Thursday, December 27, 2007

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Puppy no longer

A new post in just one day! Surprised?

Just a quick one. Time warp.

I took this picture of Rako on April 8, 2007. It had just been a few days since we'd gotten him. Around this time, he'd already figured out how to get up the stairs and into the kitchen.

This one, I took of him on December 16, 2007. He already knows how to sit for food and use The Eyes to get treats. How far he has come.

Forgive the poor resolution. These were pictures off my phone, and its camera leaves a lot to be desired. Still, though, enjoy the doggie love.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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I return with a story about a disappointing sweatshirt

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sorry for the long silence. Most events in my life have been...internal. And that's no fun. (But anyway, here's a link to how I put my tangled emotions to good use.) I promised myself I would blog, though, so here I am. I missed you all! A couple of posts ago, I asked you to please support my piddling blog. Fruity put in a very enthusiastic response, and I'm hoping I'm still on her good side. (The last time I was online, I managed to read her post about slacker blogging and its wondrous inverse effects. If only we all were that lucky.) Sure I've slacked off for two months, but I still crave the blogging love. I attention-grub that way. This one bit of news that stuck is The Philosophical Bastard has gone off to greener domains. Still need to check that out. I'm home in Baguio now, therefore on dial-up. As far as Internet evolution goes, I'm still in the Dark Ages. This is long overdue, but thanks to Lisa for thinking to invite me to BlogRush. I have yet to realize the full potential of that service since I dropped off the blogging radar.

Blogging mojo, return!
I know it will take more than that to get it back, but my desperation will force me to try anything.

Went and used most of my Christmas money this afternoon. For about three days I was really intent on this red hoodie I sighted at the John Hay Commissary. This thing drove me crazy. Truly, it occupied my thoughts for most of those three days. I went back there today to finally sate my desire for this coveted piece of clothing. It was disappointment, not satisfaction, that met me. I worked myself up so much, my poor expectant brain fabricated (haha) this vision of the perfect red sweatshirt. It was literally glowing in my mind. I felt that if I acquired the hoodie, it would be like getting bitten by a genetically-altered spider. It would become my secret source of power: the stone I would swallow for my boobs to grow to ridiculous proportions and the clothes on my back to magically transform into a two-piece outfit worthy of saving an imperiled world. That red sweatshirt would be like the earrings that turned a plain-looking orphanage mother to a bangin' rock star with a purple highlights. It was the sweatshirt to end all my head. When I saw it again this afternoon, I couldn't understand why it looked as forgettable as it did. I hauled myself into a cab, ended up in Session Road, and went window-shopping half-dazed.

To try and make up for that severe let-down, I stumbled into a bookstore. There, I found redemption in finding a long-searched-for title and 20% off on all items. Bookstores on sale are the most beautiful things in the world. The red sweatshirt disillusionment gave me clarity for books (and a solid pair of jeans). I'm slightly poorer than when I started out this morning, but I didn't do too bad. The Red Sweatshirt may have eluded me this time, but I will find it. Meanwhile, I will spend cheerfully on books and keep my eyes open for those hologram-generating earrings (Me and my friends are Kubi girls! Kubi! Kubi's my name!).

I'll be going about the rounds soon, folks. See you all in the commenting windows.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

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The end of the sem, Marikina, and Dumbledore

I concluded this semester with an incomplete and a half-finished paper. I watched Roger Federer lose at the Madrid Masters final. (It was to David Nalbandian, who beat out Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to get there. Apparently, the guy was having a rough season, so crushing the first three seeds to win your first Masters shield after a dry spell is quite a comeback.) That was the first full match I'd seen with him playing. Despite these things, I'm unexpectedly fine. It must have something to do with being in Baguio.

Something strange happened last night. As I was getting into bed, I suddenly felt something akin to longing for the house in Marikina. It was only for a split second, but the feeling made me realize that the old house has left an impression on me. At the end of a hot, tiring day, it was where I would retreat to set up for the next grind. My house mates and I would sit around the dining table, comparing notes on our daily tribulations. We would laugh our way out of misery, and took comfort in little things like Boy Bawang and vinegar. Sometimes, when it rained too hard, the ceiling would leak. But we were always comfortable, perfectly happy with a series DVD playing on our long-lived TV. The rats who live between the second floor and the living room would make things go bump in the night. These are our house sounds. Occasionally, a mouse would venture into the human world and entertain us with its acrobatics. We've even done impressions. Overall, living in Manila wasn't so bad. I had friends and a home.

JK Rowling has revealed that Dumbledore is gay. Now, people are beginning to pick apart the real nature of his relationship with the wizard Grindelwald, who was quite the looker. But how dense am I? I seriously thought they were only friends. I need a lesson in reading between the lines. This revelation adds a new dimension to the Potter books, and it's encouraging to read that fans are as supportive as ever. If anything, people are loving the fact that someone who could wipe the floor with Voldemort tendencies. Kudos to Dumbledore. I find it especially endearing that he decimated the guy who broke his heart. If everyone could settle heartache through a wizard duel, the world would be a better place.

Monday, October 15, 2007

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And I'm going to hug them and love them forever

I find it ironic that when I commit to a writing project about the environment, I am unable to come up with anything brilliant because I'm cramming for a conservation paper.

I thought I might just show you guys what I did during my conservation class this semester:

(That's me on the right, playing whale whisperer. It was real lucky I enrolled this sem. Since there were only four of us, our professor pulled some strings and got us a backstage tour of Ocean Adventure.)

Here's an excerpt from the reaction paper I wrote for the trip to Ocean Adventure, Subic Bay. I edited out some of the dorkier bits:

I caught my first glimpse of the dolphins when we were walking to the large pen for our marine mammal anatomy lesson. The emotion that welled up from my chest was so overpowering I nearly cried. Thankfully, I managed to keep myself in check. I took a deep breath and steadied myself. It would never do if I spent my first encounter with a whale sobbing...

...I was tapping my feet incessantly, trying to make small talk with my classmates. Merle beside me was expressing her discomfort with water by staunchly declaring that she was a “terrestrial animal.” Anne next to her was convinced of the powers of a life vest and reassured Merle that everything was going to be alright. Cynthia on the far end was fidgeting with her underwater camera, wondering if it really did work underwater. Our feigned nonchalance was impressive...

Finally, the trainers opened the gate for us and we walked cautiously unto a floating platform...We were split into two groups and assigned to our respective trainers...When faced with a vast expanse of deep water and the prospect of bumping into an animal almost three times the size of an adult human being, one gets a feeling not unlike awe. I was just nursing such a feeling when, without preamble, a large dark head bobbed up from below the surface. The male false killer whale was called "Tonka."

...Like children, we ooh-ed and aah-ed at all the tricks Tonka did for us. We shook hands when he held out his fins, we rubbed his tongue when he opened his mouth wide and we waved when he waved. It was all very disarming...There I was, a naïve first year graduate student, falling madly in love with a false killer whale.

Our trainer turned to me suddenly and kindly said: “Get in the water.” “Why?” I asked suspiciously. “So the whale can swallow you up and eat you whole,” Ryan answered laughingly, apparently used to this kind of doubt from guests. I took a deep breath (it was more like a sigh of resignation, really), invoked Anne’s fervent belief in life vests and dropped myself carefully into the water. I was painfully aware of my clumsiness, bobbing up and down in a dark blue life vest, my face inches away from a graceful animal built precisely for life in the water. Ryan’s voice telling me to hold on to Tonka’s pectoral fins seemed miles away. The ride lasted for all of three minutes, but it did the job. I was hooked...

During the class following the submission of those reaction papers, my professor said that some of us still needed to learn to separate the philosophy from the science. There were only three of us sitting in that room, and I reckon I was the friggin' romantic. See, what I learned in class was: to work in conservation, one needed to look beyond the cuteness of marine mammals and see the reality of their possible extinction. I remember that when I was writing my reaction, I did my best to sound as professional as possible. Still, I ended up writing a feature paper, coming off like a doe-eyed first year. My professor did say it didn't have to be a formal paper. I took him up on that and had fun telling a story. It was like blogging on paper.

Anyhoo, see you guys later. More when I'm done with my final requirements. Hope other people wrote nicer entries for Blog Action Day. Ah, time. We can never have enough of it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

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I love the cold

Climate change seems to be following me around. Yesterday evening, I took my last exam for a basic environmental science subject. It was for the third of a lecture series, this one being the atmosphere module. My lady professor seemed to enjoy our obvious distress, chuckling delightedly when I let out a cry of scholarly misery upon passing my bluebook.

