Friday, August 31, 2007

Job Hunting Rule #234

Do not ever, in the course of your job hunting phase, include the URL of your personal blog in your CV. It's professional suicide. Do you really think we're interested whether he can commit or not?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Me, a Writer. A Crazy One.

Ever since this piece came out in Blog Patrol, suddenly a very tiny finger of reluctance to share my life in this blog has been poking me in the side. Admittedly, I share only what I want people to know, and there are a lot more happening in my life behind the curtains.

Like that ghost in the car. Or the stupid bus incident. Angelica Panganiban giving me acid reflux. Rooftop beers. New loves. Crapshooting. Secrets, lots of it. Boys behaving like girls. Getting excited over a new budget airline. That thing I did before leaving KK. The Brunei incident. Getting paid for taking pictures. Painting my nails black.

But still, hitting the Publish Post button allows everybody else to have a peek (not necessarily an opinion) at my goings-on. Like those that I just mentioned.

I've wanted that entry to reach a bigger audience, and now it had. I hope that the people who have read it would share it, or at least shut up about the freaking questions. I reproduced the page and handed it to my relatives. I will not be grilled in exchange for a cassava cake.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Team Stalactite and Stalagmite

All those food I mentioned went directly to my cheeks. Thanks guys for the fun fun weekend. Photos by Jill.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mixed Emotions

Who am I kidding? I drafted six different intros for my CDO entry but none of them worked. You know your opening paragraph is good when you can't stop writing, there's no problem segueing the previous to the next, and your fingers just fly on the keyboard. I can't do that now. I'm feeling a lot of things and my judgment might be a little clouded in the next few days.

Six attempts on trying to put in black and white what that trip did to me - that's not a good sign. To say it's been fun is an understatement, so I'm not even going there. I went rafting again, and while listening to the safety briefing I was asking myself "Why am I doing this again?" but of course my other personality won't answer me back. Some of us jumped off from a clifflet (or mini-cliff if you're being technical) as a sort of graduaion rite for completing the river course. I didn't. I jumped into lunch instead.

Then we went to the Del Monte plantation and had dinner at the Club House. The steak was good, but my jaw hurt from trying to finish everything. It was just too thick. But I'm not complaining, especially about the food. Oh, the food. The steaks and the chicken barbeques and the lechon de leche and sugpo and a lot more. And those fermented fruits that turned into alcohol, Absolut Mandarin and Apeach. Lucky Me La Paz Batchoy. Honey Nuts and Oats. Mangosteen. Marang. Baby back ribs, burgers, and chicken skin. I might have to turn vegetarian for a month just to compensate from all that meat.

We also went to see Ms. Kagay-an, just in time for the question and answer portion; which, I'm sorry to say, was not good for our health. Sure, they're so brave going up there and braving the motions of the beauty pageant, but it's just not something I will voluntarily watch. The stalactites and stalagmites answer are still boring their way inside my brain.

I still haven't had a decent night's sleep since I left Manila for CDO, and now I'm back. Sorry, no pictures for now, I didn't get to shoot a single digital frame, it was all in films that I have to take to Fuji tomorrow to meet the deadline.

Thanks to the people who made it happen, you know who you are.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stranded Fun

Photos by Jill.

Last Friday night, while the stupid typhoon was raging and people were being sent home, the Alkies trooped to Jill's house for Michelle's dinner and yukata party.

More pictures at Jill's Multiply.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to Die with Dignity

1. Don’t commit suicide. If you do, consider a method that will not mangle your body. Poisons and slitting of the wrist recommended. Jumping in front of trains or holding a live grenade is a no-no.
2. Don’t die from diseases that manifest on the skin, such as skin cancer, leprosy, or pox.
3. Don’t die from accidents caused by machinery and vehicles. This implies stupidity on your part somehow.
4. Don’t die in a compromising position. While first impression never lasts, the last one does.
5. Don’t die too early or too late in life. You either miss out on the fun or overstay your welcome.
6. Don’t die while causing another death. The living will curse you forever, especially if the other is more popular than you are.
7. Don’t die for a lost cause. It’s plain stupid.
8. Don’t die. There is no dignity in death.

