Friday, January 31, 2014

A Culture of Death

Male chicks are worthless to the egg industry, so every year millions of them are tossed into trash bags to suffocate, or are thrown into high-speed grinders called “macerators” while they are still alive.

The Egg Industry

DAGUPAN CITY—Environmentalists and church groups have petitioned the government to stop the “slaughter” of 1,829 trees that were marked for cutting or earthballing in five towns and a city in Pangasinan province to make way for the expansion of the MacArthur Highway, a major link to northern Luzon.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
1829 Trees to be killed for a road plan

I read the news and shook my head. When a celebrity scandal broke out last week, the entire nation's public discourse revolved around speculations and timeline of events surrounding Vhong Navarro's unfortunate affair. When temperatures dropped at record levels, not one soul spoke alarm at the extreme weather and thought of scorching summers ahead. In my head, I thought of humanity and its misplaced aspirations. Swirling, the voices of self-preservation and collective goodness are drowned with noises of novelty and self-serving desires.

Sure there is a need to cut those trees for a road widening project. Infrastructure improvements like these are a sure sign of progress. But did the people behind the idea ever thought that those irreplaceable centuries-old canopies give off oxygen and cool the entire stretch of the highway? Not far from the old road, a new expressway will link the metropolis with the summer capital. What sense then, is the cutting of trees when road usage is expected to drop? As for the male chicks dumped into grinders, have they ever thought of giving them away or selling them at a lower price, to be raised for food and could feed so many? 

I know these are merely thoughts churned and regurgitated by my dreamy self. But when some idiot politician actually proposes to construct parking lots and vending stalls over the esteros slithering around Binondo, you know the entire human race is doomed.

I would not be surprised when the next natural calamity strikes, death and destruction follow its wake.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ekstra (Finale)

Previously on L'Heure Bleue

"Hawakan mo ng mahigpit kamay ko ha?" 

The girl paired to me by the assistant director held my hand tight. She was among the "hakot" who played as the crowd. From what I've heard from small talk among themselves, the bit players were from a slum neighborhood nearby. A friend of a friend, a neighbor along the narrow alley, a cousin of a buddy, these people were pulled from their homes, possibly, to play roles they live in real life.

Meanwhile, not far from our spot, the fire engines' water pumps began humming as hoses aimed at the sky spray the ground with cold water.

"Pota ospital uwi ko nito." The shirtless guy in front of us whined. Someone from the crowd was already coughing.

"Basta kapag sinabi kong action, tumakbo kayo patungo sa gymnasium ha?" The assistant director's voice boomed from the megaphone.

"At walang tatawa."

Filming was about to start, and being a last-minute addition, the instruction was not clear to me the way the crowd was informed.

"Basta kuya sundan mo na lang ako." My pair said.

"O sige ikaw bahala."

In the distance, the film crew take their places. 

"Lights... Camera..."

It was already past seven and Carlo has not yet returned. My wanderings outside the subdivision to look for a store and buy a cigarette lead to nothing.

When I walked back to the set, meals in styrofoam trays were already being distributed. The ekstras formed a line while their handlers made sure to account their men.

Of course, skirmishes broke out as some walk-ins appeared out of nowhere. There's free grub and freeloaders won't waste such opportunity. The result of course, was catastrophic. Some teams had to wait for more styro packs to arrive.

I walked past these burning disputes to return to where my stuff was. On my way, word of mouth flew as to the food items available. There were Pork Adobo, sausages and eggs. In a small room under the gymnasium, roasted pig was being chopped for the elite members of the production team.

Last taping na daw kasi.

I didn't partake in these feasts even when there's a food pack reserved for me. It is either I wasn't hungry, or I knew I won't be able to eat the dishes. Mabuti na lang, the canteen was still open. Several sachets of garlic peanuts and a bottle of Gatorade nourished me until Carlo brought a roll of Oreo.

"... Action!!"

The shivering crowd began to run. Screams and cries were everywhere. On my right, women and children were being hauled out of dump trucks. On my left, a group of extras pushed themselves into our platoon. We were to run under the spray of water; past the ambulances with their blinkers on; past the men wearing military uniform, waving their hands to guide us into the portal leading to the tennis court.