I'm home now, so I've just gone through a regional climate change. The cold is doing wonders for my damp soul. It feels like December out here. I love it. The heat in Manila addles the brain.

Last night, my parents and I were discussing the possible change in my curriculum. Ma said that she was washing her hands of the rash decision I made and told me and Pa off for hanging my academic career on the euphoria of one conversation about global warming. Pa declared that it was actually Al Gore's fault and his blasted movie. This was partially true, as the man was rather convincing. He was also intelligent and charming, which are always pluses. I was a naive little girl who didn't know any better. Global warming has more dimensions than I first supposed. Everything we need to know about this environmental transformation cannot be encapsulated in one film. There are other discoveries, other exciting ideas dancing on the fringe of scientific consciousness. We should always consider the alternatives. On the other hand, it's difficult to do so when everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Al Gore and the United Nations Panel have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts on climate change.

Anyhow, I hope you guys are gearing up for Blog Action Day. Let's save our planet!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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Writing for the environment

I have been wondering if I made the right decision, going for environmental science instead of marine biology. Old friends I run into on the street all ask how it's going over at the Marine Science Institute. For a heartbeat, I feel my chest caving in. Then I tell them I'm actually in environmental science. It wouldn't be so bad if only a few people have inquired after my supposed career in marine science, but even people I hardly knew in high school are under the impression I'm swimming with the dolphins. I've had to make the correction so many times, I now say environmental science with a sheepish laugh. That is not how I want to talk about my job.

I need to re-assess where I am. I find myself more interested in the material I have had to read for marine mammal conservation. On the other hand, I can barely wrap my head around climate change. Turns out it's not my cup of tea after all. I belong in the ocean (yes, swimming with the dolphins). A lot of the things I want to do in the future will require me to be in the water. Sure, I'll still get to do those things as an environmental scientist, but I'll get to do them all the time if I was a marine biologist like I originally planned. I know what I said in that blog entry about career change, and I'm beginning to feel like a cheating lover. I should have just stuck to my guns. I wouldn't be abandoning environmental science; I would just be choosing to be more specific about the environment I want to work in. Decisions will have to be made soon while it's early and I'm not raking in all those ES units yet.

Anyway, here is something we can all do regardless of the career path we have chosen. The environment concerns everyone, and Blog Action Day is providing an opportunity for us to give it the attention it deserves.

On October 15th, more than six million blogs will write about one topic: the environment. The writing project is a good way to get people to think carefully about how current natural and anthropogenic trends are affecting the earth. How are these changes influencing the future of the planet? The sheer number of participating blogs will yield a spectrum of views about these issues. It should be interesting to see how that pans out.

You can blog about the environment in your signature style or step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Check out their official site and get your blog registered. Let's write to save the environment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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Unreality bites

The last time Neil Gaiman was in the Philippines, my friends and I traveled all the way from Baguio to meet him. We were in Rockwell to catch his first public Filipino appearance at Fully Booked. There, he read from a chapter of his then unreleased book Anansi Boys and introduced scenes from the movie Mirror Mask. We were standing right by the side door he came in. It was a shock when he breezed through, looking uber-cool in a leather jacket and his hair in slight disarray. The man is a rock star.

Anyway, we weren't able to actually meet him because there was something like a thousand people in line before us. I forget the actual numbers, but I recall that some of the people who waited to get their books signed that day had to wait until the next morning to meet him. And that was even with Gaiman signing until about 2am. At Fully Booked in Greenhills Promenade, we were 20 people shy of coming face-to-face with him. The management had to limit the number of people getting in because there were simply too many of us. The bus ride to Baguio was long and painful, our unsigned books screaming out for love from inside our backpacks. Later we learned that he made an appearance at Fully Booked Gateway and signed every book/graphic novel that came his way. Oh the agony! I was haunted by this staggering disappointment days after.

Neil was so overwhelmed by his reception in the Philippines (he said we were "louder than the Brazilians") that in 2006, he and Fully Booked came up with a graphic novel/ fiction writing contest called Unmasked, the first of its kind in the Philippines. Now:

Fully Booked in cooperation with Neil Gaiman is proud to present UNREALITY BITES, the sequel to the very successful Philippine Graphic/ Fiction Awards launched last year in the name of Filipino Unrealism!

We want you to be the next big name in the science fiction, fantasy or horror genre!

Send in your original work for the two categories: comics and prose fiction. All winning entries will be compiled and published by Fully Booked, with a foreword by Neil Gaiman.

Over P300,000 worth of prizes will be given away!
Including P100,000 grand prize for the first place winners!

Deadline of submission is October 31, 2007.

Coming soon this November!
Catch Neil Gaiman again in Manila when he visits Fully Booked for the Awards Night and book launch of "Expeditions," the 1st Philippine Graphic/Fiction compilation.*

You can download the contest guidelines here and the official application form here. To get regular updates about the contest, you can join the Yahoo! group gaiman_writing contest.

* Poster and article from Fully Booked Online

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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Girls and boys

In college I took a social science course called "The Filipino Family." There was a reading that talked about how children of different genders related to one another. The gist of the reading was that it was easier for a girl to play with boys than for a boy to play with girls. Boys are generally more welcoming while girls are more suspicious. If a girl decides to be one of the boys, it’s perfectly okay for her to get her face dirty and scratch her knees. On the other hand, if a boy wanted to play house, girls would not immediately let him join in the domestic fun. They would have to warm to him. Apart from that, the boy would have to endure the relentless teasing of his peers. “Ew, he’s a boy!” the little girls would squeal. “Look at that pansy,” the other boys would scoff.

I remember seeing this episode of Oprah where even the girls were complaining how hard it was to make new friends with other girls. On the first day of class, for example, it takes less effort to strike up a conversation with male classmates than female classmates. In high school, the cliques were mostly the girls’ doing. In my own school, there were the friendly girls, the tall girls, the populars, the smart kids, the musicians, the artists, the dangerous crowd and, of course, the, er, socially inept. Girls are exclusive. There are more hurdles to overcome to join a female inner circle. There are dimensions like competition, insecurity, snobbery, meanness and over-all bitchiness.

I do find it easier to hang out with boys more than girls. This, I think, is because guys are less fussy. They’re less likely to give you a head-to-toe stare and snigger about your abominable fashion sense behind your back. They take things as they come and don’t talk each other to death. Boys are glib. They tell you frankly what they think, even if they come off looking like total bastards. They don’t raise their eyebrows at you when you have melted cheese dribbling down your chin or when you burp loudly after a swig of cold beer. I also appreciate their humor, which is refreshing: witty at the best of times and bawdy at the worst of times.

Some of my best friends are guys. I’m so used to their shocking ways I can forgive faults that would normally earn a guy a knee in the nuts. There are still things, though, in the hallowed Guy Code they are forbidden to utter to anyone but those who bear the Y chromosome. Despite all my acquired testosterone, I know my friends have still taken great pains to protect me from the full glare of guy-dom. That and the fact they still include me anyway are what I love them for.

Friday, September 21, 2007

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I'm supposed to be studying

Just when I thought the days between posts were getting fewer, I might have to disappear again. Hell week is rearing its ugly head and I'm running for the hills. Not to cower, but to meditate. I really should get my act together, but the the closer we get to the end of the sem, the more distracted I'm becoming. It's crunch time and I'd rather munch time.

I'd rather blog than study. I feel that tug every blogger gets when they need their daily blog fix. I have a Write! Write! Write! marquee scrolling around in my head. I go online supposedly to download things for class, but I end up blogging. I also forgot how fun it was to comment. It's like leaving muddy footprints around the blogosphere.

Anyway, speaking of commenting... The House of M (that's Marikina, not Magnus) has been swallowed up by the Marvel Universe, following our immersion into Avangers Disassembled and recently the House of M (that's Magnus, not Marikina). So: If you were a mutant, what powers would you have? Would you be an X-man or a member of the Brotherhood? Post it in the comment sheet and let's cha-cha.

Timing's a bitch. I'm getting my blog mojo back, but I need to go and be a shining example of academic achievement.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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Bus entertainment

I spend a lot of time on Victory buses these days, and I have never wanted for good bus entertainment. The conductors I have ridden with so far have shown chutzpah for their taste and knowledge of the current pop culture. I smile as I write this. I think of Victory conductors with fondness.