In college I had a best friend whom we’ll call Alice. Alice was also my high school classmate, but it was only in college that we really got to hang out. Alice was smart and intelligent (yes, they’re different) in a bookish sort of way. Her mother always gets to pin her ribbons and medals at the end of the schoolyear. She graduated third in our class.

Alice was street smart; she had seven older brothers and they taught her the ways of the dog-eat-dog world. Even if she was the baby of the family, she was mature for her age. Alice and I were almost always together – and sometimes it got too close for comfort. She got jealous if I spent time with Jenny, my other friend. She would sulk and pout and ignore me. When she got herself a boyfriend for the first time, she would ask me endlessly if I liked him. I don’t know what happened during the course of our friendship, but we drifted apart. I felt suffocated and she felt neglected; then we just didn’t talk at all.

Then one rainy day in January six years ago, a high school classmate called me to say that Alice was in the hospital for a failed suicide attempt. She gulped muriatic acid and her mouth and esophagus were burned. It was soon discovered that her stomach were also burned from the lethal acid. Everybody thought she was going to die then.

We also learned that she was several months pregnant, the main reason for the suicide attempt.

That was what shocked me. I thought I knew her. She wasn’t the type of person who will end her life just because she’s pregnant and there will be no wedding because her fucker of a boyfriend turned out to be already married. Aside from being stupid, it was a cliché. We hated clichés.

I felt horrible. I was, after all that’s been said and done, her friend. I had no right to judge her and what she did. Even after realizing that, I was still pissed. Even as she lay in the hospital I didn’t want to visit, because I might have smacked her on the forehead saying “stupid” over and over. Then I might have just curled up and cried beside her.

She didn’t die immediately. She died after ten months of suffering. Of being bed-ridden, of being fed through tubes, of looking like a living skeleton. I hated her, I hated the guy, I hated everything that happened. Everybody asked me if I was going to the funeral. I said I didn’t have money to fly home. The truth was, I can’t. I can’t see her like that. Somehow I failed her.

I dream of her every now and then. Sometimes she’s very happy in the dream, we’re running through meadows and picking flowers; sometimes she just looks at me, very angry and not speaking. That jolts me awake.

This is for you, Alice. This might be six years too late, but it’s only now that I can say all these without something very much like guilt prickling my conscience. I hope you’re now at peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

No Judgment

One rainy evening I met Mother Hen for coffee. You know how you meet certain people for the first time and you just click? She’s really pretty too, with very nice cheekbones that I know would photograph well. She’s currently taping for a new soap opera for a major network, where she would play the bisaya yaya (stereotyping, I know). Her real life persona can’t be as far enough from the character she plays; she’s very intelligent and well-spoken, and you can’t tell she has three kids already.

Funny how people can easily judge others just from what they see, what they let the rest of the world see. I used to be so judgmental, and there was this girl in my class. She was always quiet, soft-spoken, she never laughs out loud, and was always neat. I used to think her family was one of those old rich hacienderos with hectares of sugarcane, and with sakadas working their land. I used to imagine that their house would be one of those two-storey war survivor mansions with capiz windows and a grand piano at the hallway. One day she invited us over for her birthday, so I went. To my surprise she and her family lived in a humble two-bedroom house, a house so old you can set it on fire with a matchstick.

Meanwhile this other girl, the loud-mouthed, lewd girl who knows a LOT of dirty jokes is the haciendera. Theirs was the house that survived the war, with the capiz windows and an ancient white grand piano in the hallway. She slept in an antique four-poster bed, and her bathtub had clawed feet. I couldn’t sleep in her room because her mother stored the statues of saints used for processions there, the life-sized ones. And also because there were other reflections in the mirror aside from mine.

