Sunday, March 31

Interesting article about the postponement of adulthood among foster kids.

I don't think this is a singular incident of a specified group. There are a lot of reasons why kids would rather defer entering the so-called real world of adults.
Somebody put together a Why it's so great to be a guy list. Personally, I still think it's better to be a girl, especially when you kick ass. You can still do all the guy things, like not changing your name after getting married -- if you choose to get married, at all -- and be call a feminist. If you're a guy and you depart from the macho guy ideal, they will call you a wimp.

also via sunny side up.
Ellen of sunny side up offers her own do's and don'ts about blogging:

4. Also, don't write anything that would be potentially libelous. While you are free to say whatever you want, you will still be held responsible for your statements.

5. In a related note, always be wary with revealing personal information over the Internet. Not everyone who has a computer and an Internet connection can be trusted. Especially in cases of personal blogs where the content revolves around the owner's daily routine, it will be very easy to create a stalker's profile. So beware.

6. Don't obsess about your blog. Don't make it your life. A blog can be a reflection of your life, yes, but it shouldn't be a substitute for your life.

And in relation to point no. 6, I also find this especially interesting, since I've just spent 3 whole days without going online:

9. Don't make blogging a chore, or feel obligated to update your site every hour.

True. Only blog when there's something to blog about. And for all the potential stalkers in the vein of "Every Breath You Take" out there, you don't know me. You can't know everything about me through my blog. I assume we all have lives that need updating aside from our blogs.

And on that note, happy easter everyone.
Here is Gloria Macapagal's Full Text Easter Message:
AS THE culminating point of the entire Christian ecclesiastical year, Easter in the most awesome of the mysteries of faith because of the profound truth it offers mankind: that after death there is resurrection; that after every trial and suffering there comes redemption; and that even as we carry the heavy crosses of life, there is rebirth awaiting at the journey's end.

"Let Easter resurrect in us the noblest virtues that will make us endure as a nation and as a people. These are the qualities of love for our neighbors, justice for every wrong, peace for the troubled, strength for the weak, help for the poor and needy, and unity to enable us to live and work together as brother Filipinos to all.

"On this glorious day of the Risen Christ, the blessings and joy of Easter to one and all."
Funny thing. When I first saw the headline, I thought Geeze, the President texted an Easter message? Text, as in SMS message. I became disoriented when I saw whole paragraphs of text, in full words, not the txtspeak I was expecting. This is what the digital age has turned us into. Single-finger typists.

Also, Mrs Arroyo was in Baguio over the weekend, creating a monster traffic jam in the downtown area. My friends and I considered following her around, to see if she would go around the ukay-ukay centers and have those raided, if she were true to her word about banning them. We would have settled to digging up old photos of her or any of her kin rummaging through the bargain bins. But since that would be too much work, and too much trouble, to hell with it.
I just want everyone to know that I am still alive and well and nearly got voted out from our Survivor Highlands game. But I am back. I arrived in Manila early morning and slept most of today. When I turned on the television, the Death of Rico Yan was the topic of every single talk show in the Philippines. We first learned about it via sms last Friday afternoon, and we thought it was a prank, and a very bad one. It was Good Friday and it was 3pm. The only thing missing from it was that maybe they would take it back and say that Rico Yan rose from the dead. The following day we checked out the newstands and yes, he was really dead. It's been several days, and I know that people really cared about him and his movies, and his family must still be in shock. But I can only take so much. I opted to turn it off, went to sleep, and later visited my friend Andrea, who is going to Japan.

Have a safe trip, Andrea. I will see you next month. Don't attempt to go skydiving. :)

Tuesday, March 26

Cynthia confirms: Eli Ely Buendia* has upped and left the Eraserheads. The Eheads was the band when I was in high school. I remember when we staged a mini-revolution against our high school principal, who didn't want us to apply. We stuffed ourselves into an FX and headed for [my] the university. Cutterpillow was playing on the stereo and we all sang along.

Some weeks ago, I was ranting to a friend that I felt so old when we came upon the Dekada 90s compilation albums in the record store. And now this. The 90s are so definitely over. Hm. Maybe I should rethink my day.

*Hm, spelt it wrongly. My fault. I was preoccupied with my Ang Dating Daan listening brother.
I am getting drunk on music this early in the day. Listening to The New Pornographers' "Descent into Alcoholism."

[ via dooce ]
Good morning everyone. Just got up a while ago. And for the first time in weeks, I feel less harrassed and stressed even though I stayed up quite late having a pseudo-conversation with a friend. (Scroll below if you want to find out who it was.)

It looks like a bright day, and I am hoping I will finally get my arse moving and writing. I have to finish the script today if I want to join Astrid and my friends in Baguio tomorrow. Thanks for the wake up call, girl.
My friend Marge, who is doing her paper on television and advertising, pointed me to this site: What's the story pinoy tv?

Interesting articles about the history of Philippine television, from the pioneering days to the post Edsa era. The site is the multimedia version of the thesis of two girls from the UP College of Mass Communications in Diliman. They also maintain a blog which contains reviews and citations about the latest in television goings on.

Monday, March 25

Can Asians think?

I wouldn't know. I am preoccupied with lots of stuff right now. I hate it when I cannot process my thoughts accordingly. Do you have an opinion? I would like to borrow some. Nah.
The Oscars took a huge chunk of my day today. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won the top awards, as did A Beatiful Mind. The only correct thing I predicted was that the Academy wouldn't give top awards to musicals and comedy. Moulin Rouge redefined the musical for today, and Renee Zellwegger was okay. But they didn't cut it.

Funny bits with the hobbit vs. wizard thing featuring Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.

Hey Mark, I also loved Monsters Inc. But I think Shrek really kicks ass. You know, fairy tale deconstruction and all. Hehe.

And yes, the quintessential New Yorker introduced the film tribute to New York City. Woody Allen is a genius. I think I already told you that.

