father had cut off his financial support. At that time I had another brother who was going to start college, so I completely understood. Either I go home to the province, or stay and earn money to support myself.

Those were desperate times. Since I was three months behind the rent at my boarding house, I would often sleep over at friend’s houses to lessen the chances of my running into my landlady and having to plead and explain. After a three month wait, I finally got a job.

As I had planned originally, I would study and work at the same time, and so the set up was this: work at night, and go to class in the daytime. Two of my biggest enemies were stress and the lack of sleep. The commute from Diliman to Makati took about three hours, and the long hours at work did little to help. Months passed and I was still able to finish most of my back subjects except one: Hardscape construction. I had become rusty with my drafting skills. I would remember looking around the classroom and seeing a younger batch of students who effortlessly tackled one architectural plate after another, while I struggled with mine.

The first promotion at work brought a new complication to my set up. Of course, I was proud of myself for having been recognized as having potential to lead and manage (three months later I would become one of the youngest team managers in the company at the age of twenty three), but that also meant more responsibilities and more stress. It came to a point where I had to decide to either work full time or study full time, because I could not take the pressure from both. Too proud to ask for help from my parents, I decided to work full time and for the time being, quit school. I reasoned to myself that if I were to remain independent and earn money, work was the way to go- and I was doing very well, indeed.

It was only years later, did I have to clean up the mess I made. Of course, if I could, I’d change my decision, but it was a little late. What I did try to do was careful thinking, an analysis as to what caused me make such an unwise decision.

I call it the “Too-much-too-soon Syndrome”. The compulsion to want something or to make something happen even when I am not ready for it. It had become a pattern for me, even at work.

Two years to being a Team Manager, I was eyeing the Assistant Call Center Manager post, which would not have been a problem at all, had I been ready for the job. Unfortunately Management saw that I still lacked skills in some areas, and I still needed refinement, and so they said no. The problem with me was that by the time I became ready for the job, I already had my eye on something else. If only I stayed just six months more or maybe a year and reapplied, there might have been a good possibility of me getting the job. But no, weeks after being turned down, I decided to take a different direction- and resigned from the company altogether.

Perhaps other factors like family matters (my family migrating to the states without me, for one) might have had some influence on the decisions that I make, but my mistakes usually spring from my lack of patience and inability to commit to something. I want to accomplish so much at once, that I leave out the most important details.

If I am to keep my head above the water, or keep my feet on the ground for that matter, perhaps I need to understand life’s pace. Everything happens at the right moment, and taking shortcuts only means creating complications one has to clean up later on.

I do hope I already learned my lesson well, this time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ayaw Paawat

Hmm nag-iilusyon lang pero parang gusto kong sundan ng ikalawa. May concept at title na ako para sa susunod, actually. Both are simply compilations of my favorite posts here (stories, articles, poems, at mga ka-echosan), around 60 of it. All my posts thereafter will be for the "second book" ; ) Tsk tsk ayaw talagang paawat 'no? Gusto ko lang kasi pag wala na yung blog o pag wala na ako (gulp) my stories would still be alive somehow. Charot!

Aggressive Negotiations

“Mano, Leyte Park?”

(Tricycle driver shakes his head)

“Bale duha?”

(Still shakes his head)

“Bale tulo?”

(Stops and thinks)

Finally, I get tired of it and say:

“Bale upat!”

“Sakay na!” He says.

(Hmph may presyo ka rin!)

-------------------------

“Mano, Gaisano?”

(Tricycle driver shakes his head)

A towing car approaches on the east side while a traffic cop on the west side of the street start blowing his whistle at the guy blocking the traffic.

Thad: “Hala! Pulis!”

Tricycle driver: “Sakay na!”

(Hmm, Guilty!)

--------------------------

Thad: “Tagpira ini?”
Vendor: “40 pesos.”

Thad: “May tawad pa?”

Vendor: “35 nala”

I pretend to think.

“30 last price.”

I look away.

“25, sige.”

I flag a jeepney.

“20 nala.”

Thad: “Ok!”

(Bargain! Hehe)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Booba Moment

While waiting for the next class, my mates were starting to get rowdy and boisterous. A very strict Prof next door poked her head in the door and reprimanded us:

Stern Professor: “Your class is very noisy!”

Thad: (Not really looking up because I was busy going through my planner) “Thank you, Ma’am.”

