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Saturday, November 21, 2009

TAMA NA U, IRITA NA ME!


My friend Arvin lent me his book "Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me" by Eros S. Atalia -- a multi-awarded writer and professor of Filipino and Filipino Journalism at UST.

The novel revolves around Intoy, a student from a State University in Manila, of a humble background and self-admittedly of less than ordinary physical attributes. He falls for Jen, a middle-class, pretty, pretty-hot-babe classmate of his. In Intoy's words, they are seemingly in an open relationship 'with all the perks' but both of them refuse to acknowledge or define their relationship as being steady. Hence, they are free to see, date, have sex with other people.

The novel is easy to read. It is written in contemporary, Filipino. Text spelling, colloquialisms, and all. The first two chapters are promising. Witty if I may even say so. After which it is a downslide from there. The punch lines fall short. The philosophical musings become corny. The formulaic paragraphs -- tired.

It got to the point I felt I was listening to some stand-up comedian doing a routine on stage. Here are a few excerpts:


"Ano na naman kaya ang problema ng babaeng ito? Tang'na, may nalalaman pang anong ideal date magpakamatay? O baka naman, makikipaghiwalay na naman sya... technically.

Kasi nga, hindi naman kami talaga. Yun nga lang, parang kami rin. Hindi kami nagsasabihan ng 'I love you' at "I love you too' sa isa't isa. Wala rin kaming mga pet name gaya ng iba na 'mahal, ma/pa, dy/my, tart, sweet, munchkins, sugar, honey, bukayo, pakombo at arnibal."


And then there's:


"'Wag kang masyadong mag-feeling na you're that special.'"

"'Alam ko, di naman ako palabok na may itlog at chicharon, o halo-halo na may dalawang scoop ng ice cream at dalawang kutsara ng ube't leche plan. Di rin ako siopao sa Ma Mon Luk na dapat may itlog na maalat sa loob.'"

"Alam kong hindi ako kakaiba. Hindi special. Wala naman talagang special sa akin. Hindi kasi ako lumaki sa ganoong doktrina.

Hindi ba't mas madalas bolahin ng teacher at retreat master ang kanilang mga estudyante sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabing, 'You're all special'.

E, kung lahat kami, special... sino pa ang hindi special? Kaya nga special, hindi pangkaraniwan. Kakaiba. Kung pare-parehas kaming special, sino pa ang special? para maging special, dapat may egg, may dalawang scoop ng ice cream, may ube't leche plan.

"'Hi! I'm Karl Vlademir Lennon J. Villalobos... special ako. Kasi sa buong mundo na may pangalan ding Karl Vlademir Lennon J. Villalobos, ako lang ang may egg sa noo at dalawang scoop ng ice cream, dalawang kutsarang ube't leche plan sa ulo at may itlog na maalat sa singit.'"



AAAARGH! And don't even get me started on his (shitty) discourse on human excrement -- for the sole purpose of shocking readers? Or nagpapa-cute lang?

I will return the book tonight to Arvin. Arvin is in his early 20s and I like his company and the conversations we've had in the past. we discuss everything and anything under the sun. He is a waiter at the bar in Malate I go to regularly. It is heartening that there are members of Arvin's generation that read novels. I am thinking of lending a few books in my collection. And maybe we shall discuss the merits and bad points of this novel...




Thursday, October 15, 2009

PCP GOES FOR RELIEF / AD CONGRESS GOES TO SUBIC

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) was to hold their annual convention here in Baguio City from Oct 23 to 25. After Pepeng's wrath, officers of the PCP have decided to cancel said event and pool the resources reserved for the convention for relief efforts instead.

Dr. Raymond Oribio, the Chairman for this year's PCP Convention had relayed to me that a top honcho at the Camp John Hay (where a number of attendees had booked reservations) had personally called him on his mobile phone to reconsider the cancellation of the event. Dr. Oribio had expressed that "to push through with the convention is a moral and ethical issue in light of the destruction that Pepeng and Ondoy have brought." The Camp John Hay official was steadfast in his negotiations, trying in vain to persuade the doctor to reconsider. It is understandable that the convention would indeed bring much revenue to Baguio's hotels and restaurants for the duration of the event. Dr. Oribio however was firm with the PCP's decision and finally said "We all condemned PGMA for her 1 Million Peso dinner in New York, if we were to push through with this convention, we would be doing the same."

Apparently, one dinner slated for the convention of more than a thousand attendees had a budget of 2.5 M Pesos -- a big sum that could be well spent for the victims of Pepeng. Dr. Oribio along with the other officers of PCP have been rallying their sponsors (Big Pharma) to instead donate their pledges for the convention to the PCP's relief efforts instead. Most Pharma sponsors have willingly donated (in cash) to this endeavor. Dr. Oribio had even admonished one representative of one Pharma Company not to donate medicines because the victims are not sick. "What will we do with millions of (name of pain reliever) when the victims are not sick. They need basic things to start their lives again." And so, the PCP intends to ask Big Pharma to purchase for them blankets, kalderos, plates, glasses, utensils, etc. for each family that was affected by Pepeng in Northern Luzon.

While other sponsors have offered cash, the PCP is now studying whether it is more viable to purchase these goods in Manila or perhaps to source some of these in the city of Baguio instead, (think of those inabel blankets in the market) in that way contributing to the local economy as well. The PCP had pre-ordered kits for the convention delegates -- a woven bag, ballpens, paper, etc. -- which will all be donated to schools in the affected areas.

As soon as relief goods arrive, (drop off point will be at the SLU Hospital) these will be packed and will be distributed next weekend when the PCP Convention would have taken place. Along with local Barangay Officals these goods will be distributed not only in affected areas of Benguet but also in other parts of Northern Luzon. Kudos to the PCP Convention Officers and members. What they have decided and will undertake is a class act indeed!

Meanwhile, the Philippine Ad Congress has reportedly moved their event this November from Baguio City to Subic. Now reader, the AD Congress happens every two years and officials of major cities in the Philippines have been known to kowtow to the organizers of the Ad Congress to hold this event in their respective cities. The amount of revenue involved in the staging of the Ad Congress is staggering -- and would definitely benefit any host city. Think Olympics for the Creative Industry.

The Ad Congress' move to Subic is a big loss for the city of Baguio -- not only for the hotels and restaurants but to the local economy as a whole. This despite the fact that two days ago, it was reported that Marcos highway was already open to traffic and should be stable by the time the Ad Congress happens in November.

I am sure the Corporate Sponsors of the Ad Congress have done their part in relief efforts for Ondoy in Metro Manila. Now this is what I propose the creatives take up in the upcoming conngress:

1) They should demand that Unilever and other Companies that sell shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, gel, etc. be marketed in recyclable packaging. Let go of sachets that clog up drains. Reward the consumer who purchases these recyclables by giving them discounts. That way, every Juan, Pedro and Maria will quit buying "sacheted products". I say big companies should set-up refilling stations for their products instead. Make buying sachets more expensive than when consumers refill their beloved products instead.

2) To Mcdonald's and Jollibee; Ditch the styro packaging. Encourage dining-in instead of taking-out. Make take-out more expensive -- this will force customers to dine-in instead. Don't use plastic forks when they dine-in.

3) The Ad Congress SHOULD demand from big companies to make bigger and more lasting efforts with regards to saving the environment -- through education, recycling, etc. Steps are being done in the west. Read the latest TIME Magazine (Heroes of the Environment), Make multinational companies accountable for the trash they generate and the carbon they spew.

Then maybe in the next Ad Congress, hopefully to be held up in Baguio, we will all breathe in green.

Read my lips, it's the basura, stupid!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

THINKING LONG-TERM


Five years ago when I relocated to Manila, I couldn't fathom how ordinary citizens in the power center capital city would almost absent-mindedly or with nary an iota of guilt, throw trash in the sidewalks, streets or generally outdoors.