Sunday, March 24

This is weird: I am playing Cythia Alexander's Insomnia & Other Lullabyes but my player reads the CD as Rippingyarns. Hm.

Really busy weekend. I went to Glorietta to pick up my aunt, and guess who was strolling outside the coffee shop? Madame Imelda with her yaya and her body guards. She stopped to smell the flowers.
Just came from meeting with my old blockmates. Jol is one creepy dude.

Friday, March 22

I have come full circle with my very first job.

The wall beside my bed is littered with posters from a bygone era. The red on black of the "No Exit" production by the college-based theater laboratory was a leftover from a semester spent foraging the stacks for Camus, when my favorite couple was Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Above it is a collage of small movie posters a friend gave to me on my birthday: Manhattan splayed beside Dances With Wolves, the sensuous red lips of the girl from L'amant contrasting with the splash of water by the freed whale. Three red X's announced the premiere of several experimental short films done over that summer. If you listen attentively to the closing credits of one of them, about a teacher who gets lost on her way to class, you would be able to hear my voice ranting about the absolute uselessness of rote memorization as a teaching tool. A black and white rendition of a guy in a Bjork-esque pose, a swan dangling from his languid neck, guiltily purchased from a sidewalk vendor at the height of severe infatuation. Still another beckons me to go to France, with a note beneath that reminded me of daisy chains for my foreign language class: "Elle m'aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionement, a la folie, pas du tout..."

During the times when I found it difficult to write, I plastered the whole wall with paper. There I would chart plots and character connections, or conjugations of verbs as irregular and difficult as a love object's fluctuating affection. Arguments and staccato lines of poetry screamed from the wall in huge handwriting, done with markers and sometimes even crayons. I posted class requirements and deadlines beside the light switch as reminders for myself. I usually took them down after everything's been done and crossed off. But one of the last posts remained there, two years after I needed them.

My schedule for the third week of March 2000 had me completely occupied. The last power point presentation for my STS class was due on Mon, 20 Mar. For Friday, 24 Mar, an exam on Marx and feminism for my critical theory class (under Mr Reeves. He has all the need for speed), final papers on deconstruction and popular culture, and the novel as a talking cure for former activists who are presumably guilty for selling out.

Wednesday, 22 March. I got my lunch money by serving as a proctor for the Comm II departmental exams. Revisions for essay class were due. And after that, I was to head for the Starbucks branch in Tomas Morato, to meet with the guy who would eventually be my headwriter and very first boss. I wasn't familiar with the landscape of the Timog-Morato area then. I was prone to getting lost, so I had directions written down for me. Directions allow you to have concrete objectives. Take the Cubao Arayat jeep. When you reach the scouts memorial, turn left on the first street. Get off the jeep and haul your carcass into the coffee shop.

When I finally got there and sat across the little table from him, it was just like meeting up with a friend for coffee. He explained to me how the show worked, that I had to tag along with the researchers so I could ask questions I would need to get the whole story. I learned about ENGs and soundbites and how many commercials are there to fill the gap. So would I like to do it?

I met the whole production later that same night. It was funny because I never thought of it as a job interview, because it didn't fit into my concept of a job interview. I didn't even have a resume with me. Then suddenly there was this guy who was basically offering me a job based on a diagnostic exam, a sample work and an interview I did for a writing workshop. It wasn't until the workshop was over when I finally met him. It would be much much later I would learn why he hired me. He thought that I had potential, that I could write. At a time that I wasn't even convinced of what I could do, his trust and generosity were the nicest things anyone ever said to me in my life.

There was so much to learn in those first few months. My first research trip was about a three-year-old girl who was found raped and murdered. The researchers I was with were also new guys fresh out of college, and none of us was ready for the rawness of the misery and poverty so many people out there had to live with. Every new case presented a challenge, and we would constantly be in a tug-of-war between responsibility and creative freedom. We were working with real people, with their own lives caught on video. Real life tended to be boring, and how to present an interesting drama vis-a-vis the reality lay heavily on our shoulders. How much creativity were we really allowed? How much freedom can we allow ourselves to have?

I would spend two years with this group. One of the writers remarked that the show really was a training ground for so many of us. The show marked a lot of firsts for all of us. It was Abi's first time to have a regular show on television. Abet went from segment producer - researcher to writing. Norj shifted to production after doing news and public affairs. Eboy and Omar first got sent to slums, and faced a hotel room full of Abu Sayyaf when the Mindanao hostage crisis first broke out. I would get dragged up mountains and caves, meet rapists and supernatural beings, real life heroes. We learned how to deal with people, get accused for a lot of things, defend ourselves for all the right and wrong reasons. We adjusted to network demands, wrote advertising copies. We survived several reformats and tried to do the right thing, but economic forces prevailed.

We first had a taste of it six months ago, on the same night of 9/11. At the time, our own personal hell seemed inconsequential compared to what other people were suffering with. When we were informed that the show had reached its last stop, that we would just finish the summer season, somehow we knew that it was coming. We should have been more prepared to over the Kubler-Ross cycle all over again, but this was a different loss.

The creative team of writers and researchers was one happy bunch. We went about our jobs with eagerness to do our best, and our headwriter pulled all stops so we could be assured that there were no rifts or any such business. The show rated well, and as far as we were concerned, we were all doing okay. But perhaps we had too much fun, perhaps we had been too insulated from the real world of network economics. Perhaps we didn't consider that the show wouldn't be around forever.

The announcement was made. There would be other shows. But nothing would replace the sort of camaraderie and team spirit we all shared. We would move on and work with different people, and it would never be the same.

I also found it strange how we spend our lives going around in circles. I joined the show 22 March 2000 and the formal announcement came 22 March 2002. I would write the last script slated for airing, Kasangga Episode # 117. I began writing for Click, which would now be my regular show, with Episode # 117. The end is the beginning is the end.