Oops.

Arayyy!

A distant male cousin of mine who lived in our house while he worked in Gaisano Tacloban was forced to take a leave of absence because he had mumps. Although this disease is not serious in children, it may cause undesirable effects in adults.

The poor guy eventually lost his job because his absences exceeded more than what was allowed by the department store, so he had to go back to his hometown while he search for a new job. He is fine now, though I didn’t have the heart to tell him that having contracted mumps in adulthood (with painful testicular swelling in male adults), he may already be infertile.

Ouch!

Going Vegetarian


One of the things people do in an attempt to move on from a break up is to change their appearance- get a new haircut, new clothes (this explains the sudden urge to shop after a nasty separation), or even a new body. Perhaps the change gives them a sense of newness- a clean slate to start over. All remnants of who they once were, all the baggage from the past is thrown away.

This New Year, I feel the need to do just that. No, I haven’t ended a relationship, but I just want to leave everything that has been weighing me down- frustrations, apprehensions and all that. Oh, I’ve also meant to leave some adipose tissue behind.

That’s right, I’ve seriously been thinking of losing weight- both for health’s and vanity’s sake (I admit it). Going to the gym hasn’t really worked for me for two reasons: first, my hectic schedule can’t allow me to really linger and do workouts like crazy; second, the first thing I usually crave after a workout is ice cream, soda, and lots of carbohydrates, which in turn puts me right back to square one.

Maybe the sudden surge in muscle activity sent messages to my brain to stock up on fuel. Unfortunately, this happens after the workout itself, and I usually eat like there’s no tomorrow. I need a new approach, and I’m starting with what I eat.

I’ve observed that people who eat veggies most of the time have good bodies and good complexion. I’ve tried that once actually- for about a week I ate nothing but lettuce, apples, raisins, and carrots. My tastes changed after that- soda seemed too sweet for me, and chips too salty. But then, I got stressed with school stuff and I turned to my comfort foods (which included cake, chicken, lechon- you name it) and I was back to square one. Fatty foods are just too damn flavorful!

I’ll start slow- adding more veggies to my diet while not completely eliminating the meat. I don’t think I can go vegan (sorry Mark, I still love my pork humba, seafoods, and chicken in tomato sauce!) but I can cut down on the meat. I’ll do more push ups and home exercises (something I can do daily at home) and swimming (which I enjoy) to increase muscle activity without cramping my schedule.

Wish me luck! My inner critic bets that my resolve will last three days tops!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shenanigans at a Kiddie Party

Kyla schemes to get a taste of her ate's cake
a softdrink addiction at age 1
Kyla demostrating the proper way na mang-hold up
With my angelic (?) pamangkins Kyla and Gavin hehe Utang lang muna ngayong Pasko, your Tito is broke!
pabitin (adults, please step aside!) a party isn't a party unless someone goes home devastated..

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Greek Mythology At Its Best: Visayan-Speaking Heroes

Oh the Shock..


Three events that would make headlines, should they happen:

3. Tricycles complete with neon plastic trimmings traversing Champs Elysees.


2. Champagne sold at school cafeterias.


1. And of course, the classic “swine growing wings and taking flight”

Hmm care to add more?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Forgotten

My name is Beatrice and I was born blind. I’ve never seen the sun rise, or a flower bloom. I’ve never seen the face of my mother, or even my husband.

I lived in a small hut with no rooms with all of my eight siblings. We never went to school. My father was a farmer, my mother a housewife. They never went to school either.

I’ve never blown a birthday cake when I was young, but I did taste the sweetness of candy once, when my sister brought me some. I was always left inside the house, while my siblings played outside.

When I was seventeen, a young man frequently came to our house, accompanying father. He smelled like the wind on a hot day, and his hands were rough and dry, but they were comforting. One day, he gave me a ring and asked for my hand in marriage.

I was pregnant with our child when my husband became ill. He couldn’t work anymore and we would often go hungry. My mother took me in once more, when my husband died.

A couple adopted my baby shortly after I gave birth to her. She was beautiful, my mother would always say. The couple would visit us often, she promised. But they never came back.

The years went by. My mother and father soon passed. My body had begun to weaken and my gnarled, wrinkled hands ached with pain.

“Clunk!” A sound of a coin being tossed to the can I held up. I am sprawled on the pavement, wondering if I would be able to eat today.

