Thursday, December 31

I just wanted to say...

... that this has been a meaningful year for me.  Harsh, yes, but profoundly beautiful all the same.

I want to thank all the people who have touched me this year.  If you happen to be one of them and you are reading this blog post, then I thank you.  I am humbled and honored and yes, lucky to have people like you touch my life (very Hallmark but fuck I don't care because I mean it). I wish you all a great and more profound life this coming year.  Be well and safe winds.

Tuesday, December 22


I've always maintained that I don't celebrate Christmas... Not that I don't believe in it; it's just that I don't have enough affinity to celebrate the spirit of the Holiday cheer or whatever you call it these days.  I love the free food and free gifts though, so you can call me a hypocrite. Like I said before, I used to love Christmas when I was a kid.  I used to look forward to everything that was Christmas - the decors, the Christmas tree, the fake snow {I live in the tropics}, the loud disco Christmas songs that my mother used to play in full volume the whole of December, the Christmas table with all the Filipino trimmings {by that I mean shitloads of Filipino food that mostly consists of noodles, rice, cake, fruits, and assorted Filipino dishes of pork, chicken, some beef, more pork and moooore pork}, the nine morning masses, the carols,  the Christmas lantern that my father prepares in late November and hangs on the first day of December... then there's the new clothes and gifts and money. 

As a kid growing up in the ghetto parts of Manila, Christmas for me was the time to be in another place, albeit make believe, it was valid enough for me to be real.  I'd pretend I'd be having a white Christmas wearing my new sweater and drinking hot chocolate and watching Superman (I don't know why, but they always show Superman on TV during the Holiday season {probably because of the Messianic overtones}.   I loved Christmas. When your  a kid, you see the world through different eyes, especially during the Holiday Season.  You believe what the TV tells you.  You believe in cigarette commercials bringing joy to the Season of Giving.  You believe in the Santa Claus that comes through those American chimneys bearing gifts of Coca Cola and more Coca Cola.  You believe that everything outside the Philippines is America and that every god damn place in America is laden with snow, fluffy white and clean like they are made from the same machine that makes ice cones and shit and you just want to lick it off of the television screen. You wonder how snow might taste like... Is it sweet? Does it taste like Tang or ice cream? Does it taste like America?  That was me, a kid who jizzes over the Holidays like some nymphomaniac on uppers.

Then you're 31 all of a sudden.  You realize that snow doesn't make your Christmas white or perfect or cheery, it makes it muddy and cold and you could get frostbites and gangrene and probably end up in a hospital somewhere, high on morphine as the doctors try to amputate you right leg.  You realize that not everybody celebrates Christmas or your version of Christmas.  People also celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, sometimes the Hajj, the Winter Solstice and whathaveyou.  You also realize that not everyplace is America and not all people are Americans.

What happened? Pubic hair happened.  Sex happened. Growing up happened.  Bills  and taxes happened.  Knowledge happened. Politics happened.  Death happened.  Diseases happened. Wars happened.  Everything. just. happened. I became an adult. Adulthood became me. And when you're a grown up, you suddenly dwell on other things aside from snow and Christmas trees, and gifts and new clothes. They fade in the background.  You want to go back to the time when they were the most important things but you realize that you can't.  So the only way to relive a semblance of your youth is to just commit it to your memory, and hope in all hopes that you won't forget it as you advance in your years.

I probably sound jaded to you.  Maybe I am. I don't hate the Holiday Season.  In fact, I still think that in some fucked up way, it's good for kids and for most people.  It doesn't work for me though.  Free food works, but the whole silver bells jing-a-ling ruh-puh-pum-pum snowman glistening yadi yadi doesn't do it for me.  Scrooge much?  Naaaah, me and the Ghost of Christmas Past are tight.  Dude, if it works for you, by all means celebrate it.  Revel in it.  You are one lucky bastard, I tell ya.  Hold on to it.  But don't feed it in my throat, except the food on your table.

I must confess that  I like the idea.  The Christmas narrative revolves on the theme of god made man, born in a manger from supposedly poor biological parents.  The cosmos, fate, destiny, the stars and the eternal weave of the universe or whatever you may call it conspired for the baby's birth.  Once born, the child is visited and honored by learned men and rural folk from all corners and proclaimed and sung by angelic beings, which ensued a king's wrath and sparked the hope of a struggling nation.   The story is epic, yet the message is profoundly simple.  A god that authored all of creation willingly becomes the created because of love.  The idea of a supreme artisan humbling himself/herself/itself in front of the beloved opus, by becoming insignificant and unimportant is noble. It is pure and innocent love. It is good.  I think that's the whole gamut of this Christmas hoopla once you remove all the commercial trimmings and the Hallmark  greetings.   You don't have to be a believer of a religion to understand and appreciate the message.  It's what lies within the message that counts. And it's a good message.

I like the idea of that "innocence" in the Holiday Season. I have to admit though, that I can never again fully experience that innocence, that purity.  It is a challenge to reconcile even that 'idea' of innocence with the human condition.   I can't sure as fuck be seven again; and to be honest I don't think being a kid all over again appeals to me.  In spite of it all, I like my adulthood; and for all it's worth, I am at peace with what I have become.  Do I believe in Christmas still? Perhaps. I really don't know.  To be honest, I really don't care.  But I think what's important is holding on to those memories of past Christmases.  That I was once a kid that loved the Holidays.  I remember one Christmas Eve,  I think I was 7 or 8. My mother had outdone herself - she cooked for an army and our house exploded of the holiday cheer.  The decorations were tacky but we didn't give a fuck.  We were able to coax my father to go to the Christmas vigil.  All of us had gifts, even I had gifts for my parents.  My brother wasn't high on something for a change.  My father was trying to be low key. He wasn't preaching or anything. In fact he didn't drink one bit that night. My sister called us from the States because she couldn't come homre.  I'd stare at the Christmas table and I'd keep asking my mother what time it was and if it was ok to eat already.  She said it wasn't time yet so I'd stare at the Christmas lights for hours and hours listening to Christmas songs and while thinking of snow and wondering if it tasted like Tang or ice cream.   That was a perfect Christmas. And for once, the whole family actually ate together.  I remember my father pulling me to his lap after dinner to tell me the Christmas story.  He didn't use big words,  in fact they were very simple and dry, yet I was hooked with every word.  I believed every word.  I loved every word.  And at that moment I thought, in all my innocence, that I had everything I could have ever asked for.  Even though at 31, a part of me still holds on to that memory dearly.