In Malate where I would spend most evenings, I would see party-goers in their best outfits throw cigarette butts, candy wrappers, fastfood wrappings everywhere. I would chide my friends whom I would catch doing so and they would look at me as if I were some obsessive-compulsive neat freak. I would tell them "well, you have no right to complain when it floods then".

They would laugh at me as if I were some holier-than-thou-recycler-reducer-reuser. Well, I guess they're not laughing now.

Imagine if everyone in Manila would dispose of their trash properly. Imagine if everyone would reduce their trash. Reuse their plastics. Reduce their daily trash.

Imagine if rivers, waterways, canals, drainage systems were cleared of trash. The heavy rainfall of Typhoon Ondoy would have subsided faster. Not to mention it wouldn't have reached such high levels.

It's elementary science, Watson. Clog a drain. The water rises and slowly, very slowly goes down, if it goes down at all.

Think long-term my dear brothers in Manila. No, let's all think long-term. Next elections, let's vote for people (National & Local Elections) who would put this country at the top of their priorities and not enrich themselves with government funds.

This country is in the proverbial flood of poverty because of the citizens' complacency and lack of foresight.

I rest my case.

Friday, September 11, 2009

BRINGING THE TRUTH OUT IN THE OPEN



Bringing the Truth Out in the Open
by Martin Masadao

My father’s younger brother, my Uncle Don, was gay. In the early 70’s, he was called effeminate – a delicate word attached to the then unspeakable lifestyle that is homosexuality. By the time the 80’s came, he was silahis – the decade’s equivalent to bisexuality / metrosexuality.
Uncle Don dressed well, was mild-mannered, and had oodles of girlfriends. I remember my paternal grandmother saying, “Your Uncle Don is artistic, maybe you are like him too”. Uncle Don had a predilection for interior decorating, had a keen sense of fashion, enjoyed good music, and liked to do art projects.

A consistent honor student from elementary to college in Baguio City, Uncle Don had a brief stint with the seminary, I believe upon my grandmother’s prodding, but eventually left with a number of friends – knowing full well that the vocation of priesthood was not for them or their preferred lifestyle. Uncle Don eventually took up Medical Technology, partly as preparation for his migration to the US.

Uncle Don and I were close, even if he was 12 years older than me. It was his sense of humor that I liked most of all – I’d like to think I inherited his campy irony. In a way, he was my idol. I copied his handwriting, and talked and dressed like him – neatly pressed jeans, leather shoes, a plaid shirt, and a sweater slung on my shoulders or casually tied at the waist.

Homosexuality was never discussed on my father’s side of the family, despite the fact that we had an aunt who was an avowed lesbian – complete with girlfriends and the ability to croon a la Sinatra. If ever, there were only slight references to my Uncle Don’s lifestyle which were never mentioned in front of him, so as not to hurt his feelings. On my mother’s side of the family, the subject was definitely taboo.

It was for this reason that I grew attached to Uncle Don – we were cut from the same cloth, so to speak. Not only because of the bloodlines, but more importantly because we knew we were both gay. He had always known. It was evident when, one day, I helped him decorate his room. I put up cut-outs from the pages of Sports Illustrated. There was Mark Spitz, in just his Speedos as he broke seven world records a few years earlier, as well as our hearts as we longingly ached for his body, there was also a football player, his physique enhanced by his tight uniform, and countless other men who we had fantasized would one day sweep us off our feet.

My uncle and I would lie in bed and talk about these gorgeous men on his wall. Then Uncle Don would talk about his crushes in school. I would listen with rapt attention thinking to myself, “Hey, I know how it feels to be snubbed by your crush, to be unable to tell your crush that you like him, to be laughed at and ridiculed by classmates in the restroom during recess…” and other trials and tribulations homosexual kids go through. But it was definitely assuring and comforting to have someone to talk with about these things.

Uncle Don along with his youngest brother, Uncle Ray, migrated to the US in 1981. They had joined my other aunties and grandparents in San Diego, California. My paternal side of the family is a close-knit clan. They are fun, gregarious people who warmly express affection to one another. They give support to each other and openly discuss issues concerning members of the family – except for homosexuality.

My Uncle Don would regularly correspond with us through the years. Here is an excerpt from a Christmas card he sent in 1982:

"Ray and I have left San Diego and we are now very much on our own. We separately moved to Long Beach and we are just 5 minutes-ride far from each other. He’s now working for a medical center in Torrance and is staying with a former classmate.

I have left my county job as a lab assistant, am at the present working in an industrial computer company owned by a friend, will be going back to school and/or attend review class geared to my taking the med tech board exam. We do miss each and everyone. I’ll get in touch again."



We had, by now, received news that Uncle Don’s ‘friend’ was actually his lover. I don’t remember exactly how I found out and when, but I remember my mother speaking in a hushed tone to my sisters that Uncle Don was ‘living-in with an American’. I remember thinking, “Yipee! There you go, Uncle Don!”

Through the years, Uncle Don would write us and even enclose photos of his trips around the US with his partner, Tony. Now we had a name and face attached to the ‘friend’. Tony was an all-American, boy-next-door type. I would look at the photos, smiling and thinking how lucky Uncle Don was.

In the summer of 1985, I received a card via mail addressed to only me. I had recognized the handwriting at once. My sister thought it was odd that Uncle Don would only write me. I opened the card in the privacy of my room. It was a Chippendales card, with a blonde, blue-eyed model sprawled on the beach, gazing into my eyes. I could have fainted there and then. Here is what was scribbled inside:

"Just want to say hi, and hope you and your family are doing fine! Please extend our regards to each and everyone. How was school? Hope summer is gonna be full of fun stuff for you!
Tony just bought a 27-foot motorhome with all the goodies in it! We have been driving it around and it sure is fun. We are looking forward to a busy summer in matter of traveling around.
What have you been doing so far? If you find some time, won’t you write us, too? How’s love life? Any special one around? Let me know if there’s anything you want from here and I’ll try my best to send it, okay? Oops, almost out of space, so bye from here…

(signed)Don and Tony"



We finally met Tony when he came with Uncle Don for a visit sometime in 1986. I had spent time with both of them for most of their stay. The last trip they made was in 1989, in time for my eldest sister’s graduation from medical school. Uncle Don, by this time, had grown thin and had psoriasis on his hands. My brother’s wife had whispered, “Baka AIDS na yan? Ayoko nga makipag-shake hands kay Uncle Don, eh”.


In one evening of their brief stay, Uncle Don and I found each other in his bedroom away from everyone else. We were chatting in bed when he noticed me looking at his hands. He said he had psoriasis. A long pause followed as we both looked into each other’s eyes. Then he said, “You know… the gay disease…” I left it at that, not knowing how to deal with it.

In July of 1990 my father had to rush to the US because he had received an overseas call from his sister, my Auntie Vina, saying that Uncle Don’s condition was not getting any better. Shortly thereafter we received a letter from Auntie Vina addressed to my mother:

"We’re all concerned about you and the kids because of the earthquake. Please call me collect. Manong Roy (my father) has been summoned here because of Don’s condition. He’s been keeping close watch over Don at the hospital in L.A. According to Manong Roy, Don gripped his hand yesterday, looked at manong and said, “I’ve tried my best.” Manong told him to keep on trying. I think what the doctor wants to do now is give him a “morphine trip”. In other words, paturugen da laengen (they will put him to sleep), and that will be the end.


To do that he (the doctor) needs to meet with us, if we’re agreeable to this. That’s why we’re rushing to L.A. this morning. As of yesterday, Don had developed emphysema and is having problems breathing. Manong Roy does not think Don will last longer.