Post note: Our female group members had apprehensions picking a male beggar because they might get harrased so we decided on an old lady. Lola Beatrice is blind and she is from Capoocan, Leyte. She begs for change in the sidewalk near Everwell drugstore in downtown Tacloban. She is always accompanied by Lola Petra (about the same age) so we decided to take them both as our subjects.
Since the approval of our Christology Professor we have been regularly meeting Lola B and P every week. The initial reaction of a person would somewhere be between feeling "icky" and feeling pity. My female classmates were having second thoughts about our Christmas dinner plan with them, but I think it would really be a great thing. Next week, we'll check their vital signs (we'll do it ourselves since local barangay health units refuse to treat derelicts) and health status.
My heart really bleeds for Lola B- what a sad story, but we are here to be taught a lesson in community extension. I think it is wiser to focus on what the group can do- in making small but positive changes in their lives. I think this would be a holiday to remember. 12-18-2007

Wazzup!!

It has been a while since I last posted an entry. These are the reasons why:

Busy building a city- a model, that is. Part of a plot schemed by our professors so students won’t get to enjoy the holiday break is to give so many tasks to do within that period. This task is to create a scale model of an ideal community in a metropolitan setting (my suggestion, since I was partly feeling nostalgic, remembering my apartment in Makati). I have to make a really good one so I’m starting with the buildings. Good luck, Thad!

Taking care of a beggar. I must admit, it gives a different feeling of fulfillment being able to put a smile on a complete stranger’s face. That’s us with our beggars, and we are supposed to take care of them (meeting with them regularly and bringing food, and basically getting their life story) for six months. I hope we do make a difference in their lives no matter how small.


Publishing a book! Yeah, desktop publishing lol! I couldn’t resist- originally I only planned to print hard copies of my favorite articles (about sixty of them) and then I had this crazy idea of adding a cover and then voila! A 140 page book with four chapters was made. I was feeling bold after this so I sent some to Leyte-Samar Express (good thing the publisher didn’t kick me out when I met with him); they said they mostly do straightforward news, and that features and stories are usually printed on Sundays. I soon expect to receive a letter saying, “Thank you for your interest. We are sorry to inform you that…”

Before I end this post, I just want to greet everyone a very Merry Christmas! I’ve been planning to make a holiday e-card for my fellow bloggers with a picture of the giant Christmas tree we have in plaza Rizal. Lovely with all the lights, I tell ya.

Give me and my friends a few nights… One holiday card, coming up!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gym Stories 3


Being gay is hard work. I’m not sure though if this is only inherent to the particular gay sub-species one belongs to, but I’m thinking at some level, all gay men are obsessed with looks. I belong to the “all-around-cute-gay-guy” category (or so I think), and part of my regimen is trying desperately not to look my age (vanity to the highest level, I know).

So here I am slaving away at the gym. I’m madly pedaling, cursing the clock for moving too slow. Five more minutes of cardio, and it feels like and eternity. Then BAM! I see him: an old friend who I last saw when I was in my teens. He is a doctor now, and looking quite fine.

My eyes work like binoculars. Zzzzztt (checking overall appearance: nice shoulders, nice build, tall, and a cute face) zzzzzztt (zooming towards face: youthful, nice skin, braces, oh a blackhead near the nose, overall very nice).

“Hey!” I exclaimed, genuinely surprised to see him.

“Thad! Kamusta?” He takes the stationary bike next to me.

“Eto Ok naman. Do you come here often?”

“Yeah, for the past two months. Ikaw?”

“I quit gym last June, busy kasi. This month, I started again.” Damn! Why do I keep looking at that blackhead?

“Kamusta sched mo?”

“Medyo busy din.” R. says, wiping the sweat off his brow. “Anong sunod after this?”

“Weights.” I say.

As I made my way to my trainer, I suddenly wished I was lifting heavier weights. I’ve got to make a good impression. Uggh, I this is bad- developing a crush on an old friend.

As I did bench presses, I was weighing the risks. First off, I’d be a fool to risk a 13 year old friendship by making a move, second, I think he is straight and that would be fighting a losing battle.

“Arggh.” I set the weights back to the bars.

Ok, so I’ve decided no fooling around with this one. I grit my teeth and resume doing bench presses. I cursed being here at the gym at this time.

