Tuesday, March 30

Geek Time. Hadron Collider makes a breakthrough

The Large Hardon Hadron Collider makes a breakthrough. Like, whoa. For closet geeks out there who want real time info on the Hardon (*slap, mind outta the gutter) Hadron Collider, go to this link. It's riveting I tell ya.  I'm this close to jizzing in me trousers.  

Friday, March 26

Nanay and Tatay and Fried Chicken

Showering with My Parents

I had Sunday lunch with my parents today to celebrate their wedding anniversary on Monday. Since I have work on Monday, I told them I'd take them out to lunch on Sunday. They happily obliged. Nanay and Tatay (Filipino for 'mother' and 'father') came in early and they arrived in my box apartment when I was about to take a shower. As usual, they were both arguing about something trifle – this time it was about my father's shoes. My mother is waving her arms in her usual fashion while she tries to wake up the neighbors, and my father wincing at my mother's every gesture. When I reached my twenty second threshold, I told both of them that I needed to take a shower and the three of us should be leaving in a few minutes. That seemed to settle the two of them. I was about to step into the bathroom (which was like three paces from my doorstep and one pace from bed) when I suddenly realized that I do not have a bathroom door. Tatay was already settled in my bed and Nanay was fiddling with my computer and asking me how to open You Tube (or "yu choob”).

I felt really weird all of a sudden. I realized that I am gonna be showering naked in my capsule of a bathroom with both of my parents just a fart's smell away. It's like back when I was nine or ten or two when I caught both of them doing the nasty. I was playing hide and seek with my nephew and I decided to hide under my parents' bed where I know he wouldn't find me. True enough, my nephew didn't find me, but I was stuck under the bed for almost an hour because my parents came in from the bathroom (yes, back when gravity still had a slight effect on them, my parents used to shower together). Now I couldn't get outta the bed you see because their room was off limits and both of them would have a cow if they see me under their bed. So I bidded my time. Well, they did too. I was hoping that they would just get dressed but no, they decided to do the quick nasty. To say that I was terrified and scarred for life would be overstating it. I already knew about sex. I didn't know much back then but I knew enough. 


The picture of my mother and my father doing the deed brought me back from my childhood reminiscing to my bathroom. I needed a shower badly and I was really sweaty and rank from running. So what I did was to just to switch off the bathroom lights so there would be some decency left in me after this ordeal. I realized that the only way to survive this ordeal was to be casual about it. I got my towel and my change of clothes and put it beside my kitchen sink cum pharmacy (which was a half pace away from my bed ¼ pace away from my bathroom door). I stripped off my running gear and put it in the sink (I live in a prison cell, but a nicely painted one) and got the water running. I started showering while talking to both of them about this and that, mostly about Manny Pacquiao's latest bout with Clottey. “Do you think he'd win (Pacquiao)?”, I shouted at them while in mid lather, just to make everything sort of casual. “Does the pope shit in the woods”, my father quips in English in a very staccato fashion then laughs at his own joke. Then I hear my mother saying something about bears and the pope and about my father at laughing at his own jokes.

Waiting for the Taxi

I decided that we should take the taxi since it was gonna be a long walk to the restaurant if we were to take the jeepney. Besides, both of them already have weak knees. We were walking towards the taxi stand and I noticed that Tatay was lagging behind. I told Nanay that we oughta wait for Tatay but all she said was, 

“Hayaan mo yan, makakasunod din yan sa atin."
Naaaah, don't worry about it, he'll catch up.

She didn't say it with contempt or anything but just in a matter of fact manner. My father is growing old. He will be 73 coming June. I looked at my mother and I saw the same thing. She is more resilient though. Her knees may be weak but she still has that youthful vigor in her that I cannot not see in my father these days.

