Showing posts from December, 2005

Sputtering, gasping, trouble on EDSA


One among the many phobias of driving maniacs like me is having car trouble in the middle of EDSA or the South Superhighway in the midst of bumper to bumper traffic. Arrghhhh indeed! Very few can compare with the aggravation, the humiliation, the frustration, the desperation (I could go on and on, but you get the drift).

First, it is so damn inconvenient precisely because cars do have this annoying tendendy to break down when one is running two hours late to a very important appointment, or when traffic is unbearably heavy and everyone's patience just broke 280 degrees. Lucky if its a simple case of the radiator overheating (luckier still if there is water nearby, or if the driver had the foresight to bring water to begin with for this kind of emergencies). Too bad if it is something like a fan belt getting torn or the injector pump getting twisted (the last one is a personal invention, also called poetic license - obviously my knowledge of car engines is zil…

Hooked on iTunes

Courtesy of my friends Angelo and Jerome, I am now officially hooked to digital music. As of the moment, I have 22.3 hours of music stored in my laptop (I KNOW, I KNOW, SOME OF YOU HAVE MONTHS AND MONTHS OF MUSIC STORED IN YOUR IPODS!! give me a break, I just had the darn program installed yesterday) and I am seriously, seriously restraining myself from getting more (music and memory!). I know there are people out there with 40gb worth of music stored somewhere in their ipods or memory sticks or PCs or laptops and that's probably all the music made so far, of course not counting the drumbeats of the early neanderthals.

But what does one do with all that music? I don't think one can play all those pieces anyway. Is there a new psychological phenomenon out there that explains this seeming horde mentality among those in the loop? Is there some comfort to be had in the thought that one has has a digital copy of Yoyoy Villame's Botsikik in his ipod or laptop even if he does not …

The days after Christmas

Cut me some slack, the title is hackneyed and uninventive; these are days when one doesn't feel like getting up in the morning. And it is not just because whoever is in charge of central heating in the Philippines has decided to lower the thermostat one more notch every day. And not just because the vats of fats and proteins and carbs and sugar that we have ingested over the holidays has clogged up our arteries making it more and more difficult for blood to circulate all over our bodies (I understand this is what happens when bears and other similar creatures hibernate during the winter). It is simply because we need a vacation from the Christmas vacation!!!

Today, I finally succeeded in piling semi-decent clothes on top of my body and drove to work despite the fact that every cell in my body was screaming in protest. I logged on to the net and downloaded my emails. What do you know, there were at least 20 inquiries over three email groups devoted to HR concerns all inquiring a…

The Night Before Christmas

As I write this, it is a few hours before Christmas and the kids at the house (both old and young) are running around high on sugar and God knows what else. It is like this every year in our family and it is a great wonder there is no body count before midnight. Whoever said Christmas is about families must really have a gift of wisdom because only in the context of "what can we do - we are family" can one take comfort in this season of madness and frayed nerves.

But I still would not have it any other way. I can not imagine spending Christmas alone in some foreign country or in some isolated place the way some of my friends do. True, being stuffed to the gills with food that is bound to clog arteries and having one's liver pickled in liquor are technically not proactive ways of celebrating this supposed season of joy, love and peace, but then again, who wants a philosophizing scrooge on Christmas?

This afternoon, my daughter and I had to rush to Harrison Plaza to do …

A Christmas Letter

There are certain things that I look forward to every Christmas: opening gifts on Christmas morning (yes, I open all my presents on Christmas day itself), receiving friends and relatives who invariably drop by on Christmas day, and reading Christmas letters from some people who have made it a tradition to send profound and thought-provoking letters every year instead of a mere Christmas card, to mention a few.

Every year, I have always intended to write my own Christmas letter as a way of greeting the friends and people that matter in my life. Sadly, I haven't really been able to do that - either because I have never felt satisfied with whatever it was that I have started writing, or because the Christmas rush has overtaken the intent. I know, I know, I really should not think of it as a serious literary attempt. But well, there is always something that gets in the way of good intentions.

And so this year, since I have started writing this blog anyway, I have decided to break the…

Teaching Blues part 4

Depending on what kind of student one is, today is either D-day or V-day at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde where I teach two nights a week. It's the end of the term which means...class cards distribution! For the uninitiated, it means today is the day students find out whether they flunked or passed the courses for the term. (Interesting aside: when I was in College, I never did get to enjoy this annual rite. Somehow, I was impervious to class cards day - I never, not even once, bothered to get my class cards on the day of the distribution itself. Oh no, it wasn't really because I was confident I would pass every darned subject - although I did. It was just something that I couldn't find any meaning in. Must be one more reason why some professors really hated me with a passion).

It is one of those days when the air becomes thick with anxiety and a deep sense of foreboding. One can actually feel it while walking along the corridors of the College. And believe…

Paano Naman Kami? (What about us?)