We have to make it appear there is pandemonium in the evacuation center, and I've learned - first hand - it's not easy to sow fear and terror when there is none.

On the ground, I got separated from my pair after deliberately tripping myself in front of the camera. I was hoping the orchestrated slump would make it to the final cut. When we reached the stairs inside the gymnasium, I nearly tripped again as the pushing and shoving, and wet floor made it difficult to leap the steps. And after going through those self-flagellation, we would learn that the first shot was a disappointment.

Screaming and running the crowd was, and yet, their faces were smiling.

We had to re-take parts of the scene.

Without the pair assigned to me, who probably got fed up with my attempts of upstaging the casts.

It would be the last heart-stopping scene to be shot for the film; and also the last time I'd be assigned to work with bit players. For the final acts, which took place inside the gymnasium court, centered around the lead actor and his search for missing loved ones.

There, as the cast and crowd bumped into each other in a sequence being shot on one side of the court, the rest of us waited for our turn. Some, splayed on the ground, while others wandered, hoping to be drawn to where the camera shots. Meanwhile, I indulged myself taking pictures of sleepy children who have been at the set since god knows when.

Also, Carlo, who had at long last arrived - with dogs in hand - introduced me to freelance talents. One can assume their presence is to lend support to colleagues, but also for exposure as the production already scouts the next cast for future film ventures.

It was fun rubbing elbows with indie talents - who are celebrities in their little turfs. I may not recall their names, but their zeal as artists somehow resonates with my craft. It was also amusing to stand behind cinematography wizards, as they create jaw dropping shots with their pricey cameras. But what made me stay worthwhile was the act I belong:

When lights went out, and the evacuees fed up with their miserable state resigned to silence; And as the collage of scenes showing snippets of flood victims on the verge of breakdown were about to be panned, there was a role assigned to me that was symbolic in a resounding way;

For I was one of those who resisted the hollow darkness.

Midnight was fast approaching and filming has yet to be wrapped up. There were sequences still needing to be shot, and production hints no rushing in completing the acts.

Knowing it would be a long and solitary trip back home, in perilous roads replete with robbers and other unsavory elements, I told Carlo and his partner, Ben, that I'd be leaving.

"Malayo pa kasi ako ng uuwian." I said.

Understanding my plight. Carlo smiled and hugged me tight. Expressions of gratitude and appreciation would be my TF.

The next day, I opened my Facebook and saw a single, striking photo. The only souvenir I will ever have of the experience.

Here's proof that you were there at yesterday's shoot for #AboveTheClouds in your refugee chic character. Thanks for allowing me to help you tick that box on your bucket list JM. I forgot to take a photo of us together though. With Ben and our baby dog Pogi boy.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Dated: January 28, 2014


Tomorrow is Mr. Director's Birthday and he has informed us that he will have guests coming from the US. 

Now these guests are also potential clients, who are scouting for an outsourcing company for their Virtual Office Business.

In line with this, all Homebased work will be suspended, and actors are required to wear smart casual attire when they come to work. Mr. Director didn't specify what time his guests would visit and there is a need to occupy seats in the office.

Thank you.


Up I was at 5 in the morning, an hour before the supposed start of my shift. But instead of going to the office, I was heading towards the opposite direction, to the neighborhood of Dangwa, the flower market in Dimasalang. It was still dark and the air, nippy. I haven't taken a bath, nor even brushed my teeth. But the cold weather and foul morning breathe didn't bother. 

I was excited. 

For today's events have my direct hand.

Plans were drawn up only yesterday, when I decided to bring some house plants to the office. After announcing to my colleagues of their permanent placement, they immediately named the Evergreens "Lotlot" and "Matet" for attachment. The plants, of course, were not only for decoration. It has always been my dream to create a verdant work space, and by slowly introducing living objects inside the four dreary walls of our room, such vision may one day become true.

The boss saw the plants and was delighted of their presence. Napamura pa nga siya, to my mild amusement. It was unexpected and creative. A garnish that didn't cost the company a single peso. When he announced the arrival of his guests last week, he didn't say anything about cleaning the office.