It was around June that I was lamenting how oblivious I was to Filipino cinema. I was making a resolution to watch more local movies. How opportune it was that on my very first trip to Manila this semester, the conductor decided to grace his audience with Abandonada. The movie is a gripping drama of a woman Gemma (played to emotional perfection by the diamond star Maricel Soriano), who upon returning from working abroad, finds her husband Edwin (played viciously by Edu Manzano) has married another woman. The real kicker is that, in renouncing all connections to his past, he claims that the child he had with Gemma is actually just a nephew and that he was generous enough to adopt him as his own son. Talk about skeletons.

The movie is rife with flashbacks, where we piece together Gemma's domestic imprisonment and subsequent life in Canada. I won't give everything away, since after reading this, you might be feeling adventurous enough to see it. If you do, prepare yourself for high drama, action-packed car chases, edge-of-your-seat shoot-outs, touching jail scenes, and Angelu de Leon really working the furniture in her dramatic scenes. I was impressed. Truly. Everything you could ask for in one two-hour movie. Also, how can anyone say no to Maricel Soriano in a drama? I always thought she had weepy eyes. You know how they're so round and slightly red around the edges? I keep expecting her to burst out sobbing in her Alaska commercials.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

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These are a few of my (un)favorite things

Got this meme from Paolo. I pounced on it because I need to write something outside of my depression. (I'm travelling back to Manila tomorrow. *sob*) Also, when I was in elementary, I had a secret obsession for autograph books. This is like the anti-My Favorites page.

Food: Kiamoy. Or is that chiamoy? I don't like the sweet-and-sour thing. Makes me dizzy.

Fruits: I don't like pineapple on pizza.

Veggies: I only eat munggo when there's a buffer, i.e. inihaw na liempo or chicharon.

People: Stage hogs. These people enjoy the talking more than the listening in a conversation. They are extremely animated when they talk, impressed by their own cleverness. Then when it's their turn to listen, they shut down. Their eyes literally glaze over. However, they're still sharp enough to spot opportunities where they can impose themselves and steer the conversation back in their general direction. The more accomplished ones can even relate to the most absurd situations. Here you are thinking you have a winning story, and apparently it happened to them too. Amazingly enough. These hardcore stage hogs keep gabbing long after even your eyes have glazed over.

Event/Situation/Incident: I seem to reject crowds these days. I don't like going to the mall. I don't relish struggling against the press of a human flood. The noise and incessant chatter annoy me. A crowded place gives me the feeling that I need to rush, that I need to participate in the bustle. I don't like being hurried.

TV shows/Movies: The Cutting Edge 2 (movie). Even if you have a lot of time on your hands, don't waste it on this piece of garbage. I grew up loving The Cutting Edge (Moira Kelly was such a spoiled brat and DB Sweeney was so...barubal. They were absolutely perfect.) and this abyssmal attempt at a sequel is an affront. I'm not surprised it was a made-for-TV movie. I just had the misfortune of running into it while channel surfing. I watched for a few minutes and practically wore out the UP-channel button trying to get as far away as I could. I would rather watch Hard Target (You read right. A Van Damme flick. More on this later.) again than have to sit through The Cutting Edge 2.

Music: I can listen to anything, but I draw the line at commercial Filipino rap. Our mainstream rap artists can't seem to free themselves from their antiquated pattern of a tough guy rapping the verse and some angel voice singing the chorus. They also need to get over being rejected by the same girl again and again.

Household chores: Sweeping. The sight of a broom makes me (s)weep. (Oh my god, sorry. That was uncalled for.) I don't like the dry chores.

Thing/s around the world: Expensive books. I bet they have those anywhere in the world.

Thing/s about myself: I think I'm a little arrogant.

I tag Nicole, Maika, Lei, the wandering commuter Erik, and Aubrey.

Friday, September 14, 2007

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The natural course of things

It's really good to be home. The air is crisp and cold. This is the biting chill that I live for.

One thing, though. I miss my friends. They all seem to be travelling down paths I cannot follow. Some, I think, don't even want me to follow. There are others, like me, who are holding on for dear life, but the circumstances don't seem to be cooperating. Then there are the rest who have accepted the natural course of things.

The other day, I was reading a couple of my favorite blogs and it seemed to me that a lot of the bloggers were exploring some part of their youth. Elementary. High school. College. The stories are endless. Endlessly entertaining. Endlessly amusing. Endlessly comforting. Things were simpler then.

Does it sound like I might be frightened of a little change?

In elementary, I was a tomboy. In high school, I was a writer. In college, I was Bio girl. Now, I'm a patchwork
of temporary events
of forgettable days
of fleeting thoughts
of fake epiphanies
of shallow distractions.

Monday, September 3, 2007

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Please support my piddling blog

I know I should have good reasons for having been away for a little over a month. I could say I lost my fingers to gangrene having survived a horrible refrigerator-cleaning mishap. Just so I'll look cool, I could say that my absence has been due to a pursuit of Mentat-level knowledge. Or...I could say that my mind has weathered down due to misuse and depression (which wouldn't be a very good reason at all). These reasons won't suffice...because (here, we sense a transformation) they would just be excuses. This won't be long. I prefer it to be painless. These days, I tend to get emotional if too long into something. My constitution has weakened over the past month.

Classes are fine, sure, but I have a nagging suspicion that I'm not actually growing (if I may employ such a physical word). Everyone around me seems to have left me in the dust. I look around and everyone is so purposeful. It's not like I'm not trying to do something useful. But I just can't get myself un-stuck. Call me crazy, but I suspect something magical is at play: I think we have a Procrastinator somewhere in the house.

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, there is an order called the Monks of History. Basically, they're in the time business. They have a temple at Clay Lane in the city Ankh-Morpork. Inside are huge Procrastinators described by the monk Sweeper as "the ones that look like your granny's mangle." They take back time at the same rate it moves forward. Time, then, (kind of) stops in that general area. There can be no other explanation for my present inert state. I'm not usually this stationary.

Now, since I haven't seen anything around the house resembling anything my granny might use to press-dry her laundry, I conclude that my Procrastinator must be disguised. It could be the old Sony DVD player that won't play anything. Or the working DVD player, for that matter. It whirs too loudly for its own good. Or it could be one of the TVs. They look like they've been around for a while. Or that ancient maroon bean bag we just can't get rid off. On a side note, we think (and hope sincerely we are wrong) that a mouse has managed to infiltrate said bean bag and made it its home. Must find that Procrastinator. The cycle must be broken! O_o

I saw Casino Royale the other night and have developed an insane girl crush on Eva Green. I might say the same for Daniel Craig but I'm not sure where my girly tendencies might take me if I admit to such things. So I'll play it safe and go for Eva Green, and we can all assume I want to be her...and have that cute twitchy thing she does with her mouth when she talks. I wonder if it's because she was working an English accent in the movie. I didn't notice it in the Dreamers. She looked beautiful underwater, her hair swirling about her in a most merperson kind of way. Ethereal, Nicole said. Her appearance in the Golden Compass should be fulfilling. Her hair swirled around her a lot in the trailer too. Yey. I should also mention that we think Vorenus on Rome looks just like Daniel Craig. I think it's the pouty lips. And also, says Nicole, it should be noted that Brutus was M's personal assistant.

I have been so out of the blogging loop that when I clicked on The Philosophical Bastard, I had to register. It was very professional. There were also a lot of feeds about Malu Fernandez. In my best Dean Winchester voice "That Malu chick...whatta bitch!" The thing about communication, is that even when you say you're sorry and resign, things already said or written have already been heard or read. As usual, Poli delivered with his Havaianas-Spartan peys op. Because only Pinoys give birth to real slippers. Haha. It was also interesting to find out that a fat ginger cat moonlights for Fruity. Lei and Maika had better start writing again. I thought we were supposed to conquer the blogosphere?

Poetry, poetry. My words come out in verses and well-timed syllables. Haah. Right. Link love for poets. Check out laizo, casidhe, and frankie on deviantart.

Must go and study now. Be back soon. I hope.