Love, Vina."



A few weeks after, my mother got an overseas call from Auntie Vina. Uncle Don had passed away. She gave specific instructions to my mother that Uncle Don had wished that an obituary be printed in Baguio’s local paper stating that he had “died after a lingering bout with AIDS” and that he is survived by my grandparents, my father, my other aunties… and his longtime companion Tony Hudson.


My mother accomplished his wish, and we did get different reactions after the obituary came out. I remember at least two people on campus asking me if I was related to the Don Masadao that was in the obit the previous Sunday. With my affirmation came the question as to why we had to mention Uncle Don’s AIDS. I asked, “Why not?” and pointed out it was one of my uncle’s last wishes. There were also schoolmates and teachers who tried to avoid my eyes a few days after the obituary came out. And of course, there were those who politely did not bring up the issue, but you could see in their eyes that they were thinking about it and just waiting for me to open up about it.


You must remember that this was in the 80’s, when the gay community was lobbying the Reagan administration for more funding for AIDS medical research. It was de rigueur among the gays in California to have their obituaries printed in this way, to make the general public aware of the AIDS crisis, and most importantly I think, to assert the lifestyle even in death. My uncle’s longtime companion, Tony Hudson succumbed to the same fate two years later.


My paternal grandmother came home the summer after my Uncle Don had passed away. Also believing that that would probably be the last time she could make the long trip. She was in her late 70’s by now. I remember having sat down with Lola Laling, and she told me, “You know I used to disapprove of your Uncle Don’s lifestyle. You know he was gay, don’t you? Well, I think he’s in heaven now. He was a good man, Martin. Yes, I know he is in heaven now.”


A few weeks back, I e-mailed my Auntie Vina asking permission to write about Uncle Don. I had wanted to know from his surviving siblings if they wanted the issue to be spoken of, as this may infringe on their right to privacy. My Auntie Vina e-mailed back:


"Go ahead and write about it. My only regret is that I failed to tell him to stop taking his AIDS medicines then. I was noticing that whenever he took his medicines, he was sick-sick. But when it was time for him not to take his medicine, he was full of life, and was lots of fun to be around. His medicine at that time, I think, was only experimental. It was too strong for his frail body."



I now offer this piece to my Uncle Don and to all the other people in the past – straights, gays, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children – who offered their bodies and themselves wholeheartedly, in the hope of finding a cure for AIDS. I now leave all of you a passage from Tom Hanks’ acceptance speech upon winning the Oscar for Philadelphia:


“… the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious Creator of us all. A healing embrace that cools their fevers, that clears their skin, and allows their eyes to see the simple, self-evident, common sense truth that is made manifest by the benevolent Creator of us all.”


God bless you.


(This is a piece I wrote for www.positivism.ph -- please check out their third e-zine out this month)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BAGUIO STORIES

LUCHIE MARANAN / The Grouchy Old Woman
SHINE QUERI / The Young Housewife
CHRISTIAN FAJARDO / The Burnham Park Photographer
IGAN MARASIGAN / The Folksinger

MARTIN MASADAO / The Balikbayan

DENNIS GUTIERREZ / The Faithealer

BANAUE MICLAT / The Baguio Carnival Queen

KOKOY PALMA / The Pony Boy from Wright Park


We just had our first weekend run at the Bulwagang Juan Luna of the University of the Philippines Baguio. Succeeding shows shall be on September 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27 with Matinees at 3PM (P75) and Gala Performances at 7 PM (100).

Monologues were written by Baguio Writers Group members Nonnette Bennett, Frank Cimatu, Luchie Maranan and Martin Masadao.

Original song by Igan Marasigan. Direction by Martin Masadao

Produced by The UP Baguio Committee on Culture and the Arts (UPB-CCA)

all photos above are courtesy of Roberto "Boy" Yniguez http://pbase.com/boyyniguez

Sunday, August 30, 2009

VITAL STATISTICS

Exactly a month ago, I clicked on an ad in this blog for a blog counter. The counter was for a one-month free trial only. So I said, why not?! For those of you who may have noticed, there was a small counter at the top left side of this blog.

Today I got a notice from the website that hosted that counter and said my free month trial was over and if I should wish to continue their services I had to pay for membership. Anyway...

The counter's last reading was 799. Phew! 799 visits in one month. My heart is fat. I clicked on the stats report and here's a recap.

Kudos to the visitor from Dagupan who came back a total of 35 times. A lot of friends also visited regularly as their google or blog handles identified them. Meow, Nowhere Woman, Mnemosyne, Brookside Baby, etc. Thanks for visiting.

Now here's the funny part. I had first time visitors from around the globe. Australia, The US, Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Iceland, South Africa, England, France, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the common post that brought them together was "When I Fell In Love" -- specifically Kevin Bacon! Hahahahaha!

Apparently these people googled Kevin Bacon and came across my blog. Other searches that brought visitors to the blog were 'guavas', 'tropical fruits', 'Cory Aquino', 'Michael Schoeffling', 'Christopher Atkins In Shorts', 'Young Scott Baio' even 'How To Peel And Cook Guavas' -- now these are actual search terms that appeared in the report.

Makes me want to experiment on future blog posts.

I am still busy finalizing everything for our production next week. I have a dress/tech run on Tuesday. Will lay-out the Souvenir Programme. Rehearse the alternate actor. And so on and so forth. After our first weekend when I shall be able to relax, I shall continue blogging. Sorry for the absence of Grammar Posts and Toti & David. I will get back to 'regular programming' after the 6th of September, Promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FOOD TRIPPING IN BAGUIO

Yesterday during rehearsals, Beth Calinawagan who chairs the UP Baguio Committee on Culture and the Arts brought suman from her hometown La Union. The suman was (of course) wrapped in banana leaves and shaped into triangles. We dipped these in brown sugar while waiting for the rest of the cast to arrive. Some of us had coffee with the merienda even. I was hoping we had tsokolate eh too. The suman was perfectly sticky and had a tinge of anise flavour to it.

This morning while walking along Session Road, I saw two women sitting by the sidewalk with baskets full of other native rice cakes. Puto, kutsinta, palitao, patupat... but hanging on the handles of their baskets were plastic bags of halabos na hipon. I asked where the shrimps were from and the woman said from fishponds in Pozorubio. For fifty pesos per bag I decided to buy two -- one each for my mom and me (I take my lunches with Mama in her office in Laperal). I also buy puto which I decided to eat with the shrimps. I was glad that on the third floor of the building is a small counter that serves lunch. I order rice and ask for vinegar. The shrimps were perfect dipped in the sukang iloko with chillies... not to mention using your hands to eat. I felt I was by the beach!

On my way to the internet shop I decide to buy siopao for my merienda during rehearsals this afternoon. Aaaah... the simple pleasures of Baguio food. Food I grew up with and didn't know how much I missed until now.

At UP Baguio I will ask Manang Mani to peel me some santol and prepare me a dipping sauce of vinegar, chillies and salt... I love rehearsals!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

HOME SWEET HOME


It's been a week since I came up to Baguio. I arrived at the last typhoon's tail end. Pine needles were strewn in the garage of my brother's townhouse. My brother had offered me to stay in his townhouse as his former renter, a Korean, had left two months ago and my brother had decided not to rent out the property anymore. I do have until November to use the place as a buyer will be moving in on December once full payment has been remitted. I think I shall come up more often before the sale is finalized.

The townhouse is located in Pacdal. My first day there I was awakened by the sound of the brook fronting the house. How nice for a change to hear water instead of tricycles. I also didn't realize how much I miss taking long, hot showers. I must've stood under the shower for 10 minutes my first morning. The steam misting the mirror. When I opened the bathroom door there was mist all over the living room as well. I thought it was due to my shower. I realized I had left the door and window on the second floor open, early morning fog crept inside the house.