Sunday, December 20

Monday, December 7


I just finished writing what is probably the longest letter that I have ever written in my life. It took weeks to finish, and yet I still think the words were still not enough.  I may never reveal myself in such a way that I have revealed myself in that letter.  Naked, the words left me.    To the reader of the letter, please, I implore you to read it.  I know it is not enough to let you know how I really feel about you, of how much I love you.   But we have a lifetime to discover each other's mysteries.  My heart quivers for you still. It always will.  

Thursday, November 12

Tuesday, November 10

Happy Birthday Firefox

After five years, Firefox - the open source browser that didn't ship with your computer - has redefined the experience of the Internet for people; Firefox made the whole experience of Internet more personal and more human.  It has set such high standards which succeeding browsers try to emulate and surpass, from Opera, Safari and Google Chrome . Happy birthday Firefox.  And yeah, us Scorpios rock. 

Saturday, November 7


That would be my age come Sunday.  It's official - I am part of the thirty something crowd. Yawn.  Do I feel old? You bet I do.  I don't even know half of the people I see on television these days {maybe because I don't have a tv in my box apartment and I really do not plan on having one}; and I could not even relate to the songs I hear on the radio.  It's not because I have been here for over three months, no.  It's just I can't relate.  I am perpetually stuck in the 90's and backwards.  One time my friend Betty was asking me if I liked the Jonas Brothers and I was like "What Jones who?".  I had to Google the bastards only to find out that they're a boyband who does a lame impersonation of Beyonce's Single Ladies.  Enough said.  I am old, period.  Do I feel wiser? Not really.  Probably a wiseass, but not wise. 

A lotta people have been asking me what I will be doing on my birthday.  My parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews and my friends, they're all asking me if I would be throwing a party or going out clubbing or whatnot. I ended up telling them that I don't really celebrate my birthday.  I mean how do I tell them that I don't eat anything solid on my birthday?  They'd prolly find it weird or summat.  No, scratch that.  It is weird.  I told this to my sister, my not eating anything for 24 hours on my birthday, and she just told me I was crazy.  I just told her that it was a matter of perspective.  

So 31. God, I only have 9 more years till I hit the bucket. It's not that I am planning to off myself, no. It's just that I have a distinct feeling that I would be gone by the time I hit 40.  I am not planning on dying on 40.  If I live beyond 40 then it's alright, so be it.  Somehow, I've always known that the Universe would be pulling my existential plug when I hit the big 4.   When I tell this to my friends they get all creeped out and shit.  They say life begins at 40.  Says who?  If a man or a woman's life begins at 40, what about the years the preceded that?  I mean, Jesus died when he was 33.  I'm just curious.  If a person's life begins at 40, how about a dog's life? Or a cat's? Or a rat's?  I could go on with the whole phylum chordata but I won't. 

I've been thinking about a lotta things lately.  When yer unemployed you tend to think a lot, so yeah. I've been thinking about my life.  I guess part of being a thirty something is that you tend to think about a lotta aspects of your life - things you have done and you haven't done yet; your accomplishments {if there are any} and your failures; the books you've read and the books you want to read; your body fat and your muscle mass; your hairline and the white hair that grows in your right nostril, stuff like that.

I have been going through a lotta things lately. I might even say that I am going through a rough patch {I could never get that expression}. Do I find it difficult? Hell yeah.  Do I wish it to go away?  You could say that. Am I regretting any of this?  .......  That, my friend is the 7 peso question.  I have been quiet lately.  I've been introspecting for three months now. That's a lot for some, even for me.  I would have wished to avoid it but the circumstances did not permit me.  I think it's my karma.  {Oh, Paul if you could read this right now.  You would prolly be laughing that sinister laugh of yours.}   In some ways,  I did ask for this.  I asked the Universe to bring it on.  So she did.  It's all but fair.  {ég sakna þín}  One thing for sure, I am not giving up easily.  I need quiet time.  I almost gave up on writing, to be honest. I wanted to write so bad that it hurt so much {jinsi gani angeweza mimi kuandika wakati mimi nipo kufikiri ya wewe?}.  I almost deleted this blog.  But I didn't.  I am glad I didn't.  There are only two things that keep me afloat right now - running and writing.  {Oh yeah, cigarettes and music too.} {geef me een teken, een reden om te hopen}.

About two weeks ago I slept in the streets. I was walking for more than 3 hours and I just realized I was tired and sleepy.  I was about to get into a jeepney to go back to my apartment when I saw this shed beside a bank with an ATM machine and four homeless people {or maybe five} were sleeping there.  I went towards the shed and saw that one of the "occupants" was awake. He gave me a look that kinda told me to piss off, but I didn't.  I politely asked him if I could borrow one of his carton boxes which he used for sleeping.  He said he didn't have any spare but he could share his carton box.  I was happy to oblige.  So I slept for 4 hours.  When I woke up, some of the homeless people were already gone. My bed partner was still there, sleeping soundly.  I felt grimy and hungry all of a sudden.  I wanted to eat or drink something but I didn't. Somehow, I felt guilty for sleeping in that shed and invading their space.  I could have easily gotten into a cab or a jeepney and went back to my apartment to shower, eat and then sleep, but I didn't. I felt that I made this whole experience trivial. I asked myself if I got a kick out of this. The Tyler Durden in me answered, "Not really, you were just tired but it would be overstretching it if you wanted to get something metaphysical out of this experience, so go home to your box apartment buddy boy."   I carefully stood up, afraid to wake my 'bed partner' and gathered myself and walked home.  Why did I write this?  I honestly don't know.  A filler anecdote, perhaps.  But I do know this {et vull encara}, that man was kind enough to share his "bed" with me. 

Life is a tricky thing to ponder.  I wish {oh how I wish} I don't have to ponder it so much. It would be easier if I just went along with the fucking flow, I mean it's not bad too.  I tried.  I guess I'm not built that way.

