Saturday, March 31, 2007

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Michael Moorcock, Mensa, fish, and other cool geeky things

I found a 19-peso copy of Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock in a box of really old books in Diplomat at Center Mall. I was just about to give up the search when I noticed its attractive silver binding at the bottom of the pile.

I love Elric. What can be cooler than a doomed albino sorcerer prince who destroys his entire nation, making him the last surviving member of his race? Nothing. What can be more awesome than a sword called Stormbringer that literally shivers with excitement at the idea of fresh blood and slowly sucks out the soul of its bearer? Again, the answer is zilch. Fantasy Masterworks did a collection of all the Elric stories and I was lucky enough to borrow it from my veteran fanatasy buddy Shanti. (He hasn't updated in a while, but you should go check out his poetry here.) I became such a fan that I named my Gunbound character Melnibone. Most of the people in the game thought it was a funky girl's name and kept nick-naming me Mel.

I can relate to Elric's loneliness. Born different, he was perceived by his own people as something to despise. He is the ultimate antihero, brooding and cynical. Elric is a perpetual wanderer who never truly finds happiness. My situation isn't as grim as that, but that unshakeable sense of always being along I can definitely understand.

After Center Mall, I visited my dentist for the monthly tightening of my braces. (What can be geekier than braces?) I spend a lot of time watching my dentist's two fish swim around in their tiny bowl in the waiting area. Both are silvery: one with orange splotches and the other with black and orange markings. I can never really tell what colors they are because their bowl is always dark and murky. The water is so thick with muck that you can see a ring of scum forming near the top of the bowl. The poor things are suffocating having exhausted all the oxygen in their cramped watery abode. I can see their mouths opening and closing noiselessly just beneath the surface, sucking in oxygen from the air (ironically). Apart from their heinous living conditions, their lives are a mystery to me. They hardly resemble the merry Tank Gang in Finding Nemo. They are deprived the macabre delight of watching a dentist jab around inside the mouth of a terrified patient. Instead, they are made to absorb all the stress coming off the somber waiting room population. I wonder how they keep themselves occupied.

On a side note, Lem saw a National Geographic show about sexual deviants in the animal kingdom. Apparently, when a clown fish mom dies, the son changes sex and takes her place. He becomes the father's new mate. The deep-voice commentator guy said it best: I bet Nemo didn't know that. Ew.

I later met up with Maika who had unearthed a Mensa puzzle book in the Center Mall book fair. We spent the rest of the afternoon wracking our brains and laughing our heads off trying to cover up for our obvious lack in intellect. Here are some of the ones we enjoyed. I'll post the answers eventually, but I'll let you guys stew on them first:
1. There was a man without eyes. He saw plums on a tree. He took no plums and left no plums. How did he do it?
2. There was a man in tights lying unconscious on a field. He was lying next to a rock. (Hint: The rock made him unconscious without touching him.)
3. Where do the biggest potatoes grow?
4. Where did Noah strike the last nail in the ark?
5. Where are all men equally good-looking?
6. Why are two little animals alone in a little boat in the middle of the ocean?
7. Would you rather a tiger attack you or a lion?
8. Would you rather have an old ten dollar bill or a new one?
9. One day while playing hide-and-seek, Jane suddenly told the other kids that she didn't want to play anymore. She said that she was now easier to find than everyone else. One of the kids spoke up and said, "But with John, we all have the same chance of being found." What happened to Jane and why would John still have to look for her the same way he would look for everyone else?
10. What two items doesn't a boy have when he is a baby, but has when he is 10. (Hint: They are body parts and even girls have them.)

Here's something cool. Jean-Dominique Bauby was a famous French journalist who, after suffering a massive stroke, found himself almost completely paralyzed. Despite his inability to move nearly every part of his body, he still managed to write the best-selling novel The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He wrote it all by blinking his left eye. Here I am physically capable in every way and still unable to write anything worth remembering. Ah, but am I mentally capable?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

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Top of the food chain

My friend Maika complains that I'm such a carnivore. When we go out to eat and I innocently declare that I want steak, she gives me The Look. Maika belongs on the other end of the gastronomic spectrum: she's a vegetarian. This is something I don't understand. Or possibly, refuse to understand. How can you eat just veggies when you can enjoy the succulent savory goodness of a nice slice of beef? I enjoy ensaladang amapalaya as much as the next veggie-eater, but gimme a break, who can refuse spare ribs and zesty ranch dressing? Or a cheesy/juicy burger? Or chicken schnitzel piled imperiously on a plate of spaghetti bolognese? Or bacon fried to a heavenly crisp? Or pinikpikan with bagnet? Or dinakadakan, mixed with the crunchy surprise of liempo? I'm driving myself crazy, so I stop with the examples here.