From then on I try not to make first impressions stick, as much as possible I give people a second chance. If I’m not personally involved I let people be, it’s their life, their decisions. Live and let live, and I also expect people to treat me the same. Just because you read a blog, or other personal blogs of people you don’t personally know, you can't put labels.

This blog and what I write here doesn’t even make up the smallest fraction of who I really am. Until we’ve spent an entire evening telling each other our darkest secrets, trapped together in a country full of foreign faces and experienced every blunder there could be, ate suspicious street food with the risk of getting some exotic disease, we’ve bailed each other out from sticky situations, you either raised me in your home or you grew up with me in the same house – no, you can’t judge me, or my friends for that matter. The people I’ve been with through all these had every right to, yet they didn’t, and I hope they won’t.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Good: You’re in a hurry so you take the train.
Bad: Some schmuck is holding the line on the turnstile.
Ugly: The schmuck is you.

Good: The restaurant has background music.
Bad: The song is Itaktak Mo.
Ugly: You’re singing along.

Good: You learn that your deadline is moved.
Bad: It’s sooner.
Ugly: Like tomorrow.

Good: You meet a cutie.
Bad: He’s gay.
Ugly: He’s hitting on you.

Feel free to add your versions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm in Cloud Nine today. This entry, shortened and edited is published today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. You can view it online here.
You can recognize Hesika even if it's only a cartoon. You can see her brains from all the screaming.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Was in the Newspaper and I Was Wearing a Garbage Bag

Saturday morning, very early.

Raf: Ikaw ba yung nasa Inquirer, sa Pinatubo?
Me: (half-awake, very groggy) Huh? Wadapak?
Raf: Malabo actually.

The picture he's talking about. Stolen from Giff.

Yaya looked at it and asked where am I in the photo. I pointed, she nodded, and asked "Tatlo lang po kayong babae?"
"Hindi ah, mas madami ngang babae eh."
"Babae ba to?" She was pointing at Giff.
Giff, what should I tell her?

The original, all photos by the super magaling na Jill Lejano with a Horizon Drool Perfekt:

With the "crayer" as background:

At McDonald's for an early dinner:

The article was of course written by the wonderfully complicated Pam.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Universe May Not Be Fair, But It Likes Balance

I’m currently battling some very personal issues, which are not entirely foreign. Familiar as it is, I haven’t learned to banish it entirely. I may have been born with it; for all I know it’s deeply embedded in my DNA. I hate this trait of mine; that if it were only possible to surgically remove it from my person, I would have done it.

This trait is called Procrastination.

For as long as I can remember, I always put things off until it’s literally impossible to ignore them. I pretended I didn’t have to do it immediately, that anything could be done in a day. Of course that’s not true, and I have learned it the hard way countless times. At these times my other gift kicks in, that gift of quickly forgetting unpleasant things. So I forget that in the past my bad habit has exploded numerous times in my face.

It’s good for me to have deadlines, and to know that if I don’t meet them there will be hell to pay. I’m not a big fan of punishments; if you threaten to so much as tickle your bellybutton in front of me I would have given you my collection of magnets from around the world.

I may be a Procrastinator, but you should see me work when I’m under pressure. Normally, when faced with an emergency our minds tend to go into shock. We can’t remember anything. I’m the opposite. Under heavy pressure I remember everything; my adrenalin shoots up to my memory bank. In a fire my neighbor might be able to lift their refrigerator, while I would remember all the emergency numbers, and where I kept my important papers.

I also hardly ever panic – the one feeling I hate more than hate itself is the feeling of helplessness. My stand is if I’m not gagged, tied and duct-taped then there must be something I could do.

All I’m saying is I’m glad I have deadlines for this paper, because at least I can procrastinate in small amounts. When this is over I’ll throw a party.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Not All Holes Suck You In

I was hesitant to go on the Pinatubo trip because (i) I’m poor; (ii) I’m not in great shape; and (iii) I prefer to sleep on weekends. But someone egged me to go so I did. I was in panic mode the week before so I pushed myself to go to the gym and at least do some time on the cross trainer while snickering at the pseudo pole-dancing class. (Which Wabbit and I joined eventually, but we still snickered every time we caught our silly reflections on the mirror.)