The jeepney stop is a few meters from the gate so I have no trouble getting to town although I usually stop in front of Teacher's Camp and walk the rest of the way. That is how I will get my 30 minutes of brisk walking each day.

My first day here I had lunch at Mandarin Restaurant. I always make it a point to eat at Mandarin when I am in Baguio. My favorite on their menu is the Beef Tomato with Chinese Sausage. This is served with a bowl of hot corn and crab soup and a cup of rice. The beef is tender, the tomatoes plump, the chinese sausage not too sweet and the rest of the vegetables crisp. After, I usually take a pot of hot service tea. Burp.

Rehearsals for the play we are mounting for the Baguio Centennial is underway. I didn't know I'd miss the UP Auditorium so much. When I first went onstage again, I wanted to sing "I don't know why I'm frightened, I know my way around here...". One of my actors, Luchie Maranan, handed me three photos last Saturday. These were taken in 1997. We had a fashion show at the former PERK BAR at the top of Session Road. The bar was owned and operated by some friends from UP Baguio and it was there where we would usually go after rehearsals. Joining me in the fashion show were my lesbian friends -- and we all wore finds we got at the ukay-ukay.

Speaking of which, I only came up to Baguio with two pairs of pants, some t-shirts and two jackets. I went to the ukay-ukay last Saturday to look for my costume and also to buy some clothes suited for the cold, rainy weather up here this time of the year. I found some nice baby doll t-shirts, a bespoke white shirt, and a pair of wool, herringbone slacks that I am wearing as of this moment.

It is nice to be home. This morning I had breakfast at Mandarin again and had fresh fruit juice, a slice of fresh papaya, pork chop, chopsuey, garlic rice and hot chocolate. The papaya was of the red orange variety. Perfectly sweet and not at all over ripe. The tsokolate ah, (made from scratch and not powdered chocolate) I dribbled onto my garlic fried rice. The breaded porkchop was not what I had in mind. I thought they would serve me a whole chop with fat and bone and all -- instead, they breaded the pork pieces and fried them. The chopsuey was like my grandmother's. Crisp veggies in an oyster sauce base. The brocolli florets and cauliflower were crisp. Ditto the snow peas and mustard greens. There was also pork liver and button mushrooms. All these I ate with the chilli-garlic sauce I mixed with calamansi and soy. Bigger burp.

I think I will gain (wait) weight while up here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 9)


E-POSTSODE 9: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

INT / NIGHT / LIVING ROOM

(It is raining hard outside. Toti has just arrived from work. As he puts down his things, David enters and is soaking wet...)

TOTI
Honey, what...?! You're soaking wet...

DAVID
Those idiots! They better wish that's the last time I'm going over there...

TOTI
Did you have an argument with a cab driver again...?

DAVID
Nope. I went to the other street to your friendly neighbors, you know the Makati's Got Talent contestants, Toti, I can't believe they've been on karaoke since 11am. And every time they would sing a new song, it seemed they would put up the volume a notch higher! It was driving me nuts! I couldn't finish my work...

TOTI
Oh honey, tell me you didn't...

DAVID
Oh you bet I did! I told them they could sing all they want but could they please do it indoors and make sure to close all their windows and door and turn down the volume. You know what those bums did?! They offered me a shot of gin, told me to pick a song and handed the microphone to me! And everyone was calling me Joe! I was furious! I told them I didn't care if it was Jun-Jun's birthday, or Len-Len's first month on the job, or Bing-Bing's baptism, or Pao-Pao's circumcision, or whoever redundant-named idiot is celebrating -- I don't care!!! I told them they were bothering the whole neighborhood and it's past 10 pm already! You know what they told me?! Those friggin teens told me they were celebrating the death of Cory and the Philippines' Pride and Nationhood or some words to that effect and that it was their right to do whatever they wanted because they were within the confines of their private property anyway! I told them I would report this to the Barangay Captain only to find out that idiot was right there just about to sing! I told them it may be their right to do anything they want but it's also MY RIGHT TO SOME PEACE AND QUIET!!! Aaaaargh!!! You Filipinos don't know what freedom is... you don't know what nationalism and patriotism is... you don't know... Oh never mind! I'm just glad they've stopped singing!

(We hear the neighbors sing the refrain of 'American Pie' on the loudest volume)

NEIGHBORS (o.c.)
"Ba-bay Miss American Pie, sold my tse-vy to d' lebee but d' lebee was dry. Dem good ol boys were drinking red horse and sprite singing dis will be d' day dat YOU die! Dis will be d' day dat you die, JOE!" Hey JOE! Come back here! You want some more gin?! Ip you cannot beat dem, join them Joe! Hahahahahahahaha!

DAVID
That's it! I'm taking a shower. Please pack our bags, we're checking-in at the Pen! (David goes upstairs)

TOTI
(To himself) Yippee! Manila Pen! I think I should ask those boys to sing every weekend so we can check-in at a hotel. (Shouts to David teasingly...) David! If Imelda is at the Pen's Lobby and sings 'Dahil Sa Yo', will we fly to the Hong Kong Peninsula instead?! (Imelda the dog goes to Toti...) Imelda, I was not referring to you.(Toti grins sheepishly as he goes upstairs to pack their bags)


Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'M CAN SPEAK ENGLISH! CAN'T YOU?! 6




LIE AND LAY

Many of us inadvertently use lie when we actually mean lay and vice-versa. Lie means 'to recline'; it is intransitive and never takes an object. Lay means 'to set down' -- it is a transitive verb thus always takes a direct object, naming the thing that is set down.

An old woman amongst the crowd that attended Cory's wake was made to lie down as the medics took her blood pressure.

Mourners lined up the streets in Manila on the day Cory was laid to rest.


There is of course another meaning to the word lie, as in this case:

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lied to the Filipino people when she spoke of the 'Hello Garci' case and other scandals revolving around her presidency.


RAISE AND RISE

Raise is a transitive verb and can only be done by someone to something. Rise, on the other hand, is an intransitive verb and can never affect something else.

Supporters of Cory raised their arms with the Laban sign as the funeral cortege passed through the streets.

Filipinos indeed rise to the occasion and express their love for country during times of crisis.


The man wanted to lie down after being laid off when he demanded a raise to cope with the rising cost of basic commodities.

Remember: (Present Indicative -- Past Indicative -- Past Participle)

lie -- lay -- lain

lay -- laid -- laid

raise -- raised -- raised

rise -- rose -- risen


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A CULTURE OF MEDIOCRITY




The latest brouhaha surrounding The National Artists Awards is another low in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's presidency. How she could bypass the other deserving artists and confer the awards on an undeserving person by the name of Carlo J. Caparas is evidence that she needs a lobotomy more than a boob job.

I have aired this to friends before and I will write about it now. We seem to have forgotten our ideals. We seem to be content with sub standards. I think it all started with Kuya Germs' That's Entertainment. What began as a showcase for talented teens (eg. Lea Salonga, uhm, yeah, Lea Salonga...uh...and...yeah the rest) morphed into a free-for-all, pa-cute, jologs-fest. Although the term jologs was not coined yet, it sums it up to a tee. The only requirements needed to be included in the show were a set of perfect dimples and the willingness to be an asswipe to Kuya Germs. Thus the cast of the show ballooned to more than my high school graduating class.

That's Entertainment and its penchant for mediocrity slowly crept into the national psyche. Gone were ideals of perfectionism, artistry, integrity and truth. We just toppled Marcos then, we were happy. We were free. The Arts in general was swept under our rugs for there were other concerns that needed immediate attention.