My friends try to appeal to my animal-loving side: "Just think - that (lovely) T-bone steak was once a cow lolling in the lap of prairie luxury." And I, greasy mouth and all, reply "You want a bite, don't you? Admit it." They recoil at the carefully selected piece (just the right amount of fat and meat) I generously offer them: "They killed a cow so you could have a steak." My eyes widen slightly, but I am unfazed. I eat the piece they refuse: more for me. In my mind, I say a silent thank you to the cow who fattened itself up on the grassy knolls for my wickedly delicious steak.

I must admit, though, that there are some companies whose meat-processing methods leave a lot to be desired. Burger King has seen the light and has changed its ways. When I read the article, I thought, These pigs get one last hurrah before they go. But I'm not really sure if it's better that they don't know they're heading for the chopping block. They have no clue of their coming fate. What happens if they aren't amply warned?

I would never eat dog meat, though. I liken it to eating a talking beast of Narnia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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Immortality - take it, it's yours!

Update (28 March 2007): Revenge didn't happen, folks. There must be some weird ripple in the multiverse because Roger seems to be playing like shit. So I suppose Cañas winning at Indian Wells was no fluke. The guy has balls. But ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod. Roger looked really dejected after the match. I don't blame him. Back to back losses -that's gotta hurt. Good grief, I hurt. My let's-go-numb mechanism has flipped on.

Elsewhere in the tennis world, Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1. Go Serena! Maria seems too perfect: she's articulate, talented, tall and leggy, and has millions of dollars in endorsements. It's good to see her go down once in a while. At least the rest of womanhood isn't so far behind. Haha.


Sufferin' succotash. I woke up at 2am this morning to watch Roger beat the living daylights out of poor Nicolas Almagro in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. When I got to work this morning, I was smashed. I thought I would have a good night's sleep this evening, but apparently, I was wrong. Roger is scheduled to play Cañas later tonight. Woo-hoo! Revenge - I can already taste it. It tastes a bit like chicharon bulaklak. Utterly satisfying.

Monday, March 26, 2007

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Zen for breakfast

6AM You wake up. Your internal clock works like a charm. You look up and see sunlight filtering through the glass into your semi-dark room. Your eyes are still adjusting to daylight and your body refuses to get up. Under the sheets, it is warm and safe. You don't want to leave. You pull the blankets up tighter under your chin and turn, finding an even more comfy position. You think, "15 minutes more." It is blessedly easy to doze off again.

6:15AM Reality is more palpable. You need to get up for work. For months now, you have been wondering if you can still keep up the charade that is your job. You have been thinking of resigning. You fear that your 8-5 desk job has made you bereft of all creativity and depth.

6:30AM You are still in bed, and beginning to hate yourself for it. You should have gotten up at 6. In your head, there is a battle: Is this the day I finally leave my job? What will I do with all my free time? I can't take this job anymore, it's time to move on. Where will I get the money to pay for the electricity? You bury your face in your pillow and mull over these nagging thoughts.

6:45AM Shit. Now, you really have to get up. You drag your heavy body out of bed. It feels like you've aged ten years since you woke up. You heat water for your bath and put together the stuff you'll bring to work. Your thought battle is nearing its end. A resolution is in sight. You think of the day ahead, wondering if it will pass painlessly. You imagine what you will do to make the hours more bearable.

7:10AM You are nearly ready. You can hear cars and jeepneys zooming by your house. The rest of the world has woken up with you, ready to take on the day. You look in the mirror and take a deep calming breath. Your mind is preparing itself, because it knows that preparation is the key to anything. You spray on some perfume, because you want to smell good even if you're miserable. This job is killing you.