Thursday, November 5

I am afraid to write

Because I know that each word I fashion with my hands takes on a life of its own. 
And once made flesh, they shall surpass me, outlive me, outshine me and outdo me.
I am afraid to write because I know that the words that I have created in my own image and in the image of the world I perceive has the possibility to destroy the very fiber of what I am and what I have become.  
I am afraid to write because the message becomes more meaningful when they are perceived by others which makes my original message become meaningless.  
I am afraid to write because the perception of the written word is not mine to control and shall never be mine because I know I own these ideas in my head but once I have commited them to words they are no longer mine to possess. 
I am afraid to write because I know that these words liberated from my head, from my mouth, from my hands, from the pores of my skin are the same words that become a Judas to their Jesus.  
Yet I write. Still.
It is my birthright and I need to claim it.  
If writing is my salvation, it is also my damnation. 
Inevitability is such a beautiful word. 

Monday, October 26

Yet another one...

It seems that I have been writing a lot of obituaries lately.  for reasons I do not know, I am writing another one tonight.  

A former colleague of mine from China died two days ago.  She took her life.  Her name was Bernadette. She once told me that she would never resort to ending her life because it was the easy way out of an existential bind. She told me that suffering has a purpose in the vicissitudes of living.  Two days ago, she took her own life.   

I never liked Bernadette.  I got along with her at best.  But after working for six years with her, I have learned to respect the woman. She had a rough life and I could actually see it in the lines of her face.  I guess that's the reason why I learned to respect her.  A person having been through a lot deserves respect.  She was a lonely and bitter person and she always made it manifest.  She wore them like a summer hat and a summer dress. 

There were two things that Bernadette and I agreed on - books and jazz. Her books were her constant companion. I would sometimes pass by her flat after my evening runs and I would see her window with her lamp dimly lit and she would be there either shuffling about or most likely reading yet another book.   On good days (there weren't that many), we would swap books and then we would either laud the author or trash him.  We both agreed that Dan Brown was a good bathroom read.  She encouraged me to read Chomsky and I ended up liking it. Jazz was the only music for her.  She was even surprised to learn that I knew Monk and Coltrane (being from the Philippines and all). She loved jazz as much as she loved her books.  The chaos of the music somehow appealed to her as it did to me.  

She took her life two days ago. How broken she was, nobody will ever know; but somehow, a part of me understands why she did it. Life may bring out the best in us but sometimes it can also leave us bereft of anything to be happy or hopeful for.  

I will try to remember her in her best moments.  The nights when I would pass by her flat coming back from my evening runs, I would see a silhouette of her by her window, curled up in her sofa, engrossed in the universe of the page she is reading.  

Monday, October 5

It would be nice if all weddings were like this one...

Thanks to Oskie for recommending this vid.
To know more about the crazy couple and their entourage click this LINK

Sunday, October 4

Music Playing in My Head - YES SIR, I CAN BOOGIE (BACCARA)

I don't know why but this song has been playing in my head ever since I woke up this morning.   It's prolly their sexy accent.  I guess I needed something to keep my mind off of some things.

The first lines are to die for...


Monday, September 28

Muelmar, a hero

I  did not know Muelmar Magallanes until today when I read the countless news about his heroism online.  What this 18 year old construction worker from Bagong Silang did yesterday was to save more than 30 souls which included his family and his neighbors from Bagong Silang, a place that is considered as one of the depressed areas in Quezon City.  Two of the people that Mulemar saved was Menchie Penalosa and her six-month old baby daughter. The two were the last to be saved by Muelmar Magallanes as he got carried away by the flood currents. His body was found the next day, miles away from Bagong Silang.  Eighteen is a very young age to die.  Muelmar Magallaness may have died poor and young but what he had accomplished has been far greater than any person could have accomplished at that age or at any age.   More than thirty people can attest to that.  

In a society where people and events can be easily forgotten by media hype and the government spins, it is my hope that people would not forget those like Muelmar Magallanes.  This young man has done more for the country than any politician or famous personality can do for us.  I would like the people who have read this blog entry to please remember this young man who had saved thirty lives and offered his own in the process.  He was not rich nor was he famous. But he had one thing that many people today seem to be lacking of - a good heart.  Muelmar Magallanes had a good heart.  Remember his name.  

Hero teenager saves more than 30 lives before he is swept away by Philippine floods
Daily Mail

Sunday, September 27

After the Flood (Updated)

Rain and floods are not an uncommon phenomena in the Philippines. Just today it rained and God how it poured for six hours. The weather bureau said it was the longest ever recorded surpassing the one in 1967. 

Today's flood was my first in a very long time. The last flood experience that I had was back in 2002. I was just days away from leaving the country for China and I was also sick with pneumonia at that time. Our house in Caloocan was flooded waist deep and I couldn't do anything but watch my brother and my father rummage through the water trying to salvage everything they could from our house. The flood waters receded later that day and I was rushed by a friend to the hospital. That was seven years ago.

With an average of six to seven typhoons hitting the Philippines each year, floods have become an anticipated yet an unwanted guest in Filipino households all over the country come the wet seasons. Blame it on climate change, poor urban planning and sanitation or just plain bad management from the people in power, the floods grow worse each year. It amazes me how the Filipino survives these catastrophes even if the floodwaters seem to rise higher every time a typhoon comes visiting. As a Filipino, I can find fault on a lot of things about my people but never on their tenacity for self preservation. The flood, along with a multitude of problems that this nation faces, has become part of the Filipino human condition. The task that ordinary people face is definitely gargantuan yet the people face it squarely. The tragedies that they undergo are epic yet the people survive it. I've noticed this as I was wading through the floodwaters in Tandang Sora. My friend and neighbor, Oscar, invited me out for a walk and see what was happening outside. Our apartment was not flooded but the streets was already overflowing with rain mixed with river and sewage water. Part of me was excited because I haven't walked in the the rain in the Philippines for a very long time. Yet another part of me was worried about my family in Caloocan which was just a 45 minute jeepney ride away from my apartment in Quezon City. I knew that rains like these would bring floodwaters in our part of the neighborhood as we were near a polluted creek. They told me not to worry and they would keep me updated on the situation.  I try to block the thought out because there was no use for me to worry about my family. I called them and they said they were already bringing the household things to the second floor of our house. They have survived far worse floods before, they can survive this one, I keep telling myself.

I walked along the streets of Tandang Sora with my friend and what we saw was quite unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time. The street was already flooded, some even knee-deep, vehicles were trying to find their way out of the traffic and the floodwaters yet in vain, people were walking outside – people coming from schools and universities, from their work places and probably even from their very homes. Just looking at the rising water I picture submerged houses and shanties in the low lying places in Metro Manila. Homes submerged in a soup of rain, sewage and garbage. Quite a fitting poster for my country. My cynicism tells me that this could have been avoided. That if people, me included, would have had the discipline to manage what they consume and had the local and the national government possessed the right amount of management wisdom instead of traditional politicking and lip service campaigning, laid out a concrete plan of action on disaster control combined with a realistic urban planning, then this could have been a different picture altogether.