It was business as usual.

"Let them see our working environment." He said.

"There is no need to gloss ourselves for their convenience."

But knowing how presentation pays off, I went with the idea. Some agents under me even questioned the need to wear casual attire when it's always been okay to show up rugged for work. But after the memo came out - belatedly - they understood the reason behind the directive.

And so I arrived an hour and a half late, wearing black slacks and long sleeves that used to belong to the ex. The flowers I bought were quickly attended by waiting team mates. After the stems were cut out, and the fresh blooms put together in a China vase I sneaked out of the house,  

The final aesthetics made us all proud.

"Thank you JM."  The boss sent an SMS on my way home the day before our visitors would arrive.

"You're welcome sir." I replied.

But if I were to be as bold, as to announce the cover of my enhancements, I would have said. 

"I'm not done yet."  

Just to lay the cards and tell, how far I'd go to make his birthday and the accomodation of his guests well-remembered.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Pigsa-Sa-Puwet Diplomacy

Previously: Something That Is Real

For two days, we didn't speak.

She and I.

Siblings divided, when custody of the kids - her toddler boys - becomes a flashpoint at home. Hurtful words were hurled. Expressions of rage, our mother would never wish to froth out of our mouths. But it bursts forth one night, with knuckles biting the wall.

The reasons need no expounding.

These conflagrations of fury exact a price on my health. I am not used to the polar vortex forcing its way into the corridors, when we come across each other outside of our four-cornered domains. The mother-daughter stalemate had been doused off quickly. But the cold war between us, estranged siblings, lingered for days.

Meanwhile, a lump just above my thigh began to swell. It must have been the tight underwear I've been wearing lately, or maybe, the difficult Squats Coach Blakedaddy asked me to perform at the gym last Monday. Whatever the cause, there's no denial my immune system received a blow. Tuesday evening and sitting for me had become a painful and inconvenient body position.

The family is no stranger to boils, and other afflictions of the skin. While hygiene falls at the bottom of my daily habit, the boils on my buttocks is partly caused by the disharmony of the House. It added to the piles of troubles threatening to topple my inner peace. The last time I had a big and painful lump, my skin had to be sliced open for the thick yellow goo to drain.

It was ten years ago when the horrible incision happened. 

A blink to the present and I found myself at the Master's bedroom, with my sister sitting next to our mother. The matriarch was alarmed of my condition and volunteered to clean the abscess for me. When I flatly refused her offer, she volunteered my sister to take her place.

I barged out of the room as she grunted at the idea.

Less than a minute would pass and I heard her calling my name.

"Kuya..." She was outside my room. I opened the door to acknowledge her presence. 

"Bactroban." She handed over a tube of anti-bacterial cream.

"Lagay mo daw sa Pigsa mo."

"Thank you." I said with ambivalence. Deep down however, I felt the undeniable thaw. The cold war, which I have foreseen to last for weeks end with one kind gesture.

Something I am not certain to undertake had I been in her place.

True to observations, of that familial ties that bind three families under one house, normalcy of relations immediately commenced when my sister asked me to look after the sleeping Diego while she took a leak sometime after midnight.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Stuff That Haunts You

Would a stranger's kiss enough to ease the pain? 

The sufferings of the heart that desires for the one? 

Would his caresses make up for the lost absence? 

The touching of warm skins that comes with unplanned romantic tryst?  

Will his big arms reach out, and give comfort, even when you know your thoughts miss someone? 

How do you blanket the hurt, at the middle of the heat?

Such questions no longer apply to me, as I have callously learned to coat that fist-sized muscle within the hollowness of my chest. On the third day of the last breakup, the first lines of the epilogue was written when I made out and swapped sweats with the Weatherman inside my quarters. Maybe I have grown used to the idea of moving forward, of that possibility that there is no turning back when I'm next to another. In a way, it is the same reason I am having difficulty finding the new one.

For I have learned to embrace the fleetingness of every encounter.