P.S. If you want to see something pretty, go to a National Bookstore, head to the science fiction shelves and survey the complete set of Frank Herbert's Dune. Yeah, I said survey, because that's what I did in my impoverished state. But if you can buy them, what the hell, do it! This restocking is a heartening development. The release of Hunters of Dune has rekindled the passion for the earlier books. Let's all put on a stillsuit and go home to Dune.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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After seven days

Nadal metaphors

Metaphor 1. The first time I went home to Baguio after having (not really) moved to Manila, I found that a very important person in my life had decided to move on without me. Instead of letting things lie and going on my way, I responded like Rafael Nadal. I felt like I was two sets down, and serving to stay in the match. In true Nadal-like fashion, I started hanging on for dear life. I doggedly chased down shots, went for winners and played every rally like it was my last. I just wouldn't go away. A rousing energy permeated me and I refused to back down. That was until yesterday. Nadal usually goes on to win the match in five gripping sets, but I have decided to hang up my racket. I realized I'm not meant to win this match.

Metaphor 2. (This one actually has something to do with tennis.) Do you remember the battle at Helm's Deep? Think movie here, not book. When the forces of Saruman found the culvert running under the Deeping wall, they decided to enter this weak spot by blowing it up. An orc, running from God-knows-how-far, held a torch to ignite the explosives. Aragorn spotted him and started yelling "LEGOLAS, TAKE HIM DOWN!!!" in Elvish. Legolas turned and with hawk-eye precision, shot arrow after arrow into the orc's muscular neck. But the orc, imbued with a terrible sense of purpose, would not die. Riddled with arrows, he shoved the torch right into the drain and KA-BLAM! For the first time in Middle Earth history, Helm's Deep was breached. Rafael Nadal is like that orc. Everyone in the ATP is Legolas. And Roger Federer is Aragorn. This scenario applies more to Wimbledon than any other grand slam, though.

Bookstores and priorities

In Manila, it's hard not to feel small in the urban landscape. Tall buildings, winding alleys, long unfamiliar streets. What one needs in this daunting city is a good sense of direction. And I thank genetics for leaving me with a decent internal compass. My parents know their way around.

I find that whenever I feel myself getting lost, I think of the last bookstore I saw and work with that. Like if I have trouble finding my way around Greenbelt, I walk to Powerbooks and gather my bearings from there. Bookstores are also a kind of sanctuary. When I want to escape the heat and a host of zombies shoving me in a direction I have no intention of moving in, I walk into a bookstore. Outside, there is an unshakable feeling of being alone and unwelcome. But when I pass the threshold into a blessed room filled with books, it's like being home.

Last Sunday, I was taken to the Fully Booked at Global City in Fort Bonifacio. On the wall, it said "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." They didn't put who said it, but those are exactly my sentiments about how my money should be spent. Case in point: Because my Geekiness couldn't handle everyone knowing something I wouldn't know for a while, I spent an ungodly amount of money to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My dad left me some cash for either a bag or a new pair of shoes. The rigors of school life prompts one to own big bags: I needed a backpack to accommodate all the new readings and bottles of water. I also needed an extra pair of shoes because I've been doing a lot of walking here. But things change. Ominously, they do so during release dates. *cough, cough.*

On July 21, 2007, I casually strode into Powerbooks to casually survey the new Harry Potter books being put out for display (and purchase, of course). I circled the table about three times before daring to pick one up. As I did so, I became painfully aware of the smell of new books and how right the thick yellow-orange book felt in my hand. I was awash with feelings of nostalgia and this irrepressible tugging I get when I want a particular book. I was in a daze. I dropped the book and ran. I had to retreat. The desire to buy it was too overwhelming.

I walked around a department store and began a frenzied poll. I texted everyone whom I thought would think logically for me. Book or shoes? Book or bag? To which everyone replied, BOOK! My resolve was cracking. And my one beacon of light, my only true hope of objectivity - my own mother - said: You buy the book nalang. And so it was that I came to own Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Wow. That story took longer than I'd intended.

Random events

This morning, I went out unto the roof behind the house to leave some of my delicates out to dry. I was just about to go in when I realized some of our neighbors below were watching me. Most of them were men, and they were sniggering. I was half-asleep so it didn't dawn on me until I'd climbed through the window that they might be checking out my mismatch array of lingerie. (Haha. It rhymed. Couldn't resist. I don't own lingerie. I own underwear.) I peered secretly out the window, trying to make out what they were saying. Nicole was laughing her head off, telling me to quit spying on the people who were mooning my underwear. What a wonderful way to start my day: I had people staring at my delicates.

This afternoon, I finally managed to get a school ID. But not after a little boy got his. He was from UP-IS and was getting his ID for the first time. He was ahead of me in line and was being accompanied by his rather cool dad. He got his picture taken, no problem. Then the ID guy asked him to write his name on the digital pad thing for signatures. He did, and by the loopy way his hand was moving, I could tell he was writing in cursive. He did this a couple of times, but the side of his hand kept landing heavily on the pad. It wouldn't show properly on the screen. Finally his dad gently said, "Kahit huwag nang dikit-dikit." When you're in the first grade (like, I assume, he is), it's a matter of pride to be able to write your name in cursive. I knew that had to hurt. So he tried again. His dad, with a small smile on his face, informs him that he spelled his name wrong. The little boy looked up and gave the rest of us a sheepish smile. Everyone in the short line was chuckling by then, but I think he knew we weren't laughing at him. They were reassuring laughs. Then he wrote again, aware that he was holding up the line. He did well that time, and when the ID came out, I saw that he'd managed to write his name legibly in clear script. Conquering cursive would be for another time when a bunch of jaded college students weren't looking over his shoulder. His T-shirt said: This is what a destabilizer looks like. I hope I run into that kid again.

Thank yous

Even if my Internet bill is making me generate enough acid to burn ulcers all over my digestive tract, I feel it is necessary to say thank you to everyone who keeps coming back to my semi-dormant blog and leaves a little bit for me to chew on. Lately, I haven't been the best comment-returner, but I am reading your comments and your posts. They're what I look forward to all week. Your feeds are salvation.

Not really forgetting the rest of you, I'd like to mention these three in particular: - Because of a weird lapse in good judgment, Kevin included in me in his list for Top Ten Emerging Influential Blogs. Joking aside, that seriously made my day. Thanks, man. - Massa P. always finds a way to mention my mediocre blog in her brilliant maze-like posts. I feel the love has to be returned. - As far as I've observed, Paolo is my most loyal commenter. I'm lucky too, because his blog is destined to conquer the blogosphere. Waw. Rubbing elbows with greatness.

Ciao all. Be back again next week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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There can only be one

The thing about blogging is it's addicitive. More, more. I want some more!

I was too emotional to write about it then but Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2 in the Wimbledon 2007 final to join Bjorn Borg in the Five-Wimbledons-in-a-Row Club. Federer has been accused of not being able to hack it in five-set matches. But in glorious and convincing fashion, he showed us all he wasn't going to take shit from anyone on grass. Five sets of utter nail-biting, hair-grabbing excitement. Bliss.

In the fifth set, Federer had to face break points in two consecutive service games. He saved them, and went on to break Nadal. Grace under pressure. Calm in the face of near-defeat. It was a stunning display of resilience and genius from both players. Epic.

Writing shorts

I have all this free time, and I haven't been blogging. Forgive me. It costs money to go online in this here Metro. Having been unemployed since May 28 (exactly), I have taken on a Scrooge mentality. But in one glaring moment of enlightenment, I have decided to write weekly. It remains to be seen, but I will try my darndest to contribute to this tangled Web we weave.

Blogs are to be thanked for broadening horizons. Mine are becoming increasingly familiar and I'm sick of them.

I clicked on and came upon a most stimulating post on a new writing adventure. Shari takes note of all the important stuff, and more goodies and details can be found on the Philippine Genre Stories blog. The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories advocates for literacy among Filipinos and seeks to highlight a little-explored style of expression among local writers.

I'm glad for the information and grateful for the little nudge. I have 9 hours of class every week, leaving me with 159 hours of free time. My past transgressions have come back to haunt me, I have begun questioning my existence (where for about two minutes, I decided I wanted to become such an exceptional human being that when I died, the world would be a sadder place. Haa. Sure.), I wonder if being back in school is truly what I want, I'm engaged in a war with the creative bits of my brain (which seem to be trying to claw out of a very dark place), and sunderings are occurring here and there. I've been accused of overthinking.

I don't know if I'm still capable of writing a short story. Creative writing has recently been absent from my life. The last time I wracked my brain for story ideas was with a wolf. Most of my story ideas are squeezed out of my brain by hungry direwolves. The hunger is there. It is patiently forming into something palpable: I WANT TO WRITE. Ngrwar. It will probably be a while before I come up with something worth showing, but it's good to know that there's a place I could pester to get published. The important thing is, there will be notebooks again. And there will be direction.