I will have to take down those posters soon. I have somehow outgrown their use, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to either tear the wall down or replace the posters. I have come full circle.
The results of UPCAT are now viewable on pdf via inq7.
Dating tips for the nonblog enthusiast: Ask your date if s/he has a weblog. Otherwise, risk reading all about you in the internet.

[ found via metafilter ]

Thursday, March 21

Newsweek has a feature on the growing phenomenon of "adultolescents" -- twentysomethings who still live at home with their parents and get an allowance to boot. I live at home with my mom, but we split the bill for almost everything and then some. Do I qualify? I think in this situation, it's more a practicality to stay at home than move out. Or else I pay double the bills of everything. The house of my own will have to figure in the future, when all responsibilites are done. Cult of the firstborn for you. Fair deal?
Chris peers through the looking glass, and lo and behold, the future of blogwhoring:
It is only a matter of time until Hollywood starts regularly hiring hundreds of blogtemps to fire up new weblogs, post furiously and praise to the skies the latest piece of crap opus by Jerry Bruckheimer or some other purveyor of soul-destroying cinematic garbage, interlink to themselves and a few 'a-listers', start offering large cash incentives to Kottke and Rageboy and other high-traffic blognodes to link back to the rent-a-bloggers, and watch the Google rank for their new Product soar? Or record companies to promote their wares? Or governments?

Are recent, highly-successful experiments in spiking the GooglePunch like the recent one by Matt Haughey the tip of the iceberg? How soon before big business catches on, before the Office of Strategic Mind Control realizes the subtle power (if they haven't already) of the interconnectedness of blogs and begins working blogspace like the infopimps they strive to be? Before this 'place', too, becomes branded and corporatized?

(Forget the stone-knives-and-bearskins, bandwidth-wasting crudity of banner ads - savvy marketers will work the medium, pimp the actual hyperlinks, and tickle Google till it quivers, moans, and page-ranks, gratefully. Linkwhoring could become a serious business. Perhaps we could form a mafia, a Blogga Nostra, and skim a little of that corporate cream off the top, broker linkage deals, extort flame-protection money.)

Wednesday, March 20

Diane wants to be your mirror. She has put up a referrers log on her blog, as a kind of affirmation of her/our blogging existence: "I can't tell what's more titillating: knowing who visits, or knowing that they know that I know...."
Movie Poster madness at kantogirl today!

I got posters for Dogma, Nurse Betty, and Fight Club. The latter is one of my all-time favorite movies, ever. It's got mischief, mayhem, soap! Edward Norton! The poster I have is the one where Brad Pitt has a cig hanging from a corner of his mouth, and Ed's mouth contorts into a grimace. I am hanging it on the wall at the foot of my bed so I will see them every morning when I wake up. Hehe.
"20 things. 20 people. 20 days." Sounds like a tagline for uhm, a really lewd movie starring Josh Hartnett and Anne Heche? Twenty things goes live. Go, now, go.

Tuesday, March 19

I am only beginning to regain my faculties now. I stayed out quite late -- early in the morning, actually. I joined the wellwishers of a dear teacher, mentor and friend. His filmography includes staples of Philippine cinematic genius: Himala, Brutal, Karnal, and the postmodernist ouvre Luvtext.* Happy birthday, Ricky!

You may disagree with all this, of course. Vive le difference!

*I also realize now that this reads like I simply quoted my friend's greeting in her blog. Must be osmosis or something.
Dooce on bootylicious plastic premarital sex:
I remember the first time I undressed Malibu Barbie and made her sleep with Donny Osmond Barbie. I never owned a proper Ken doll, and although I knew Malibu Barbie would never have chosen to sleep with Donny, the supreme virginal archetype of all Mormondom, I didn't have many options.

Surprisingly, it never even occurred to me that Malibu Barbie could sleep with another girl Barbie and have fantastic plastic lesbian sex. But I was only eight years old, and girls my age had nothing comparable to a Britney Spears Barbie. Had I owned a Britney Spears Barbie, all of my other Barbies would have been lesbian Barbies.
"Thou jests at scars that never felt a wound."

I see that Entrails Reader has posted his views as well. Eloquence and restraint, dear fellow. We don't want ad hominem arguments flying in cyberspace. I usually don't make much of online posts, we all have free speech. But if a friend (and who doesn't have a blog so he cannot blog back) is maligned, I will stand up for him. It's just that this topic has been building up for weeks. I had an exchange with an online friend regarding this "Education is not for everyall," thing a couple of weeks past.

Monday, March 18

Do you really know this boy?

Do you know this boy? I would rather you call him Nathan, rather than “F,” which somehow connotes the last in the rung, below the A pluses and the Ds.

His fifteen minutes came with the delivery of The Speech at the college commencement two summers ago. I heard all the words that might be “trite” for some, but it rang true for me and a lot of other people who stopped by to listen, who paused from their lives to read the forwarded e-mail that has become inbox fodder the equivalent of “wear sunscreen.”

I stood way back at the Hardin ng mga Diwata. I came there as spectator, not as participant, although I was supposed to be with them. In fact I did not want to come, I did not want to be reminded that I made the grades. But because of some professor’s whim I was barred from graduating. Four years of work eradicated in five seconds of a local god's whim.

Life was unfair, but I still attended the ceremonies. Because my friends were there, and perhaps because I wanted to wallow in the bitterness and irony of it. So when I heard The Speech, before it became e-mail fodder and media material, I recognized the pain that must have come from having to share with everyone the cruelty of living in a world indifferent to poverty. There was truth in that speech, and it was a reality that I knew only too well.

My greatest angst while in college, and even now, was that there are people who coasted through life relatively unencumbered. When I came to UP, I first thought that it was a school for the smart and for the poor. I believed in socialized tuition because it made it possible for me to acquire a university education. That was the reputation the university had. My high school history teacher fostered a discussion oriented class, because she said “that is how class discussions are held in UP. If you want to go there, you better be able to argue your way through Greek classical history.”