Why are we so pressured to look good anyway? I’ve thought about just letting myself go, but when I think of the consequences, I think I’d rather stick to doing my fitness routines. Being gay is like participating in a perpetual beauty contest, it’s exhausting! This is surely punishment for being so shallow.

I sit up and wipe my dripping sweat. I looked around for a moment and rested.

“Hey Thad, I’ve got to go.” It was my friend, R.

“Sure. See you around.” I say.

He makes his way to the dressing area, and walk towards the pull ups. Guess I better get back to my program.

And oh, R. if you are reading this- I was just kidding earlier. ; )

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Potter's Magic

After watching the hilarious bisaya spoof, I said to myself I simply must see the real Harry Potter series. Ok, so I’m a little late getting into this movie; and yes, I am aware Daniel Radcliff had already grown pubes and all.

I tried recalling why I snubbed this movie, and suddenly it came to me- during the annual release of each installment, it always coincided with The Lord of the Rings premiere. Come on, who could resist the homoerotic undertones and electricity in the Frodo-Sam and Legolas-Aragorn tandems? It was bye bye Potter for me.

So now I’ve just begun to get acquainted with the Griffindorfs and the Slitherins (did I spell those correctly?) and I must say, they are the best companions on school nights, when going clubbing is out of question. I just watch a couple of minutes (say twenty) and then drift off to sleep. Works better than watching National Geographic Channel!

Let me just clarify, I’m not saying the movie is boring. It just the kind of light, entertaining tale I would savor night after night. Ah, nothing like an evening escape from the rigors of Biochem.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First Lesbian Kiss

It has been confirmed yet again, and this time with a very reliable, seldom used litmus test to appraise sexual orientation- a kiss with a woman. It was not planned, but after one too many shots of tequila as you know, anything can happen.

During the night of my birthday, while we were singing on top of our lungs, this very pretty, buxom female friend started doing body shots. I was just sitting down minding my own business, quite drunk, and enjoying the strains of some sad lovesong blaring from the karaoke. She approaches me with a slice of lemon on her finger, a shot glass of tequila on her other hand. I shook my head, saying “no more drinks for me”.

She grins wickedly and asks me to bite the lemon. In my drunken stupor, I couldn’t really get what she meant. Was I supposed to eat that slice of lemon? Chew on it? Everything was in slow motion so the slice just dangled from between my teeth. The next thing I know, she drank from the shot glass and kissed me on the lips slash ate the lemon half dangling from my mouth.

I didn’t retch or gag. I certainly wouldn’t say I enjoyed it either. I just stood there, very surprised at what happened. I reach for the beer and took a large swig, trying to digest what happened as the liquid made its way to my stomach.

Then I remembered my first kiss with my first guy friend Noel- the heat, my pounding heart, the passion. I felt none of it right now. Yup, I probably felt more passion pretend-kissing my pillow when I was thirteen, imagining it was Gabby Conception.

And so it’s official. I’m definitely gay- not bi, but gay. Zero attraction for females. Nada, None. Gosh, I can still hear my friend’s laughter as she saw my reaction.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Five Things I Wished Were Told To Me When I Was Younger

1. Sleeping with the guy on the first date is a mistake.
2. Tattoos cannot be removed completely.
3. The only cure for loneliness is having strong relationships with people around you.
4. You’ll never stop wanting material things, and yet they will never give you happiness.
5. When someone or something causes you pain, better not ask why, but what you can do to relieve it. Sometimes you will never know the reason why certain things happen; what is important is for you to get back on your feet and move on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Soaked


The shock was so complete it didn’t register at first.

First off, I was expecting the water to be only up to my chest, but it turned out to be neck-deep. Second, the water was so cold my body seemed just frozen stiff as I dove in. So much for my eagerness to be the first one in the pool.

This was the first day of swimming class, and I was half-submerged in the icy water with the rest of my classmates. Our teeth chattered incessantly as our instructor yelled instructions through his megaphone. To make the matters worse, a batch of curious young people had just started gathering at the poolside to watch our water torture.

“Do bubbling for fifteen counts!” “Everyone do flutter kick!” “Let’s do freestyle!” After twenty minutes of crazed movement, the cold wasn’t so bad anymore- I was getting the hang of it. Rusty as my swimming skills were, at least I could still do a lap.