Of all the annoying things in this world, on top of my list is the "paano naman kami" attitude of some people.

Our athletes who brought honor to the country in the last SEA games are now in Hongkong for a three-day R & R - the blowout is courtesy of the First Gentleman and some private donors. The delegation, I read in the papers today, is composed of almost 400 heads, almost half of them sports officials. Why there are that many officials in the delegation is precisely due to a sense of entitlement - paano naman kami? what about us?

The athletes deserve the prize. They worked hard for it, for crying out loud. But naturally, because we are Filipinos, many critics have found something terribly wrong with that. The general drift of the criticism has to do with, of all things, "nationalism." Why go to Hongkong and not Boracay or Baguio or for that matter, Enchanted Kingdom? Why celebrate in Hongkong and not here? I find this kind of nitpicking childish and utterly i…

Weekend at the movies

So what did you do during the weekend?

I found some time in my hands last Saturday afternoon and happened to be in the vicinity of the Quaipo district. Being one of those people who can't resist good bargains at quaint places even if it means driving around and around side streets that require clipping the car's side mirrors to get through - I naturally ended up at the Muslim Trade Center. I know what you are thinking - baaaaaaaaaaaad place to be; gasp! it's almost like being in Tondo at midnight with a Rolex strapped to your wrist and bling blings on your neck, wrist and fingers (although why anyone would dare wear a Rolex and bling blings if one doesn't have private transportation is beyond me, but I digress). Muslims take a bad rap for simply being muslims and that is really unfair.

And if one happens to be around the Muslim Trade Center area - one and only one product comes to mind. Nope - not batik (although they do have those in all shades and textures), not pearls…

Wish List

Today, they hung a sheet of paper in the office bulletin board with bold letters printed in it "Your Christmas Wish List Here." Everybody's name was on it and some have already written down their wishes for Christmas. Not a bad idea, really. At the very least, it keeps us in touch with the little kid inside ourselves, that kid that still knows the magic of wishing and hoping. God knows how much we all need that in this period of creeping hopelessness and cynicism, no thanks to our political leaders who continue to jostle for top of the list in Santa's "naughty boys" for the year.

I went through the list - and made a supreme effort not to make a nasty comment about how everybody wrote down a material thing as their wish for Christmas. Whew! Four people actually wrote down "weighing scale" as the one gift they would like to receive this Christmas. Practical people, I say. With all the parties we all have to go to at Christmas, we all need wha…

Remembering kith and kin

The families that we are born to are special of course because they are family. But the families that we create as we journey through life are probably more special because they are freely chosen - because they become part of our lives not just by the sheer accident of sharing a gene pool, but because we elect to make them part of our lives.

One of the great things about Christmas (see, I told you I was gonna get into the Christmas spirit eventually) is remembering kith and kin - the people who make our lives worthwhile because of the warmth of the love and affection they provide. And yes, even if they are three timezones away.

Today, I got an email from someone dearly missed. (Sean, I do miss you my dear friend!) What's more, the email came with pictures of him and two other close friends I also miss (Jojo if you are reading this, call me and let's have dinner! Carlo G, good luck with the new house - ayan, may isa pang bahay na pwede ko gawing hotel when I get to visit califo…

Kris Kringle

You know it is Christmas because everyone seems to be part of this grand conspiracy to make you buy stuff under the guise of gift-giving. I know, I know, I am beginning to sound like a Scrooge. But bear with me, I swear am slowly imbibing the spirit.

When I was a child, it was called a Kris Kringle. I never did get to ask my teachers why it was called thus - or probably I wasn't listening when they did tell us. And then when I reached College (not very long ago, I might add), it was suddenly called Manito-Manita. And suddenly, too, it wasn't about giving one gift, but several - one was required to give something long and hard on Monday, white and milky on Tuesday, soft and smelly on Wednesday, hairy with balls on Thursday, etc. And yes, the themes always bordered on the naughty and the ribald.

At the office, someone came up with this brilliant idea to assign parts of the house as themes for the weekly gift-giving. So the other week, it was something for the kitchen (I pr…

Where's the Christmas Rush?

I went out at lunchtime today to Megamall without any expectations at all. At the back of my mind, I know I would have to pick up some stuff to begin my Christmas shopping with; but at the same time, I was quite prepared to simply while away the time without having accomplished any shopping at all. I was half expecting a throng of people fighting tooth and nail for every square foot of space inside SM.

Well, what do you know - there were no lines at SM and one could actually walk through the alleys of the mall. In fact, one could have rollerbladed around SM. In Christmasses past, one does not walk in Megamall, one trudged painstakingly, putting one leg in front of the other while trying vainly not to be squeezed into a salvaro cookie by people.