I may come across to some as repressive. As I always tell that I don't jump into someone's bed when choices abound. But deep down, the passion within drives me to such spontaneous acts that rival those I've seen on the Blue Planet. Only that I probe deeper; search for meaningful reasons when engaging in acts of lust, and when I find none, I treat the orgasm as a blimp that is bound to be unremembered. 

Laugh at.


But this spontaneous act I did recently reminds me of a scene a long time ago. When I invited a dear friend to come over as he was nursing the fallout from a break up. At the middle of the night, when we were passionately making out, (and I making love) I saw a tear streak down his face. 

We ended the battle in a stalemate. 

The words "friends pa rin tayo ah." crushed my heart to bits. Never will I forget for it was the last time I got attached to a first-time pairing.

And so I brought home this new kid and led him into my bed. And while I was attending to every part of his twinkish body, (save for his hard pole which I intentionally left for the delectable crescendo) I felt his lust being swept away by a memory he refuse to tell.

Or was it triggered by some careless questions I said?

Whatever the reason, he slumped in a corner, dazed and confused. Unable to perform like what he wanted for us to happen (when we were walking to his dorm, his elbow brushed against mine, a reading I never fail to get given my experiences). When the air of remembrance had become suffocating, he begged to leave, without even saying a proper goodbye.

Much as the event raises questions, all I can do is respect his decision. He apologized for his behavior.

"Mas gugustuhin ko na labasan ng masaya at walang hang-ups ang kaulayaw ko." I said on WeChat with conviction.

"Well at least, the need to hold someone's hand, and felt it, has been accomplished." I told myself as an afterthought consolation.

But behind those words is the acceptance that it will be the last time I will see him again.

Twenty Eight hours and two hundred and fifty views in the Hornet's nest, I find it fitting and poignant to end the incessant stinging in this manner.


Thursday, January 23, 2014


Out of the driveway and into the street, she scoured the bend like the bitch is trailing a lost fellow. Twice I called her name, but she refused to even come close.

"Tootsie!" I shouted. "Uwi ng bahay!!" She didn't look at my direction.

The dog usually goes out to pee or take a dump near the neighborhood bakery. She does so at night when no one's looking. So to see her at 5 in the afternoon, when most people turn the bangketa into communal space, she must have a good reason to be out in the open.

"Tootsie!!!" My patience wears thin. 

Different maybe our species, but she sense the growing frustration. The way she fold her ears, and clip her tail between her hind legs are already signs of obeisance.

But for some reasons she refuse to follow commands. Maybe because of a duty she had taken to carry on; an instinct that made all canines a human companion.

Soon, I'd learn the reason.

"Oi! Andito ka pala." It was our maid, emerging from the corner store. She smiled to acknowledge my presence.

"Kaya pala ayaw ako sundin ng aso." Tootsie left her hiding place under the parked Fierra. 

"Ganyan talaga yan." 

I then remembered the same behavior, a pattern told by my sister. The dog almost got lost when she followed her and my nephew to the street market a few blocks from our house. Had she not called her to follow them back, the dog might have gone missing.

"Much loyalty." I thought to myself in Dogespeak.

"Very wow!"

With the maid and the dog disappearing from my sight, I resumed walking towards the train station. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Something That Is Real

In a house where three families live.
One, the vassal of another.
The other, sovereign,
and yet, belongs to the realms of the regent:
To be caught in the crossfire
between the colliding states
the disharmony the House
desperately avoids.

The first volleys are fired.
When things fall apart,
we will all be consumed by our fires.


Air pollution in the Chinese capital reached new, choking heights on Thursday. Those who still felt the urge to catch a glimpse of sunlight were able to gather around the city’s gigantic LED screens, where this glorious sunrise was broadcast as part of a patriotic video loop.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pride In Solitude

The other night, I was at Time In Manila. The underground nightclub that plays seldom-heard Electronic Dance Music has been a place of refuge since the early days of singlehood. It is a straight playground. Meaning, I have to stay down-low and avoid exchanging stares with other guys, lest I court trouble when there should be none. Pimps selling wares ranging from bodies to pills are everywhere, and if not for the lesbian DJs spinning at the booth, I won't drag myself on a Thursday morning when I could always return to Bed when Shoturdays at the Casa are not called.

