Sunday, January 30, 2011


I had the strangest dream last night.

My mom wore white- I think it was her nurse’s uniform. I was sitting on a stool with my arms resting on a counter. There were bright white lights (which I thought were fluorescent lights) above our heads and I was talking with her about food.

I didn’t really remember the conversation, but I think it went on a while. When I looked around, it was something like an airplane cockpit or a modern interior of an aircraft I saw on TV once. I was so astonished by its vividness that I suddenly woke up.

It was 3:25 AM and when I opened my eyes my gaze rested on my Mom and Dad’s portraits below the altar, visible in the darkness by the incandescent glow of the streetlamps outside- and I remembered they were already laid to rest, just two years apart.

* * *

It’s Sunday. The routine is: fix the bed, have breakfast, take my 85 year-old grandmother’s blood pressure and remind her to take her medications, and then prepare for church. The afternoon schedule varies slightly- I go to the movies or eat with old friends if my budget permits, otherwise I just curl up with a good book. Dinner comes, and that queasy feeling in my stomach ever since I realized it is only a few weeks before the result of the board exam comes out.

I’ve been sleeping in the second floor sala since Nanay moved back in our house- she was previously living with an aunt in Palo, but when Papa died last December she was here for us, and decided to stay.

My brothers and I sat down one day, and we all agreed- Nanay spent more or less thirty years of her life, the productive years, taking care of the three of us. From the time we were in Manila as kids and our parents were in Saudi, to the time we all grew up to be young men. It is our responsibility to make sure she is well taken cared of in the twilight of her years.

One night I found myself crying under the covers. It was a typical cool night in mid-January, I was checking my e-mail when our loss finally hit me. I laid on the bed and pulled the sheets over my head, trying to stifle a sob. I guess I just missed them both so badly. The past week we saw my brother off at the airport before he boarded the airline bound for the states. I’m the eldest in the family, and the one staying in the country- I guess I felt a little overwhelmed with the weight of my responsibilities and wanting to pursue my own personal and professional goals at the same time.

Sometimes I wonder about the choices we make in life. I think about fate. What if we did something differently in the past, would we still be the same person? Would we be happier? Had they never left the country, would my parents still be alive today? Would I have learned the same lessons in life if I did things perfectly, rather than what I learned through my flawed ways?

* * *

I still felt the shards of glass that hit my back for a second as a plate smashed on the concrete steps behind me. It was the morning of the concluding day of Papa’s wake in our home in Tacloban, and Nanay was instructing us on the rituals to be observed in funerals.

I found them strange- sweeping the floor but never dispose of the dirt until after the interment (so we had a pile of dust and dried leaves and matchsticks hidden just beside the flowers and the funeral lamps), we were never allowed to wear red- until forty days after Papa’s death, and before sealing the urn we cut a blessed rosary several times and placed it inside. Breaking a plate or glass was apparently one of those things.

The three of us brothers woke early that day, and the vehicle that would drive us to Abuyog, Papa’s hometown, waited for us on the street. They asked everyone to go out of the house, and I was to go out last, hugging Papa’s burial urn close to my chest.

They told us never to look back, and so I didn’t. As soon as my foot hit the pavement, the glass plate was hurled to the concrete and it shattered into a million pieces behind me. The sound seemed to reverberate in my head even as we sped through the highway.

Papa was finally going home.

* * *
The day after our father was buried was the first day of our Board Exam. I was anticipating all sorts of emotions from myself, but never had I expected I would just be calm. I wasn’t really numb, nor was I nervous, sad or excited. I simply was there for the next two days to do my best, quiet and praying that I make it through. 

Looking back the past few years, it really had been the end of an era: the conclusion of my twenties, losing both our parents, venturing into a new career path. Sometimes when I think about it, it seems too much.

I had been busy lately working on my applications to medical schools. I was stuffing photocopied documents and credentials on envelopes to be shipped to Iloilo and other med schools I applied to, when I gazed distractedly at the skyline.

The rain had just waned, and it was almost dusk. The sky seemed ablaze with fire in hues of orange, pink, and red as the rain clouds parted. It was such a stunning sight that I stopped for a moment to stare. Hard to believe only moments ago the sky wore a cloak of gray, now it was clear and absolutely beautiful.