7:20AM But you have to be realistic. You walk out the door and stand in the street, noticing a clump of students a little way down also waiting for a ride. You feel a slight pang in your chest, wishing you were still in school. You shake it off. You hail the first jeep that passes and it is not full. You are beginning to accept how you will spend the day. You seat yourself close to the door and look ahead.

7:50AM The moment of clarity. You walk into the office. The long jeepney ride has cleared your head. Or was it the fresh air? You have decided to remain hopeful about your job. The slump in your shoulders is beginning to vanish. The work day ahead no longer feels insurmountable. You remember that you will eventually find a way out of this monotony, but for now, you will have to suck it up. You go to your table. You see the work you left unfinished the day before. You sigh. It is not resignation. It is simply the realization that all this is temporary: you are relieved.

For the rest of the day, you pour yourself into work. You do not worry about the future or that fact that this job may be sucking your soul out. You know that your soul does not belong to this boring eight-to-five. It is alright. You have freed your mind of the unpleasant thoughts plaguing you earlier. In fact, your mind has become cleared of any worries and distractions. You exist only in the present. You focus on the tasks before you, and actually perform excellently. You have achieved inner peace.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

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The Princess and the Many-Roomed Castle

Author's note: This poem was originally posted on on June 3, 2005. When I wrote this, my mind's eye was seeing with a clarity I wish I still had now. I hope you guys enjoy this one.

Once upon a time, there was a princess
Who lived in a castle with many rooms.
She wore a swishy periwinkle dress
And a ringlet of flowers round her raven tresses.

She visited all the rooms in the castle
Where she met knights and maidens,
fools and shameless knaves
Who made her giggle in childish delight.

The princess especially liked the rooms
That baffled her,
Her eyes shining in wonderment
At their smokey enchantments and wiles.

On a windy day, the princess found a room
Bathed in the darkish blue of constant night.
There she met a prince--
A dark prince, but a splendid one.

Oh, how he shone.
And oh, how she loved him.
She spent all her days in that room,
Enamored and enraptured
By this well-intentioned wicked prince.

And then her prince had to leave on a quest.
With soft words, he gently pushed her
Out the heavy door
Which was shut hard behind her.

The princess discovered Loneliness,
Who beckoned to her
And bid her bury herself in his cloak.
She did, and she slept.

When she woke, she found
The rooms she used to know
Were now locked to her.
The glass knobs, dusty and cobwebb-y
Would not turn in her small hands.

Then Time passed.
And by then she had found the keys to her rooms.
Dusk did not seem so dark
And Dawn came more swiftly to save her

Long after, her prince returned
And the princess rejoiced.
But now she is careful
To not get mired with this rogue,
This prince whom she adores.

She opens all her doors now
And is revisiting all the old rooms.
She plays with the ladies
And banters with the knights.

The fools once more hear her tinkling laugh,
As she wonders again at things like rain
And remembers to look up.
The princess still visits Loneliness,
But only because he is such an engaging companion.

But her prince remains.
He is ever secretive, and sometimes foreboding.
But it is this darkness that draws her in.
And she will love him
Until even the castle is no more.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

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Bless Neil

Wow, I didn't know you could play with tags...This will be fun.


I don't know why I never clicked Cool Stuff and Things on before. I must improve my random clicking skills. Anyhow, just when I thought my day would stay on its monotonous course, I stumble on this amusing short story by Neil Gaiman. Read The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Neil Gaiman.

For further enjoyment, check out more of his short stories. (I'm trying very hard to contain my excitement here. Breathe...)

Side news from a lowly mortal

Greatness attracts greatness, I suppose. Check out Roger hanging out with Tiger Woods in Miami.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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Bloggers rule the world

Ooh, someone's getting touchy.

Update: Marocharim writes a call to arms for bloggers. Whip out your pens (I mean, keyboards), everyone. Time to exact change.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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Sali ka?

In elementary, I wasn't one of those prim little girls who played with dainty dolls under the shade all day long. I was a monster. I ran with the boys, got my knees scraped and turned up for class after lunch sweaty and smelly with the best of them. I thought crushes were a silly pastime for girls who had nothing better to do. I was too busy playing outdoors to consider the opposite sex useful for anything else other than handy teammates in Prisoners' Base and patintero.