There is one good thing about the flood. It never discriminates. Outside the streets I saw jeepneys and buses alongside with fancy cars submerged in floodwater. I saw people in plain clothes walking alongside people with fancy clothes looking for a dry place to tide them through the heavy rain. Young, old, rich, poor, straight or otherwise were all walking in knee (some even chest) deep pool of watery shit.

In a way, it is very biblical. This is probably our punishment for being too human. I don't think it's nature that is our nemesis but ourselves for we have been way too proud of our humanity that we forget that even the minutest of our actions reverberates through the cosmos. Drenched with rain and floodwater in the middle of Tandang Sora, I asked myself if we deserved this – this punishment. Perhaps, but my humanity got the best of me. I knew at the back of my mind that it's not man against nature but man against himself yet I am comforted at the former and I pretend not to know the latter. Part of being human (which means it's not just a Filipino trait) means that we have the capacity to disguise thoughts that do not appeal to our emotions – we put layers upon layers of thoughts until they are covered and hopefully never to be recovered. But once the rains come pouring and the water rises, truth reveals itself plain as day. The plastic bags, the soda bottles, the shit, the vermin come all gushing out the streets like it was being played by the Pied Piper in our heads. We are too human sometimes, I reckon. Perhaps an ark is sufficient with us not in it. I imagine the world would be a far better place without humanity in the picture. Call me an anarchist but it's probably true. But then again, my spirit of self-preservation kicks in. And like the rest of the humanity that is drenched in this rain, I battle the flood and walk against the rising tides trying to find something, someplace warm and dry.

Hours passed and the waters receded all over Metro Manila. Tandang Sora's electricity was restored just a few hours ago, the reason I am writing this in Consuelo (my laptop). Our house in Caloocan was obviously flooded almost reaching the second floor. I was rather disappointed that they failed to bring my grandmother's antique narra table upstairs because it was one of the only heirlooms she bequeathed to my mother before she died. It was heavy after all and I couldn't expect them to bring it up. Somehow I know that the narra table will survive this flood like it has survived the previous ones. And like our narra table, the Filipinos will survive this flood. I watched and listened intently to the news on television for a few minutes, a first ever since I arrived here two months ago. Even Cory Aquino's death and funeral didn't make me watch the news as intently as I was watching the news for a few, brief minutes. Perhaps it's because this flood was personal and it hit closer to home. The networks didn't have to hype the news today. Drama was everywhere. A lot of homes were havocked by the typhoon and the flood - from shanties made of a mosaic of plywood and carton boxes to houses built of stone and expensive wood.  Many families were even stuck in the rooftops waiting for rescue. I am thankful for two things – one was that my family didn't have to go to the rooftops and the other was that there were a few casualties, 46 in the last count. Still, the look on the face of woman going home from work and realizing that the home that she help build with her family is now submerged in floodwater with her mother carrying her two-year old son and holding her five year old daughter waiting to be rescued is still not a cause for relief. The sad fact is that my country has been experiencing Katrina for decades and people both in the government and the private sector are not doing enough to prevent a solvable problem.

The Filipino rises from the tides. We are no stranger to typhoons and earthquakes and landslides. The country has survived centuries of colonization and has survived wars and countless of political upheavals. We have survived far worse and we can survive this one. After all, it's just but another flood... another Katrina and Milenyo among countless others. The question is, until when can we keep rebuilding our homes and our lives after every natural disaster or political upheaval comes in our midsts? Can our spirit of self-preservation still keep us afloat if the next flood comes? I do not know the answer but one thing is for sure, after the floodwaters recede, that mother of two who just got back from work along with the thousands of mothers affected by this flood, will collect the remains of what was once her home and she will put dinner on the table and her children will eat. My mother along with my nieces are probably doing the same thing right now – rebuilding a home trying to collect the things that held memories left by this flood. Hopefully, they will eat dinner at my lola's narra table.

This flood was my baptism. When I left the country seven years ago I realize that I have shed a lot of skin that was Filipino and that was of my former self. I have decided to come back for many reasons – some I know and many that I do not have any knowledge of. This was probably one of those mysteries. I do not know if I came back to shed the skin that was China or to reinvent myself yet again for the nth time. I do know this – that I am here, experiencing this flood and what came after it and I am taking it all in. I came back two months ago and felt very alien to what I once called my home. But now after the flood, somehow, I feel quite familiar.

for those who are interested in helping the victims of typhoon 'Ondoy', please follow tthe links provided below.  

Filipino Bloggers Vigilant with Typhoon Ondoy Floods

Where to send donations for victims of Typhoon Ondoy

or you can donate directly through the following (via PayPal)
Philippine National Red Cross 

Friday, September 25

They say patience is a virtue...

apparently not to some of the kids who were subjected to the Marshmallow Test.

I think I'd wait and sniff it the whole time. :)

Thursday, September 24

On the Internet, Human Rights and Open Source

I just found out today from that 30 years ago on this day, a company called CompuServe launched its first online service for consumers.   Some of you young'uns  prolly don't know what CompuServe is.   It's actually the first major commercial online service in the United States. It was the YAHOO & GOOGLE of the 1980s and it was sidelined by information services like AOL (which later absorbed CompuServe's Information Services Division) in the mid-1990's. CompuServe's services was later rebranded by AOL as CompuServe Classic but it finally closed it doors last July 1,2009, marking the end of an Information Technology era.  formation Service, later rebranded as CompuServe Classic, was shut down July 1, 2009. The newer version of the service, CompuServe 2000, continues to operate, and AOL has said that it will continue.

The Internet has come a long way since its inception to society.  For a very young technology, it has become a very important facet in our way of living. Some legislators in the EU are even thinking of making the Internet a basic human right.  I hope this comes into fruition because I believe it is.  People should have equal access to the Internet without any constriction whatsoever.  In a society that has not only become more global but also more connected,  people in the fringes should be able to access even at least the basics of technology.   It is quite sad to think that there are still many people in the world who haven't touched or seen a computer (this is also true in countries where you think this would not be possible).  Governments spend too much on making weapons and asserting their sovereignty and threatening each other's asses with sanctions and more weapons and more bush-the-button bluffs.  Wars do make money that's true, but they leave a lot of unaccounted faces behind.  Wars leave a lot of people dead, hungry, ignorant and full of hate.    If the world would only spend more on education, environment and useful technology that is open for everybody and not a select few, then the our wetdream for world peace is not really that far-fetched.  