Image source

Friday, January 28, 2011

Binibini Bets (Part II)

Grendel Alvarado
Winner of Philippine's Next Top Model. Exotic looks with great catwalk.
Bianca Paz - 5’6.25” / 112 lbs / 34-27-35.5
Stylish and determined... Bad nose job, she should have it done.
Janine Tugonon
Current Miss UST.
Jen Olivar
Runner-up of Philippines Next Top Model.
Glennifer Perido
This lovely lady is a standout in a sea of beauties.
Queenierich Rehman - 5’7” / 110 lbs / 33-24-33
I think she did a beatbox number as her talent. One of my bets for the
MU crown- she has the personality and looks to match.
Dianne Necio - 5’5.5” / 116 lbs / 33-24.5-36
1st runner-up during Venus' batch- she's back "to win the crown" she quipped.
These are the rest of the girls to complete my top 24:
Jane Hidalgo

Krystle Ann Grant
Samantha Purvor
Angelia Ong
Jen Roe Gubat

Looks like this batch is really strong. Right now the Miss Universe standards appear to be modelesque girls with fierce moves and a sweet face. We should send a rep with height of at least 5'7 (tiny girls won't get noticed in the land of the Glamazons!), a natural beauty (you know what I mean- it's ok to have work done but not extreme), a bangin' body like Venus with a waistline of 23 or less, this is Brazil so they also appreciate bootilicious girls. Most of all, eloquence during Q & A, sex appeal and the ability to switch from vixen to sweet girl at a blink of an eye, right Ximena?

Photo credits:Mabuhay Beauties, Missosology, OPMB, and Binibining Pilipinas

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Binibini Bets (Part I)

Venus Raj's triumph at the Miss Universe 2010 pageant sparked renewed interest and hundreds of gorgeous Filipinas lined up at Araneta to get screened for the Binibining Pilipinas Pageant. After 2 screenings the girls were narrowed down to the top fifty, and after another cut this Saturday- will emerge the official 24 candidates.

This is probably my second post on beauty pageants (the first one being Venus' Q & A at MU), and I've chosen my top 24 candidates out of the 50. The ones colored red are possible semi-finalists.
Isabella Manjon - 5’7” / 125 lbs / 35.5-25-36
This girl is a strong contender for the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown, with great potential at the MU Pageant in Brazil. Dusky, classic features, with height and eloquence to match. She just needs to tone her body (as I observed with most of the girls), and train to have a fierce catwalk like Raj's. This girl is the total package- she even speaks Spanish!
Jennielyn Natividad
Second runner-up in the 2009 Mutya ng Pilipinas.
Jenette Mieko Noguchi - 5’10.5”/ 128 lbs / 34-25-35.5
I watched her video and this statuesque beauty stands out among the girls.
Confident when she speaks, and just as sweet when she sings.
Reneee Houssani
A half-Iranian beauty.
Shamcey Supsup - 5’7.25” / 105 lbs / 32.5-23.5-33.5
A topnocher in the Architecture Board exam (whew!) and a UP Grad, she also has a fierce catwalk and an aura that exudes class. Shamcey is a formidable contender for the crown!
Patricia Tumulak - 5’5” / 113 lbs / 33-23.5-35
This girl lives and breathes Binibini. She really had a spectacular transformation (see her pics years ago and you'll get what I mean) and she has that latina vibe. Her only downfall is her height- which under MU standards under Trump doesn't make the cut. Still, she is a top contender for the other crowns.
Martha Chloe McCully
If this girl loses 10-15lbs by the pageant night, she may very well be my MU bet. She appeared self-conscious in the screening video,her catwalk awkward- still her face is undeniably the loveliest, and she has the height.
Paula Camille Figueras - 5’9.5” / 136 lbs / 32-26-38
Another girl with a latina vibe. She joined Miss Philippines Earth in 2009.
Luzelle Felipe - 5’7.75” / 108 lbs / 34-23.5-31
If all the tricycle drivers looked this good, I doubt if people would still ride
jeepneys or buses! Another dusky beauty with a Cinderella story- if she wins
any of the major titles.
Mary Jean Lastimosa - 5’5.5” / 111 lbs / 33.5-24-34
This girl kills in the swimsuit department with her vavavoom figure.
Diana Arevalo - 5’6.25” / 107 lbs / 31.5-23-33
Returning from last year's Binibini- revamped and restyled.
Sabrinne Al-Tawil - 5’8” / 126 lbs / 34-25-35
She looks elegant and she expresses herself well in interviews. She needs to work on her body and her poses, she appears flat and uninterested in some of her shot. An MU material should be charismatic and fierce!
The Next 12 in Part II
Photo credits:Mabuhay Beauties, Missosology, OPMB, and Binibining Pilipinas


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