I love short stories. I'm not sure if it's just something I agree with from somewhere or I came up with it myself, but I've always thought that the real worth of an author is most apparent in the short stories they write. They have only a couple of pages to convince you that the shit they're selling is the good kind, and the ending has to be pitch perfect. The whole point of a short story is to leave the reader stupefied. It has to evoke feelings that cannot be shaken in a mere number of hours. A good short story will take you out of place and out of time that when you look up from the last word, you are a little disoriented (Where are you?). A good short story will leave a gaping hole in your chest because of how it ended and that it is over. A good short story will be the last thing you think about before going to sleep.

Let's all write to make the world a better place.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

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Heat + references to friends' homes + dreams

I have been trying not to complain about the heat in Manila. I'm thinking, It's Manila. What do you expect? The operative word is "trying." It's hard not to complain when the heat saps all of my energy and keeps me from doing anything productive. Surely, this heat is beyond normal.

In the Inquirer today, Conrado deQuiros writes that global warming "is not an environmental issue, (but a) survival issue."


Here is a product of a long MRT ride. I put together obscure references to my friends' homes:

My friend Zye lives in Carmona, Makati. There was this beer commercial (San Miguel, I think) where a guy takes his friends out for drinks and realizes that he forgot his wallet at home. He tells his friends he has to go and get it. As he leaves, one of his guests inquires after him:

Friend 1: Saan ba nakatira si (let's call him...) Eugene?
Friend 2: Sa Carmona.
Friend 1: Makati.
Friend 2: Hinde! Sa Carmona, Cavite!
Everyone in the beerhouse (in shocked tones): sa CAVITE?!!

My other Baguio friends live in Marikina, Metro Manila. The other evening, Nicole took me to Riverbanks Mall where we were to buy the ingredients for that night's dinner of fake crab and pechay. We finished our business at the supermarket and decided to look around for a bit. Apparently, Nicole had a surprise for me. At the very end of that stretch of mall is a shoe store that houses the World's Largest Shoes.
(Photo taken from the blog Welcome to my World by navigate53. Included in the post Explore Philippines: Marikina City.)
Incidentally, I am still homeless. My father didn't enjoy the idea of me living in a windowless room. I am currently shuttling back and forth between my lolo's house in Makati and Marikina. I'm living out of a suitcase. Very rockstar, but also very inconvenient. If you guys might point me in the direction of a cheap room for rent near Diliman, it would be most appreciated.
Last night, I dreamed that I revealed all of Maika's secrets through a text message. Apparently, I was exhausted and didn't know what I was texting. It was almost as if I was drunk. In my dream, I woke up (yeah, I woke up in the dream) with a bad feeling. I looked in my Sent Items and found I had texted all of Maika's deepest, darkest (Eh?) secrets to a certain Chloe. (I think the name Chloe stuck because last night, before I left Marikina for Makati, the people there were watching Match Point. Emily Mortimer's character's name was Chloe.) Maika, do you know anyone named Chloe? If not, we're good. Besides, in the dream, you forgive me. I give you a peace offering - a book called Myths Retold.

Read more: While searching for an article about the World's Largest Shoes, I found this site which includes some World Records the Philippines has acquired. Check out the Largest Loot in History. Thievery in high places. Very amusing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

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Hey everyone. A quick one. In the MRT, I noticed a tall man slouching and I realized there are some people who are so tall, they're not sure what to do with all that height. Reminds me of a high school friend who grew up too quickly, she also compensated for her newfound height by hunching over. I wish they'd share. I'm so short that when I sit next to someone on the MRT, my shoulder fits snugly under their sweaty armpits. Gross.

Help! This sem, I'll be going to Internet shops to get my blog fix. I'm not sure how to keep up with all the new entries. Do you guys know if there's an online feed aggregator/reader I could use while using a computer in a shop?

Roger dropped of Halle. He says it's to reduce risk of injury. If you ask me, he's depressed about losing the French (Read more). Howard Fendrich says Roger needs to wallow. I agree. It's part of the healing process, says Billy Crystal in the Analyze This movies.

More soon. Lots to write about. Lunch with Emil. Bye!

P.S. Loved your jeepney comments. Isn't it great how one bad experience makes us all band together? :) Thanks for taking the time to comment. I promise, I'll be returning the favor soon.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

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And the events today are...

I updated my top ten emerging influential blogs of 2007 list (that was a mouthful). Be sure to check that out. If you haven’t seen the rest of the list, munch on that too. Blog hopping is a worthy hobby because: (a) you read all sorts of interesting things about all sorts of kooky characters; (b) if you are suffering from malaise and stuck in a slump, other people’s blogs get your creative juices flowing again; and (c) it’s great to laugh. Thank god for blogs.


The other day on my way home, the jeepney I was riding on nearly fell on its side. PUJ drivers find a certain pleasure in cooking up clever ways to beat the traffic. My driver wanted to break a couple of Physics laws and squeezed our ride into an almost non-existent sliver of road. He didn’t notice that the rotonda (with the big Christmas tree at the foot of Session Road) we were just passing was breaking a couple of Physics laws itself. It came out of nowhere. He drove right over one of its corners, and the jeep tilted precariously to the left. I was sitting on the right side, so I was the one who got thrown around. The two other girls opposite me just got a front-row seat to witness my temporary departure from gravity. I don’t get embarrassed by that sort of thing, but I was incensed when I saw the plastic bag carrying my santol was ripped. One of them could have fallen out, for chrissake. My bag also found its way violently to the floor, but was returned by one of my audience. It was an interactive show.

My heart was beating out of my chest, but I didn’t show any outward sign of being rattled. Those two other girls were lucky, because they could laugh and talk about it afterwards. They even had a little role play going about who could make the best walang reaction face. She was sitting across from them. I had to prematurely shrug the whole ordeal off and comfort myself by hugging my santol a little tighter. The driver, on the other hand, looked mortified and kept knocking on his rearview mirror, probably wishing it was wood. His colleagues were sniggering in their own front seats. They’re harsh. And we were still stuck in traffic.


I saw Ocean’s 13 yesterday and I have to admit, sequels sure are getting better. It was a good decision to bring them back to Vegas for this one. The humor was sharp, not like Ocean’s 12, where they were trying too hard. There was wit and cleverness, and the slapstick wasn’t too shabby either. Lately, it seems complicated plots are rubbing me the right way. Like the two other Ocean’s flicks, this one had the trademark planning and scheming…and canoodling (yeah, there was canoodling c/o a Cyrano-ed Matt Damon). I’m not sure if this one beats out the first, but it certainly leaves the second one in the dust.

I’m taking it slow today. It’s time to enjoy the ease of Baguio life while I can. Tomorrow, it’s off to the sweltering heat of Manila.

Lei and our other nursing friends are taking the Board exam today. They need our mojo. Channel, people!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

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Top Ten Emerging Influential Bloggers of 2007

Update, June 10, 2007 - I know I said I didn't have any time to finish the list, but now I do. These are the blogs occupying the remaining four spots on my list.

7. Fruity Oaty – I like the random-ness of it all. In Finding Forrester when William Forrester edits Jamal Wallace’s journals, he writes “Where are you taking me?” That’s exactly how one feels with Massa P.’s posts, and what a grand way to get lost.

8. Nick (Untold Pinoy Stories) – I don’t know where Nick the Author gets his very provocative stuff, but his blog is better than E! True Hollywood Stories. Talk about cracks in the parchment. Throw away your television, because this is the 4-1-1. And it’s written with such panache, I could cry.

9. Kikong Kalikot (Pinoy at ang kanyang musika) – The writer of this blog advocates for World and Earth music and tips readers to check out cool music events. If it’s a blog about music, then it’s okay in my book. Then I kept reading. I have an inkling that he might think music is the answer to depression. *That* makes the blog even more worthwhile.

10. Kubiyat (Baguio Below) – Ah, what the hell. It’s just like voting for the Pirate King with the eight other pirate lords. Savvy?


Janette Toral came up with a great writing project to generate a list of the Top Ten Emerging Influential Bloggers of 2007. This is my contribution to the effort. I would have liked to complete a top ten, but time has not been on my side. The blogosphere is boundless, and I've barely scratched the surface. The blogs I include here are some of my favorites and fit the bill.

1. Lei (Cheese to go with my whine*) – When I hang out with Lei, I get to indulge the kid in me. Her blog is a lasting testament to all things only our inner child would admit to liking.