It was an ideal that might have been true in another time, when students were more concerned about learning, when teachers actually gave a damn about teaching. But in the university I came to know, most of the iskos and iskas came to class with nary a clue about what was to be discussed. They bluffed their way through class whenever they could. For people whose majors required a lot of reading, not too many of them actually bothered to pick up the books. Their lives revolved around much more mundane concerns like acquiring the newest Gucci bag design, or discussing the Celebrity Deathmatch.

All of these could be fun and satisfying, if all you are interested in is fluff. It could even actually pass for a valid existence if you didn’t have to worry about how to get to school the next day, or if your mother earned enough to have food set on the table. It infuriated me that most of the people around me in college walked around in a daze, feigning boredom and angst, their greatest problem was how to get around the dorm curfew because they wanted to attend the Elvis is dead concert. It infuriated me that while I worked hard to make good in my classes, these kids could slack off, drop a subject here and there. They could afford to, I couldn’t. I had to finish my education in the four years allotted to me, because that was how the world worked. There was no excuse.

It therefore made sense that I avoided hanging out with people like these. I figured that surely, not everyone is a dazed and rich brat. There would be other people who would know how life was like for those who had to endure two-hour commutes. There would be kids who could discuss Foucault and Derrida and actually know what postcoloniality meant, and they wouldn’t be just calling a bluff either.

Nathan was one of them. He worked harder than most of us, his determination was much more grim. If I were in a rut, his was a deeper quagmire. He was also definitely a smart, smart guy. If he had a GPA of 1.32 and graduated magna cum laude, it shouldn’t take you by surprise. The fifteen minutes generated by The Speech wasn’t just a self-congratulatory “look at me, I'm poor and I've made something of myself, hurrah hurrah." Because while the university champions itself as the “University of the Poor,” the reality is that most of its students are now upper, middle, lower middle class. Those poorer than that cannot afford to go to the premiere state university, they attend the lesser known, less privileged and much maligned State Us, like the one I attended in high school.

The boy behind The Speech didn’t ask for the media mileage. The university administration took it, propped it up for all the world to see, and used it as a defense against the budget cut. “See, not everyone in this university is concerned about parking and bandwidth. This boy persisted, and look at him now.” The media glossed over the untidy details, the boy with the speech became a manipulated image, a Poster Boy for the “Ayokong maging dukha” persuasion.

Should we blame him then for the image and the mirage that resulted from The Speech? The situation is two-pronged. I wouldn’t label it anti-poor. It was neither a crutch nor an excuse.

I also have other thoughts about all this, but the one that bothers me the most is the accusation that even the source material for the image was a fraud. Did Nathan – he deserves to have a name, and not a single dismissively assigned letter – take the easy way out? Was he really fond of “soft touches?”

I don’t think so. If I knew Nathan at all, I would say that he stood by his principles. I respect his decisions. Coasting by easily was never in his character, in the whole time that I came to know him. There were faulty professors to be had, and sometimes could not be avoided, because they were the only ones teaching the required class. But to base a whole academic career on soft touches is just not possible. The best class we had together was taught by an iron fisted woman whose biceps seem to have been shaped by lifting pyramids. She challenged us with all the theories, made the Lake District Poets a political discourse, and much much more. She kicked intellectual ass, and we felt like we earned every single point of the grade she gave us.

One should never rely on the gossip mill. Tidbits gathered from that may be amusing or interesting, but should be taken with grains of salt.

I also found it strange that people can exist in a common time and place and yet not have each other’s lives intersect, not even once in all the four, five, six to seven years we all spent in Diliman. To belong in the same university, in the same college, same department and course major, and not know. The only explanation I can think of for this is that we must live in parallel worlds which neither connect or intersect. Or that we have somehow acquired the powers of invisibility. You only see what your eyes want to see. We share the same time and place, but move in different circles.

"I have walked among you, but lost in anonimity." How many times have we passed other people in the hallways, perhaps sat a few chairs from them in class every day for several years, and still not recognize them should they approach you? Indifference does that.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is online. Apparently, the motivation for launching a website -- bannered "Armed For Peace," has got more to do with engaging the MILF on an online warfare than letting the people of the Philippines and the universe know that they exist. According to the head of the AFP's Civil Relations Service, the website was launched "in response to the MILF's intensified propaganda on the information superhighway.

It would be interesting to know how this online warfare would proceed. The AFP site has news updates on the Balikatan exercises, of course, tilted in their favor. Meanwhile,'s banner proclaims a "Discover Islam and Christianity" approach. They have articles like "Understanding Bangsamoro Independence as a mode of Self-Determination." Very academic, yes? So which one is the real propaganda? Will they have message boards and flame each other to death? Will they have a hits boasting battle? "Our site got more hits this week! We're gonna convince more people to join our jihad! Nyar, nyar, nyar!"
I noticed it just a while ago: Blogger ate my shameless self-promotion plug for last Saturday. Anyhow, it should have read:

“What if you found out your Dad is gay? That and other concerns on this Saturday’s episode of Click, 4-5.30pm, GMA-7.”