They used to be young, my parents. They used to have that vigor that boasted of their youth and boldness. They used to fight like Stanley and Stella. I remember how they'd wake up the whole neighborhood with all their insults and their mockery of each other's parents, siblings and uncles and aunts and past lovers (my father's side only since Tatay was Nanay's first and last). My siblings and I would hear the crashing noise of broken plates, glasses and windows. My sisters would be crying a little and my brother would be in his room and I'd sit by the stairs and wait for the shouting match and the throwing to end so I could count the broken plates and glasses later. One of my sisters would be cleaning up the the mess they made in two hours or so. The house will be quiet after the fight, like it was just bombed by the Japanese or something. Stanley would be out somewhere with his drinking buddies and Stella would be packing an overnighter to stay with her sister (whom my father had an affair 15 years later). We all know that she would not go to her sister's and that my father would be back just after midnight, pissed drunk lying on the floor sleeping on his own vomit. Mother, the dutiful wife that she is would be cleaning him up and bringing him to their bedroom. We'd all wake up to a nice Filipino breakfast the next day – tapas and tocinos and fried rice and sunny side ups and all. Of course the whole spread is served on plastic plates and cups. Thank God for Tupperware. Living with my parents is like living in a soft core Prince of Tides alternate universe.

I have never realized how long that I've been gone till I saw Nanay and Tatay in their old age. I worry about them. I don't tell them that I do because they'll worry about me because I am worrying about them. I asked Nanay for us to slow down a bit to wait for Tatay who seemed to be taking his sweet time in walking. He doesn't look frail when he's walking and all, he's just slow. His walk reminds me of Yoda sorta – slow but sure and with such fortitude and resoluteness. He doesn't seem to mind that we went ahead and we were waiting for him at the taxi stand. He finally arrives and the crowd goes wild. I hail the next taxi so we could go to the Quezon Memorial Circle or the “Circle” as it is more popularly called. It was the place where I just took my run this morning. My mother used to tell me that they used to go out on dates at the Circle when they were younger, that's why I decided to take them there for their anniversary lunch.

We got into the cab and I told the driver to take us to the Circle but to first make a stop at the nearest ATM so I could withdraw some money. The AM radio was abuzz with Paquiao's latest bout with Clottey and it was no wonder why the streets were almost deserted in a Sunday morning like today. Filipinos are besotted by Manny Paquiao and so are my parents. I hear my father talking to the taxi driver about how Paquiao will win against Clottey and how he's going to be the next Flash Elorde. Flash Elorde has been dead for years and Manny Paquiao has broken every Filipino boxer's record. Yet even this fact is common knowledge to all of us except my father, the driver promptly agreed and told my father that Paquiao was going to win this game even with his hands tied.

Eating Fried Chicken

I decided to bring them to Max's. It was actually my mother's idea since they are both fond of that restaurant. Last week when I was asking her where they wanted to eat, she just told me anywhere except fast food, Chinese food or some weird food. Like me, she didn't want to go to some restaurant in a mall since she hates going there unless she wants to buy something quick, so Max's at the Circle was the restaurant that came to my mind. I remember taking her to a Max's restaurant some years back and she liked the food.

The restaurant was quite empty on a Sunday. I surmised it was because of Manny. Everybody was waiting for that fight, my parents included. I was probably the only one who wasn't. It's not that I don't like Manny Paquiao, I admire the dude's methodical boxing, but I'm not that really interested in boxing or the glory of the Filipino people and all that jazz. And besides, I kinda had the feeling that he'd win anyways. Now, if I knew that Paquiao would lose, then I'd prolly watch it. Not that I want him to lose or anything, because Filipinos are die hard Paquiao fanatics and I could be put to death by stoning if they get as much of a hint that I want to see Manny lose. I'm just saying that it would be an interesting and noteworthy scene to see Manny Paquiao lose a game, not because of his personal title as the Pound for Pound King or any of that crap, but because of the millions and I mean millions of people rallying for him. I mean, imagine the grief of the Filipino people if Paquiao loses. People will cry. People would grieve. My parents would have a bad day. It would be like the day when the Marcoses fled to Hawaii back in 1986. The masses would have lost their hero, their Jake Sully that will free them from the grips of oppression, poverty and hopelessness. Manny Paquiao is not just a Filipino for the Philippines, he's THE Filipino. He's bound to lose a fight, that's a fact as the laws of the universe would suggest. I just hope by the time that he does lose a bout with somebody, the whole country is sure of itself already and does not need a Messiah-Jake-Sully figure to look up to. Fat chance.