I was lucky enough to go to a school with a lot of room to play outside. We had a huge square quadrangle with two prominent flights of stairs conveniently located on either end to serve as bases for Prisoners' Base. There was an alley next to the gym where we could play touch-the-body. We even had a slightly-forested backyard, where we could conduct games of subterfuge and fantasy. Recess and lunch time were truly the best parts of the day.

Although I dabbled in all kinds of jump-rope games, I was particularly skilled in five-five. The rope rarely caught between my feet and it took a long time before I would be one of the two bored kids turning the rope in their hands. If someone found themselves facing rope-turning duties, she could ask another girl to save her. The willing savior would have to perform a very difficult jump-rope obstacle course. She would have to touch the ground, her knees, her hips, her shoulders, her head, spin around and jump out without the rope ever touching her. All this while jumping inside a spinning rope and to the song "Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the gound..." When it got to the part with the shoulders, it was customary to spin the rope faster. This is where it got vicious. The kids spinning the rope, faced with the prospect of freedom, would become possessed and flip the rope with mad speed. The savior, if unfazed, would complete the task and come out a hero. If it didn't work out, the girl she had set out to save would be condemned to a potentially long sentence of rope-turning. On the other hand, the would-be rescuer would find herself tangled in a rubber band rope in a most undignified fashion. Getting a bunch of rubber bands caught in your hair is not a pleasant experience...I imagine. I told you, I was very good.

I didn't have a bad time with Prisoners' Base either. I was one of the fastest runners in my class. I could run for long periods of time, wearing out my pursuer. Then I would turn the tables and make him the hunted. A friend of mine used to complain that girls were at a disadvantage because of our hair and uniform. Since we sported long hair and wore skirts, the boys had more things to grab, hence making it easier to tag us. There were many painful episodes that ended with patches of hair getting ripped out of someone's head. That didn't stop us girls from getting even, though. After a game of Prisoners' Base, most of the boys would discover they had buttons missing and sleeves torn nearly clear off the rest of the shirt. "So that's what the ripping sound was when Kubi grabbed me." Apart from getting their butts kicked by a bunch of girls, they would later have to explain to their furious mothers how their immaculate white shirts had transformed into dirty tatters.

One PE class in second grade, our teacher decided to take us out to the quadrangle to play a wholesome game of patintero. I remember being assigned to be leader of a group, but for reasons now forgotten to me, we were banned from play. My rag-tag team was sent back to the classroom to listen to the laughter of our luckier classmates from afar. We were victims of an injustice, ostracized from our peers. The four walls of our classroom witnessed a tragic tableau of an undeserved exile. Tears ran down mud-stained cheeks and many hung their heads in misery. Being eight at the time, it was that dramatic.

I remember a friend of mine who was wise to the rules of normal patintero. While everyone else was trying their hardest to avoid the guards to the, she would skirt around the cheering crowd and run to the other side without a scratch. It was a straight arrow to the finish line. The last guard would stand there dumbfounded and wondering how she had managed to get past him. After a couple of rounds, she was eventually found out. Her previous wins were nulled, and the rules of the game were reiterated: "No, you cannot run around the crowd to avoid the guards."

These memories came running into my head when I read this great article in the Inquirer about the "Larong Pinoy Campaign." A number of organizations lauched this campaign to revive the dying interest of children in traditional Filipino games. The groups involved in the project enumerated many advantages of playing outdoor games. These are just some of them: children develop their skills and values through social interactions in these games; outdoor games provide good physical exercise, therefore ensuring optimal muscle development; and the presevation of these traditional Filipino games will help keep the Filipino identity alive in younger generations.

After finding out that the Philippines is the most corrupt country in Asia, it's refreshing to read something like this in the newspaper. It's good to know that there are still people looking out for the ones who really matter: the kids. It's heartening that there are still those who see the Philippines outside of its political misadventures. Being Filipino doesn't have to mean belonging to a country run by celebrities and a president who is the greatest pretender of them all. It doesn't mean belonging to a country where fresh graduates have to toil away in draining call-center jobs just to get by. It doesn't mean belonging to a country that exports its nurses and allows its own health sector to practically disappear.