There is a popular saying in the Open Source Community that THE FUTURE IS OPEN and I believe it should be. Technology is not only about the advancement of the human endeavour, be it for the sake of technology itself or for economy.  It is about human beings and how we can be human in a society that is at peace, safe and open.

Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 22

I'm snotting all over my keyboard right now.

Because of this Thai TV Commercial...

Why can't all soap operas be like this - under five minutes and with good music.  Fuck, my keyboard is filled with snot and I hate it when this happens. The last time that I snotted on my keyboard was when I watched the Kite Runner on DVD. Ang haba ng hair mo girl!

I think I need to go wash my hair now.

Monday, September 21

My Weekend... Bow

As promised, I'll be telling you guys what happened with my weekend.  See here, my two friends from high school, Betty and Wilma (their real names), kinda coaxed me to watch the new Vilma Santos flick, "In My Life" because they thought that I could prolly relate to the movie. The story is about a Filipina mother who decides to go to New York to live with her Filipino gay son who is currently dating a Filipino gay illegal immigrant and how the three yadi yadi and life yadi yada and the tribulations of illegal immigrants in the US yadi yada yadi plus the issues of parenting and gayness yadi yada yadi yada true love in time of prostate cancer yadi yada. The movie sucked ass (and not in a good way mind you). It wasn't that I was hoping for a full frontal nudity from both of the actors or even from Vilma Santos (although a full frontal from Vilma woulda been nice), but the movie was just too commercial that it didn't even pretend to be a proper film.  Don't get me wrong,  I'm okay with gay themed films, I'm gay after all.  I'm just way too tired of films purporting to be gay because of the following reasons:
  1. that there are gay characters in the movie.
  2. that these gay characters would either be a gogo boy, a hustler, a drug addict, a psycho or a priest.
  3. that these gay characters would have a full frontal in the movie or...
  4. that these gay characters would suck faces in the movie like "normal" people would suck faces
  5. that these one or two or all the gay characters would die at the end of the film
  6. that these gay characters are not really gay but they're doing it because a gay role does boost ones market value in the business
OK. Just to get things straight (nyahahaha), I don't mind the nudity.  I'm comfortable with nudity.  But it seems that there is a current trend in Philippine Independent Cinema that an indie gay film would always involve nudity in all scenes.  I've seen some films wherein I was absolutely sure that the frontal nudity, oral and anal sex was used because they didn't have any idea what to do with the scene.  Like, OK, there's still more film before that gogo dancer character OD's and dies, so why don't we have a blowjob scene between the breakfast table scene and the dinner table scene and an anal sex scene between the morning that he wakes up scene and the night that he realizes that he was the son of his regular John scene? There we have it! Voila! Gay film 101.  I'm not being a hypocrite.  I like those scenes alright, but they have just become waaaaay too trite for my taste.  ITS ALL OVER GAY INDEPENDENT CINEMA?!?!?! CAN'T WE THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE? I'm sure you guys can Google something up.  The funny thing is, we {me included} know that this movie is gonna suck but we still wanna watch it because this up and coming model something something is showing his dick or getting blown by someone. Let's lay low on the dick show a little and focus more on developing the plot.  Some of these films that I've seen are even story worthy but the problem is its way too underdeveloped. I mean dudes, if yer just gonna fill up a scene with dicks and asses then I've already got  BADPUPPY and SEANCODY and BILATINMEN and BROKESTRAIGHTBOYS and BAITBUS {OK I'M WRITING WAAAAY TOO MANY PORN SITES NOW} for that.

"In My Life" sucked ass for two reasons:
One, the title sucked.  I think the executives just thought of a title that their singer baby could sing in the whooooooole goddamned movie.  The soundtrack sucked.  It was all midi.  An independent film could've done better in the soundtrack department.  Two, the plot was trite and waaaay too predictable.  It's like, haven't I've watched this before in the Hallmark Channel?  I paid 160 pesos for this? To see John Lloyd and Lucky Me brush lips for .5 nanoseconds?  OK I didn't pay, Wilma did. I did like the way Vilma Santos acted.  I love it when she acts her age for a change.  Although there was a lotta shouting which gave me a headache.  

Here's a thought.  Why can't we make Filipino gay films...
  • wherein there are no gay characters in the movie?  {is it even possible.  YES, I think it is. Eversince Moulin Rouge, I think anything is possible}
  • wherein nobody would die of AIDS, cancer, accident, natural calamity or sheer boredom
  • wherein the characters are actual people NOT commercial model beef cakes
  • wherein the characters are actually gay? 
  • wherein the plot is not copied from another gay film?
  • wherein the title didn't come from a song?
Honestly my gay brothers and sisters in the film industry, we could really do much better.  Say that Maximo Oliveros movie about the blossoming of a 12 year old gay kid growing up in the slums of Manila, I liked it.  Sure somebody died in the end but it had all the right elements.  It had the right mix of comedy and drama and struggle.  AND THERE WASN'T ANY SHOUTING OR NUDITY INVOLVED.  

Nuff of that already.

The highlight of the night was not the movie.  Actually there was two.  

First was the chicken that I ate in Don Henrico's. It was AWE-SUUUUUUUM. If you ever eat at Don Henrico's in Manila look for the Captain Crunch Something something Chicken. I think I ate about 10 or something.  Yum.