Of course there were excellent swimmers in our batch. There was a guy from Borongan, Samar (a coastal town) who dove in and swam the entire length of the pool with just one breath. Great, as if we’ll all be that good by the time this is over. On the other hand, I think I’ll fare better with this than my last practical exam in basketball and softball.

I was swimming around leisurely, when I happened upon the guy from Borongan who was practicing his somersaults.

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“Easy, he said.” His powerful arms pulled at the water, then reaching the far end of the pool he did an underwater somersault and his legs kicked the edge of the pool to propel him quickly back to where I was standing.

I will probably never learn to do than in month’s time, let alone in two hours. Nevertheless, I tried. I started with freestyle, following the line of blue tiles. Looking at the bottom of the pool was difficult because I had left my swim goggles at home. I saw the edge, which signaled that I should do the somersault. It started ok as my head dipped in the water, but as the lower part of my body went above my head, I lost balance and tilted sideward.

“Uggh!” I stood up feeling like something was burning up my nose. I ignored it and once again tried. Same thing. By the third try I was feeling dizzy already.

The megaphone sounded. “Okay, the class is dismissed. You may take your showers.” The instructor said.

Grateful, I pulled myself out of the pool, eyes blurry, and with my nose and ears clogged with pool water.

Top Performing Nursing Schools in the Philippines (Based on Board Exam Performance from 1999-2003)

The past decades have seen an exponential growth in nursing schools in the Philippines. The question really is in the competency of its graduates, for a number of these schools that have mushroomed are much more focused on reaping profits, rather than forming skilled nurses. The most reliable basis for a nursing school’s performance would most probably be in the percentage of graduates who passed the board exam.

Below is the list of the best and worst nursing schools in the Philippines, revealed by Rep. Joseph Santiago based on their performance on the Board Exam for Nurses from 1999 to 2003. This information was released by the Manila Bulletin last May 2005.

Based on the list released by Rep. Joseph Santiago, the 20 best-performing nursing schools and the percent of their graduates passing the licensure tests were: The University of the Philippines-Manila, 99 percent; St. Paul College Iloilo and Silliman University, 98 percent; University of Santo Tomas, 97 percent; West Visayas State University, 96 percent; St. Louis University-Baguio and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Manila, 95 percent; Southern Luzon Polytechnic College, 91 percent; Trinity College of QC and Cebu Doctors College, 89 percent; Mountain View College, 88 percent; Remedios Romualdez Memorial School-Manila and UE-Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, 87 percent; St. Paul University-Tuguegarao, 84 percent; Velez College-Cebu, San Pedro College-Davao and Cebu State College, 82 percent; De La Salle University-Dasmariń”³¼/B> and University of La Salette-Santiago, 81 percent; and Romualdez Medical Foundation, 80 percent.

Listed as the 20 worst performing schools were Mapandi Memorial College, nine percent; M.V. Gallego Foundation Colleges, 15 percent; Galang Medical Center, 17 percent; Unciano Colleges, 18 percent; Good Samaritan Colleges, 19 percent; Lipa City Colleges, Immaculate Conception College-Albay, Mabini Colleges and St. Gabriel College-Kalibo, 20 percent; Notre Dame Jolo College and Philippine College of Health and Sciences, 21 percent; Golden Gate Colleges, Northern Christian College and Tecarro College Foundation, 22 percent; Dr. P. Ocampo Colleges, De Ocampo Colleges and World Citi Colleges-QC, 23 percent; San Pablo Colleges and Medina College, 24 percent.

Santiago said a total of 55,744 nursing school graduates took licensure tests from 1999-2003. Only 27,345 of them, or 49 percent, passed the tests.

MEDIUM-SIZED SCHOOLS RATING
Santiago has also bared a new list of some of the country's highest and lowest rated nursing schools, this time focusing on medium-sized institutions.
The new list enumerated the 20 highest rated medium-sized nursing schools, with 61 to 98 percent of their graduates passing the annual licensure examinations from 1999 to 2003, as well as 20 lowest rated schools, with zero to just 31 percent of their graduates making the grade over the same period under review.
The fresh list, based on records of the PRC and the CHED, covers nursing schools with less than 100 examinees. The previous list covered nursing schools with over 100 examinees.