Being Filipino can also mean belonging to a country with a rich cultural heritage. It can mean belonging to a people whose love for their art and games shines through even when the going gets tough. It can mean belonging to a race proud of who they are and are always mindful of their history. Being Filipino means having a spirit that cannot be broken even as our country plummets into dark times.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

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Going home

The first post I ever wrote for Baguio Below was - you guessed it - on Baguio. I put up the site originally to be a lasting testament to the place I grew up in. In turns, I am exasperated by and totally in love with this place.

Like many of the residents, I lament that Baguio has lost most, if not all, of its magic. Our descent into normal has a lot to do with SM. People flock to The Mall to enjoy shallow entertainment and spend hard-earned cash to satisfy the ravenous appetite of a consumerist economy. I've had my fair share of quality distraction in that place so I don't really disapprove of it. I'm only concerned we may be enjoying SM too much. The Mall makes fun mindless. We've stopped thinking up interesting ways for recreation. We've ceased being creative about how we spend our time. I need to relax, let's go to SM! I'm depressed, let's go to SM! I need to contemplate my sordid adolescent existence, let's go out for coffee in SM! I need to watch a censored film, let's go see a movie in SM! Eat in SM, shop in SM, breathe in SM! SM is the answer to everything!...sorry. I got a little hysterical there. But you get the picture.

Baguio was a haven for people who wanted to get away. Artists came here to clear their minds and find inspiration amid the pine trees. Now it has become the stressful environment people want to get away from. We see more gray concrete than the greens and browns of trees; feel more stifling heat than cooling breezes; hear more traffic noises than the refreshing sound of silence; smell the sweat on a thousand human bodies more than the clean tangy scent of pine; taste the bitter panacea of commercialism more than the savory flavors of eccentricity.

The local government measures modernization in terms of how many McDonald's branches there are in the city. In its eyes, development means the construction of malls and silly cement trees. Buildings higher than four floors are sprouting out of the forgetful minds of our city architects. (That thing in 1990 was just a little tremor, nothing more.) City Hall's idea of convenience is a battalion of taxicabs clogging our streets and making our air un-breathable. Economic success is based on how many English tutors are hired by rich Koreans who presume they can make it snow in a place that, for thousands of years, has reveled in bitingly cold, dry Decembers. Academic excellence is evaluated on the basis of how quickly a substandard nursing school can be put up.

The only thing I regret about not registering is not being able to help decide how my city is going to be run. Philippine national politics sickens me. It's the country's longest running joke. I don't want to trouble myself with a government knee-deep in its own shit. On the other hand, I see local politics as more tangible. The decisions made by the local government are readily perceived by the residents of a place. The ripples of their actions immediately touch everyone: from the frustrated pechay vendor in front of PNB to the student trying to pay 6 pesos to a cranky driver on a Saturday.

In the same way I will have to endure changes in my life, my city will have to do the same. But no matter how much our faces change, I will always belong to this mountain place. Baguio will always be my home.

Writing venture

I found this ad in the Opinion page of the INQUIRER Compact on March 14, 2007. Maybe we can make something of it:

Your issue, your story...My Place

The INQUIRER Compact has launched a new feature: A contributed opinion column called My Place, published on this page every Monday. Here are the guidelines for My Place contributors:

1. You can write for My Place if you are an INQUIRER Compact reader.

2. You can write on any topic, but we prefer that you write about your home, your street, your community, your town, your city, your province, your region. You write, that is, from the persepctive of your place.

3. You can write about why you love your community; about what makes your town special; about the best places to visit in your locality; about what local groups or pillars of the community are doing to help improve lives in your corner of the world; about what you or your neighbors do everyday or on special occasions; about local traditions that fill your heart with alarm or pride.

4. You can also write on local issues; problems in your neighborhood, community concerns, stories that are not reflected in national government programs or in national media.