Now you ask, who am I with? The answer is none. I did invite a couple of friends but who would go out and party at the middle of the week? And besides, I don't regard myself as a good host. So off I went to the club and stuck it out - alone - until my friends played their set at 3 in the morning. It has been this way ever since, and often, the person who take me to euphoric heights is Jap Nishi and he has work now.

Besides, he's another story.

I recall this "me-time at the middle of the week" for two reasons. First is that after putting a stop to all my romantic ventures last October, the idea of going out with a new guy, and labeling it as a date has become a cause of panic spells. Either I spent so much energy winning the hearts of minds of the "special ones" before, that I got tired of it now, or I set the bar too high that I ended up not searching at all. The impression of that impenetrability, that seeming aloofness is affirmed every time I go out, and while loneliness seems to catch up from time to time, the distance I have put between me and everyone remains strong.

Second reason - and the more essential - is that growing alarm; that disturbing vibe when one of the kindred appears to be everywhere, and yet, no one really notices his presence. I do not know if there's persistence in his attempts at connection, or he is aware that he is slowly drifting out of the rings. But when whispers voice out their perception and you get to read him "asking to join" different circles with "lukewarm" responses, there's a part of you screaming - for him to step back a little and see the sprawling social ties with eyes looking at a sentient and conscious organism.

And that organism seldom looks at non-conformists like us.

Because I used to be in his shoes, and I still remember the pains of conforming; of confiding to a best friend in college not to leave me behind when he found his circle; of finding my place in the hierarchy of other packs when that best friend decided to give me up. And while my struggles in blending - with Odders, PExers, and Encantos - paid off, the scars remained, leaving me surrounded with people - in the clubs, or drinking binges - and yet breathing like I have a world of my own. I have never forgotten. And at times I am forced to make my own night outs - because I am terrified of gatecrashing other's merriment, I make it a point to return home confident, that "the island can support its needs."

For when time comes I find a companion. Someone, whose world I would make orbit, there is certainty that this solitude would cease to exist and I would find myself tidally locked into someone's life. So for now, until I can afford to exercise my sovereignty and watch others forge ties with different results, I will embrace my loneliness like a friend.


And take pride in that journey wherever destination it takes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Raizen Reanimated

I thought I've changed pero di pa pala. The other day, I met someone I thought is best for me but last night, I met someone better! Magkikita kami ni "best" in a while at si "better" flight Nya kanina umaga going to Cebu. Magkasama kami buong gabi before the flight without "better" knowing na di na kami magkikita pagbalik Nya dito Manila. Isn't it frustrating, isn't it sad?

- A Facebook Wall Message

Sometime in late 2002.

Barely a year into my new sexual preference and I was already a denizen of Malate. I didn't miss a single Saturday. I made it a point to be there to enjoy what little freedom I had out of the closet. My family does not know. The people who worked for my father had no idea, and the boys and girls I've seated with in the university would get the press release a year after these upheavals. Those were the days I'd dread being spotted at the corner of Nakpil and Orosa. And yet, the pulse from within would still draw me into the belly of the dance floors. Those were exciting times. I could still afford getting into troubles. In fact, one would find me kissing strangers, or letting some guy whose name I don't even know suck me in one of the unlit spots in the neighborhood.

I was young.

In one of those nights, I met Raizen. We were at Mint. The precursor of O-Bar, Bed, and all the gay havens we know today. I was leaning on the balcony and watching the Gogo Dancers grind their hips. Raizen was standing against the wall with a companion. After being pushed around and avoiding those guys I didn't fancy, I ended up next to him. 

A quick glance of his face and I was smitten.

I wish I could still recall what happened. Who locked his index finger first, and who groped in response for us to pair for the night. All I remember was his mestizo features and his manly appeal.

I liked him.

And he liked back.

Our mutual attraction led us to become dance partners. We were inseparable. From time to time, we would lock lips in full view of everyone - even in front of the guy he's with. I would learn from Raizen later that night that he was a date, and because they didn't click, he was happy to let him go. 