Blah. Blah. Blah. That episode was written yours truly (madly & deeply), and served as my debut into the world of teen drama. So do watch out for future self-promoting posts, especially when we launch the new batch of kids for Click v.2 right before the Holy Week vacation starts. And no, I am not leaving the crime show just yet. Just consider it an economic expansion program.
The New Yorker has an interesting piece on fashion rebellion and the artificiality of creating the elements of cool among Japanese youth.
In Japan, however, all the skill goes into engineering the scarcity: designers produce only limited editions of T-shirts or jackets, items of the sort that can be easily mass-produced. This means that shopping in Tokyo feels a little like a bizarre parody of grocery shopping in Soviet Russia: you might want to buy a bunch of bananas, but the only thing for sale is pickled cabbage. At the Bathing Ape store just off Takeshita Street, where T-shirts are displayed like prints in an art gallery, sandwiched between sheets of clear plastic, half the display cases are empty, since the company might produce only five hundred of any particular T-shirt design. At certain popular stores, like Silas & Maria, a British skatewear brand, would-be shoppers are required to wait in orderly file in the street, as if they were on a bread line, before being permitted, twenty or so at a time, to rush in and scour the sparsely stocked shelves for any new merchandise. The next twenty customers aren't allowed in until the last of the previous group has left and meticulous sales assistants have restored the shelves and racks to their unmolested condition. The whole cycle can take half an hour or more. This is what Japanese teen-agers do for fun.
The article also attempts to understand certain trends and the psychology behind them. For girls, you can either be a kawaii, cuteness in the form of bears and pigtails and schoolgirl charm; or borrow the ethnicity of the Strong Black Woman; or be a goth of the Asian variety, the Mountain Witch. But these are all poses with one thing in common: the pandering to the men’s rorikon, a loose transliteration of the “Lolita complex.” So whatever fashion reincarnation a girl assumes, she still is the object of a guy’s gaze.

Sunday, March 17

Spent the afternoon with my family and visiting relatives. Of course there would be lots of food. I especially liked the fresh lumpia and the pininyahang manok (chicken with pineapple). Later we all had ice cream. I don't know why but I really cannot stand ube and macapuno ice cream, or halohalo. I like chocolate though. Bah. This is the second week we've done this, and one more weekend to go before my aunt and uncle leave for their home in the south of France.

After lunch and the rapid fire kuwentuhan about more relatives whom I do not know or can barely recall, out came the microphone and the karaoke tapes, and singing ensues. We must be the karaoke capital of the world, the way everyone in this country practically sings. After most of my aunts have taken over the Frank Sinatra and other staples category, I knew they would pass on the mic. I dreaded that. They asked me to pick a song to sing, and another cousin handed me CDs from which I could select something. I browsed them, then put them back on the table, and then excused myself. I told them I was going to wait for my mom downstairs. Then my mom arrived and we went up again and more singing. Then I slinked back to where my brother and cousin were playing The Sims.

You cannot make me sing now, unless I choose to torture you. I'm not going to sing. Not. Never. So totally ungracious, yes. But I believe that if you cannot sing well, then do not sing at all. In grade school, our music class requires us to sing one song during exam week. My mother is the only one convinced that I can sing, and I was coerced to practice and sing (ugh) "Memory." You know, that song from Cats. The next thing I knew, I was in front of several hundred people doing Whitney Houston covers. Not bad. Until you get to be asked to sing in front of every visitor that arrives at your house. Then I discovered that I have the right not to sing if I don't want to. I chose to exercise those rights. Hehe. I still shrink back from the trauma. But of course, if you ask my mother, she would tell you a different story altogether.

Saturday, March 16

I am so very very tired. I would love to tell you something, but it will have to wait for tomorrow. Stories about getting lost and found coming soon.
What is life but a series of bottled-up angst moments? You might disagree, it doesn't make sense, and nobody's posting much just yet. Not right now anyway. But we will get there. I promise.

Thursday, March 14

According to Humans For Sale, I am worth exactly: $2,275,202.00. Buy me.
Introducing the new, improved, and very politically correct Kama Sutra. You know you want it in your shelves. [ via weblog wannabe ]

Also today: Monkey moves cursor by thinking! Can "Erap exonerated" be far behind?
If you have to go, to whom do you bequeath your blog? Hm. I have to think about that. Should we have tombstones for blogs? Have it frozen somewhere, give it Lucid Dreams? Then we can all scream "Tech Support!" and sing Good Vibrations. Hehe. Couldn't resist. [ via the drinking, thinking wandering Canuck ]
I am Lady Lazarus, by way of the Vicious Circle. Not bad, considering I spent a good part of college hanging out between the shelves of the Main Lib. I try not to insert my head in the oven. Besides, our oven hasn't been used in years. Look at all those cobwebs. A pretentious online test via Dementia, who must be very very bored by now.
The Commission on Elections has recommended the disqualification of incumbent Manila Mayor Lito Atienza for violations of the Omnibus Election Code. They even issued a laundry list of his alleged vote-buying activities, with tabs from restaurant dinners for baranggay and SK councilors, leadership seminars, the works. My question is, should his tenure as mayor be declared as void, will it undo all the things he did to my city? I don't think you can bring the Jai-Alai building back, or disintegrate the SM Manila City Mall, er, Hall. And isn't this pronouncement a bit too late? If they're going to do anything about this, better do it now. Or will they wait until there are ten days left before the next elections?

Wednesday, March 13

A recently released British medical report details the product placement efforts of tobacco companies in the 80s film scene. So that little packet of cigs your favorite actor casually put in his jacket pocket was paid for, loud and clear. They also gave out free cigs to anyone who mattered, or was at least, "in the scene."

More smoking stuff: Anti-smoking activists lobby for no smoking onscreen, or they slap you with NC-17 ratings. As for me, just don't smoke when I'm around. That's hell on the hair, especially after you spent the better half of an hour shampooing and conditioning your hair. Get your cigs away from me, you chimney. This one via metafilter.
"Kissing Jessica Stein" is sort of like dating for neurotic New Yorkers, by way of Woody Allen, only that it features girls. Still Jewish, with the panache for quirky dialogue. But then again, nobody does the neurotic Jewish New Yorker bit better than Mr. Allen, whom I would marry, had he been a bit younger. Btw, he also plays in a band!