The place looked semi deserted with just a couple of tables occupied by couples eating away their fried chicken (Max's is known for it's fried chicken). The waiter seated us to a bigger table since we were three. When we got hold of our seats, I saw that Tatay was a bit giddy all of a sudden telling Nanay that's it's his first time to eat at Max's. I just smiled at my father's statement because true enough, my mother started telling my father that it's just his Alzheimer's acting up because they have eaten at Max's so many times and the fried chicken here was his favorite.

Ah ganun ba?"
Is it?,  
says my father.
Oo nga, ang kulit mo talaga!"
Yes, how many times do I have to tell it to you?!
says my mother.

I kept smiling at the two of them knowing that this is a normal interaction between my parents ever since my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's years back. I tell both of them that we should start ordering and signaled the waiter to bring in the menus. A nice looking waiter approaches us, he's probably mid twenties, a bit on the chubby side and with an affable smile on his face. I tell my mother to order anything they like, but she tells me to do the ordering. I know this routine, she knows what she wants from the get go but I play along by telling her that I know what I want (which was their all day Filipino breakfast) and she should order what they want since it's their day.

Sigurado ka ba?"
Are you sure? 
she asks me. I nod.
she says then flips through the menu.

I ordered the breakfast plate and they ordered the whole fried chicken, pansit (fried noodles), spring rolls, chop suey, 2 cups of rice, soup and halo-halo for dessert. As the waiter was taking note of our orders, my father couldn't help but tell him,

Anniversary namin ng asawa ko ngayon kaya dinala kami ng panganay kong anak dito para mag celebrate" 
It's me and my wife's anniversary today and my eldest son took us here to celebrate.

Jusko Bibing! Bunso natin si Omar!"
Jesus Bibing! Omar's our youngest! 
tells my mother, with fork gesticulating and all. Then she adds to the waiter in mock whisper, “Pasensya ka na, matanda na kasi eh."
I'm sorry, old age.

My father, still possessing the faculties of hearing, was quick to tell the smiling waiter, 
Ay ganun ba? Ay sorry, may Alzheimer na kasi ako. Bunso naming anak si Omar." 
Is it? It's my Alzheimer's acting up again, I'm sorry, Omar is our youngest. 

I was slightly embarrassed to be honest, because the whole restaurant prolly heard the whole thing. I tell the waiter that we were good and he got our menus and went to the kitchen.

While we were waiting for the food to arrive, I asked them if they wanted to do something else after lunch, like walk a little around the Circle or watch a movie somewhere or something. They both said lunch was okay and they wanted to get back home quick so they could catch the Paquiao fight. My parents, on their 52nd year of being married wanted to watch Paquiao on tv.

The food finally came and we started eating. Nanay called the waiter to ask where was the bottle of Mang Tomas liver sauce but the waiter told her that they only have Jufran Banana Ketchup at Max's. Mother just shrugged and continued putting food on my father's plate.
Truth be told, I like watching my parents eat. I dunno why, but I can see this intimacy whenever they eat together. Ever since I was a kid, I have never seen them eat by themselves. They've always eaten together except when they are fighting. Sometimes they even eat on the same plate. Nanay would always eat Tatay's left overs, which is a rarity nowadays (to think that my father is pushing mid seventies!). I honestly think that a sure sign of true and enduring love between two people is when one eats the other's left overs. I watch my mother as she puts chicken and chop suey and noodles on my father's plate. She may not admit it, but she loves the bastard. I try to be the dutiful son by setting the dinner conversation and talking about anything that I could think of – Manny Paquiao, my siblings, neighborhood gossip, my job, the coming elections, the Marcoses and more neighborhood gossip. At one point during the meal, I asked them about being together for fifty-two years and how it felt like going this far and my father, seeing an opportunity to exercise his ever infinite wisdom told me,

Anak, ang sikreto sa isang pagsasamahan ay ang pagiging committed sa isa't isa at ang pag amin ng kani-kanilang pagkukulang, pagpapatawad at pagsusumikap na punan ang bawat mga pagkukulang.”
Son, the secret to a lasting relationship is to be committed to each other and by admitting one's shortcomings and by forgiving the other for these shortcomings and by working together to fill these shortcomings.