They never spoke to each other again.

We left the dance club before daybreak, and instead of parting ways at Taft Avenue, he asked me to stay. When two men - one, who's eight years younger than the other, and the other, preferring to dominate someone he regards as his junior resign themselves in a private quarter - a motel to be exact, we know what happens next. 

Raizen would become my first boyfriend, and unfortunately, the guy who lifted the veil to show me the ugly side of a man-to-man relationship.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kiddie Instinct

Mother instructed me to buy a toy for her youngest grandson. It will be her Christmas present to Diego, aside from the milk formula she already committed upon my sister's request. The matriarch gave no specific instructions. As long as it fits her budget, an amount I didn't bother to clarify, I have free reign to do the acquisition.

So off I went to Toy Kingdom, don Santa Claus' hat and choose what toy I'd like my mom to give. It has to be made of plastic, has wheels, and is painted in sunshiny colors. The kiddie item has to endure being trashed, slammed and being pulled apart without getting broken. Getting it for my nephews (note that it is in the plural form because the elder would also regard the toy as his) is a destruction warrant for the poor object. Unless, its creators designed it to take brutal punishments.

The thing is, I don't have a toy in mind.

Enter the store assistant and her suggestion when I spoke the contents of my head. The brand preference was actually at the tip of my tongue, something I wasn't able to speak until the miniature backhoe from CAT was already in front of me. 

"Matibay ito sir." She assured. "Kahit ibato bato ng mga bata hindi masisira." I held the toy in my hand and its feel assured me of its sturdy built.

"Magkano?" Before she could give an answer, I already glanced at the piece of paper with a bar code. Pretty expensive, if a sweet and tempting discount did not apply.

I was meaning to look around and check for a much cheaper toy when an onlooker took notice of the backhoe and decided to get it or not. He too was having second thoughts. The difference is that he will give it to a godchild when I intend to gift it to our bundle of joy.

"Hello Ma," I made a phone call to my patron to inform her of my decision. Understanding that she could not see the toy and know only of its price tag was already a hard sell. But I already made up my mind. I'd be taking risk with the construction vehicle, for it is the kind of toy that is meant to grow with its owner.

If the owner didn't misplace it or give it to another kid.

Christmas day and the presents wrapped in fancy paper were torn to shreds. When the little boys saw the big yellow plastic tractor for the first time, it was love at first sight.

Fifteen days later and it's still the same backhoe I see everywhere, when I get out of my room to check where the tykes have been.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Shadow Left Behind

You should not look for them in places they once were.
Look for them in places they are now. 

In soft rain.
On starlit oceans

I Wrote This For You

"Ate," I sent on Viber one morning. "Nakakausap mo si JC?"

"Parang unusual na 24hours walang tweet."

"Yeah. Magkatext kami." My best friend replied after an hour.

"Busy siguro sa work."

"Ah oki." There was a sigh of relief. The assurance was enough for me to look for something else to worry.

It was a difficult inquiry. A log, I hesitate to send out of fear it will reach the ex's ears. But ever since resuming contact with him on Twitter last December, I get to read his Twitter updates when I check my micro blog's timeline. It has been a routine I pay little attention. Except, when his timeline falls silent for long periods or when interesting updates that tag his name catch my fancy.

The gesture, depending on one's interpretation is new to me. Never has I spoken with the Second when we went our separate ways. I've also been less forgiving to those who got my heart broken. Keeping in touch and actually caring run against my thorny personality. I'd still discourage someone who broke up to maintain contacts with the past.

But JC and I, were able to keep amicable ties. Common friends did their part. Also, by refraining from burning bridges when people around us refused to take sides worked in our favor. The commitment may have failed, but the goodwill is preserved.

And so, cliche as it may sound, but my awkward attempt to check him out through a common contact proves that ties do remain. It may resurface in a different guise, but when nature and character have stripped off the veils of ambivalence, there remains the unmistakable thought of the Other.

For the first time in memory, the string of failed unions ends in a poignant epilogue:

"Good, Wag mo na lang chika ha. Thank you Ate."

"It's ok. Ganyan din siya sa iyo pag nawawala ka." Rocco replied.