Second was because of what happened after the movie.  See, my friend Betty loves and jizzes over John Lloyd Cruz although I don't know why but she just adores him.  He's not a bad actor by the way.  Anyways, I was telling her throughout the entire film that John Lloyd looked like one of our classmates back in high school, Paul {not his real name}.  You see, Paul here, is supposedly a closet case.  Now I don't care if somebody's a closet case because I was once in there myself.  Whatever floats yer boat, I always say. It's your business to be in the closet because maybe you have an ample amount of closet space or maybe you're closet value has gone up two points and it's worth a timeshare.  Good for you!  But it infuriates me when some people in the closet mind OTHER PEOPLE'S CLOSETS {straight or gay}. You see, Paul has an attitude.  He likes to OUT people who are not in the room. Like one of my good friends in high school who got pregnant early. She's an intelligent and independent woman who just happened to get pregnant before she got hitched.  We had sort of a highschool reunion in one of our classmate's house 5 years after our graduation.  During that get together, he started talking about her being pregnant and all like it was something vile and to be despised at. He was talking as if he was standing on top of Mt. Fuji or something. Then there was another recent incident wherein he said to a group of our former classmates that another former classmate in high school is gay. The person in question was not in the room {of course}. He delivered the "news" in such a way to illicit a booming reaction from our male highschool friends who reacted like this:


then they went on drinking their beers and pissing in the wind and shit.  

I'm glad I wasn't there at that time or I could've said an expletive or two {maybe three}.

OK.  So it appears that I don't like Paul.  OK I don't like him.  Well so does Betty and Wilma.  So while we were watching the suckfest movie that was IN MY FRIGGEN LIFE, I kept commenting to Betty how John Lloyd looked like Paul and like a true John Lloyd fan, she kept defending his honor.  So yeah, the banter went on the entire movie until the movie finally FINALLY ENDED WITH SARAH GERONIMO SINGING IN MY FRIGGEN LIFE! Credits.  Lights on.  AND LO AND FUCKING BEHOLD WHO DO I SEE ON OUR SAME ROW ACROSS THE OTHER AISLE!?!?!??!?!?!?


Fucking Paul. 
And not only fucking Paul! 
Fucking Paul with a fucking guy!
THE UNIVERSE RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Little old humble me was not only flabbergasted but in times like these when the Universe decides to reveal one of her little secrets to lowly persons like me, what does one do?


Here's what I said on verbatim

..... Paul?????.....

Mind you, I did all this with my right pointy finger pointed at him.  I think I pointed at him three times like with every name there was a point. 

 "Paul? (point).... 
Paul???? (point) 
PAUUL!!!!!! (point point) 

OK. It was four.

I should've called him Blanche at that time because he was as pale as a mayonnaise when he saw not one, not two, but three of his former high school classmates watching the same  gay film that sucked ass, in the same movie theater, and seated in the same row with him and his "companion". Now Betty and Wilma were a bit slow on the uptake and thought I was still joking. But when they looked at the direction where I was looking they were both......


If you would've seen the look on their faces it was like they were in  a MasterCard commercial. 

Whereas I, was in total panic.  You see, I was still so overwhelmed that the Universe had decided to bless me with glad tidings on that night that I didn't know what to do!  I hate this about myself.  Fuck I screwed it up. Well, said Wilma and Betty.  I think I did really.  Wilma was about to throw Paul the bone laced with cyanide while Betty was about to cheer her on {they were both friends of the preggy girl that Paul decided to broadcast to our friends years back} when I kept talking and talking and talking.  Honestly I wanted to laugh like laugh that sinister laugh that would ring throughout the walls of that cinema so I could vindicate all of Paul's victims of his Kanyeistic acts back in high school and after but I couldn't because I might die of so much rapture and bliss and as much as I would have wanted to, I couldn't because I still had to write my Great American Novel which is about a Gogo Boy from the Bronx who decides to leave his night job to help poor people in some Third World Country so he could find meaning in his life and thus end up finding the love of his life who happened to be his father in two previous lives. (How do you like them apples?!?!? Huh huh!)  So I kept talking and babbling just so I wouldn't laugh.   

Fuck me hard till Tuesday.   
I screwed it.  
I still hate myself for screwing it. 

Wilma and Betty made that known to me a number of times during the night and they decided to play a practical joke on me by changing one of my contact names on my cell {I think it was Wima's} to Paul's name.  I still hate them for doing that.  

Still, I had fun that night.  See, the funnest part was after Wilma and I got out of the cinema.  We were waiting for Betty who was in the ladies room because of the impending flood that was about to come gushing out between her legs.  As we were waiting outside, Paul and his companion were coming out {no pun intended}.  See, Paul took his sweet time to leave the cinema thinking that the three of us have already left.  What he didn't know was that Betty drank a whole gallon of iced tea at Don Henrico's and she just held the floodgates during the movie because of John Lloyd fucking Cruz.  So Paul and his companion were there.  He definitely saw Wilma and me. Well I waved to make sure that he saw us.  In a panic, Paul and his companion didn't know whether to turn left or right thus they ended up bumping each other then turning right before giving the two of us a quick wave goodbye. 

So that was my night with my two highschool friends, and with the highschool classmate that we didn't like and with the Universe telling us that life is really worth living sometimes.   And by the way, Paul doesn't in any way look like John Lloyd Cruz.

Sunday, September 20

From Twatter to YouTube. Kanye Unites America.

You've prolly seen the reports on YouTube and have replayed it so many times while eating your Dorritos and drinking yer margaritas and you've prolly even seen the remixes and video commentaries already.

Kanye West is so fun!

And wait there's more.  The Obama was caught in an off-the-record conversation answering a question about what he thought of the whole thing.  This is what he said

What does Kanye have to say to this?

Now for once, the American people actually agree on one thing.  Ain't that grand?


The weirdest Saturday night in months....

 Just got back from a night out with two of my good friends from high school. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.  Too tired to write, but lemme just say this - the Universe has one fucked up way of telling me that she rules.  I'm off to bed. 

Yeah, I'm missing B.

Wednesday, September 16

Me and Iago and Manila After Daylight (Part Two)

photo courtesy of Badudoy


My cellphone rings and vibrates in my right pocket. Talk about relief.

I was in the middle of an overpass in Recto, smoking yet another cigarette while chewing yet another menthol candy. Just a few seconds ago a balding middle-aged man approached me and asked for the time. He looked like a forty something high-school teacher or an accountant. Perhaps he worked in a bank or in an office somewhere in the city. Hell, he could be anyone. He could be a physicist or a chemist. He could be a veterinarian or a heart surgeon. He could be a father and husband of five kids and a worried wife. Or he could be a cold-blooded psychopath who preys on the people who tell him the time, cutting his victims with surgical precision while he drinks their blood in a 7-Eleven soda cup. I shivered at the thought. I hesitate. He does have that Hannibal Lectern look in him. He looks too sanitized, too prim with his crisp blue shirt. He exhibits a kind and trusting face. A face you could trust to tell your deepest and darkest secrets. A Hannibal Lectern face. My insides shiver.

