Monday, April 30, 2012

Untitled II

Let words flow
like spring
cascading a waterfall


Given that I have little time to spare, and I seem to be swamped with work and my video game addiction lately, responding to blog memes should be the least of my priorities. But to let this pass, and allow the moon to renew itself with another dance might lead to a full-blown amnesia. So might as well extend my stay in the workplace and share some of my closely-guarded secrets to those who wish to know me beyond the blog.

But first, I would like to express my gratitude to His Royal Highness, Clarence I and Blog Citizen XianGarvida for the recognition. It's been eons since the blog joined an Internet meme.

I. I seldom respond to SMS messages and more seldom in sending one. I have a thing with jejemon text, seeing it as a bastardized written expression of the mother tongue. I get easily peeved when receiving random GM SMS and could last a day without talking to anyone.

except my partner.

II. When I bring home food, expect that I didn't eat outside. When I eat outside, most likely, I won't bring home any pasalubong.

III. I won't mind walking very long distance as long as it's not too hot outside. When I was a bit younger, the scorching heat won't even matter.

IV. I find nerd people amazing. In fact, after having fun conversations with some of them, I'm convinced that I belong.

V.  Others may find desolate landscape sad and disturbing, but I tend to see beauty in emptiness.


VI. I love dunking my cheese sandwich in a mug of ice-cold Milo. Same with peanut butter and cheese-whiz sandwich.

VII. I prefer my bath-water warm, despite the feverish climate.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whatever Could Take You Away

Whatever could take you away from
Anno 2070?

1. Bath
2. Dinner
3. A post-midnight road trip to Mercato, Global City
4. Cheeseburger from Johnny Steams
5. Stopover at Baabaa's house
6. This blog-entry
7. Episode four of Game of Thrones.
8. Rumors of a night-long blackout blanketing the neighborhood

Only to turn out to be a hearsay, and you bought it wholesale
like a trader hoarding for excuses to leave the house.

Monday, April 23, 2012


He was an accident, like his older brother. Unplanned. Maybe his parents had a fight and to make up for the hurtful words; hurled to each other like crumbling bricks picked on the floor, they resealed the bond with an intimate kiss; an earthly copulation that lead to his creation. He was already a peacemaker long before he was attached to the womb, and for that, he is already accomplished. 

Signs of his presence were there, like when I heard his mother throw up in the toilet. I paid no heed to the sounds, and instead asserted that it might be a casual regurgitation. A few weeks later, my mom posited a question. 

"What would be my reaction should my sister gets pregnant... again?"

The hypothetical inquiry was met with strong and violent reaction. After all, the couple had no stable job and the elder alone already draws so much of our resources. How could we cope with another mouth to feed? I returned the question and tried to squeeze the truth.

The matriarch downplayed my speculation.

I would like to think that it was all just a dream; that there's a choice to wake up to another reality when my mother finally said the truth. It was a month later, when the mood swings became intolerable and the cravings, more noticeable. My mom said it in a calm voice, and measured words, that my rage had no place in the revelation. I'd like to blame the couple for their carelessness; their stupidity; and tell it to their faces. But at the back of my head, the blame game is over. What was left is to recognize the child.

And be accepted by the entire family.

Months passed. The bump grew into a ball. The family was told and it was a relief their reaction was more affable than mine. Even the Favorite Aunt - the lioness of the pride - resigned to the idea. I guess it was inevitable, and the fact that it would take years before another of our generation decides to conceive her own child. So better for her niece to make babies, rather than let our blood run out.

The pregnancy went into full swing. Mounting pressure for the dad to shape up lead to his near breakdown. The sister's ferocity reared its ugly head, and clashes between her and the matriarch became a regular feature. There were days when the full attention of everyone stayed anchored with the eldest; like the second one wasn't coming. Sometimes it felt like the couple didn't take the pregnancy quite seriously, a few months before childbirth and the younger didn't even have his own set of clothes yet.

I kept my observations to myself, except when its bonding time with my mom.

"Oy baka mag-playing favorites ka ha! Dalawa na apo mo."

"Nako hindi, I'll give them equal attention."


"Prom..." but before she could finish her word, Baby Lenin throws his weight around, like he himself doesn't want a rival.