I rarely climb mountains. The last time I did it was in Banawe/Sagada in 2003. I still remember those times I would suddenly look up and see how much more I have to climb, then I would ask myself what am I doing there catching my breath as though my heart would break out of my ribcage, when I could be at home half-conscious in front of the TV. Those times when I just want to cry from exhaustion, hunger, and the cold; but I just put one foot in front of the other because I had no choice but to walk. Last time I checked, no cabs ply the mountain route.

I can’t explain the rush climbers feel when they finally reach the summit. For me it’s as if I won something, proved something, or gave the mountain the finger; sort of like saying, “Yeah, I may be half dead, but I’m here. You may be tall, but I’m standing on top of you.” Although at some point on the way there I might have said something like “Fuck the summit. I wanna go home. I want my bed.”

To get to the crater we had to ride a 4x4, and that alone was an experience in itself. The ride was bumpy and dusty, and even if our heads were wrapped and swaddled I still got sand inside my mouth. There were parts where you’d think the vehicle would not make a three-foot drop, but it did. I resisted the urge to clap and say “Yey!” everytime it did that.

After a 45-minute ride on the mini-monster trucks, the long walk began. It was supposedly a two-hour walk but we made it three. The sun was cooperative somehow; the weather can’t seem to make up its mind whether to rain or shine. Sometimes it was so hot it was like walking inside an oven; other times a light drizzle would fall.

After a few minor mishaps (mostly involving a disgraced Holga) we finally made it to the water source. I drank water from a natural spring – no machines to purify it, just pure mountain water. It was so cold and refreshing everybody forgot that just 10 minutes before that we wanted to set up camp in the middle of nowhere.

Another 10-minute walk (or climb, because the last part was going up a rather steep flight of stairs where I could hear Giff’s razzing breath behind me like his lungs were about to spontaneously combust) and we finally saw this.

I actually said “Yey!” this time.

We set up camp and took pictures, shot some episodes of Gifaloo reporting for CNN Lahnden, and ate Pam’s baon. Everybody eagerly waited for dinner, and it was all worth the wait. It was the best meal I’ve had recently.

Of course there was drinking afterwards (disguised in the itinerary under “Socials”), and more than one person got sloshed. The King of Getting Drunk at the Worst Times was of course included (his name begins with G and ends with Iff), and for the first time in my life I took care of a drunk person. Never did I care for drunks, ex-boyfriends included. A lot of things happened with Giff at the spotlight, and he owes us more than one dinner for that.

I was glad I went. Hesika and Wabbit, you missed a lot. Including the chance to shout at a group of students shooting their stupid project with the most boring script very early in the morning. I hope they get pasang-awa grades.

Picture by Michelle.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Trip to the Hole

I don't know where to start about the the Pinatubo trip, but here's a video courtesy of Fifi:

It was a fun fun weekend, although we had to walk for 5 hours in total. Oh yeah, Pumbaa joined the fun too. I'll post my pics when my arms stop hurting.

Thanks to Jill, Pam, Fifi, Chri, Giff, Michelle, Rollie, Mark, Zoe, and Chill. Till next climb! Although if you guys are going to Pulag we're staying in Baguio.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lomomanila Exhibit at Mag:Net

Come one, come all! Bring your friends to the launch of LomoManila's latest exhibit at Mag:Net, Bonifacio High Street, Fort Bonifacio on 13 August at 8pm. Entrance is P150.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I am very very frustrated already. I know I am supposed to know things -- but the things I am asked, I don't have business knowing. My purpose here ends somewhere; there is a line, invisible yet real. Know that line.

If for some reason, the line is recognized but ignored, then be aware that for my part it will always be a screaming neon light of my personal limit. Hell will freeze over before I let my boundaries be crossed without my permission.