2. Paolo Mendoza (The Philosophical Bastard) – I can’t stay away from a blog whose author kills Peter Pan, laments the impotence of the most important piece in chess and obsesses about immortality.

3. JJ Junio (Unsent) – This is where I get my politics fix. It’s not something I normally talk about, but he makes the whole thing rather enjoyable.

4. Utakgago – I only started reading his blog, but get the impression that he *writes.* Who does that anymore? On one post, he ended with a post-script: “Nyeta, minamadali ako ng tatay at ate kong maligo. Sorry kung bitin or may mga errors. Promise i-rerecheck ko to!" That pretty much got me sold. I like people who edit their work.

5. Alternati (Sarcasm Aside) (Unfortunately, I have to take Sarcasm Aside out of the list since it started before August 2006. It's still a great read, though, so mosey on along over there and enjoy!) I found her blog a couple of weeks ago, and was strangely drawn to a blogger who might harbor ill-feelings towards Roger. I kept reading to find out that she’s from Baguio and a big TV buff. Anyone from Baguio and likes tennis is a friend of mine.

6. Eloiski – Naaliw ako sa post niya tungkol sa mga bagay na kina-aadikan niya. At dahil iiyakan pa niya ang anime, bentang-benta nako sa blog niya. Tapos malaman-laman ko pang takot siyang makahawak ng butterfly dahil ito ay nakakabulag. Totoo 'yon.

7. Poli (Gagopolis) – I share his addiction to The French Open and extremely enjoyed the post where he recounts stuffing a tabloid down his underpants.

Friday, June 1, 2007

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Don't sweat it

Just got back from Manila last night. I managed to find a room and get my admission slip over at the College of Science. Boo-yah!

I'm having second thoughts about my room, though. It's cheap, but incredibly cramped. I was told to call it "cozy." But really, it's cramped. When people ask me to describe it, I say it's like Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs. There isn't a window either. I wonder if a fan is enough to conquer the heat. Or one day, I just don't wake up. I get baked alive in an oven for a room. That is a very messy way to die. *knocking on wood*

The lady at the CS Graduate Office was very nice but raised an eyebrow at me when I couldn't produce the original copy of my transcript. I didn't think I would have to bring it anymore, since I'd already sent in a copy (I had to grit my teeth through all the threes and fours) with my application. Despite that, I don't think our relationship has soured. I feel she and I have struck up the beginning of a very fruitful friendship. (Anyway, the next time I see her, I'll have my OTR.)

My friend Joyce was kind enough to accompany me all over campus to get things done. I noticed that apart from her and me, everyone else seemed fresh and unbothered by the heat. The both of us had sweat running down the sides of our faces and we were sticky icky. How girls in Manila keep their faces oil- and sweat- free is an impressive feat.

The girls who've been in Manila long enough to unlock the secrets to sweatless skin look as if they'd just come out of the shower. Whereas there are the other girls who might as well have beads of sweat on their foreheads forming the words "I'm not from around here." You can tell who's used to the heat and who isn't. It's a strange dichotomy.

Joyce and I were talking and have decided that the reason girls from Baguio sweat more is because our pores feel deprived. Pores aren't vestigial organs merely awaiting their evolutionary end. So in a hot place, they tend to overreact. They are desperate to show that they are actually worth keeping around. In Joyce's best singsong voice, the pores cry: "Yey, useful na kami!"

Another friend Aimee thinks the reason for all the sweat is the six-hour exposure to airconditioning on the bus traveling from Baguio to Manila. The airconditioning sucks all the sweat to the surface. Or something like that. By the time you get to Manila, all the sweat just overflows to the surface.

Got a better theory about where all the sweat is coming from? Let's hear it, friend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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In the dentist's chair

My lower teeth are in a quandary. There are braces there, but my teeth have no space to migrate. The original plan was for me to get a pre-molar removed so today, my mind was conditioned for a tooth extraction.

The worst part of a tooth extraction is when the dentist injects the anesthesia. The cold feeling of a syringe feels awkward inside the gum, but there's also this weird sensation of the medicine flowing in. After that, it's pretty cool when half my face is numb. I also like the part where the tooth is actually pulled out. It's a real treat to hear the action inside my mouth. My dentist uses this pliers-looking thing to grab hold of the tooth, then it's all grunt work from there. Dentists have wicked-cool gadgets and exceptional upper body strength.

The first thing I hear is a crunching sound. That's when my dentist is loosening the tooth, carefully yanking it from side to side. Then, there's this louder krrrrsssshhh sound when it finally gives. It's also oddly satisfying to see how big the tooth really is. I have two perfectly functional teeth wrapped in tissue paper on my dresser. I would have had a third for my boni collection, if not for my dentist's last-minute decision to just install a spring between two brakcets and wait for the teeth to make space. I was slightly disappointed at the turn of events, I was really looking forward to taking home a tooth. The bright side is that my eating habits remain unhampered. Hurray!

There was another lady in the clinic this afternoon, and she sure found my mouth interesting. Enjoying her attention, I even volunteered information about the status of my dental health. When I sat in the dentist's chair, I thought my encounter with her was over. Instead, I had two women poking around my mouth, talking about the severity of my condition. From the conversation happening overhead, I could tell that she and my dentist were old college friends. They had nicknames for each other and kept beginning sentences with "Maalala mo nung..." The most intriguing bit was when they were talking about anesthesiology class and my dentist said, "Ay, ako binayaran ko yung in-injection ko."

"Ah talaga? Kami noon, wala kaming nakita," the lady replied wistfully. What do you think this means? Are there penniless blokes out there who would let dentistry students practice injecting anesthesia into their mouths for a pretty price? It's a little bit like donating blood, but scarier.

The fish bowl in my dentist's waiting room is gone. Its two occupants have left this earthly plane for Fish Heaven. Upon entering her office after a three-day trip to Manila, my dentist came upon the heady scent of death and decay. Her fish had gone belly up. They were good fish, but were stuck living in a bowl that had seen better days. Let's all take moment of silence.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

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I can't spend another minute at home

After a week of being sick, I went out yesterday for a day of debauchery with Lei and Maika. We saw Pirates of the Carribean 3 with another friend of ours and her son, who had been looking forward to Jack Sparrow's antics since he saw the trailer in Spiderman 3 (He got bored with Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson's dramatic scenes and wanted to know how long before Jack came on).

I finally understand why women get wet at the sight of Orlando Bloom. He's come so far from the bow-toting, almost-gay interpretation of Legolas in Lord of the Rings. I didn't notice him then because I was too busy raving about Viggo Mortensen. In Pirates 3, though, Orlando is gritty and rugged and his chest is always visible. What girl can say no to that?

The moment Will Turner gets hoisted out of that vat in Singapore, I was his. Everytime he would come on screen all damp and grimy, Maika and I would be reduced to giggle fits. And that's saying something. We are not the giggly type. Thing is, he was damp and grimy for three-fourths of that film. And there was this part with the thing and the guy and the ohmigod!. There was a collective gasp from all three of us. Lei was on the brink of tears. We were aghast. How could that happen to someone so beautiful?

I realize Imelda Marcos keeps cropping up in my blog. Paolo made a comment about her on this post and I mentioned her again here. Now I'm going to talk about her again: she was in Pirates 3. I was astonished to see her there, bedecked in all her finery. There was too much powder, if you ask me. You'll see her there, I'm telling you. You'll be wondering if a Filipino really was involved in making this movie. Lei even talks about the humor being a little bit pinoy.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy watching Pirates. I didn't have very high expectations for this film, it being a sequel and all. However, this is one case where I don't mind putting my foot in my mouth. Aaar, you scoundrels! Scallawags, the lot of you! Aaaar! When you've seen it, let's talk details.

After the movie, we hooked up with our friend Emil and went straight to a videoke place. We spent the best of three hours singing songs that only existed in our elementary and high school psyches. Ah, but once a Spice Girl fan, always a Spice Girl fan. Lei shot some videos (there were pictures too, oh god) and boldly used one of them to black mail you into voting us in as two of the top ten emerging influential bloggers of 2007 (Incidentally, I'm still working on my list. Will be putting it up sometime this week, hopefully. If you guys have any recommendations or are not averse to pimping your own blog, post a comment and I'll see what I can do).

I had the best day to mark the end of sickness and boredom. We went home, hoarse and exhausted and happy. There's nothing like singing a pop song to brighten your day. Still had the dizzies but Kelly Clarkson and Hilary Duff fixed that. Goodbye vertigo. (I always thought Vertigo was a great name for a song. Really, U2 is too cool for their own good).