I tell him my watch is broken. He stares at me and then at my watch. Three seconds. He could probably taste my hesitation, my slight fear. He probably knows that I know that he wants to cut me and drink my blood and throw my body parts in the Pasig River. Then my phone rings and vibrates in my right pocket. I fish it out and start focusing on the phone. He backs off and moves away. I am relieved. I use my peripheral vision to see if he is still there. He has vanished, engulfed by the buses and jeepneys and people traversing this busy thoroughfare. Talk about relief. Paranoia gets to you sometimes when you walk these streets during this time of night. One has to be sober and alert. It's self-preservation mostly.

It was a text message. From Iago. He's asking where I was. He wants to meet me. I smile. I check my broken watch and it says ten o' clock. I told him of my whereabouts. He replies back a few seconds later – “Be there in a few”. With a smiley face.

Barely audible for people passing by to hear, I say his name under my breath. “Iago.” If I could taste his name under my tongue it would probably be buttery and warm. I am smiling now, forgetting about my encounter with Hannibal Lectern and thinking about Iago. I am smiling for many reasons. One of them is that we met at this very place years ago.

How long has it been since I have known him? Three? Four? Five years? I do not know. All I know is that I know Iago. I know him too well. How I met Iago is irrelevant. Although it is very ironic to think that him met him online, through somewhat unusual circumstances {come to think of it, most of my long-lasting relationships sprang out from somewhat unusual circumstances}. I was going through a twenty-something phase that twenty-somethings tend to experience when they realize they are a few years short of becoming a thirty-something. In one of my sad and futile attempts to assert my humanity and individuality on the Internet, I joined a network of twenty-somethings that long for {re}connection and assurance that life is more than the office space that one occupies, the cubicles that one gets lost to, the board meetings that one loathes attending yet attends to, and the daily grind that one considers the human condition. It's no wonder why people retreat to the virtual because it's plain sugar. It made life livable for some and tolerable for others. Me? I'm just a tourist. I like watching. I like taking snapshots. Then I move on. In a virtual world where every person has a 15 second attention span, Iago was one of the few people that piqued my interest.

I would be lying if I said that I was not physically attracted to him. He was young at the time that I met him. Twenty one? Twenty two? Who knows? He could have been sixteen, but with his devilish and rugged handsome looks that would make grown heterosexual man reevaluate their heterosexuality and their Judaeo-Christian values, I could care less. He had a cult following and I wasn't in any way surprised that he had because he was easy on the eyes. One thing surprised me though, that the fascination went both ways. I figured that he was probably bored.

Did we ever do it? The thought of me and Iago having sex did cross my mind a number of times but I never acted upon it nor have I fantasized about it. I am more prudent, shall we say, in these matters. His boundaries are quite loose when it comes to these matters. He is a pansexual which makes him all the more attractive and even exotic to all the people he has slept with, men and women and the ones in between. It occurred to me from early on that many become infatuated with Iago because of this very fact. I can't say I blame them. He was attractive and sexual in so many levels that that one becomes infatuated with the Iago that was all sex. I was more fascinated at the Iago that wore flip flops and dirty laundry on a work day. Cliché but true. We almost did at some point but we both held back. I decided long ago that I would have Iago for keeps and sex would just mar the whole deal. He and I both knew that.

I could have fallen for Iago. I could have fallen for his youth and his beauty and his sensuality. I could've fallen for his dick alone. But I chose not to. Besides, we were both Scorpios and we were so much alike in many facets that a relationship was out of the question.

Another irony is that I've only met him a number of times. Three in fact. I remember the first time I met him at this very junction. I was nervous at that he would stood me up as he often does in meet ups when he finds that his prospective conquest is not to his liking. I must've smoked a pack that night. He did appear though. Five minutes late. There was no mystery, no second guesses. We drank cheap beer in a cheap watering hole and we talked like we've known each other for decades. We stayed up all night in his flat smoking pot, watching cartoons and eating his week old pasta.

We stayed in touch. He would send me an odd greeting card on my birthdays. I would do the same. We'd talk online when we happen to chance upon each other's online presence which would be a rarity for both of us. I always make it a point to see him whenever I am in the Philippines. I sent him an email about a month ago telling him that I was coming to the Manila for a visit. I never got a reply. The last time I talked with him was over six months ago and he wasn't doing well. He was dating a thirty-something prostitute who was mother of two and who had a nasty crack habit and it wasn't what he thought it would be. Iago is a sucker for relationships. He admits it as he sometimes lets his youth get the best of him. His values may be as fucked up as mine but one thing different between me and Iago is that he still processes a naiveté when it comes to relationships. I can't blame the kid and in some ways, I envy him.

I worry about the kid {he is younger than me}. Thoughts of Iago getting raped in prison ran through my head. His girlfriend probably double crossed and black mailed him to feed her crack habit. Then thoughts of some psychopath bank manager bleeding Iago to death in some crummy motel room replaced the previous one {it could have been the Hannibal Lectern accountant that was asking for the time}. Iago has had one too many shady deals. He tells me about it from time to time and as much as I find his stories exhilarating, I worry about him. If Urbania is my past, this is Iago's present.

This is one of the reasons why I am smiling at a silly text message in the middle of an overpass along Recto Avenue. Talk about relief. I will be meeting Iago tonight. Perhaps that's the reason why I am here. Perhaps. And as I listen to everything around me – to the noise of the jeepneys, cars buses running below, the the chatter of street vendors and the howling of bus barkers and the inaudible conversations of prostitutes and their Johns, I smile. I smile because I could hear the city humming and I am reminded of a Coltrane song that I haven't heard for the longest time. 

To be continued ...