As the day of his coming drew near, we paid less and less attention to his arrival. Sadly, even memory seem to evade the events of the final days. Except for the premature drive to the emergency room on the eve of my birthday. When we thought he would come out weeks short from my sister's tummy. It was a close call, a result of strife between the couple. Lessons were learned and the flare-ups didn't happen again. After all, such costly bickering leaves everyone with less cash to prepare for the actual childbirth.

Months after he was born, and I still can't get over the thought of comparison. Of how the elder's coming was seen as a stellar event while his, received less fan fare. To be fair, the attention is there, and so is the care. He might have even benefited from his parents' experience in raising his big brother.

But the difference is just too glaring to remain unnoticed. Of how nobody seem to care to remember the months after his cries were first heard in the delivery room. Of how, I fail to dedicate a single blog entry except for this (which took months to write before it gets published)

I do not know the dynamics between siblings with small age difference. Much more, if they were born a year after another. Perhaps it's usual for parents to be complacent with their second baby, to pay less attention to details unlike when they are having their first infant. As for me, this is my way of atonement; to let him have a piece of history long before he could understand the world around him.

And if there is one thing we didn't miss. One decisive action he could brag for all time, when he gets to read his story one day; this were the timeline of his last few minutes before the boy finally said his first hello to the world:

In solitude, my fingers pressed the beads of the wooden rosary. At the same chapel where a year before, my mom and I retreated to find solace as my sister pushed her first-born out of her womb. Back then, we feared a Cesarean delivery might become an option should her childbirth becomes unpredictably, complicated.
This time, the prayers became my strength. The matriarch had decided to return home to take care of her elder grandson. I was left alone to look after everyone's welfare - until the in-laws arrive and take over my duties. 
Minutes before the nurses say the traditional "baby out," as they frantically moved from one room to the other, perhaps to attend to other mothers expecting childbirth, I was at the reception area, barely unnoticed, anticipating. waiting. 
The fear is gone, for I have already surrendered the child's fate when I left the chapel. With my heart at peace, certain that everything will turn out fine. The favorite aunt showed up with a battalion of attendants. In a plastic, transparent tray in front of her was a baby boy wrapped in white blanket.
At long last, the newborn has arrived.
"So what's his name?" A nurse asked his father.
"We're not sure yet, but my wife likes the name Diego."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just Plain Stupid

If I were earning - say - a hundred thousand pesos a month. And I get to keep the money all to myself, there is no doubt I will spend a portion of it for home improvement at Muji.

I have been to their store - twice - with my partner. One is in Greenbelt, and the other in Rockwell. They sell stuff ranging from hangers to bookshelves and pillows. Their line of products are all imported from Japan. So you can expect the price to be steep for below-average salary earner like me. 

But when it comes to aesthetics, their zen-like, minimalist elements, Muji's are second to none. For this reason, I regard the store as one of my favorites - even when I cannot afford and won't buy a single item from their shelves.

The non-patron but reverential attitude would have remained - the same - if not for this email I received from Nuffnang. It's a promotion, as some of you would expect and a lofty one if done sincerely and with the Planet's well-being in mind. 

"For every single-receipt of P1,000 with no paper bags or plastics needed..."  The advertisement read, "earns you one stamp." That's pretty tough for a society expecting everything to be wrapped and bagged in plastic. How many times I got strange stares when asking the convenience store clerk that I don't put my purchase in a plastic bag? How much more when you leave the store and walk around a mall with your purchased stuff in your hands? 

Convenience wise, it's just plain stupid. The brand-conscious, social status-hungry among us would never resign to such arrangement.

Unless, Muji's planning to sell a tote bag of their own design. Kaching!

But wait, the ignominy doesn't end there. 

According to the game mechanics, the promo runs from April 20 to July 31, 2012. That's barely 3 months or 6 paydays starting today. I really don't know the price range of Muji's products, but I'm most certain nobody goes there like one goes to a supermarket.

A booklet is given, where one must get 18 stamps to redeem the prize. 18 stamps. Eighteen thousand pesos. Three months. If that's not insanity, a participant is either having problems wasting his money, or he has a serious case of material craving. The mechanics also add that furniture and shelves, including items that are already on sale are not included in the promo.

Malas mo lang. The brains behind this campaign seem to be bent on preventing you from winning the prize.