Because we tolerated mediocrity, the majority voted Erap. The president who was known for his unprofessional work ethic, lackadaisical approach to governance, penchant for amassing property, orgiastic drinking sessions in the palace, and gambling aboard The Presidential Yacht. Not to mention his womanizing. Erap has mistresses galore and we put him into the highest office. Bill Clinton has one lousy blowjob and the US Congress jumps on its feet to impeach him. Again, this demonstrates how low the Filipinos' standards have become.

Vestiges of this mentality is in Wowowee. Ditto most government offices and the incompetent people that claim to be public servants. Mediocrity is the first leg down the road to corruption because all morals are set aside in pursuit of what will eventually be ill-gotten wealth.

With Cory's death, we should again be reminded to aspire to achieve the ideals not only for ourselves but for the nation. Enough of 'pwede na yan' or 'bahala na'. How else could Mr. Caparas (and Cecille Guidote-Alvarez) have gotten the award if not through sheer palakasan. Kissing-ass breeds mediocrity. Or is it the other way around? It's a chicken and egg thing. If Mr. Caparas were a chicken, better to do as the highlanders do... pinikpikan. If he were an egg, he'd definitely be as rotten as PGMA.

It's time to raise the bar. It's time to raise our hands with the Laban sign and fight for everything Cory represented -- transparency, integrity, and honesty.

In the meantime, Mr. Caparas can join Kuya Germs every Saturday night, er, every Sunday morning. They can call their show "The Walang Tulugan Massacre... God Help The Two Of Us".

LETTER TO A DEAR FRIEND


Dear Friend,

Sorry for my tantrum last night. The foul weather does put us all in a bad mood.

I was just aghast at your disgust towards the overflowing support for Cory. How come two nights ago you were raring to go and attend her wake? Why the sudden turnaround? You know I loathe fence-sitters. Make up your mind. I will have more admiration for you if you stick by your convictions.

In the heat of our argument, you must have forgotten that during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship -- such display of dissent was not even warranted. The freedom you enjoy today is borne out of the collective opposition of the '80s that culminated in People Power and Cory's presidency.

You should not lose hope for our country. Neither should you lose faith in the Filipino people. It is desperation and cynicism that breeds corruption. Desperation drives some of us to steal from the coffers of government funds. Cynicism makes us turn our faces the other way -- since everyone is doing it anyway, we like to tell ourselves. Such skewed values make you root for candidates during elections whom you can directly benefit from. Never mind if you cheat in the elections -- you try to convince yourself you are making a choice for the nation, when deep inside it is for self interests only. Or at least for loved ones and family. Even if they have erred.

Have you become so inured to corruption? Have you lost your basic sense of decency? Is this why you seem to have a difficult time comprehending all the good that Cory represents?

Think of your kids and the kind of society you want them to live in. Think of their kids too.


Thank you for all the wonderful times,

Martin

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 8)


E-POSTSODE 8: BLESS THE BEASTS AND THE CHILDREN

INT / DAY / LIVING ROOM

(The doorbell rings, David goes to open door and sees their new neighbor, a young girl, by the door, she has a package with her...)

KIM
Hi mister! May I come and play with your dogs?

DAVID
Why sure, come in, and please call me David. And what is your name young lady?

KIM
I'm Kim. We just moved in next door. My mom says I should give you these if I want to be your friends... (she hands him the small box)

DAVID
Oh thank you very much... tell your mom it is us who should give you something to welcome all of you in the neighborhood...

(Toti who has just woken up enters...)

TOTI
We have a guest... how charming...

DAVID

Toti, this is Kim... our new neighbor... she's come to play with the dogs and has brought something specially for you, so why don't you be a darling yourself and get her some juice and cookies... Kim, this is Toti... um, my friend...

KIM
(patting the dogs on their heads) Are your dogs gay too?

DAVID
Um, Kim... no they're not... Pacquiao here is male and Imelda is female...

TOTI
And Imelda has got taste, Kim... by the way how old are you?

KIM
I'm four (raising four fingers on her left hand)...

TOTI
Alam ba ng magulang mo na andito ka? (Do your parents know you're here?)

KIM
I don't speak Tagalog. I only speak English and Cebuano...

TOTI
Oh, I'm so sorry, Miss... I asked, do your parents know that you're here?

KIM
My mom knows I would come today... I told her I wanted to play with your dogs... they don't want to buy me a dog... my stepfather says I'm still too young to take care of one...

TOTI
Stepfather...?! Come sit down and have breakfast with me and tell me all about, um, your family...

DAVID
Toti...

KIM
Hans is German... he met my mom in Cebu... but now that they're married we had to move here to Manila because Hans owns a company here...

TOTI
When did they get married? David, East meets West... How nice... how sweet... I loooove love stories...

KIM
The wedding was two days ago... I was flower girl but I really wanted to be the one holding the rings and giving it to them. Why do the boys get to do all the fun stuff?

DAVID
Two days ago? So they must be on honeymoon now? Who is left with you at home?

KIM
Oh no, my mom was brought to the hospital last night... my yaya (nanny) is with me...

DAVID
Hospital? What happened?

TOTI
Was it an emergency?

KIM
I don't know... I don't think so...she seemed ok...

DAVID
Must be the stress from wedding preparations and then moving in to your new apartment and all that...

KIM
Yeah... maybe... last night at the hospital Mom told me to give you the dried mangoes when I come over and to be a good girl, that's all... and to go home when you guys tell me to... and that I shouldn't bother you...

DAVID
Kim, Darling, you can play as long as you want with the dogs... right, Toti?

TOTI
Hmmm...yeah, sure... so, it's Hans who's staying with your mom in the hospital?

KIM
Yes... but they'll be back tonight... can you open the box I gave you now, I'd like to have some of the dried mangoes...

DAVID
Oh sure... you really didn't have to bring some you know... when your parents arrive, tell them Toti and I would like to meet them... maybe we all can have dinner here someday... Toti, don't you think that's a good idea?

TOTI
You cook... you cook for Smarty-Pants, Miss Cebu, and Hansolo The Hun...

KIM
Okay, David, I'll tell them... (She plays with the dogs. After a few minutes...) um, David... what is the meaning of 'post-coital laceration'?

TOTI & DAVID
(In shock) HUHHHHHH...

KIM
(she just shrugs then continues to play with the dogs) Manggawas ta magdula sa gawas... (come let's play outside)






REVOLUTIONARY FOOD (for thought)