Monday, March 11

From "Strange Beds" by Janelle Brown:
The bed is the most intimate piece of furniture in a home – the daily imprint of a body and its scent never quite disappears, no matter how often the sheets are washed. We mark our territory on our bedding with strands of hair stuck to the comforter, drool on the pillowcase, sticky films from unwashed bodies.
[ Fiction via fray ]

You are Lestat. The Brat Prince of Vampires. You're great and you know it.

Find your inner vampire.

Sunday, March 10

Now this is weird: somebody arrived at this blog by searching carlos+agassi+gay. People, have you no lives?
Apparently, somebody found this blog by typing in crush+ng+bayan via google. I don't know why you should bother looking for a crush ng bayan in this blog. Other popular searches include movie reviews for Bagong Buwan (you won't find it here) and discussions of Ronald McDonald as a cultural icon. Hm, I would appreciate it though if you'd find this by typing blog+ng+bayan. Come on, type it in. Blog ng bayan. It's an alliteration.
I am fortune's fool!

Baz Luhrmann isn't helping. Watching his movies and listening to the music is usually fun, and I especially like that Young Hearts Run Free ballroom version. But I feel like an axe is buried in my skull, the noise is killing me, and I realize that frenetic and whacko editing doesn't necessarily help, it aleviates the pain. I would like to watch something a little bit more fun and light. I take one look at the rack and I have no bubble gum pop, camp or lighthearted comedies. I think I'm going to the Shang, to watch more of those whacked Japanese comedies. I saw "Uneasy Encounters" with my friends last night. Five episodes of strangers meeting and its bizarre consequences. I definitely don't want to be stuck in an elevator with a crazy woman, and be careful when you take public transport. You should try to watch.

I can't stand this anymore. Hey, anyone out there who wants to come along? Email me. Yell. Contact me via telepathy.
"Please, by now you should be sick of me."

Just turned on the radio, and Twisted On Sunday is on its last broadcast. Weird, I remember spending whole afternoons at home, and I was in high school then. Actually, I just finished with high school and I was working on the yearbook and all. My friend Walter and I were convinced we were stuck in midlife crisis. We would head for the nearest donut shop and down cups of bad brewed coffee and discuss Beckett and nihilism. At sixteen. Which means that life ends sometime after thirty-five. At that point in our lives, Twisted was funny and ironic and sarcastic.

I consider this a solid measure of how people change. I don't read the column anymore, I still have some of the books, I still hang out with Wally now and then. But things cannot be more different than now. I will always think of the show as background music to remember adolescent summers by. It was fun while it lasted, even though we were both a bit whacked.

Saturday, March 9

So Ate Glo declared Judge Davide as "the Filipino for all Seasons." And Lia says: Paano na si Ate Vi?

Hahahahaha. Gosh, I haven't laughed that hard in a long while. Madame President is catching up, eh. But my all time favorite quotable celebrity is still Melanie Marquez.

Have you seen that plug where the President pleads for our support: "Mahirap ang trabaho ng Presidente ng Pilipinas. Paggising sa umaga, pagtilaok ng manok, pagkatapos ng dasal, diretso na sa trabaho...Tulungan po ninyo ako."

Those aren't the exact words, as I seriously can't stand watching it. But, what the freak? So is that the latest in governance styles -- if you can't make them take you seriously, plead, beg, role over and die! We have a serious lack in authority points here.

Friday, March 8

Sometimes we all need a daily dose. Of what? Ask Kianna.
Philosopher John Zerzan on the Imperialism of Everyday Life:
We live in a culture of increasing emptiness; there is a vacuum at the heart of our empire. Epidemics of illegal drugs succeed one another, while tens of millions, including children as young as two, need antidepressants to get through the day. A great hunger exists for anesthesia in the face of emotional devastation and loss. Everyone knows that something is missing, that meaning and value are steadily being leached out of daily life, along with its very texture.

The empire is global. There is nowhere to go to escape its corrosive barrenness. A global unity of alienness, of disorientation and disconnection, destined to resemble a mall or an airport. People now dress alike in every major city in the world. They drink Coca-Cola, and watch many of the same TV shows.

The empire's landscape of unreality and routinization grows steadily more pathological. Damage to nature and violence to the psyche compete in a postmodern culture of denial, punctuated by eruptions of the homicidal at work, at home, at school. We can expect to hear more and more alarm bells that will wake us altogether. Peaceful slumber is unthinkable.
And our response is to make ourselves generic clones of each other. Or to walk into a crowded area and just point and shoot. We live in the age of instant coffee, instant noodles, instant gratification. We try to assure ourselves that we are unique, we are rebels, and then we take a walk inside our shoe-box malls and meet other rebels like us, garbed in the same assembly-line manufactured clothing. We pause, and console ourselves that we are still unique. We know better. But we cannot confirm the denial.

[ via follow me here ]
Today we are observing International Women's Day.

The UP Film Center is holding a film festival in connection with the celebration. The festival usually features works by women directors or films with the plight and celebration of womanhood at its center. Included in this year's lineup are two films by Lina Wertmuller.

Marge and I managed to catch last Wednesday's screening of Ciao, Professore! (Or, Io speriamo che me la cavo) Initially, we planned to watch the 3pm matinee of Eve Ensler's TVM, the Filipino version. But when I arrived at the Dalisay Aldaba Hall, the place was swamped with people waiting for tickets. The performances were all sold out. I had a late lunch at the Chocolate Kiss and we thought up of things to do for the afternoon. A movie at the mall is out of the question: she had a class at 530pm and I had a story conference later in the evening. There's just no way to beat the afternoon rush and still make our appointments. So we decided to check out the festival across the street.

Ciao, Professore's premise is open and shut: A northern Italian teacher gets dumped in the southern Italian town of Corzano because of a bureaucratic mistake. The professor wanted to teach in Corsano, but he ended up in a Mafiosi hell hole. None of the kids attend school, their work and family responsibilities come first. Part of the movie plays out like Cosby's Kids Say the Darndest Things. All the witticism and badass vulgarities you wouldn't expect from eight year olds are there as a matter of course. The professor wanted to make a difference in the few weeks he's going to spend in the place. Cultural differences ensue, lots of humor. Then the professor's transfer is approved, and he leaves just when things are beginning to turn for the better.