But I know, some of us rise up to the challenge, and Muji's Go Paperless is one for the books. I wonder how will my PR teacher, Mr. Nicky Salandanan would comment on this: Would it create customer loyalty and retention? Would Muji gain from the brand exposure? Would the campaign really help the environment?

I'll let you be the judge.

And after all the trouble of collecting the 18 high-value stamps - like you did to earn a Starbucks planner; of spending close to 20 thousand in three months, a money you can simply put in a bank, or invest in something else; And after making yourself look stupid to all mall-shoppers believing you've helped the environment in such a shallow, silly way.

The reward for all the effort is this:

"A completed booklet of 18 stamps entitles the customer to a 10% discount on his next purchase. To avail of the discount, customer must present his booklet to the cashier."

So much for a promo.

Come to think of it, why would someone want to avail a 10% discount at Muji when he has all the money to throw away?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


We used to laugh, chortle and snicker every time the sub-boss jumps out of his speedboat. He faces our players like all villains do, except that his colorful and flamboyant character stand out as an icon, and a comic relief for a game deemed violent for us kids.

"Ayyyyyyy!! Baklaaaaaa!!" we would say, as he scissor jumps with his arms behind his head. His purple vest, neon green leggings and Lycra suit say it all. There was no need for adults to tell us what a kind of video game character he was.

And we would beat him to a pulp - with our digital punches, kicks and even throwing of weapons we pick along the way. We get startled when he laughs with a falsetto voice, and wonder how on earth did he become a gang leader when those of his kind were mocked and looked down in real life.

Eventually, we learned that he was playable, and his great strength helped us get through levels with bosses too difficult to defeat. I would unlock him before the first level clears and ditch my main hero in favor of him. 

Only because he was fun to play with.

In my solitary gameplay, I found joy when he trashed those whip-wielding dominatrices, and blurred my not-so-pristine mind when he is surrounded by beef daddies - err. thugs. I thought how he bossed around his foot soldiers. 

And flirted with boys, when he was still part of the syndicate.

He was obviously conceived to make fun of an awakening consciousness, a caricature of a man who prefers the company of another man instead of a woman. But at the same time, the game creators of Bare Knuckles 3 subconsciously empowered him to be tough. They made him feminine, yet at the same time lead gangsters in street brawls. 

In his time, he might be dismissed as a novelty; a feature not entirely part of the plot but was added as an afterthought, to be accessed and played by those who would identify with him later in life.

Many years later, a smile still creases on my face every time I see his video clip. Only this time, I know, I was one of those who secretly accessed him, to get to know who I ought to become.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dream Of Stars

"It is their fate to fail." Chan Cho said while sipping a small bowl of omija cha. He was kneeling in front of a small writing desk with his eyes closed when Park Hyeung arrived.

"How do you know?"

"A young bird will never fly long without his mother around." The old man said. "Ask where our brothers to the north learned to send firecrackers flying to the moon?"

"From the west?" Chan Cho smiled.

"A wise man won't give a war-monger a sword. Even when that war-monger is his friend."


"Come sit with me."

The two men spent hours in the Sarangbang discussing the matters of state - and why their northern brothers would eventually return their lands in the future. They spoke of the scientists and engineers, bound to be sent to the Gulag for embarrassing, not only the young supreme leader but his great ancestors as well. Most important of all, the two men contemplated the next move of the hermit kingdom to save face.

"They wish to draw attention and they got it." Chan Cho said.

"Sadly, it seems the new king didn't get the mandate of heaven. He failed his first test on the 100th birthday of the Suryong."

Meanwhile, in a bunker somewhere in Pyongyang, a charismatic but aging general draws his pistol from his desk drawer. After tearfully looking at the portrait of the Eternal President, he walked out of his office and disappeared into the unlit and damp narrow corridor.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


There were two boys in a corner. One held a guitar, his back was against the wall. He was about to strum his musical instrument, as the other boy watches.

"Madali-dali ang chords nito," the boy with the guitar said.

In front of them was a song book. One that is printed in newsprint and had a glossy front cover. It doesn't matter where the song book came from. The essence was in the music.

- Em: 022000

- CMaj: 332020

- GMaj: 320000

- F#m: 244222

With his tense, unaccustomed fingers, he strummed his guitar as he sang the words. He is still learning, after all.