Maybe it is not just me then. Maybe there are many people out there who still has to feel the spirit of the season. Or perhaps, life is really difficult these days and people are just being practical - they are doing their christmas shoppin…

13 days to christmas and I still havent bought a single gift

That is right. I haven't maxed out my credit card yet. I do not have plastic bags in my bedroom. And I haven't as yet made a christmas list. I do not know how I will manage.

I am actually thinking of simply buying a generic gift for all - like a giveaway. But that really smacks of commercialism. Not that Christmas isn't about commercialism, mind. But magbibigay na rin lang naman ng christmas gift, eh di seryosohin na. And this is the main problem I guess - the spirit hasn't sunk in yet.

Anyway, I hope you guys are done with your Christmas shopping. I hope 168 is what it is touted to be and more. Wish me luck.

Guilty Pleasures

While having a side conversation with this highly-respected columnist in a major daily during a serious weekend planning session, we stumbled upon a common secret: guilty pleasures. Yup, certain activities that one does under cover because of some hypocritical norm out there that says certain activities do not fit a certain level of stature (ehem). Well, I say out with them! The heck with conventions.

So here are five of my guilty pleasures.

1. I am not beyond buying and reading YES magazines. I used to justify it by saying that the editor in chief of that rag happens to be someone I truly admire as a features writer (Jo Ann Maglipon). And if her name is not enough justification, there's another literary god I can drop: Pete Lacaba (who is the rag's executive editor). But I must admit that what I like about the magazine is the way they feature lifestyles - from homes, to fashion, to scandals - in a very unapologetic and nondiscriminatory way. I guess I am a celebrity fan at hea…


Yes, I finally got around to watching Harry Potter 4 (The Goblet of Fire) last night at the Glorietta. I was half expecting the theatre to be empty, after all, the movie has been showing for what seems like 2 years already - but nah, the theatre was still full. By the looks of it, many of the people were repeat watchers since the guy behind me kept on babbling on about the next scene (don't you just hate people who talk inside movie houses?).

What do I think about the movie? This movie was everything I imagined it would be. Honest. The triwizard challenges were exactly as I imagined them - except for that bit about Harry Potter flying around Hogwarts on his broom. To me that was a bit stretched considering that there were many wizards and witches watching who could have done something to that wayward dragon.

Well, four down, three to go. I am looking forward to reading the last installment of the book series. Wonder when it will come out?

Violating people emotionally

Last night, I was watching Pinoy Big Brother on TV passively until something happened that got me riveted to the television set. I was riveted simply because I could not believe the extent and the lenghts to which the people behind the show will and could go to squeeze out of the housemates every possible emotion. If anyone out there wants a perfect case study on emotional abuse - last night's episode was it! One can't go any lower or cheaper than what they did to those four people.

First of all, any psychologist or psychiatrist worth his name will tell you that deliberately subjecting people to negative situations for the sake of "learning a lesson" or "proving a point" is never advisable even in a controlled environment. Electric shocks and torture are already considered barbaric today. As early as the eighties, psychiatrists have already come to a consensus that while deliberatley exposing subjects to negative and traumatic experiences may have short…

Philippine Daily Aggravation

After a week of bannering stories about allegations of cheating in the soon-to-be-concluded (today I think) SEA games - in the process making all of us squirm in embarrassment at the innuendoes, the Philippine Daily Inquirer today run jubilant news stories about how Filipino athletes are accumulating gold medals in the games. Huh? Suddenly, the newspaper is riding on the bandwagon. The Filipinos are great once again.

Practically all week PDI gave front page honors to anyone with scandalous stories to tell about how the games are being rigged in favor of the Philippines. Allegations being made by Thailand were given more prominence than countless real stories of the heroism and courage of Pinoy athletes.

I watched many of the games this week on TV - I watched how the female volleyball team trounced Indonesia. This is a sport where we have never been good at traditionally and it is a wonder to see how our female players are comparing against the other countries. From bowling, to ten…

Not plagiarized - just reposted

One often comes across something truly worth sharing. This one is. What I like about this piece is that it successfully pokes fun at the idiosyncracies of Filipinos without traces of sarcasm or insult. The guy is obviously enamored by Filipinos and does not mean any disrespect.

I do think that these signs not only showcase our inherent creativity but also our inherent playfulness as a people. We do not take ourselves seriously even when it comes to seemingly serious stuff like running a business.

There is one in Kalayaan Street in Makati that says "Eva's Food, Dringks, and Others Restaurant" - it is a beer house, so you can figure what else is in the menu. I pass through the road everyday and that signage always makes me smile.

Wit of the Filipino
By Nury Vittachi

THERE'S A SIGN ON Congressional Avenue in Manila that says: "Parking for Costumers Only." This may be a misspelling of "customer." But the Philippi…