Friday, May 25, 2007

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What to do when…

…you’re alone, starved and have accidentally walked into an Expensive Italian Restaurant.

Imagine yourself on Valentine’s Day alone, but blissfully oblivious of your status. You’re happy to be single even on this day, of all days. You’re ready to spend the day wandering aimlessly in a huge mall, left only to your own thoughts. You’re only visiting so you don’t really know your way around. That’s the whole point, though, because you want to get lost. You have all the time in the world.

You meander your way through alien corridors, unaware of time passing. You pause once in a while to browse in a bookstore or admire a beaded necklace in a window. Sometimes, you encounter googly-eyed high school couples making their way to their favorite perch. You giggle in spite of yourself. You’ve been in high school too. Now, you marvel at how one-hour lunches always seemed to be enough for quality socialization. It’s what you’re thinking as you watch these teenage pairs slightly hurry to their romantic destinations. Somehow, you all know that they’re still going to make it to their first afternoon class.

Then you realize your own hunger. You’d been walking for hours and you hadn’t had a bite in a while. An hour ago, you cleverly decided to keep an eye out for a good place to eat. There were the usual mundane choices like the convenient fast food restaurant, where you can never get your money’s worth (because that’s the price of convenience) or the food court, where you would be at risk of getting caught under a smelly man’s armpit. You quickly veto these options. Today you’re a tourist – you might as well live it up. You suddenly feel a craving for Italian food. The thought of pasta and fresh garlic bread sends gastronomic tremors down your spine. You remember a glittering sign somewhere near the interior design stores. It was an Italian Restaurant. You retrace your steps and arrive at the door.

By the entrance, you notice a small podium you didn’t see the first time you passed. A concierge appears, just in time to assist a woman with a tight-assed smile. You take a closer look at the restaurant. Outside there are flower boxes resting on artfully welded metal stands, meant to imitate those on a Tuscan sidewalk. Inside, there are sepia photographs supposed to take you out of the mall and into a Roman holiday. The waiters and waitresses are dressed elegantly in black and white, their uniforms probably taking after a classic Armani look. The customers already seated are Rich Folk. You can tell by their lazy drawl and half-lidded eyes. You are actually looking at an Expensive Italian Restaurant, but your hunger and low blood sugar have slowed your mental processes. You don't realize the significance of your observations and you walk in.

The doorman and servers all look at you in puzzlement, but smoothly recover. They show you in and ask for how many. You tell them “for one,” and they find you a seat. It’s at a cramped little table squeezed in next to a flower box divider, mercilessly in full view of the other diners. Your server introduces herself and hands you a menu. You cannot refuse their attention because all you can think about is nursing your hunger. You open the menu. Ridiculous prices jump out of the page, taunting you. All food items are in the triple digits. Panicked and starved, you scan the list for something more reasonable. You get to the last page and find no beacon of hope. The ambient heat becomes stifling and already you are beginning to have second thoughts.

What do you do?

Get up and WALK AWAY. Leave that place. Forget your damned pride. Just get outta there. Who cares what they’ll think of you? Put on your best sheepish smile, nonchalantly shrug your shoulders, and for the love of god, get your butt out of that chair. Never mind the condescending looks and bemused stares. You have more personality than them. Embarrassment lasts for as long as you let it. You know you can afford a meal at the Expensive Italian Restaurant, but you can spend your money on better things. There are books to buy, presents to find. Think of the children!

Who wants a 360-peso baked ziti when you can get a heartier 90-peso serving at a Cheap Italian Restaurant? Use the last reserve of strength to get to a Cheap Italian Restaurant. Use your hunger as motivation. You owe it to your stomach to find a more satisfying meal. The kind where you won't want to puke out every bite because you know you would never spend that much on one dish. You need to find food you'll actually enjoy swallowing.

The only bright side you get eating in the Expensive Italian Restaurant is that when you burp four hours later, you still taste the baked ziti.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

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Who knew?

Last year when my family and I were on our way home from a trip to Sagada, I managed to take this photo of an intriguing street sign.

I wonder what sort of things people get to see up there. It's "enthralling," mind you. Who can pass that up?

The mountain is given a short, rather formal description here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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In recovery

I'm still off from work due to my mysterious viral infection. Recuperating at home has never been this exhausting. I have two, very energetic brothers to take care of. This is their version of rough-housing. One tied and slightly maniacal, the other safely out of biting range...

Luckily, I can restrain one of them with a leash. Last week, he got sick because of some funky thing he ingested in the backyard. Whatever he ate got him spewing out from both ends. He went on antibiotics for five days and stayed in the vet's clinic overnight. It was very taxing emotionally. Since then, my parents have ordained that we keep him within the confines of the gate. Hence the leash. Poor guy. He's been bored out of his mind. So this morning, I opened the gate to let him explore the meager perimeter his leash would allow him. He ended up mauling my mother's unsuspecting plants. Here are the spoils of war...

My other brother makes life harder another way. He insists on giving me a blow by blow account of our canine sibling's latest transgressions. Which is a lot considering he's gone wild from boredom. My little brother seems to think that already seeing the events unfold before my own eyes isn't enough. He has to narrate it for me. Just knowing that I have another mound of poop to clean up is stressful enough, but having it pointed out again and again...oh god, please just shoot me now.

When he's not busy announcing that Rako has climbed unto the dining table or has pooped in places he isn't supposed to, he is content lounging next to the brand new race track he got for his birthday...

After lunch, we had to let Rako in because it started to rain. He was too rough so we tied him up by the window. This is him experiencing Acceptance...

This is me trying to drown out their noise. He took this photo. Jake, not Rako...

Monday, May 21, 2007

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Watching a replay of history

I waited and waited but stupid Star Sports wouldn't show the Masters Hamburg final. They kept showing MotoGP and football. Good grief, there's football everyday. Couldn't I have just that one match? I called it a night and disappeared into the dark oblivion of my room. At around midnight, I woke up and decided to see if I would be rewarded a replay. I was. The waiting was oh-so-worth-it.

Roger Federer (SUI) def Rafael Nadal (ESP) 2-6 6-2 6-0

Federer rallied from a set down to win the third clay court title of the season, snapping Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay. I stayed home from work today as I have been infected by some bug. (I can watch another replay!) That's the clinical diagnosis. But I suspect it might be because the impact of Federer beating Nadal on a clay court is too immense for my puny mortal mind to comprehend.

In the decider, it looked as if Roger was up to a shaky start. Nadal was on his heels, but he found his rhythm and all that had been missing in the last five tournaments had returned. He was serving well, his forehand was point-blank, and his movements were cat-like. He kept getting around the ball to deliver punching forehands. In the final game on Nadal's serve, you could see that Federer had entered a balance. His shoulders were relaxed and open, it was like he was dancing. was magical. Federer bageled Nadal on the latter's favorite court. Talk about getting out of a rut.

The thank-you post

This wonderful new blog lay-out is all thanks to Lei's savvy HTML tweaking skills. It should also be mentioned that Lei has been nominated by fruityoaty as one of the ten emerging influential bloggers of 2007. Could it be her winning personality or her brilliance at modifying HTML templates? I dunno, folks, but one or the other, she deserves all our love. Teehee, thanks Lei! I know you'll feel my love even more when you get a slice of this crisp freshly-baked Nestle cake...*drool*

Sunday, May 20, 2007

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Oh brother

One day when I was about 11, my mother asked me how I would feel about a baby brother or sister. We were lying down and I remember the ceiling start to swim in my view. The idea of a sibling was foreign to me, and I was not reacting well. I was getting nauseous.

Then when I was 12, my mother and father announced they were pregnant. This time, I was prepared. I was conditioning myself for life with a sibling. I had to learn the concept of...*ugh*...sharing.

It was eight years ago to this day that my brother Jake was born. The transition wasn't so bad. I tell my friends and anyone who I catch listening that I'm too mature to engage in squabbles with a toddler. This isn't true, of course. My brother and I are experts at Sibling Wars. We would burn down the house if we could. But we love each other, and it is with this blog entry and three shiny, new Hot Wheels cars that I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE!

Months ago, I blogged about my favorite Jake anecdote, which involved the misadventures of an amateur tooth fairy. I wrote it in two parts and this is the second bit.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

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An ode to my students

My post drought can be explained by my inability to come up with anything creative after pouring all of my cerebral efforts into being patient with eight 11-year old Korean kids. By the time I get home, my brain has turned to mush and sleep is the only antidote.