"A-nother head hangs lowly..."

Printed on the song book were the chords and lyrics of Zombie. A single by The Cranberries and one of the songs that identify with the 90s. In its time, it received generous radio airplay. Almost everyone heard the song and know at least part of the chorus. And for those two boys trying to learn the chords, they were merely hooked to the beat of their time.

Not knowing the music will live on, take roots, and touch their hearts.

The Cranberries were not only known for giving life to Zombie. They also penned the words and breathed music to Linger, Dreams and Ode To My Family. More than the lyrics, these songs carried slices of life, especially for the other boy who merely listened as his friend played the guitar.

The days would grow into years, and from merely listening as others played Zombie with their stringed instrument, the other boy would press keys with his fingers and find the chords of the same song on a piano aided only by his ears.

He failed to finish his composition and abandoned the Cranberries - and the song, as other singles from music artists enamored his ears. A couple of years down the road, he would find himself in a department store. Humming, as he tries to recall another Cranberries' song while assisting a customer during his on-the-job-training.

The song he learned, was Ode To My Family. It would re-acquaint him with the band who turned out to be his introduction to Alternative music.

There were early mornings when he would play Dreams and leave it on playback, as he lies in bed and reminisce his first year in the university. He would think of friends, the good times they had, the sleep-overs they did, and the bonds they made while slowly accepting their imminent partings as the summer vacation approaches

He would play it one night, during their last slumber party. With his buddies sleeping in bed and on the floor, he found himself in front of the stereo. Drowned in sorrow and emptiness, the song - still on playback - was his Prozac. It gave him the resolve to move on and accept what the coming year brings.

All my life
is changing every day
in every possible way

The years now ripe with nostalgia, has let the man see the band, and their songs as vaults of memories. With the boy, listening to his friend perform an acoustic cover of Zombie as the moment from where his  association with the Cranberries began.

While he cannot deny that he has outgrown the band, and the music they have created after the third album was conceived, feelings of attachment remain. After all, the Cranberries and their best songs were the soundtracks of his life.

For this reason, he would have chosen their greatest hits performance as his first attendance in a concert. Not to see the band or hear their songs, performed live in front of an audience, but for the chance to express his gratitude for the music they made.

April 10 was nearing, and yet a ticket has to be bought. A cash flow problem made him decide to pass on this opportunity for another time.

Until a surprise call from Pinoyexchange changed the course of events.

Free Tickets! 

And saw, from the balcony of Upper Box A, the timeless musician herself.

Dolores O' Riordan

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Trees ready to be cut down in SM Baguio

Ask not, why cities simmer; lowlands get flooded and why people die when mud tumbles down from the mountain. Whine as long as we want about the hellish weather or the insane monsoon, but the thing that keeps the ground cooled and the earth from churning is the very thing we cut down with impunity. 

The next time the planet strikes back, I'd embrace the pain and suffering, like I wrought it upon myself.

Project Tumblr

Twice I created a Tumblr account only to abandon the micro-blogging platform a few months later. Is it because I find the interface more difficult to navigate? The free layout lacking aesthetic merit? (on the contrary, a designed page comes with a steep price) Or because I'm not used to re-blogging other people's ideas, and instead prefer to come up with my own?

Sa totoo lang, I find Tumblr users highly creative, and their tumblelogs visually and aurally delectable. At a time when most people are too lazy to read, their thoughts get across on Tumblr. I guess this is the reason why I attempted to put my own one - so I may go beyond the narrative, and instead, share a slice of life without having to come up with a sprawling prose.

Because stories can be told in many ways.

The first time I had a Tumblr account, I published excerpts and passages that don't need to appear in blog form. I didn't have any human connections and the blurbs there are mostly for my eyes alone. Because of its isolation, the Tumblr drifted away as my blog steadily gained prominence. 

Eventually, I forgot even the password of that account.

The second one was inspired by JC's decision to revive his old Tumblr. Ako naman si gaya-gaya, I followed, established a permanent foothold (in case the partner abandons his blog) and tried my best to make it work by linking my infant account with prominent Tumblr celebrities like Ran.

However, the writer's block caught up. I became busy with other stuff and in the end, lack of inspiration forced me to retreat to the shores of Soul Jacker. Ang hirap pala mag-keep ng maraming social media accounts! I wonder how other people could do it?