5. You must keep your contribution to a certain length: not more that 5000 characters.

6. You can send the article to INQUIRER Compact c/o Abelardo S. Ulanday, Executive Editor, at our office address, or e-mail it to

7. If we publish your piece, you can expect a modest gift from Compact in return.

Friday, March 16, 2007

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Let's all make it easier on ourselves

I've been living under a rock. The length of time I've been absent from the blogosphere is the same amount of time it took for RSS to pass completely over my head. I've been feeling some frustration over how it's so hard to get people to read my blog and how it's so difficult to keep track of things people are writing. Then, while scanning blogs that I had to draw blood to find, I read a couple of things about really simple syndication or RSS. So I went and researched and found a great site where you can learn a load of stuff about RSS. isn't cluttered and it's fun to poke around there. There's a lot of helpful information about feeds and how you can subscribe to your favorite blogs and sites. The site also offers a selection of RSS readers for you to download. (I'm using Feedreader, because it looks the most user-friendly. I'm a noob so I'm still exploring.) It's so ridiculously easy, I can't believe how long it's taken me to catch on. Has everyone been doing this and I'm the only one who hasn't heard about it? Good grief.

I've subscribed to most of the blogs I frequent. There are some of you guys, though, who aren't syndicating your sites. I hope you turn the feeds option on soon. I think you can do that somewhere in your blog settings. This way, your readers will have an easier time keeping up with what's going on in your universe.

RSS feeds will help you dam the flood of information racing through the Internet every blinking second. You get to view new posts from favorite writers in only one window. There's no need to go to the sites themselves, so you don't waste time going through so many individual pages. There's also no problem commenting. Just click on the title and you're taken straight to the individual page of that post.

I may sound like a caveperson evangelizing something that most of you are probably already doing. Just in case you aren't, though, do it. It'll make your life easier on both reading and writing ends.

**Blogger jaypee has a useful post on the pros and cons of using either full or partial feeds.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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Carry your own damn purse

(from the old Baguio Below - Original date: October 1, 2006)

A couple of days ago, I saw a woman and her family window shopping in Porta Vaga. The woman was carrying her several-month old baby and her husband was stuck carrying mom’s deliciously feminine bag. I started thinking about that bizarre notion that has managed to lodge itself into the minds of today’s couples: the guy bears the obligation of carrying the girl’s kikay bag.

The origins of this phenomenon are obviously rooted in chivalry. Every girl appreciates a gentleman. Women are naturally affectionate and sensitive creatures and need to be treated as such from time to time. It’s nice to have the door held open for you or have someone give up their chair so you can sit down. These small indulgences can be a welcome change from the typical modern male who spends most of his time on the couch and calls women cunts. We are grateful to the guy who carries the bags when the woman has her hands full with other things. Like the married couple I saw the other day: the man was carrying his wife’s purse because she was tasked with carrying the more precious cargo, their baby.

This doesn’t really apply to the kikay bag. There’s no practical reason to have your boyfriend tote your girly bag around town. Today’s purses are made so that they are small and convenient. You could carry it with your pinky. It’s a ridiculous sight: a guy in complete ghetto garb – baggy low-rise pants, extra-large jerseys, bling…and a pink kili-kili bag. This extreme version of chivalry is comical and a little bit insulting. I don’t know who enrages me more: the boyfriend who allows himself to be emasculated or the girlfriend who is pretending to be helpless, throwing away centuries of fighting for gender equality. It’s true that women want to be treated like princesses occasionally but we don’t want to be patronized.

Besides, a girl’s bag is her kikay kit. It contains all the things that make us pretty and smell good. Wouldn’t you rather have those things near you? If he carries it and you need something, you’ll have to say, “’Be, pwedeng paabot ng bag. Kukunin ko lang yung blah blah blah.” And there it is. You just reveal one of the sacred items in your purse. In "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," Matthew McConaughey says that “a woman’s purse is her secret source of power. There are many dark and dangerous things in there that we (they), the male species, should know nothing about.”

A woman’s capacity to confound a man is where she draws her power. Guys like to be kept in the dark. They like wondering why girls have such nice-smelling hair or why their lips are always so shiny. A little mystery between a boy and a girl makes things more exciting. If the guy knows what brand of perfume you use or what shade your lip gloss is, it makes things boring. Things get too close for comfort. In the movie "Sorority Boys," Michael Rosenbaum (he plays Lex Luthor on Smallville) says that he likes eating his burgers but he doesn’t want to know how the cow is killed.