It also doesn't let you forget what the festival is for: There is a scene in the film where the professor and his class celebrate Women's Day. They have this little party, and he gives out bouquets of mimosas to the girls under his charge.

Corzano and the North-South cultural odds remind me of our own differences in culture. Pride gets in the way. Language gets in the way. The kids attend this school called De Amicis, pronounced De AMicis. The professor corrects them: you're supposed to pronounce it De aMIcis. The locals shout back, "How dare you tell us how to speak our own language. You don't live here, you're just passing through and you expect us to absorb your 'superior' Northern notions."

It's like that girl in the mountain village we went to. She was a rape victim. She didn't want to speak with us because we were lowlanders, Manilenyos. From their experience, all the Tagalogs they dealt with previously cheated them and treated them like rags. We come along, not speaking a word of their language, requiring an interpreter, and we ask them to share with us their stories. So we must be like everyone else who went there. For them, we are proud lowlanders there to take advantage, to loot and pillage. There is no trust. We have no commonality.

Finally, we get through the barriers of language and pride because of the sameness of our sex. Our interpreter, a girl who works for the mayor's office, convinced the girl that she would be telling her story to another girl, meaning me. And presumably being a girl, and close enough to her age, I would understand her plight. We settled there on the floor of her hut, just the three of us, the camera whirring soundlessly, recording our "girl talk."
I am using up prepaid phone card loads faster than ever. I dialed my friend's number this morning and the operator said I didn't have enough credit to make the call. Say freaking what? I just loaded my phone at the airport last Monday. Apparently, calling people up to say goodnight and trying to find each other around the campus can set you back that much. And somebody has to bloody explain why Bulacan is already considered long distance. It's just off the highway some miles after SM North, you freaking corporate machines.

This is harder than I thought. Just to be able to see each other requires inter-city daredeviltry and knowledge of planetary alignments. Or at least an alternate venue for creating a commonality which is accessible via Edsa. Edsa is the center of our solar system, and we approach center from opposing poles. All routes digressing from it is uncharted territory for the geographically challenged. It is also hell for those who find multi-level parking lots a biohazard and for those drive around the city with their shoes off.

Mi casa, su casa. Your hell is my hell. Thus I will also be confined to horizontal open-air parking lots and riding in cars without shoes. I will sit quietly while you negotiate with that traffic enforcer on why we ran past the traffic light. That wasn't red, it's fuschia. I will try not to laugh, as we pretend to be color-blind.

Thursday, March 7

What I'll be reading in the next couple of weeks: Whitley Strieber's The Hunger and Michael Tolkin's The Player. Both books also have film versions. Tony Scott's take on the vampire life features the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon, plus David Bowie as an aging sucker. Heh. Meanwhile, Robert Altman's The Player has one of the longest opening scenes without a cut (or what we call here a "tuhog"). The eight minute introduction to the players of the Hollywood business was an homage to Hitchcock's Rope.

Vampires and the entertainment business. Not totally unrelated, and not too far from my previous reading material. I finished this book in the week I was away, and read it sporadically in between interviews, meals, treks to the mountain, and one afternoon in a coffee shop. It was a slim volume, and I've browsed it before, and even included it in my thesis a year ago. I hope the new books won't end up on the browsed but unfinished pile. Wishful thinking.
Since I got back from Dumaguete, the one comment I always get is that I gained weight. They didn't ask if I gained weight, they told me. Twice in the same afternoon. Marge paused from her rambling and took a good look at me. "I would have thought it's just your shirt, but when I saw you last week you weren't like that." Now I've always been skinny, not a waif, but I just never managed to put on pounds even if I ate everything in sight. I still want to be able to eat, I've never had to diet, daggumit. That's it, I need to get back to Jessel-size.
I live under a rock. If I didn't read about the panicking Japanese university employee asking Belle about the welfare of their exchange students here, I wouldn't even know that 12 people died in an earthquake in Mindanao. And I had to learn about it in a blog.
I felt like watching a really insipid, thoughtless film this afternoon and Not Another Teen Movie was it. There really is no solid plot: it's just an endless parade of gags and a really long game of Guess Which Teen Movie We Ripped This From. All the actors remind you of somebody else, because they're there basically to impersonate people from teen movies. The popular jock guy Jake Wyler looks like Freddie Prinze Jr, and the Rebellious Unique Girl Who Wants to Date the Popular Boy is a cross between Julia Stiles and Rachel Leigh Cook. They study in John Hughes High School, their athletics team is called the Wasps ("We have a huge Pride"), and they eat lunch in Anthony Michael Dining Hall. Of course the whole John Hughes ouvre is quoted largely, and even Molly Ringwald berates the lead characters.

The film doesn't attempt or even try to pass itself off as trying to understand the whole psychology of adolescence according to John Hughes. There is no pain in growing up, there is only humiliation, and pity the poor you if you happened to be on the wrong side of the popularity line. But then again, I'm not about to expect much from a film whose working title was "Ten Things I Hate About Clueless Road Trips When I Can't Hardly Wait To Be Kissed".
I have here in front of me the first LMAO which actually made it through the chaos of our postal service. I signed up for it eons ago, and it's way down the line of the other art projects which I wanted to take part of. I'm the sixth person to have it, seven months after Athos first sent it out. Je cherche un jardin francais. The journal is hard bound, with swatches of fabric and magazine texts in french forming a collage on the cover. I can't wait to read what the others have written, and this means I also have to think of something to write about.