The Tumblr account, I named Daybreak Embers is supposed to be an after-serving of the Midnight Afterburner. But as I later realized, there is a risk I'd pay less attention to the other - in this case - the blog should I go full throttle with my new project. 

A possibility, which I find completely unacceptable.

Therefore, I leave this dilemma to those who maintain both accounts. Please do tell, what joys does Tumblr give? 

Death By Starbucks

I'm an inch away from closing down my other portal.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bonding (Last Part)

"Let's attend the mass ha?" 

"Gusto ko kasing mag-communion eh..." She added.

I didn't pay attention to her request. Instead, my thoughts were filled with images of the church in Ateneo. And how I would love to show her around as daybreak blankets the sky.

"Huy, nakikinig ka ba?"

"Opo mama." I answered just before the FX stops in front of the church near Araneta Avenue. But since we started our Visita Iglesia late, I knew we won't reach the Church of Jesu in time for the holy mass.

"Doon na lang tayo sa Mount Carmel o kaya sa Pink Sisters."

"Baka mas kaunti ang tao dun."

But it wasn't how the events of that day took shape. A snarling traffic forced us to park our car a few blocks away from the Carmelite Shrine. When we arrived there, it was packed beyond capacity. The priest was delivering his homily, but we cannot understand a single word. So instead of listening, we chose to do our station of the cross.

Maybe, another church might be opening its Eucharistic service by evening.

We left Mount Carmel for Pink Sisters, only to witness the procession ending the mass. There, the lay ministers were dressed as apostles, and behind them, an altar boy marched with a wood instrument in place of a bell. The instrument produced muted, clapping sound that blended well with the sombre atmosphere. The church was packed too, only this time, with parishioners who were obviously residents of the upscale neighborhood.

And they won't be having any service after that. 

I don't know if my mom was just good at hiding her disappointment, or she was more worried of her black eye after she went off balance and hit the window while disembarking from the car. But from that point on, we both knew she won't be having her mass and her communion.

It's just the Via Crucis for us.

The journey goes on. From Pink Sisters we went to Christ the King. Then Santa Clara, the Ateneo Church and finally capping our pilgrimage at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Diliman. We covered seven churches, all serving, if not wealthy neighborhoods, are cut off from the main roads.

The Visita Iglesia itself didn't turn out to be a cakewalk. I had to push the wheelchair on steep, bumpy roads; break its descent on ramps - with sweaty palms; and sometimes, even lift the contraption including the occupant on sidewalks to keep my mom away from vehicle exhaust and passing cars.

"Buti na lang nag-gygym ka..." I smiled as beads of sweat rolled down my face. If only she knew I was close to fainting. I didn't eat well before setting off on a pilgrimage believing my own strength would keep me going until we reach the final church.

However the struggle, the trip was peppered with little joys that made the effort worthwhile. From the soothing, angelic voices of the nuns singing at Pink Sisters to the blissful silence filling our hearts as we took a break at the Church of Jesu, the essence seems to be more than the religious experience. Who would have thought it will be fun eating fish balls with your mother, when just two decades ago she forbade you to buy them from passing vendors. And just when we both realized that attending the mass wasn't really the heart of our Visita Iglesia, messengers were actually sent, to reinforce what we knew all along.

At the Christ the King.

"God bless you." A priest approached my mom out of nowhere.

"Thank you father..."

"Where you able to hear the mass?"

"Hindi nga po eh..." My mom said, feeling embarrassed.

"Ay nako okay lang yun no." The priest whispered, smiling. "Ang mahalaga you came and joined us."

"Besides, if you know that you don't intend to avoid it, That you were not aware of the time. God knows you did your best."

His words gave me goosebumps. For at the Altar of Repose a few minutes earlier, a stranger also said the same thing. I didn't know if I was merely connecting the events, but after meeting two close calls before arriving at Christ the King, and resigning to the fact that we did miss the mass;

What I said to my mom, was actually the very answer we wish to hear.

"Ang mali ko, namimili ako ng simbahan to hear the mass." I said while resting in the pews.

"They say the same thing naman." Mom was silent. Perhaps she wasn't done yet with her intentions.

"But you know what, in the end, it's not the Visita Iglesia we're after."

"It's the bonding between a mother and her son."