(This is an excerpt from the essay 'Revolutionary Food' I wrote in 2001 as part of a collection of essays I was amassing for the book "This Is Not A Cookbook". I share it now that President Cory Aquino has passed away in the hope it will remind us all of the dreams we had for our country in 1986. It is my fervent wish that those dreams are still with us. And that we are working towards their becoming real.)
"We've all heard of Marie Antoinette's famous quip re: the peasants' clamor for reforms wherein she allegedly retorts "Let them eat cake!" eventually leading to her neck being under the guillotine. In Classical Greece, specifically Athens, the upper class males ate separately from the females. These privileged males usually were served and entertained by hired lower class males (hmm). The females dined separately with the servants and children. In Classical Rome entertaining by way of banquets was observed to preserve the pervading patron-client relations. Centuries later in Medieval Europe, the food one got depended on his status. Mere laborers had less quantity and variety when it came to food as compared to the higher ranking scholars, military, abbots, etc. One got bigger portions and more types of food as he ascended the social ladder. Throughout history food has not only played a crucial role in society but was indeed a reflection of the society it was feeding. Rich civilizations enriched their cuisines with exotic foodstuffs from faraway places through trade and barter. Big cities today boast of mixed cuisines reflective of the peoples that inhabit them.
"Emilio Aguinaldo's assumption to the presidency was marked with a banquet to rival those of the Spaniards. Imported ham and other foodstuffs were included in the predominant Spanish menu. A telltale sign that our 'revolutionary heroes' had not totally let go of the Spanish influence. After World War II, the Americans did not waste time in reversing the centuries-old Spanish influence. They set out to 'educate' the Filipino by deploying Missionaries to most parts of the islands. But subliminally, they pacified the Filipino people by giving him Spam, Hershey's, and other PX goods that beguile us up to now. Today they threaten regional palates by infusing cities with their franchised fastfood worldwide. In turn hoping to have a control of the global economy.
"In February 1986, the Filipino people toppled a dictator in less violent means compared to what befell the French monarchy of 1789. We have all heard of that little boy who decided to celebrate his 8th birthday in EDSA with cake, balloons, family and all amidst the drama that was to unfold leading to the strongman's exile to Hawaii. Such is the Filipino character, always involving 'food' in major events be it baptisms, fiestas, weddings, graduations, (the measly) payday every 15th and 30th of each month, and not surprisingly even during ousters of despots. Back in Baguio, during and after the elections in 1986 my mother and an aunt set out to volunteer as poll watchers in our city. Their headquarters were at the old Cafe Amapola. The eve before elections, my mother and aunt were busy preparing sandwiches to be given to the other poll watchers. Basins of prepared diced luncheon meat and sandwich spread were spooned onto countless loaves which were individually wrapped in paper napkins ready for distribution the next day - -election day. I remember them laboring till the wee hours of the morning with hushed tones of the yet uncertainty that would befall our nation. Hushed talks of another martial law looming, or a civil war, or chaos pervaded the evening. Along with Manila's Coryistas who ascended to Baguio that fateful February my Mother and Aunt did their best to feed the pollsters, keep abreast with the latest election developments and also to keep the family calm.
"My more radical friends at the UP Baguio had chided me for being centrist as opposed to their stand to boycott the elections. During the eve of February 25, the entire 'vigilant' Baguio had a gathering at the Baguio Cathedral at the top of the city proper. The more progressive groups (mostly students and organized forces) were, not surprisingly, assigned to occupy the left side of the church with the centrist and right-leaning groups spilling out of the service into the right side of the cathedral. It was thus announced from the 'right' side of the cathedral that Marcos had indeed fled for Hawaii escorted by the Americans. (The moderates had better communications systems - this was after all pre-egalitarian-text-messaging).

"Shortly thereafter, delegates from the studentry, labor force, NGO's, church, etc. gathered in Taloy, Tuba to 'exorcise' the Marcos bust. We gathered in jeep loads to the foot of the bust where speeches and cultural presentations were exchanged. The main event would be the pouring of fresh blood from the sacrificial pig onto the cement monstrosity that was the Marcos bust. Much like the blood serving as a giant pin to the bust that was a giant voodoo doll. The Ibaloi representatives, (the Marcos bust was erected in Ibaloi ancestral land) proceeded to do a cañao. In a cañao, a sacrificial pig is butchered by an elder of the tribe. This elder or mambunong is a shaman/priest presiding over the ritual. The manner in which the animal is butchered depends on the occasion or purpose of the feast. The shaman aided by other males from the tribe slaughter the animal eliciting loud wails from the pig. The innards particularly the bile sac is 'read' by the elder for omens or signs from the Gods. When all is well, they methodically burn the pig then cut up the carcass to specific cuts for the varied dishes to be cooked. Blood is saved and sometimes mixed for dinuguan or for blood sausages called pinuneg. Most commonly the meat is boiled in water and salt and thus served with a bowlful of minced chillies and salt or soy sauce. Much to the appalled expressions of my lowlander friends, they were in fact admonished by our group leaders to partake of the food, with scoops of rice on cut out banana stalks for plates and pieces of cut bamboo as utensils. I remember thinking that even with the dictator out, much had still needed to be done to unite the nation -- culturally, psychologically, sociologically and above all, gastronomically, we were and still are a divided race.
"But such was the character of EDSA 1 and 2: a spontaneous reaction of fed-up Filipinos eager to replace first a dictator and second time around a corrupt incompetent. But the provisions of food were just like the act of the gathering itself, spontaneous and from the heart. The infamous gathering of May 1, 2001 was engineered, planned and even catered. We all saw the styro trash that thronged the highway. We all heard of the matinee idol donating styro-packed lunches/dinners for the erap-crowd. Oh well. Erap's much publicized lunch with the urban poor on banana leaves and sans utensils was very good application of semiotics I must say. But that is what the former president excels at; image building, him being a former actor. He could have saved us a lot of trouble had he resigned at the onset of jueteng-gate. The great French chef Vatel opted to take his life in 1671 instead of facing a life of ignominy from serving a bad meal. Such was his dedication to his craft and sense of duty to those he served. Our politicians have lots to learn from Vatel.
"Today there is unrest in Muslim Mindanao and in the mountains of the Cordilleras. For as long as there are hungry mouths, there will be no peace."


ITULOY ANG LABAN


We have a lot to be grateful for Corazon C. Aquino (1933 - 2009). The selfless person that she is, President Cory restored democracy in the Philippines in 1986. With People Power she survived numerous coup attempts hardly unscathed. The 1987 Constitution was ratified unanimously by Filipinos who wanted to ensure that Martial Law shall never take place in our shores again.

Presidents Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo have benefited from Cory's restoration of peaceful elections. Ramos would not have been President without Cory's endorsement. Estrada would not have been president without free elections. He landed the top post in the land but what he did with his mandate was his downfall. Arroyo would not be in Malacanang without People Power.

Respect for the Constitution and rule of law was President Aquino's mark in her presidency. Her consistency in her faith, strength of character, and integrity in office should be emulated by our elected leaders.

The best thing Cory gave the Filipinos, I think, is hope. She made us all believe that; yes, we can make things happen if we come together as one nation.

Let's not let that flicker of hope die out with her.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'M CAN SPEAK ENGLISH! CAN'T YOU?! 5

LET'S INFINITIVELY SPLIT


FROM THE GRAMMAR BIBLE BY MICHAEL STRUMPF:

"Perhaps the most notorious of all grammatical mistakes is the split infinitive. English teachers have railed against this offense since time immemorial, but it is one that not even the most astute student of grammar is immune from making. Even starship captains are guilty of this crime. In the original Star Trek television show, Captain James T. Kirk, in his opening monologue, declares the Enterprise's five-year mission to be 'to boldly go where no man has gone before.'

"Captain Kirk has split his infinitive, to go, straight down the middle with the adverb boldly: to boldly go. A split infinitive is any infinitive phrase construction that separates the infinitive marker to from the verb. The most common splits occur when modifiers are misplaced: to thoroughly wash, to loudly sing, to joyfully dance. This was Captain Kirk's mistake.

"As a general rule, the marker and the verb should be consecutive items in the infinitive phrase: to wash thoroughly, to sing loudly, to dance joyfully.

"Without the split infinitives, the sentences are much easier to digest. Captain Kirk should have stated his mission to be 'to go boldly where no man has gone before.'

"The split infinitive is not always an act of grammatical mayhem. Some well-known writers have taken artistic license to split infinitives, but they have done so carefully and judiciously. They use split infinitives to emphasize certain points or simply to create more poetic constructions."


MY THOUGHTS:

Yes, I am guilty of the offense. In speaking and writing I sometimes attempt to eloquently, verbosely, superfluously drive home a point. Your assignment dear reader, is to go through my blog posts and to correctly point out to me wherein I have committed this error. You see my editor has gone on a multiple and indefinite leave to the US. I do not know now how to properly go about my blog posting. You are most welcome to promptly correct me.


"When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it stays split." -- Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) American novelist and screenwriter (The Big Sleep) in a letter to his publisher.

Sige, split muna ako...