My mother snarled in mid-chew and with a bone in her left hand she said,

Hay naku Bibing...”, in which the closest translation would either be “Jesus, Bibing” or “Yeah, right.” or “Shortcomings my ass.”

Tatay didn't seem to mind Nanay's last comment and continued,

Inaamin ko, marami akong pagkakamali, pero nanghingi na ako ng tawad sa Nanay niyo.”
I admit that I did a lot of shitty things in the past but I already asked for forgiveness from your mother.

Nanay just grunted and put more food on Tatay's plate.

Forty minutes later, they were full. I am drinking my coffee and Nanay is eating her halo-halo. Tatay is patting his stomach telling us that the meal was great and he was sure that this was his first time to eat in a restaurant like this. We had the leftovers doggie bagged (it wouldn't be a Filipino lunch out if there wasn't any doggie bag). My mother was hoping to score a free bottle of ketchup from the waiter, but the waiter wouldn't budge and gave her six sachets of ketchup instead.

They wanted to go home and watch the fight but I told them to drop by at my box apartment first so that they could freshen up before they go back to Caloocan. Reluctantly, they agreed. I just really wanted to spend more time with them is all. I rarely spend time with my parents and to be honest, I don't want to spend a lot of time with them. But today's a different day I guess, probably their anniversary or it's probably the balmy weather that's making me act funny. Times like these I wish I had my own tv so I could let them stay in my box to watch the fight but the thing is I didn't bother to buy a television since I don't really watch TV.
We took a cab and went straight back to my apartment. I looked at the back seat and true enough, the two of them were near dozing off.

Billie Holiday

Watching my parents take a nap on my airbed made me feel fuzzy inside all of a sudden. Fifty-two years is not a walk in the park, it's more like climbing Mt. Everest. It came upon me that as much as my mother hates my father's idiosyncrasies and as much as my father hates my mother's loud mouth, they still sleep (and probably sometimes do the nasty) in the same bed every night. I don't believe in perfect relationships and have never been fond of such. I believe in good relationships but not perfect ones. Seeing them laying in my bed while a Billie Holiday song plays in the background makes me hold to my belief more. They have a good thing going. Gravity may have taken away a lot from their body and their minds, but this one, this one stayed. And as I look at these two ancient figures in my bed, I could not help but imagine if ever I'm going to have something like this. As cynical as I am (I wanted Paquiao to lose just for the sociological value of him losing), I want to have something like this – nothing perfect or rosy but something real good. I am sorta teary eyed by the scene before me (it's prolly the Billie Holiday song). My parents are two lucky bastards. I secretly envy my father, who was already waking up and fanning himself with his hat, from this vantage point. I wanted to tell him that he was one lucky motherfucker to have something like this still going in the so called twilight of his years. I didn't have to, because even though he has Alzheimer's, Tatay already knows that. I guess I finally found the reason for his odd smiles.

Friday, March 12

On running

I do my runs now whenever time permits.  Unlike before, I do not have the luxury to just Forrest Gump my ass everyday at anytime of the day.  I have a job now, it's nothing glamorous but it's a job, it pays the bills and the taxes are shitty.  I miss running, to be honest.  I miss   I'm not an expert and all but I don't do badly either.  I run fast whenever I feel like it.  I run slow whenever I feel like it too (but it's mostly because I need to catch my breath). It's like stroking my Pedro.  I stroke fast because it gets the blood running down there, but when my left (or right) arm gets tired, I slow down.  When I feel I have already regained enough strength, I go blue streak again.  Running and masturbating have a lot of parallels.  Stroke fast, stroke slow.  run fast, run slow.  Holding your breaths. Timing your breaths.  Catching some air. Being in tune with the music playing in your iPod or just being in tune with the music playing in your head.  Then you reach that natural high.  It's self fulfilling.  When I run, it's like I'm masturbating.  I start slow, then I speed up, then I catch my breath a little, then I pick up some speed, then I release my inner Billy Sive. I reach my climax.  After which I feel so spent that I feel like a tweaking two dollar crack whore.  Sweaty and salty, I stretch beside some anonymous tree and pant like there is no tomorrow.  My body jizzes of sweat.  And when I think no one's looking, I lick off the sweat from my shoulders to taste the fruits of my labor. The road is my porn.  Truly.