Thursday, September 10

Me and Iago and Manila after daylight


I am standing under a street post that says Recto and Rizal Avenue. A few minutes ago I was in a jeepney bound to nowhere. I paid my fare for which I really don't know the exact price. I just gave the driver a ten peso coin and he gave me a couple of coins for change. I really didn't know where I was going. It was a Friday night and I was bored out of my wits. I have been in the Philippines for a couple of weeks now and I am already thinking of going back. Back to where? Somewhere. I'm not really sure. 
I light up my cigarette and chewed on the menthol candy that just I bought from the guy selling smokes and candies under the street sign. I started walking. It was 9 pm. The place was just waking up. I could feel it under my skin. My senses were on an overload. I could smell the odor of days old urine fermenting on walls with chapped paint and old campaign posters and signages. I am semi blinded by the neon lights from the hotels, strip joints, beer gardens and old movie houses that are mushroomed all over the place. Red. Blue. Green. Yellow. More red. They dance like they were supposed to dance, like in a trance. The noise. The hustle and bustle of jeepneys, buses, taxis, cars, people and tacky electronic music are all rolled into one cacophony of blissful sound that is Avenida and Recto. A blind man would have an orgasm in minutes just listening to this. The whole place is in a coordinated chaos. Everywhere you look there is trash. They are all quietly placed where they're supposed to be, which is everywhere. Plastic bags are floating all over the place, dancing in mid air as the wind, gravity and the passing jeepneys keep them in a rapture like suspension while they try to outdo each other as the most beautiful thing in the world. The scum placidly gathering themselves in the gutters that they look like kryptonite or some sort of vitriol that denounces everything that this place hold dear. Sin City. Manila. Urbania. If Manila was Sodom and Gomorrah, Avenida and Recto would have been her major life veins.

Yes, the place is slowly rising from its slumber. Quietly, I might add. There is a sense of quietude in all this chaos that only a child of the night, a sinner like me could understand. Peacefully, Manila is waking up and I'm here to witness it in its very heart. All the filth, the vileness and all the damnation of the capital coalesce and beats at this very junction.
I am not supposed to be here. Yet I am. 
How long has it been? I was in college. That was more than a decade ago. I frequented this place to look for answers. Back then, there were no chat rooms or online forums or online social networking. If you're gay and you're nineteen in the late nineties you look for it yourself. You scour for answers in parks, in the dark corners of the moldy cinemas and in the men's room of shady establishments. It's a jungle of parks, cinemas and men's rooms and you adapt to the environment. Strangers become your confidantes, your best friends, your confessors, your therapist, your thirty-minute lovers. You develop an excellent memory. You memorize faces and telephone numbers. Your peripheral vision heightens. You can distinguish that odd, lingering stare from a few meters in the darkness. Ah, the darkness. It becomes your ally, your brother, your friend, your lover, your father, your mother. You become its child. Back then, even if it wasn't that long ago, it was not easy to get answers when one is asking. You only find the answers in the dark. I did. But even in darkness, where I have become accustomed to move and breathe, it's still not easy to get the answers. 
The young ones today are lucky. These days, you just Google the shit. That or you just join a social network. You click, you browse, you copy-paste, you bookmark, you add them, you text them, you meet up, you sleep together, you fall in love, you break up, you move on and you do it all over again with the same fervor and purpose like it was your first online encounter. Some do it in a span of one week. Encounters have become so easy, so instant that having an online persona is second skin. The tenacity of the online soul, its resoluteness and its desire for an encounter, a moment with another person online can probably be likened to the tenacity and resoluteness of the human soul. Being gay in the late nineties I barely knew how to email or IM. Today, most encounters, if not all are all online. Parks, old and dingy cinemas, the men's room are multiplied to the thousands and easily accessible with one's cursor and browser. When one asks a question and is given plethora of answers in an instant, one loses consciousness of the question. Technology has made the questioning so easy that it has lost its sacredness for me. It is the question that really matters in the end, not the answers. I have done my share online. I liked it but it got old too quickly. It no longer holds any mystery for me. 

Perhaps that is the reason why I am walking along these streets. Perhaps there was a purpose in being here after all. Perhaps it wasn't by accident. As I walk along Recto Avenue, I try to ask myself the reasons why I am here. To get laid? Perhaps. To be a voyeur as I often ended up being years before? Perhaps. To pass time? Perhaps. I was bored. Or perhaps I was here because I just needed to be here. Perhaps I just miss the place, the walking, the strangers and the shadows. Perhaps I needed to revisit, to be nostalgic. Perhaps I needed to get reacquainted with Manila after dark. Perhaps. Questions. Tonight is not about answers. Tonight is about me, my mind in total conjunction with my limbs and my senses and the pavement and the shadows and the darkness. Tonight is about me and Urbania. And in the middle of this chaos, I hear her calling my name. I look around and see a familiar face. She beckons by the corner under a flickering lamppost. She is happy to see me again. 


Wednesday, September 9

Youth makes a poet in all of us

I was shuffling through my old files and I saw this poem I wrote years ago.  I think it's almost ten years old.  I remember why I wrote this piece.  God I was so young then and so unemployed. Wait. I'm unemployed right now.  Whatever.  You know what I mean (just say yes and we move on). Yes youth.  All that idealism and supple skin. I think youth makes a poet in all of us. And yeah, I was sorta angry at the time I wrote this poem.


I am standing on rooftops high

Sky scrapers magnificent of concrete and steel majestic

I gaze down below and I speak tongues

to cars and buses and subways and trains a running

I gaze yonder and I speak tongues

to ferries and ships and oil tankers a sailing

I gaze up above and I speak tongues

to jet liners and fighter jets and space shuttles and satellites soaring

My lips drooling

I shout at them from the pit of my stomach

My yelp resonates into airspace,

pulses through streets and alleys and highways and freeways

vibrates through the edifices

of concrete and steel majestic

I shout at you with spit flying,

drooling I shout in your face

I sing psalms barefooted

I recite my verses naked

I am becoming, transforming at this very moment

Into something never realized by your architects, designers and think tanks

I sing my psalms barefooted

I recite my verses naked

I curse you from my bowels

I curse the penis and the vagina that spawned you

I curse the breast that fed you

I curse the hand that rocked and cradled you

I curse them all yet bless them the same,

as I curse and bless you all the same

I shout at you spit flying, lips drooling

I shout in your face

You can smell my breath from where you stand

You can feel my anger from where you sleep

You can taste the hate from from your salad bowls

those garden salads, wilted and dead you eat

I am here

I persist

I persist as the sands of the deserts

and the sands of the oceans persist

I am here on your rooftops crying in tongues,

spit flying, lips drooling

I sing my psalms barefooted

I recite my verses naked

My yelp fades then resounds,resonates into airspace

pulsates into streets and highways adjoining

It vibrate through sky scrapers magnificent

of concrete and steel majestic

Fading then resounding

Dying then resurrecting

I sing my psalms and recite my verses

I shout at them all in your face

that you may at least even have the littlest comprehension

that I am talking to you.