One of my favorite students will be leaving tomorrow. It brings me great sadness as his loopiness is what got me through the eighth hour of the day. A couple of days ago, he and I ended up with a bump on the head and a swollen lip respectively. We were having a tickling match and just as he put his head forward, I was going in for an attack of my own. *Ka-pow* The effects were instantaneous. Our deranged laughter was replaced by groans of agony. I'm not sure who had a harder time of it. He hit his head on teeth with braces and I got my poor teeth slammed against a hard head. That kept us from doing anything radical for the rest of the class. I shall truly miss our violence and threats of death.

Remember that kid who wrote faster because of my singing? I found out later on that he really just found my singing apalling. An ego was deflated, to say the least. He was taken out of my schedule and is currently spared my atrocious vocal stylings.

The children in the school I teach in come from mostly urban families. They have lots of money, live in apartments in the city, and have had very little contact with bugs. Their first few days living in the Philippines are spent complaining about mosquitoes and shrieking about cockroaches hunkering along peacefully five meters away. I imagine the living conditions in a third-world country come to them as a shock. You could also call it an enlightening experience. They get used to all the bugs eventually and retaliate with mosquito-bite ointment and physical violence. Fear leads to suffering. Suffering leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Yoda was wise. Their fear brings them to cruel heights, burying ants in clay and waiting in gleeful anticipation for the ant's violent demise. Imagine your nose getting plugged with clay. They also capture the noble baka-baka with the notion of keeping him as a pet. The poor dung beetle walks along with multicolored string tired around its head and thorax, miserable in captivity. In a Korean kid's room, the possibility of finding yummy detritus is slim. The beetle is starved and weak, but has to remain interesting lest it find one of its legs across the table. For these kids, I wish them a fate where they get reincarnated as ants in a Korean school.

My blog is in the process of being beautified. That sounded a little bit like my high school principal on a day before some eminent DECS official was supposed to come to our school. "Let's beautify our surroundings!" Anyway, please pardon the mess. And I'm sorry that all your links are missing. They'll all be back soon. I've got Lei helping me out with the HTML. Thanks Lei!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

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Six weird things about me

And to indulge JJ:

The Rules: Each player of this game starts with six weird things about themselves. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own six weird things as well as state the rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose six people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1. When I’m bored or stressed, I start singing “Dear Lie” by TLC or “Didn’t know I was looking for love” by Everything but the Girl. Lately, I seem to be favoring “Didn’t know I was looking for love.” Not that I’ve actually found love. Ha!

2. I own an ungodly number of shoes, but only wear sneakers. I have so many pairs of shoes that I may be developing an Imelda Marcos complex. I love shoes. Despite the abundance of footwear, I only alternate between my white Keds and blue Chucks.

3. I’m really vain about my hair. When I was a freshman in high school, my two best friends staged an intervention. They made up a story about this girl who they had seen endlessly fidgeting with her hair. She kept running her fingers through her hair, combing it. If she didn’t have her trusty Hair Doctor around, she’d borrow someone else’s. She was shameless, they said. Nakakainis, they complained. They were pretty clever about it. They didn’t hurt my feelings but their little charade did the trick. I stopped messing with my hair. Now, I keep my hair obsession to myself. Mostly.

4. I’m psychosomatic. My neurosis peaks when I’m not doing anything productive. It got pretty bad during summer or sembreaks. When I was a kid, I got bitten by an ant. I kept asking people if ants had rabies. I was terrified I might die of an ant bite. More about this here.

5. I imagine my demise to be caused by slippery stairs. When I go down stairs, I imagine slipping, falling backward and hitting that soft unprotected part in the back of the head on the edge of a step. I see myself instantly dying. They say that hitting that hollow where the brain stem meets the spinal cord is fatal.

6. Books and movies make me cry harder than real life. Last night I saw Cheaper by the Dozen on cable, and started crying when Steve Martin finds one of his kids on the train bound for their hometown. Beans his frog had just died.

I pass this on to:
Nixie (perhaps when she gets back from Cotabato)
Pulang Chico

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

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How'd I manage to type this post?

Do you know the sound Courage the Cowardly Dog makes when he's stressed out? The whine he makes when Muriel is being carried off on the shoulders of some hairy denizen of the night into a dark damp tunnel? Yea...that one. Rako makes that sound when I growl at him. I'm a hairy denizen of the night.

Now off to something completely unrelated: Maika has finally put up a blog. Check out don't think twice and give her some love.

I will be back when the lure of sleep isn't so distracting.

Monday, May 7, 2007

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In dreams

Just been to Neil Gaiman's blog. Check out The Dream Project. Very cool. The artists who contribute are trying to make their dreams materialize in the waking world. They're mapping out their dreams, obviously valuing the messages they get in their sleep. Interesting. My blasted Internet connection is too slow for me to do a comprehensive tour. Must check it out with broadband. I did manage to see Neil's Train and it gave me goosebumps. Anything that gives a person goosebumps is worth your time.

I read this book where a tribe called the Travelers trains a young man with an exceptionally good memory to became the village Chronicler. He remembers the tribe's history for everybody. The Dream Project remembers people's dreams. Ooh.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

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The End of Posts?

I've forgotten how hard it is to endlessly nag kids to capitalize and punctuate their sentences for eight hours on end.

My last kid of the day has this weird tendency to write faster when I sing (Er. I hum a little when I wait for my kids to finish their exercises). I thought at first he was doing it so I could check his work and consequently shut up. I asked him about it and he said that he just really writes faster when he hears someone sing. He whimpers a little bit when I burst into song. It's like he suffers because his hand can't keep up with his OCD.

For many months, my excursions to the bathroom had a hint of danger. There is a breathless thrill that comes with the risk of getting caught in the act. Every time I'd perch my behind on the toilet, my senses would magically sharpen. They would become attuned to the activity going on outside. The sound of approaching footsteps would further heighten my already acute perception. At this point, I would yell: "There's somebody in here!" Alas, all that is over. Our bathroom door now has a doorknob. My acquired skill is doomed to dormancy.

I currently divide my time between my Korean wards and my canine pooper. All he does is dole out globs of brownie surprise. I'm being pessimistic about how often I'll be able to put up new stuff on the blog since events in the real world are keeping me unnaturally busy. I'm thinking I could spread my bane on the Web by posting comments all over the place. And also so you guys know that even if my own posts have dwindled, I'm still reading your stuff.

Friday, April 27, 2007

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Career change

After an impressive amount of procrastination, I finally sent in my application yesterday. I also changed my mind and applied for environmental science instead of marine biology. I have long been in love with the dream of a career spent almost a hundred percent of the time in the ocean. I wanted to study marine biology first, because I wanted to rescue the whales and dolphins from extinction (I know...I was a little girl!). Then, I saw this documentary about jackass (Who knew?) penguins being rescued from an oil spill in Boulders Beach, South Africa. I felt something like terrible purpose when I watched those penguins get released back into the sea. I wanted to be on the beach, setting those clean penguins free. My heart was really set on marine science, but in the months leading up to now, the passion has been waning. My mind has been turning to other things like conservation, genetics and even writing. For a short time, I thought genetics might be the science for me. I thought that if I couldn't do any research, I could work in a sperm bank. Although now that I think of it, there is no lack for sperm here in the Philippines. I also like the mathematics of genetics, the probabilities. There is also a degree of prescience, which I find fascinating.

My love for writing may again be put to the test. I will soon be making a journey back to the empirical world. I will be getting ready to squeeze out literary creativity to make room for solid science. Don't be surprised if, in a few months, my writing will be wrung dry of romance or imagination. Join me in mourning the imminent demise of my artistic soul.

What finally prompted me to go for environmental science was when my father and I were watching this bit of news about global warming. My dad nodded to the TV and said "Why don't you try this out?" The idea of working on something related to global warming was actually already hop-scotching around in my head at the time. I had just seen An Inconvenient Truth a couple of weeks ago and I had since been thinking of the widespread effects of the phenomenon. I found myself particularly interested in the ecological effects of climate change and considered making a career of it (Sorry, went all geeky there for a second) So, sitting on our blue couch with my puppy lounging on my lap, I thought "What the hell, environmental science it is."

I have a couple of weeks to wait and see if I got into the program. I have my fingers crossed. I need mojo, people! Weirdly apt for the occasion, there's this article in the NY Times about how a dean of admissions got a little nuts about her academic background.
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