The 20 highest rated medium-sized nursing schools and the percent of their graduates passing the licensure tests are: Mindanao State University-Marawi City, 98 percent; Mary Johnston College-NCR, 96 percent; St. Paul College-Dumaguete City and Philippine Christian University-Manila, 95 percent; Xavier University Cagayan de Oro City, 94 percent; St. Dominic Savio College-Central Luzon, 93 percent; University of the Philippines-Leyte, 92 percent; St. Mary?s University-Bayombong, 89 percent; St. Dominic Savio College-Manila and Dr. Gloria Lacson Colleges-Central Luzon, 88 percent; Sacred Heart College-Lucena City City, 83 percent; St. Mary?s College-Tagum, 74 percent; University of St. La Salle-Western Visayas, 71 percent; Philippine Women?s University-Manila, 69 percent; Concordia College-Manila, 68 percent; Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital College of Medical Arts-Soccksargen, 67 percent; Holy Trinity College-Puerto Princesa City, 64 percent; Baliuag Colleges, 63 percent; Philippine Women?s University-Quezon City, 62 percent; and Surigao Education Center, 61 percent.
The 20 lowest rated medium-sized nursing schools are: Isabelo Calingasan Memorial Institute Southern Tagalog, 0 percent; Perpetual Help Paramedical School-Bicol, five percent; Lyceum of Northern Luzon-Ilocos, seven percent; Jamiatu Marawi Al-Islamia Foundation-Soccsksargen, eight percent; Immaculate Conception College-Manila, nine percent; Urdaneta College of Technology and Perpetual Help College-Pangasinan, 17 percent; Our Lady of Lourdes College Foundation-Bicol, 19 percent; Pamantasan ng Araullo-Central Luzon, 20 percent; Medina College-Pagadian City, 21 percent; Carthel Science Educational Foundation-Central Luzon, 24 percent; St. Luke?s College Foundation-Central Luzon, 25 percent; Pangasinan College of Science and Technology, 26 percent; Southern Bicol Colleges, 27 percent; University of Batangas, 28 percent; Laguna Northwestern College, 29 percent; Bacarra Medical Center-Ilocos and Abra Valley College, 30 percent; and J.P. Sioson Colleges-NCR and St. Paul College Foundation-Cebu, 31 percent.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Decoding your Grades

1.0 Anak ng Diyos
1.1 Dinaan sa haba ng hair
1.2 Malapit na sa katotohanan
1.3 Pag naabot mo ang grade na’to sa major subjects, sobrang galing mo na
1.4 Sumipsip sa teacher
1.5 Very satisfactory overall performance!
1.6 Nagbabasa kahit sa CR
1.7 DL potential pag consistent sa lahat ng subjects
1.8 Sayang, DL na sana
1.9 At least line of 1 pa rin!
2.0 Usual grade
2.1 Ho-hum.
2.2 Cut off grade
2.3 Tried hard pero ayaw lang talaga ng subject sa’yo
2.4 Mahilig mag memorize na hindi nag-aanalyze
2.5 Iniyakan ang specimen
2.6 Iniyakan ang teacher
2.7 Magaling pero madalas absent
2.8 Madalas sa Mags
2.9 Perfect attendance sa lahat ng fiesta, birthdays, at parties
3.0 Pasang- awa.
4.0 Kulang sa pa-cute
5.0 Tsk tsk pahal ka gud man!
INC May balak mag “masteral” sa subject na yun

Monday, November 19, 2007

Baha!



Rain had been pouring for more than a week now here in Tacloban (minimal during my birthday beach escapade, thank God) and the streets downtown are starting to resemble Venice, minus the elegance.
Matutulog na ako. Lamiiiiig!! = ) G'night everybody!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bliss.

birthday on a bamboo raft
the warmth of the bonfire is comforting.. the mosquitoes? awful!
the morning-after birthday cake
making a wish. lol!

tagay!
chillin
an early morning walk

with friends
a drunk Haidy sitting on my lap. ewww!
singer slash camwhore

mukhang nagco-conduct ng seminar
kodak moment lol!
with Wean

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Desperately Ignorant

My irritation regarding this so-called racial slur against Filipino health workers grew like an out-of control allergy attack. What made it preposterous is the glaring ignorance of the writers of the show Desperate Housewives, and the lack of sensitivity and prudence on the part of the network. Nowadays it is apparent that TV networks would resort to tasteless humor- racist and demeaning jokes or even offensive language just to get extra viewership (this also explains the existence of shows like Jackass and The Simple Life).