So please, all you girls who mechanically give your kikay bags to your boyfriends to carry, think again. Think of the war our forebears had to fight to give us the right to vote and wear pants. Think of the power you could be losing by revealing your secret witchy magic– that is, the contents of your purse. Happy dating!

Monday, March 12, 2007

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This! Is! Sparta!

Since seeing 300, I have felt an overpowering urge to kick someone into a bottomless pit. I know, I know. Where would I find a bottomless pit?

(Photo from

We still love him anyway

Canas (ARG) def Federer (SUI)
7-5, 6-2

Lem texted this morning to report that Roger lost to one Guillermo Canas in the first round of the Pacific Life Open. I know that Roger's going to lose to someone eventually, but everytime I hear that he lost a match, my chest caves in. My heart literally breaks. When he lost to Nadal in the Rome Masters last April, I experienced a slight identity crisis. I was re-evaluating my whole existence when I realized he can't win 'em all. I gained a nugget of wisdom that time, but I was crushed all the same when Andy Murray beat him in Cincinnati in the latter part of last year. And when he lost to Andy Roddick in January. Roger, though, takes it in stride. He doesn't smash his racquet on the court or scream in frustration. He says "Congratulations. Great match." and goes on his way. In his press conferences, he even puts in a good word for his opponent. Very diplomatic. He's a gracious loser. That's what makes him a champion.

Since Roger is too affable to act like a sore loser, I realize it is my job to do the racquet-smashing for him. I get to be unfair to his opponents and make it personal. Being the crazed fan, I can roar and cuss in frustration. I can wallow in his defeat because I can afford to. Leave it to Roger to be mature and leave it to me to be the bawling kid.

(If you want to feel better about this loss by re-living a glory moment, read this old post on Federer winning the 2006 US Open: Champions I)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

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A Maze of You

I run along the little lines on your palm
(You always had such big hands)
I stumble on the preserved memory of a callus
(You always had such expressive skin)

On your wrist, I sway
to the bass thrum of your pulse,
an echo
of the hale vibrations
within the chambers of your heart.

I weave through the criss-cross hairs
on your arm,
the faint outline of your soul.

Time stretches
into the
dark pools of your eyes
So that I find myself lost

in a maze of you.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

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When shit hits the fan

(This is something from my old site. Over time, I will be re-posting other entries from the Blogdrive site here.)

I've seen a lot of dreams evaporate because of unwanted pregnancies. I've seen a beauty queen hang up her crown after finding out she was pregnant. I've seen a world class debater rendered speechless when she got confirmation that she was 10 weeks along. I care about these people, and it makes me sad that their dreams are going to be put on hold because of a momentary lapse in judgment.

I cannot possibly imagine how an unmarried girl feels when she finds out she's got an embryo growing inside of her. But if you would permit me this one presumption, it's probably like being smothered a thousand times. A friend of mine says that if she got pregnant, it would be like getting the kiss of death. Your life flashes before your eyes and your grand plans become what might have been. When you find out you're responsible for another life, everything else (including your own existence) seems paltry. You cease to think only about yourself. You've got someone else to worry about now. The center of your universe shifts and your planets circle your child. Your own life, in a manner of speaking, is forfeit. You never get your turn in the world.

People spared from such a tragedy are dumbfounded. They think: "How can they be so stupid?" To a mere observer, careless couples do appear as if they had taken leave of all mental faculties. I must admit that my own thoughts ran in this vein for a pretty long time. Then I thought that it's probably unfair to judge them this way. Looking at it from a purely biological perspective, I realize that these kids probably didn't stand a chance. Hormones pretty much run our bodies. The way we act and respond to situations are based on perfectly timed chemical reactions. One cannot escape the throes of passion. It's physiological. I'm not giving them an excuse. I'm just trying to empathize.

Anyway, apart from the hormones, they've also got natural selection on their side. In ecology, a species has an innate desire to procreate. Reproduction is an adaptation. An organism produces offspring to ensure that the traits necessary for survival are passed on to the next generation. Once the continuation of its species has been assured, it has done its duty. The monarch butterfly, for example, dies soon after it has laid eggs. Humans, like every living thing around them, are slaves of evolution. Only the fittest will survive. In nature, being "fit" means being able to make babies.