"Hinahanap ka."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Turbulence At The Home Front


Kuya O, the personal assistant of my mother left the house one day. He didn't answer the phone when we called him that night; his whereabouts were unknown. Early accounts from the maid revealed that he was in a bad mood that morning. It was after my mom instructed him to get some rest as his health condition had worsened after weeks of coughing. It might have been in the manner of delivery. A thought I still cannot digest after my mom said to me what she told the assistant before his disappearance. The issue stayed unresolved for a day, until Kuya O sent a text message that he will return home once he gets well.

The next evening, he showed up at the front door like nothing happened. It was agreed that we won't speak about the little tampuhan, ask where he had been, or press my mom to confront him about the cause of his gripes. What matters is he's back, and my mom can resume her teaching duties without interruption.

However, Kuya O's health condition, despite the antibiotics has yet to improve. I left the house this afternoon with the maid brewing an herbal concoction that includes Oregano leaves and drops of Calamansi juice for him. 


My nephews' nanny suddenly packed her bags before Christmas. She told my sister that she was asked to go home to spend the holidays with her family. Powerless to convince her to stay, the nanny was allowed to leave as long as she would be back before New Year. Meanwhile, the young couple spent the long break being parents to their kids. It would mean the suspension of some comforts and privileges once enjoyed when the nanny did their duties. In exchange, lessons were learned. Some were even posted on Facebook by my sister after her eldest threw tantrums in full glare of the family last Christmas. 

Embarrassment. Comparison to other kids. Love, despite the humiliation. These are the thoughts I've read after the lengthy post on my utol's wall. 

My brother-in-law on the other hand, did a great deal of sacrifice by looking after his two boys. He often brings the eldest to work as there's no one to look after him at home. He also used to sleep until late in the morning, as he was nocturnal like the rest of us. But since his younger son wakes up before eight, he is forced to get up as well to attend to his needs.

It would have been a quiet front, especially after the nanny announced her return tomorrow - after having difficulties getting a ferry ticket during the after-holiday rush. However, with my younger nephew, Diego, losing appetite lately and disgorging most of the food that he eats, meals are becoming a source of worry especially when we recall how he was confined to the hospital because of Measles last year.


As the keeper and tabulator of numbers, I am beginning to see a bad performance at work. There are few calls coming in, no one reaches their job quota, and agents are taking advantage of the lull to enjoy an extended break. I tried forcing my brand of discipline a few days after New Year. But with incomes being down, and news as glum as the wintry skies of January, the spirits may need more lifting more than the production output of my team.

There is a new project at works. One, that is very different from what the center does since the beginning. I would like to see it as the break we are searching; the business opportunity we are waiting. The director has yet to read the service agreement, the lengthy discourse I spent my time poring through the whole day. It would be life-changing. One, whose demands outweigh all the complacency we enjoy with our other business ventures. But with little room to maneuver, and resources dwindling - and still getting wasted, getting this one-time opportunity might mean survival and extinction.    

So I recommended to the boss to sign the service agreement and gather our collective knowledge for this campaign. At the twilight of our careers, we have nothing left to lose as we are already spending our last breaths hoping for a turnaround.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tenets of Self-Control

Previously: Night Of The Fallen 

Four months later. 


Ndoto had just vibrated. It was a message on Viber.

"San ka?"

"Manila ka na?"

I knew the subtext of the message. After all, I was dodging his invitation since before Christmas.

"Yup, pero asa work ako. Hehe." 

I lied. I was minutes from disembarking the cab a few streets away from his place. It was a variation of the same spin when he returned to the city on the first day of the year. The same ruse, when he invited me for a quickie a few days before Christmas. Sometimes I ask why I'm his favorite target when we only did the act once and the answer that comes to mind is that I live within his vicinity; that I exist because of convenience.


"Oks lang." He replied.

"Heto, nasa bahay." 

I sent a grin emoticon to let him know I get the message.

"Hinihintay ka."

It would have been a fitting cap to a night spent with another friend. A guy I spoke on Grindr before Christmas. I was driven to install the app out of boredom, and just when I was about to linger longer for a possible hook-up, he sent a message and sealed our present. 