First things first, let us shed light on the core of the issue: are Philippine medical schools truly inferior? If this is true, then it would follow that the products of these schools would likely be incompetent health care workers. Listed below are the facts; I’ll leave it up to you to decide the answer to the question.

Fact no. 1: “Diploma mill” schools do exist. “Learn Nursing the EASIEST WAY!” Screamed one banner. “Get a job abroad as a caregiver in just 6 months!” Said another. This is not to disparage any of those schools, but this may have partly contributed to the negative perception people have on our medical schools. Quality education should be the focus in all our schools, not offering shortcuts to success (which I believe does not exist). Nevertheless, we have our government agencies that monitor and regulate the schools authorized to offer such courses.

Fact no. 2: All health workers must pass the board exam before being employed. This means, they have to meet certain requirements as well as have enough knowledge and skill before they are given their licenses. Furthermore, they have to take foreign licensure examinations and pass, in order for them to be eligible to work in a foreign country. This assures foreign employers that health care workers educated in the Philippines are at par in terms of skill and knowledge with those health care workers educated in their country.

Fact no. 3: Many Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in practically every corner in the US have been working competently as Doctors, Nurses, and Medical Technicians. According to Kevin Nadal, a Filipino university professor in New York, “the Philippines produces more US nurses than any other country in the world… Many of the hospitals in major metropolitan areas of the US (and the world) would not be able to operate without its Filipino and Filipino-American staff members.”

It is a shame really, because the producers of the show obviously overlooked the contributions that the Filipino community had given to the US health care industry, not to mention that part of the audience of the show are also Filipinos. The offending remark ignited a storm of protests from Filipinos all over the globe. Some say the derogatory remark was “hurtful and unfounded” while some saw the act as “disrespectful”. I say it was just a plain case of ignorance and bad TV writing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BD07: A Last Look and a Look Ahead

In the midst of doing all the preparations for my party, I was struck with a certain thought: how much things have changed, and how much things remained the same. This will be the first time that I’d be celebrating my birthday in a big way (a far cry from my last birthday party when I was 11), and I was just hit by a sudden melancholy.

It has been two years since I last earned my wages. By now, I imagine most of the people at my former office are new and have replaced those who have gone to take a different job. Is my team still intact? It’s hard to part completely with the people you once coached and managed closely for more than two years.

Looking at my guest list, there are but a few names of people I’ve known for more than four years. I can’t really say it’s a celebration with my closest friends. Yes, I’m that kind of person- it takes a while for me to warm up to people, but once we become good friends, it’s for keeps. The problem with my philosophy is that life usually does not allow us the luxury of time- give or take a few years and drastic changes would happen, and you would eventually have to move on. Gone are the familiar faces, and in its place are strange people you are not even sure you’d get along with.

I’ve always did my best to make the right decisions, so I don’t usually blame myself if I encounter pitfalls in my current trajectory. Becoming adept and familiar with the new path (and learning to love and appreciate what one does) is essential for a person to enjoy the present. Come to think of it, I’ve only begun to warm up to what I do now.

My environment and the people around me- they constantly change, but some things do remain the same. The greatest of which I have been always thankful for is my family. Although I don’t see my parents and brothers everyday, they are always supportive of me (in fact they are paying for this party lol!).

Maybe I’m still trying to recreate those Galera-Boracay type of vacations I used to enjoy with office friends. Or maybe I’m celebrating my new set of friends. Or maybe I’m just thankful for being given by God 27 (gulp!) great years. Heck, just this once I won’t feel guilty about the cost- after all this won’t happen everyday. I’ll make this party a celebration of good times in the past, present, and those yet to come. Cheers!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I apologize for the lack of new posts, I've been a little busy lately- school and all. But of course, there is time for a little fun ; ) Off to the beach next Saturday!! Thanks for visiting. I promise, I'll update once I have more time on my hands. Ciao!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Day I Wore My Pradda

Ouch, ugh, aww! I cursed my new shoes- they have been digging into the blisters on my ankles. Yeah, I got them yesterday, walking around in these blasted Pradda shoes. That’s not a spelling error by the way, that’s how the knockoff is spelled (sorry, can’t afford real ones when you’re on allowance).

The shoes are sleek and shiny, elegantly shaped, and they could pass for the real thing. The only problem is that they feel like they are made of concrete (the heels) and steel (the rest of it). No wonder my feet were all red and swollen by the time I went home yesterday.