Wednesday, March 3

March 8, 2005, a few lines dedicated to Starfish

I am rain
I am fire
I am blood
I am water
I am contradiction

Monday, March 1

Me and Iago and Manila After Daylight (Part III)

An hour passes and still no sign of Iago. A part of me feels that I would be but another one of the names he crosses off of his list – another statistic for him. He does have the tendency to do that. In many ways we are so much alike.

I look around and see no sign of Iago. I am thinking now, maybe he forgot. Or maybe it was a dream. Maybe I was dreaming that he texted me. I checked my cellphone to read his supposed message and I find out that it's still there. Then I wasn't dreaming. He forgot. I should head back home. What am I doing here? I'm thirty years old for crying out loud. I chuck my phone back in my left pocket and started walking to the direction where the jeep dropped me off a few hours ago. I am somewhat disappointed. No, I am disappointed. I felt cheated. God damn you Iago, I hope you're not bleeding in some alley. Or is he? I worry.

I walk on a straight line. My whole body is on alert because I am in the not so nice part of town. I could get mugged in some alley here or get beaten up or get knifed so I need to look tough, to look seasoned. One false move then I am done for. The cops on patrol wouldn't care less, because I am just one less problem off their long list of problems. I walk on a straight line with a tepid cigarette between my lips. I walk with an unyielding gait as if nobody, not even the cops, could touch me. I am confident about this. This facade has always proven to be effective in a place like this. Like a black street cat I walk on a straight line. Touch me if you can.

I feel somebody is following me... or watching me from behind. My senses have never betrayed me. I stopped at a lamp post and lit my tepid cigarette. I casually turned around and true enough, there was a person standing, five meters away from me, trying very hard to look nondescript and casual by looking at his watch. He steals a glance at my direction. He sort of gives me a nondescript nod and fumbles at his pockets. He is not bad looking, he is not good looking either. Plain would be the best word to describe the John. He is probably in his late thirties and most probably married. His shirt and khakis look expensive and his watch looks plain yet sturdy. I also see a wedding ring. The John before me is a married man. Why couldn't he have left the wedding ring in his home? Could it be that his wife might find out? Or perhaps he couldn't remove it even if he wanted to? Unlike the previous one, he doesn't have the Hannibal Lectern look. He sort of reminds me of Bambi.

I sort of nod in his general direction while I blow out a smoke. He hesitates. He does not know if he should come near me or away from me. He slowly tries to come near me and I could see that he is shaking. I could see him sweating as he tries to come near me and when he was near enough he asks me the age old question...

How much?”

I was a little surprised that he has a deep baritone voice. Perhaps he was faking it, but I doubt it. He probably sings in a choir {he does have that church look in him}.

He thinks I am rent boy. It is kind of flattering and if I were younger I would've said yes. I smiled at him – a genuine smile – and told him that I was waiting for somebody. He apologizes and walks towards Avenida. I could feel the relief in him. He probably didn't even want the whole thing to begin with. I probably have saved him from the guilt.

I decided to stick for a while. Maybe Iago will come in another hour. Or maybe he was tweaking somewhere. I worry about the kid. I say it a lot because I do. I just hope he was tweaking in a safer place, like in his room or in some church or something. Stay for a bit, I tell myself. Iago might need me to bring him home or something.

I kill time by standing behind a wall and by watching everything transpire before me. I feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. Probably the cigarettes. This place, as filthy as it is, was home to me once. I am not ashamed of it. Somehow, I feel that she is proud of me. Her once prodigal son, gone pious, is again prodigal for one night. The wall on my back feels warm. She embraces me.