Strange coincidence: I really had no idea what was in the package. I haven't received anything from nervousness in a long while now, and I've just about given up since none of the LMAOs ever showed up. Then just minutes before I got to the post office, I got a call from my aunt who just arrived from France. She and my uncle will come visit us tomorrow.

Monday, March 4

Everything I need to know, I learned from anime. Via Brownpau.
Yay, I'm back home. There was a slight drizzle while we were waiting at the airport. There are only two flights going in and out of Dumaguete: one via AirPhil and via Cebu Pacifi, which we took. Had it been a heavier rainfall, our flight might have been cancelled again. We were considering taking the boat to Cebu and drive four hours to get to Mactan. Luckily, there was no need for that.

How shall we celebrate this homecoming? Care for some "Entrecôte à la bordelaise?" Tastes like partridge or pork, but not for the weak at heart. Taken from a recipe from Calvin Schwabe's "Unmentionable Cuisine." Available via Salon.

Sunday, March 3

This is for Tita Chi, who is due to come to Manila for a visit in a couple of days: I've been trying to e-mail you, but either the computer eats up my letters or they bounce. I'm not sure if this problem is cause by your mail server or mine. Just be home, safe, is all. I don't need no CDs.
Looky here! Mark's got a new layout. Hm, everyone's toying with their layout, and I'm too lazy to sit down and change mine. I think I've reached my techie plateau. Just the mere mention of "scripting" and "includes" and my mind goes blank.
I'm back here in Scooby's, but with a chaperone. Sulk.

Hey, I don't want you guys to think I'm always this sour, it's just that well, I get annoyed when I don't get to do things my way. I really love Dumaguete, even when it rains. I hope to go back here and inhale more fresh salty air, and drink more of that capuccino from Fly Cafe, where we hung out this afternoon while waiting for the airline's official announcement about the fate of our flight (or plight, if you prefer to think of it that way.) The kids in Fly are all very nice, and they have the almost complete Sting musicography, plus some reggae and European stuff. They also have cute sugar cubes, which the Capuccino Girl told me comes all the way from the Middle East. One of their partners is a flight attendant and she gets all the groovy stuff in their little hangout.
I just want to say this one more time: "I can't wait for the age when I'll be allowed to complain." I got that from Chuckie.
I just got the answer. The coordinator from hell calls us his "Children." This despite the fact that he knows we are well over the legal drinking age, we can frigging vote, marry without parental consent and all, and he insists on calling us "children." Barely have we swallowed our food and he's up and about to light up his ten thousandth cigarette for the day, and he announces: "We're going in five minutes." In all fairness, I must say that he is very efficient with his job. He's like a professor I had in college -- he knows everyone in the whole town, the whole country maybe.

"Why did Bob cross the road?"

"He's going to shake hands with the mayor's cousin's friend from the university across town who knows this poet who wrote something about mermaids and herons or something."

He can be very convincing, but right now, I do not want to be convinced. Call me an ungrateful brat, but I really value my right to privacy and freedom of walking down unfamiliar streets, alone.

I really find it revolting that I cannot spend some time exploring things on my own. I don't especially like it that I have to sneak out, like I'm a fugitive on the lam. The one time I was able to go out, it was lunch time. Shops in distant provinces close down for lunch. It's like being in Spain, where siesta is taken very very seriously. It's like the whole city shuts down while they eat lunch and talk and lounge about. It's a good thing really: to be able to focus on your food, to savor each activity, a one-track mind. But for someone who's spent her whole life in the city, where shops are open 24 hours, where everyone rushes to appointments and surges through the traffic as though the world would end if their cheeseburgers didn't arrive within five minutes, then this is an abomination. This is an affront to my sense of "convenience." Now I understand that people here are probably better off, less harrassed, with less pressure. I think I prefer chaos. I live in disorder and total disregard for time.

So I walked into this department store at a quarter to twelve noon. Tops and Bottoms resembles Plaza Fair, COD, or any of the early incarnations of Henry Sy's malls in the 80s. There are clothes, shoes, transistor radios, the usual stuff to be had in the mall, only more assembly line oriented. The guard asked me to leave my backpack at the counter. I haven't been there five minutes and the lunch bells sounded. The iron grills were being rolled down. People were asked to finish their purchases. They were closing for lunch. Just my luck.

I walked out and most of the shops were closed. I ended up having coffee and some cake at the Silliman Avenue Cafe -- or Sacs, as they called it. Great place. Their chairs are carved wood which bear their name, their china announce it, their lamp glows and it has "Silliman Avenue Cafe" in little curlicues. If there's one thing for sure, they won't let you forget where you are. You must try their raspberry tea while reading a book and Sting blaring from the loudspeakers. Absolutely fab.

That is, until the segment producer from hell showed up. The van was waiting downstairs and I had to down my coffee and be herded back into the hotel. Really, I like cable. But I didn't go to Dumaguete so i can freeze in the airconditioned room and watch "The Truth about cats and dogs." I love Janeane Garofalo and all, but really. I didn't come here to sleep. Drats. And it was supposed to be my free day.

Friday, we climbed a mountain. We could smell Cebu from across the waters. We also rode this tricycle on a dark, bumpy road by the sea, which the mayor forgot about. You could stare all you want and there's nothing but black and the sound of waves crashing against the stone walls. Fear factor, fear factor. Then when we got to El Camino, Carlos Agassi was there to perform. God frigging Carlos Agassi. Bah. I wouldn't be caught dead within a hundred miles of that guy.

Okay, I'll stop ranting now. They're waiting for us. Bummer.
I feel like a fugitive kid from a grade school field trip. Our flight back to Manila got cancelled this afternoon. We've always have blue skies and sun in the whole week we've stayed here in Dumaguete, and now it's suddenly gloomy and grey.

And, they just found us. Damn it! This is supposed to be the one time we are going to do things without a schedule, to allow spontaneity to flow, and now they're in the van downstairs waiting. What the freak do they think we are?!