I deleted the app and never used it in search for another again.

The meet up with this guy could be summed up as platonic. We had dinner at Sinangag Express. And then I stayed at his place while he searched online for a condo unit to buy. Despite the sexual undertones of our past conversations, nothing intimate happened in the privacy of his quarters. Nobody would like to make the first move - and I was, in all honesty - felt relieved. 

Not because I didn't find the guy attractive. He's ten years my senior, and if I were looking for a daddy fantasy, I would have done so with a drop of his pants. It is that I decided to respect his lair by never making an impression that I there to have fun.

Or the ties that bind us is nothing but a carnal episode.

Because just by looking at the two situations before me - one of the five I successfully ditched since the start of the Christmas season - I knew how things would likely end when I let lust take over instead of self-restraint. On my way to the meet the guy on Grindr, I was meaning to post an update on Twitter. To express that weariness in picking fights instead of making real connections. Nakakapagod na rin kasi; ang maging on the defense when careless jokes lead to flirting. It must be me who got a problem. 

I always take things seriously.

So this is how the year begins. Replete in provocations yet refusing to get into trouble. Attached to several pasts, and declining to open the doors to the present. Unprobed - since the time of the Third. Driller to someone else. The Oracle at the casa has already spoken, and much as I wish to be hopeful that I'd find happiness. 

The portents decree against my longings.

Temptations abound and I don't know how long I'd be able to hold back. 

But this I know and I'd always be proud of:

That every time I refrain from the call. Every time I practice self-control, opens a path, to a possibility that maybe.

Just maybe.

There's still hope that someone special could stick it up to me - that love - like it's my very first. 

In the future.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Difference A Year Makes

A Horrid Sight

Weakened and famished by a continuous gush of Diarrhea, I arrived home a bit disappointed - and amused at what the house help cooked for dinner. It was a mistake on my part. I didn't tell I'd skip my gym workout to recuperate. 

I was disappointed because of starvation. The last meal I had eaten was lunch, and Chowking's Fish and Tofu in Tausi sauce won't keep me running past 10 in the evening. I was given a piece of Mungbean hopia as snack in the office, but given my weak condition, it was barely enough to fulfill my energy needs. I still had two hours before the end of my shift. 

I was also disappointed because it meant buying food when I should be keeping my spending in check. Lack of appetite soured my mood even worse as my limited meal choices made eating more difficult. I no longer bite pork and beef, and given there's only Jollibee and Chowking across the street, I'd end up with Fried Chicken, which is not really a healthy alternative. 

There's no really choice at all.

Grumbling, my predicament was, I still found amusement at how a difference a year makes. Looking at the Menudo barely untouched on the Sauté Pan, a whiff of its aroma precipitate a flashback to a time when I'd ask the same maid to complement my meal with fried egg. Sunny Side Up. I'd require the Menudo to have more raisins and tomato sauce, and less liver, as I didn't like its bitter aftertaste. And when I'm done with dinner, I'd order the same dish to be served the following week.

There seems to be no end to my craving.  

But something has made me turn my back last year. And I would have a slew of reasons for the sea change. At first, the Mousey Incident was to blame. The imaginary sight of ground mice used as pork substitute culled my appetite. Another imaginary distasteful image would be the method of killing those animals have met with the butcher. Worst would be the idea that the pork or beef being digested inside my stomach turns out to be a double dead animal. A rotting, diseased carcass sold in the market to make up for the loss of the hog raisers. 

Kadiri, you say. The suggestions work for me all the time. However, the real trigger for the pork and beef refuse spring from health reasons. I had to cut my unchecked girth expansion.

And cut it did.

I stared at the dish for sometime and took pictures of it for posterity. When I'm done contemplating as to continue with my accomplishments - a feat unbroken in the face of a porky and beefy Noche Buena and Media Noche these holidays - or revert back to my old ways, the resolution remains that its best to decline the call of instincts and embrace the acquired taste still.

So I left the house, went to a nearby Andok's outlet, and ordered roasted chicken instead.