Tok, tok, tok. They made funny clunking sounds as I walked briskly in the corridor. Crap, I see a couple of students heading my way- must stop the clunking. I stopped walking and pretended to check my notes.

“Hmm… Biochem at eight, Microbiology in the afternoon…” I look to the left, then to the right. Coast is clear! With much reluctance, I hold my breath and prepare myself for the pain as these Nazi shoes start once again to dig into the swollen flesh of my ankles.

Tok, tok, tok. I walked slowly towards our classroom.

Just Like This

Ever had that feeling that you just wanted things to remain a certain way? Like that vacation you had with your family and friends, where days were spent lying on the sand and relaxing without a care in the world. Everybody’s happy- no deadlines to catch, no disappointments to deal with, no pain. But of course we inevitably have to return to reality, and move on.

I remember when I was about 17, and I went home for the holidays during the semester break at UP. It was such a perfect Christmas- my dad had come home, all my brothers were there, my cousins, and Mama was off duty from the hospital where she worked as a nurse. The money was good so my parents really went all out- a lavish menu, fireworks, and gifts for everybody. I had so much fun that night, I hardly slept a wink. I kept savoring the feeling of bliss, hoping that night wouldn’t end. But morning came, and then another day, and eventually I had to return to school and my father had to leave for Saudi again.

As much as I tried to have a holiday like that again, I failed. Eventually time came when Papa could only go home every two years (and seldom during the holidays), the following Christmases Mama had to work, my brothers and I grew older and of course, things were never really the same. There was no more excitement or anticipation unlike the time when we were kids. My cousins came and went.

Maybe it was meant only to be an unforgettable, beautiful night- nothing lasting. I kept picturing that ideal time when are our relationships were perfect, and nothing was weird or awkward.

I’ve changed, and so did everyone. Life gives us a lot of twists, and things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to. Nevertheless, I vowed to keep trying to improve my relationships with my family and friends- those happy times are what I live for. I’m sure, one day; we might have that perfect holiday again.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Sorry Sight

I was sitting on a hard concrete bench, inside the mausoleum of my uncle. Beside me were my nieces, who also had just arrived from Tacloban. It was All Souls Day, and the scorching heat did little to deter the hundreds who came to visit the graves of their loved ones here in my father’s hometown. It was one of those Pinoy traditions, having a largely Catholic population, to observe religious holidays with a gathering of family and distant relatives. One would have thought it was a fiesta, if not for the freshly painted graves that lined the path.

A few feet away, just outside the gate, something caught my eye. An old woman was eating by herself, sitting on top of a grave. She was dressed in black, her clothes fitting poorly, and a broken rosary hung on her neck. She ate with her fingers from a plastic container; and all she was having for lunch was rice.

It was a pitiful sight, this old woman. We decided to give her some of our food, and my cousin and nephew put some on a paper plate, approached her and handed the food. She smiled in a gesture of thanks. Her eyes were almost blind from the cataracts and she had to grope for her bottle of water near her feet.

I was guessing she was one of those old ladies who would say the rosary (parapamatbat in waray) for the departed, and in exchange they would be given a small fee. We were already done praying earlier, with another old lady who led the rosary.

I continued to watch her as she finished her meal. I wondered how she was like when she was young. Was she able to go to school? Did she have children? Did she still have a family?

After her meal, she places her plastic container inside a tattered bag. I notice a tarnished ring on her finger- a remainder of a marriage probably long lost. She stoops as she walks; a sign of the advanced stages of Osteoporosis. She walks slowly with a cane, her bag and umbrella on her other hand.

I say a silent prayer for the old woman. And another of thanks, this time for my grandmother who was fortunate enough to have a family that cares for her a great deal. How hard it must be, to be old and have no one to care for you.

Gay People are Assets to Society

Here's why:Most people who are in creative industries and the arts are gay. Goes with a very developed right brain, I suppose.
You get comedy. Who else can give an otherwise bland crowd some spice and witty banter but us? Impersonations, stand up routines, and just plain hilarious “pang-ookray”- baby, it runs in the blood.
We keep a lot of businesses alive. Where would gyms be without us? Bath houses, bars, spas, boutiques… Not to mention the beauty industry.
We are achievers. Alexander the Great, hello!
Behind every fabulous woman is her gay best friend,
and behind every male star is his gay director.
The next step in evolution? I’d like to think so.

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