MELISSA ROXAS



Melissa Roxas was the Fil-Am 'activist', social worker, researcher I posted about last month in "Welcome To The Dark Ages". In a nutshell, while doing outreach work in the Philippines early this year, Melissa was abducted along with two other companions (who have yet to surface or come out and make a statement) and were subsequently tortured.

The Philippine Military has officially come out with a statement and video claiming Melissa was/is a member of the underground New People's Army (NPA). And someone even came forward to say that Melissa is just making up her story to make bad press in time for GMA's trip to the White House.

I think Melissa Roxas' story is consistent and the details hardly point that she is just making this up. I salute her bravery. I commend her for her fight for justice by exploring all legal venues. We should support her if we believe/want to live in a just, humane Earth.

I don't care if Melissa is a member of the NPA. I don't care if she's Al Qaeda or a member of whatever terrorist group. (Even Ted Bundy got a fair trial, for chrissakes!) TORTURE SHOULD NOT BE EMPLOYED IN THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE! International Laws on Human Rights should be implemented fairly and equally around the world; whether you are in the US, Geneva, within the confines of the UN in New York, or in a province in the Philippines. Ditto whether you are a celebrity, an American, rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight.

TORTURE IS MEDIEVAL. No, it's neanderthal.

GMA's Human Rights record is abominable. And she and her cohorts should be made accountable.


Monday, July 27, 2009

COSMETIC SURGERY


I'm thinking of undergoing some cosmetic surgery. I've thought about it a lot lately. The premier plastic surgeon and beauty guru to the stars and rich and famous in the Philippines has been on the news lately. Not to mention GMA's leaking you-know-what. I figured since everyone is having something done to their bodies, might as well join the fray and see if it's truly a life enriching experience.

MOLES

I have a huge one next to my left temple and is visible now that I keep my hair cropped. I'm keeping the mole. The old folks believed that the larger a mole is near the temples, the smarter that person is. I'm actually thinking of having it tattooed to a darker color even -- just to up the IQ points.

I am having my mole on my second toe on the right foot removed. My Grandma used to say that moles on feet make the bearer a lakwatsero (wanderlust). I will be transplanting that mole instead on the middle of my right palm. When I close my right hand I will have clasped that mole securely, so now I will be more thrifty.

For vanity, I might have a mole tattooed on my upper lip, right side. Then I hope to sing at Mar Roxas' next birthday... "Hap...py Birth...day, Mister Pre...si...dent..." and look at the news media straight in their eyes and confidently say "I sleep only in Chanel No. 5".

HANDS

Thank God for genetics I don't have spider veins or arthritic hands. For my age I think my hands look and feel good. Lotion every evening does the key. (From my dear friend, Lee Tabert: I should have said: 'Lotion every evening is the key OR Lotion every evening does the job -- July 31) I, however, would like my thumbs surgically altered. You see they point straight up when I do the 'Thumbs Up' sign. My Grandma used to say that was a sign of foolhardiness when it comes to personal finances. A true thrifty person has thumbs that arch backwards towards the wrist. Will the doctors cut a ligament to achieve this effect? I don't care, I want thrifty thumbs. Then I can 'like' all I want on Facebook!

I want the lump on my right hand by the wrist removed. But my techie friend says I should just get a better mouse pad, the one wherein your wrist can rest on a lump of black polyurethane. I will give that a try, so in the meantime I am having my crooked, little finger repaired. I cut that finger playing with my father's razor when I was 3 or 4 years old... and cried wee-wee-wee all the way to my mommy.

I will have my knuckles (along with my elbows) bleached. They're dark and prone to dryness. But that's all I'm bleaching. Who needs/wants to look like Regine Velasquez anyway? You think Retinol-A cream will help? I read lemons will do, but does that mean I will start drinking tequila again? I like my Asian skin tone. My melamine (again, Ms. Lee Tabert sez it's melanin not melamine, oh dear, I think I should stop posting while inebriated! HA! -- July 31) won't make me prone to skin cancer plus the Nordic men like tanned, um, girls.

TEETH

I spent a fortune two years ago to save three molars via root canal. The entire procedure took up almost two months. Looking back, I should've just asked my cute dentist to pull out the molars. It would force me to revert back to vegetarianism (no more barbecue or crispy pata) but most of all I'll have sunken cheeks giving the impression that I have cheekbones like those European male models in fashion magazines. But then again, I wouldn't have spent 2 hours twice a week for 7 weeks in my Hunk-Dentist's clinic. I remember, I'm due for my next cleaning next month. Yippee!

I will have my teeth cleaned regularly in the hopes I will finally quit smoking. No my teeth aren't stained. I don't drink coffee or tea. Red wine only when it's free. I don't drink soda either so my enamel is just fine. I won't have my teeth straightened. I think they're very Hugh Grant-ish. My theory is that them Brits got their accent from their crooked teeth.

NOSE

I like the shape of my tall nose, thank you. I do not like the large pores though. I read it's common for males with oily or combination skin, especially smokers. Ok, ok, I will have to quit the nicotine and perhaps apply pore minimizers more religiously. I will not have my nose altered because I've seen really bad nose jobs. Besides, I'm a fan of Barbra... (singing) "I've kept my clothes and kept my space. I've kept my nose to spite my face! Either they cheer or they jeer, but I'm here!"

Now the goal here is to bag a rich man. With all the above accomplished; I'll be eating healthily, would've stopped smoking, have high cheekbones, and be a tight-fisted-high-cheekboned-sloane-accented compleat Pinoy Gay of the New Millenium! Who needs botox or facelifts when you have no worries?!

Now that's a thought, makapag-yosi na nga muna.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 7)


E-POSTSODE 7: TWO MORE FOR THE ROAD

Int / 3 am / Living Room-Kitchen

(Toti and David have just gone home from a party. Toti is scowling as he pours himself a glass of water. The dogs greet David as he enters and sings at the top of his voice...)

DAVID
"...when you're down and troubled, and you need some loving care..." (Pacquiao the mongrel licks David's face) Hey, Toti pour me one of those please... no tonic, just three ice cubes... "... winter, spring, summer or AU...TUMN... hihihi...all you got to do is BOT...TOM... and I'll be there..." (He tries to let Imelda the Weimaraner lick his face too but Imelda runs over to Toti) Imelda, what's the matter with you?

TOTI
You're pissed drunk and it's not funny.

DAVID
Ok, so I had a few drinks...

TOTI
Two glasses of red wine, then four bottles of beer, plus two vodka tonics, and a last shot of tequila is one too many drinks, David...

DAVID
I didn't know you were keeping track... it's not my fault that bastard ex-fashion model hogged all the red wine to herself... hic... so I shifted to beers... then THEY ran out of... hic... beers... so I opened the bottle of Stoli...

TOTI
Which was our gift to the celebrant...

DAVID
oh...hic...heehehehe... well, it was meant to be shared... I just wanted to get everyone in the mood... 'twas boring... hic... 'twas still boring at 10:30 pm...

TOTI
Well, you're irritatingly pissed drunk and it's 3 am and I've got to sleep.

DAVID
I wanted to have fun, that's all. Hic... that's why we decided to take a cab and not drive... you don't know how to have fun anymore... did you see how they all laughed at my Balut Vendor Impersonation? BalleeeeeeeewT... Piiiiiiiinnnooooy!...Ballleeeeeeeewt!

TOTI
Dirty dancing with the waiter is not my idea of fun. Did you have to hold on to the microphone all night? Even the band members were a bit uneasy already with you singing all the time...

DAVID
Duh... hic... the crowd loved me... hic... the only reason I kept singing was because... hic... they kept shouting 'more!', 'bravo!', ... hic... 'take it off!'...