Captives of their own bodily functions and the instinctive need to perpetuate the species, people really do need to have sex. Also, human beings are the only organisms, apart from dolphins, that actually enjoy it. Other animals are free of that inconvenience. (Apparently, male cats have barbed members. No wonder the females are so noisy. Those aren't moans of pleasure, they're cries of pain.)

Let's not forget our society. We have the misfortune of living in a country that frowns upon sexual promiscuity. The Church damns fornicators to an eternity burning in Hell. Despite that, pop culture puts sex in a new light. We see a lot in movies and music to make us think: "Wow, those people sure seem to be having a lot of fun." Frequent exposure to that sort of thing encourages the present generation to accept that it's okay to be sexually active. Throw that in with the deeply ingrained teachings of a conservative Filipino culture and you get a lot of confusion. A personal choice suddenly becomes a moral issue. What a conundrum: a lot of people are having premarital sex but, gosh, nobody's allowed to talk about it. We're living in a time of transition. But in all cases involving change, there are growing pains to be had. S-E-X is still taboo, as far as a lot of people are concerned. Our society is in denial. It insists that premarital sex is immoral yet tolerates the sexually-laden messages of the media.

I don't really know but it looks to me like the next generation will consist of mostly illegitimate children. What a way to be labeled: illegitimate. The kid is barely out of its mom's womb and already, people are gossiping about it. They grow up with the stigma that they are less than kids born to married couples. It kills me. No one should have to endure that. Not the mother and especially, not the child. Are you ready to bring your baby into a world that is ready to condemn it before it even breathes air? Here's where society should meet us in the middle. It should struggle to save us kids from having to deal with a situation like that. The key is still information. The same media that shows us the rewards and pleasures of sex should also be able to show us the consequences.

People cannot, and will not, stop thinking about sex. The trick is to make them look at it from all possible angles. Kids have to be reminded that their future doesn't have to be left to chance; it is within their control (like their actions). There are a dozen safe ways to be protected. Read. Learn. Find out as much as you can about how you can keep yourself from getting pregnant before you are ready. If you're a girl, demand that the guy you are with uses a condom at all times. Even then, you can go to a doctor and get a prescription for the Pill. It's nothing to be ashamed about. I mean, if you're ready to have sex, you should be ready to face the music. If you're a guy (and getting some), make sure you always carry protection. Apart from a rubber being an anti-sperm wall, it also keeps you from getting sick. The idea of going to a drugstore and purchasing a box of condoms may seem humiliating, even daunting. It's admitting to a God-fearing society that you're, well, fornicating. But if you can overcome that bit of embarrassment, you'll be rewarded for it. Apart from staying healthy, you get to decide when and how to have a kid. Joey Ayala quotes from a wise man: "The real revolution is what you do with your kids." So you need to have the right stuff when you bring a life into this world.

Here's a great piece of advice, if ever I heard one: "Be good. If you can't, be safe."

Sharing my birthday

I dropped by the book fair at Center Mall this afternoon. There were so many books I ended up not buying anything. I was too overwhelmed. My head hurt from all the titles. There were simply too many. I can't remember all of the good ones, but there were a lot. But you should go check it out. (Thanks to Maika for the great tip.)


In this thick birthday/personality book, I found out that I share my birthday with:

1. AA Milne (the creator of Winnie the Pooh and the other lovable residents of the Hundred Acre Wood)

2. Peter Mark Roget (yeah, as in Roget's Desk Thesaurus)

3. David Ruffin (the lead singer of The Tempatations...I love My Girl)

...and my personal favorite:
4. Manuel Garcia (I quote directly from the book: "Fearless Spanish matador, gored to death." Cool.)

The Big Move

The decision didn't take too long to make. I just needed some kind of affirmation. I texted a couple of my friends to declare that I was moving. I suppose I needed to tell someone because I wanted to mark the departure from my old site. Let an old writer feel sentimental just a little bit. But I really did have to move. I was ready for a change. My old url:
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