"Oo nga..." she finally agrees.

We left after saying the Sorrowful mystery, only to be cornered by volunteers selling candles. For some reasons, mom bought one despite its one hundred pesos price tag. She decided to light the candle at the Altar of Repose, just before the two strangers came and assent our epiphany.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bonding (First Part)

"Anak, may lakad tayo sa Thursday ha?" 

"Yes ma..."

She would tell me this over and over since Palm Sunday. It was about her plan to go Visita Iglesia to make up for the one she missed last year. Being the more spiritually connected, she had set her mind to go on a pilgrimage. To fulfill her journey, she would need me around.

Searching for a companion, a street navigator, and for someone to push her wheelchair as she moves from one church to another, any mother would pick her son.

As for me, the Visita Iglesia is just an excuse to leave the house and see the city - at a time when everyone travels to the countryside. I would also love to stay home, and spend my remaining rest day docked in my pad. For this reason, I received her invitation lightly. At the back of my head, I would be more pleased to know that she's changing her mind. So complacent I was, even the churches to pick for our destination wasn't even final yet the night before.

"Any church that is far from the main street would do." I thought. 

"Ma, dun tayo sa simbahan ng mga mayayaman." I said before going to bed.

We left at past 4 in the afternoon. The matriarch took longer to prepare because of the spiritual talk and recollection she saw on television. "You should watch it," she almost said. Eating little during lunch, plus the warm weather didn't help. Temper was already rising even before we reached our first destination.

At the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Araneta Avenue.

"How do we start?" 

"Say your intentions and your prayers." She said. 

But my head was too cluttered. I was distracted to really listen to what my heart felt.

"Sana pala dinala ko yung Bible ko..." 

"Bakit nga ba hindi?"

"Nawala sa isip ko eh."

"Yung rosary mo, iniwan mo rin ba?" 

"Opo." Despite my lack of preparation, it didn't upset her at all.

Eventually, we settled to do the Station of the Cross after buying a booklet from a vendor. That's on top of the Sorrowful mystery we have to pray for each church we visit. The mass was about to start, but I insisted on leaving. 

"Doon na lang tayo sa Mount Carmel mag-mass," 

Not knowing that the church holds a single Eucharistic service on a Maundy Thursday, my flawed decision would spoil my mother's original plan for our holy trip.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

For The Love Of Shopping

Rest day.

Instead of spending the afternoon locked inside my room, I decided to go and leave the house to do some shopping. The air-conditioned mall seems to be the smart choice, given that the stubborn orb-in-the-sky refuses to cower behind the clouds. But because I already went to a department store a few days before and found, that the item I wish to buy is inferior in quality and design, perhaps a trip to Divisoria may yield some surprising discoveries. 

The district, known for its below-the-ground discounts and made-in-china imitation goods has a side known only to expert merchants and bargain hunters. Beyond the faux malls lining Reina Regente are side streets that are almost synonymous with the goods they sell.

Take for example Ylaya. The street is home to the local textile market. The patterns and fabrics sold right down the street (and closing it to motor vehicles) are hardly seen anywhere else. It's discovery is purely accidental. After making a detour in one of the alleys along Recto, I found myself at the heart of the largest market for bridal gowns and cotillion attire in this side of the city. So ubiquitous the stalls are, the uninstructed observer won't hardly notice the difference.

A few turns inside the maze-like market and there I was, bathed in sunshine again in a street where rolls of cloth pile up on the sidewalk and woven fabrics are hung like curtains in front of family-owned stores. I was so drawn to the colors and design patterns that for a moment, I pictured myself creating a ball gown a-la Project Runway. I never thought reading Las Tres Estrellas' blog, especially their thoughts on fabrics and designers would actually rub-off on me.

And it's quite awkward knowing I'm getting out of character.

So I moved on to another block still in search of the item on my list. Next street is Tabora, where Papier-mâché souvenirs, tin-made kitchenware and wooden handicrafts are sold, still in drop-dead prices. It was not the first time I got acquainted with the famed street. A few years ago, the Fujian-controlled malls were packed with Christmas shoppers, people literally spilled on the streets. Rather risk suffocation and a missing wallet, I ventured out beyond the malls to avoid the rampaging horde.