TOTI
Yup, nothing entertains Pinoys more than to see old, drunk, bare chested white men! I don't care if you drink a whole truck of beer, it's when you start making an ass out of yourself, that's when it gets to me.

DAVID
Now really, what's bothering you... hic?

TOTI
Did you have to spend time with Ricky?

DAVID
Ricky..? oh...hic...Ricky... ok, now I get it... Rickster... Ricky the ex boyfriend...

TOTI
Yes, Ricky... that one you told me you don't have any feelings for anymore...

DAVID
Toti... Toti... my sweetie, Toti is... hic... jealous... I love it when you get jealous... (he tries to embrace Toti)

TOTI
(steps away) Oh don't make fun of me. I saw how you were talking, whispering sweet things into his ear... I saw you hold his hands...

DAVID
you should've been there... hic...

TOTI
You oaf! Don't treat this like it's nothing... I saw you... you were about to kiss him, damn you!

DAVID
Toti, Toti... calm down... the reason I was holding his hands was because he tried to cop a feel... so i gripped it hard... and told him not to try that stuff again... then he asks me if I could go visit him next week... and I said 'yes', but only if you were with me... and he said no it will just be the two of us, his boyfriend will be leaving for Singapore for two weeks and he tried to put his hands inside my pants... and that's when I whispered in his ear; "You lay off me and Toti from now on, Ricky." I gripped his hand harder, I wanted to break his fingers... and said "I mean it, Ricky... stay away from us." And that's all that transpired, sweetie... hic... hihihihi... oh no... hic... there it goes again...

(Toti is close to tears and doesn't want David to see him cry so he runs up the stairs, Imelda following him...)

DAVID
(shouting) I came home with you, didn't I?! ... (He talks to Pacquiao...) What is it with Toti, you think he's menopausal... have another drink with me now, will you, Pacquiao? Yup, let the girls go do their hair and nails and stuff... It's just you and me, kid. You can eat all the poo-loo-tahn if you want... (He pours himself a glass of water... then slumps into the sofa.)


Friday, July 24, 2009

THE END-ALL AND BE-ALL U.S. VISA


My sister and I got an invite from our favorite aunt to attend a conference in the US this August. I declined because I had already committed myself to the play we will be mounting at the UP Baguio for the city's centennial come September. My sister however took her second chance, you see she was denied a US visa the first time she applied six or seven years ago.

I met up with my sister the day after she got her US visa. I didn't even know she had gotten it , we just agreed to meet up that evening. She was nonchalant, if I my say so... as if she had secretly known she would get The Stamp of Approval. What struck her though was that the consul in charge of interviewing her was a white guy who spoke fluent Pilipino. She found it weird that the consul was asking her questions in straight Tagalog even if she was answering in (unaccented) English. She left the US Embassy giddily perturbed and in a daze, pondering if the recent events did actually occur. 'Surreal' was her word to describe the experience.

I was with this sister last weekend to spend quality time with her, as this was the only time our schedules allowed us to be together before her coming flight. While walking through the mall she had mentioned, showing her all-leather bag, if she should risk taking the same bag to the trip.

"Why not?" I asked

"It's all-leather..." she remarked

"So..? Oh, yeah, it's soft leather, it could be slashed in L.A." I feigned concern, looking at her yummy mocha bag...

"They might spray-paint me..." she said with a raised eyebrow.

"Huh...?" I screamed looking at her with the biggest question mark across across my head.

"Martin! They do that now if you're wearing or using leather. I read about it. If you notice, all the bags in the fashion magazines of late only have leather parts as details or accessories, but they're rarely or never all-leather! Just like the bag (my other sister) gave you!"

"Polyurethane..." I said, resignedly.

I couldn't comprehend nor process the thought. My sister and I (and the rest of my family) are omnivores. Because we believe in a balanced diet. Also because we like to treat ourselves, once in a while, to a hearty meaty main course. We were vegans once thanks to Ananda Marga and the whole '70s yoga lifestyle. We have planted trees (and I still do) and never killed our pets. Now, I have nothing against PETA. But do they have to be so self-righteous about leather, and the people who use them?

I scrounge the second hand shops aka ukay-ukay for my leather goods. These are the same goods some first-world brat has decided to let go of even if still in mint condition. Ergo, I re-use, recycle, reduce and do not gloat about the fact that I do. Not to mention I scrimp. I've got a leather bag (Bree), brown belt (Gap), suede jacket (Land's End) that I still use today. Amongst other leather goods I own and use. But I've never owned a car. Or any machine that spews carbon into the atmosphere. Ditto fur. And I'll be damned if any activist spray-paints these beloved leather goods of mine. I spent more than what I paid to buy those on the dry-cleaning alone!

Polyurethane?! The alternative?! Imagine a whole continent piled up with crocs! (the fad shoes, not the reptile-material). I say, spray-paint McDonald's and KFC for their unethical handling of cows and chickens. Spray-paint them all you want. (Those cans of paint better be organic-vegetable dyes and no fluorocarbons please, you hypocrites!) I don't eat fastfood. I couldn't care less.

Anyway... as my sister was retelling me her stint with Mr. Amboy-Consul, I figured I better prepare my speech when I take that all-expense-paid raincheck to the land of milk, honey and gold! I hope the guy who interviews me doesn't question me in Tagalog because my aptitude for the vernacular is weak. I must admit though that I am more adept at Pinoy-Gay-Lingo wherein you can substitute a noun and/or verb with the word churva and its derivatives. For example: Chinurva ni churva yung pagka-churva ng churva ko! Churva mo?!

Anyway, here's my prepared spiel at the US Embassy when I apply for that oh-so-coveted visa:

CONSUL
So, Mr. Masadao... what is the purpose of your visit? Why do you want to go to the USA?

MOI
(smiling ear-to-ear) Of course to visit my relatives in San Diego especially my 95 year-old grandma... and then I want to visit Alaska before it melts or before Sarah Palin dies of incongruity, whichever comes first... then go to Seattle for the best coffee... then Oregon... then proceed to the Grand Canyon and see if it will take me the same time trekking it as piecing together the 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle I had of it in elementary... I also want to go see Devil's Peak in Wyoming and see if I'll have any close encounters of any kind there... I also want to go to Texas for Waldo's Fig Pie... then visit Arizona and see Georgia O'Keefe's house and animal skulls...I want to go to the prairies to see any home on the range, you know, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and antelopes play... I want to try Ted Turner's Buffalo Burgers and sonofabitch stew and see if it tastes any like my Papa's papaitan... Oh I know, I want to visit an Indian reservation and chat with a chief and get his DNA and see if I'm more closely related to him than my half-breed cousins in Florida...I want to go to Las Vegas and be wed to a catholic priest by an Elvis Impersonator, I mean, to wed Elvis Priestly in a ceremony officiated by a Catholic Impostor, uhm...why are you laughing sir?... Oh, I didn't know gay marriage was illegal in Nevada... ok, I know, I'll go to Massachusetts and hit on a college preppie at a gay bar, and even if he socks me in the face, at least I can now speak English with a Nantucket lockjaw...uhm, I want to go to Kansas and experience a tornado... or go down South and experience discrimination?!... I want to go to rural America and see all the Abercrombie boys... Uhm... I want to watch Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah and see the windy city Chicago and find out if Architect Daniel Burnham really patterned Chicago after Baguio City or vice-versa...I want to go to Iowa and play catch with Kevin Costner and his dead relatives in a baseball field in the middle of corn fields... but please, sir, you absolutely must let me go to New York because I wrote Tom Hanks some ten years ago and we're supposed to meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Aug 29, 2010, at 6 pm... pleeeeeaaase!


(The strategy here is to bedazzle the consul with my clueless charm to the point where he has no choice but to give me a US Visa.)

Whachathink?