Out of my desire to find a passage to Tutuban Center without having to squeeze myself for space, I made a run to the corner street with fewest people. The first trinkets I laid my eyes on had cast a permanent spell.

Paper Flowers, 2006

I never left.

Tabora has become a sort of destination when I do my yearly Christmas Shopping. It's the only strip where neon green boa feathers and hot pink wigs are sold along angel wings and comedy masks. And while there aren't anything worth buying for ordinary shoppers, stage performers and artisans would find a trove of treasures.

We instead feast on visual delights.

Sundown is almost upon us and since the next day is a holiday, the stalls packed up earlier than their normal business hours. And like what my leads revealed, I would find an ironing board cover in Tabora. It was 50 pesos less than in Megamall, and the shade of brown greatly pleases my artistic taste.

The ironing board cover, and my leisurely stroll as I searched for the item in Divisoria were merely the shells of my journey. For deep within, it disproves two things I tend to say all the time: that I'm no fan of capitalism, and I see window shopping as an utter waste of time.

But when it comes to long walks under the sun, and bargain hunting for things you don't find in the mall, it appears that my hidden pursuit emerges.

Maybe because I find joy not really in possessing new things, but in searching the character of the place where I found them. I've always seen malls as an excuse for convenience, much like fast food places that hardly provide any nourishment. It makes people lazy, and forces family-owned stores to close down. It's no wonder, I feel more at home in the market streets of Divisoria, the flower market in Dangwa and at the small, pastel-colored shops of Cubao Expo.

One you look and you know, there is romance in buying.

Epilogue: The search yielded not only the ironing board cover. Somewhere in Ylaya, I found a bunch of jersey shorts with playful lines and colors never available anywhere else.

And it cost only less than a hundred pesos a piece.

Finding a great bargain and an art piece deserving a wall space, I bought two. They will be worn only at home.


Sunday, April 1, 2012


A cousin walks on stage to receive a gold medal. He is in elementary, and the school recognizes, not only his talent but also his hard work. It's no mean feat to keep your grades above ninety. While spending your free time honing other skills with extra-curricular activities. He must have been driven. His parent must have promised him a generous reward.

Year after year, his name would be called. And his proud mother would walk on stage along with him. He would receive the medal, and she - the future matriarch of the entire clan - would put it around his neck. I would watch the spectacle from my seat, together with another cousin who always join us. Our minds, heeding more to the demands of our tummy than the shimmering metal on my cousin's chest.

But the thunderous applause, and cheers from the audience as my cousin walks across the aisle would interrupt my survival instincts. At the back of my head, I would remember what my elders always say, 

"Why can't you be like him?"

"When will you change your ways?" 

As much as people hushed their voices, comparisons reach my ears.

I would remember his recognition day while trying to lift a 140 lbs barbell for my bench press. Not because of the occasion, but for the incentives my cousin gets for his academic performance. Toys, video game cartridges - everything he wants - he gets as long as he did well in school. At a young age, he learned that every hard work has a corresponding value. 

He began setting goals.

Goals. It's no secret that I have none. Three months have passed and not a single one went beyond the blueprint. I've lost too much drive that I'd prefer spending my rest days locked in my room - playing sims. I used to have plans. My head is full of ideas. But sad to say, I'm only good with concepts. They hardly ever work.

And so I remembered my cousin's recognition day and the Favorite Aunt's method of keeping him motivated. Rewards - gave him something to look forward and so year after year, he went home with medals to remind him of his destined path. 

They say its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And while I don't see myself as an old dog yet, (I prefer to be a cat) I acknowledge this on-going flux that keeps me, well, in a state of disarray. Much as I would like to move mountains - and spark a revolution that would turn my life around, I can only make small changes, that hopefully, would encourage me accomplish more.

A beginner's pabaon perhaps - or maybe, a rewards system that would keep me driven.

"Coach, is it possible to lose 10 lbs in one month?" I asked Coach Leo.

"10 lbs kamo? Madali lang yun." My eyes glimmered with excitement. "Basta consistent ka lang."

I don't know if I could accomplish a goal. But just this once, only to show I can keep my words and deliver. 

I will hit 165 lbs, and get back in shape and when the weighting scale tells me I'm back to my ideal weight, I will reward myself with this:

Sixth Generation Nano

And replace my Sun Wukong avatar with a new picture of me.