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Thursday, July 30, 2009




"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."


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 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


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.


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... ", Mister" and look at the news media straight in their eyes and confidently say "I sleep only in Chanel No. 5".


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.


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.


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)


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...)

"...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?

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

Ok, so I had a few drinks...

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...

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...

Which was our gift to the celebrant...

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...

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

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!

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...

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!'...

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.

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

Did you have to spend time with Ricky?

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

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

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

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

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

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...)

(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


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:

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

(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.)


Thursday, July 23, 2009



It's grammar Thursday folks! Today we'll tackle the word lose.

A lot misuse lose, loose, loss, lost, in countless ways. Here are a few examples culled from the past:

"Did she lost it?" "Did she happen to lost it?" "I think that's the one she lose before."

"My blouse is lose." "It's a loosing battle." " I don't want to loss this game."

Let's tackle the examples one by one:

"Did she lost it?" doesn't sound right to the ear, because did in this case implies an action yet to be confirmed. The correct sentence should read "Did she lose it?" OR maybe the speaker meant "Has she lost it?"

In the second example, again did is the clue here, so the sentence should read, "Did she happen to lose it?" while the third example will show, that there is a certainty on the speaker's part so the sentence should read: "I think that's the one she lost before."

In the fourth example, as readers we do not know if the blouse is gone or if it's a size too big. Maybe the speaker meant "My blouse got lost" OR "My blouse is loose" In the same breadth, the fifth example should read "It's a losing battle."

The sixth example should read, "I don't want to lose this game".

I'm at a loss of words to explain more. But trust me on my corrections. Reader, if in doubt, look it up in the dictionary.

Here's your assignment, check which of the following words should be used in the given phrase and use them in a sentence:

1. loose/lose change

2. the guy is a looser/loser

3. losing/loosing sleep over

4. loss/lost at sea

5. lost/loss generation

See you next week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


My high school batch is having a reunion this December and while I was exchanging e-mails with former classmates, I couldn't help remember those years when I first fell in love. It goes back to elementary of course -- but hey some of my classmates and best friends go way back to my elementary days.

The first boy I ever laid my eyes on was Matthew Laborteaux of the TV series Little House on the Prairie. Matthew was the lead star's boyfriend. I forget her name now and do not wish to google her as I've spent two hours googling the pics you see on this post. Matthew was well mannered, cute, and so lovable. I thought we'd someday live on a prairie and build our own little house as a pair. Matthew, you were the reason I grew my hair long in elementary.

Then there was Robby Benson of Ice Castles and the basketball film whose soundtrack my sister bought an LP of; with the hit song by Paul Williams the title escapes me now -- boy, am I having a senior moment here. Happens often nowadays... (loved those basketball shorts, if they bring them back, I'll start watching the NBA again) anyway, Robby Benson appeared again in the film Ode To Billy Joe based on a true story. I saw the film on Betamax, the story was too sensitive for mainstream movie houses I guess. In this film, Robby's character, Billy Joe was molested by a priest, set in rural America in the 1950's. I stopped going to church and saying confession to commiserate with Robby after I saw the film.

Then there was Scott Baio. Oh dear Scott with the winsome smile, shaggy hair, adolescent body, but looked resplendent in period attire in the film Bugsy Malone with Jodie Foster. I stopped having a crush on Scott Baio when a cousin's cousin had said that Scott looked like her brother. NOT! And the brother was a meanie, if I may say so.

After that brief affair with Scott Baio I moved on to Christopher Atkins. Blue Lagoon was showing at First Cinema in Baguio City, and I had to bribe an older cousin to take me to watch the film. Loin cloths never looked so good and I was dreaming that one day I would get shipwrecked on an island with Christopher. I hated Brooke Shields then because she was all over my sisters' magazines. I also felt slighted that they had to dig tunnels in the sand while filming some scenes where Brooke would walk so that she wouldn't look so tall next to Christopher. I learned that trivia from poring over all the magazine articles on Christopher Atkins that I could get my hands on. In the middle of the film, I was hoping his character would just drown Brooke Shields, or feed her poisonous puffer fish, or get her trapped in a net -- all leading to her doom. Dear Christopher, it was because I saw Blue Lagoon that I wanted to become a screenwriter someday.

I stopped liking the good guys. They always got the cheesy girls in the end. So who comes along next but the quintessential beefcake of Tiger Beat... MATT DILLON! I loved him in Little Darlings opposite Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol. In this film Tatum and Kristy make a bet on who gets to lose their virginity first -- this was during summer camp. And they both had their eyes set on resident-bad-boy Matt Dillon. I loathed Kristy McNichol even if she kept winning those gold medals in Battle of the Network Stars because she won the bet. Here's an unforgettable scene from the movie (as I remember it):

What's your name?

(acting cool and chewing gum) Angel... and don't let the name fool you... what's YOUR name?

(not acting, but being really cool) Randy... DON'T let the name fool ya... (then he winks at her)

And then I see Matt next in The Outsiders. Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of S.E. Hinton's acclaimed book on adolescence set in the 1950s. In this film, of young beefcakes, Matt plays the older brother of doomed Ralph Macchio. The hospital scene is remarkable in its poignancy. Stevie Wonder's song Stay Gold was and will be among my favorites. Don't watch this film if you're a die-hard Tom Cruise fan. Tom sucked in this film. He also had ugly teeth back then.

In third year High School we were required to watch Clash Of The Titans and submit a movie review for English class. Our teachers had arranged a special screening at the Pines Theatre and so both sections of third year went. "Harry Hamlin... now that is a man!"... I remember thinking. While the boys in our class were busy identifying the names of the characters that we were all too familiar with in Greek Mythology ... I was trying my vainest attempts at peeking up Harry's toga and/or skirt. He was later to wed his co-star Ursula Andress, one of the original Bond girls. Ursula and Harry were my generation's Demi and Ashton. I was to see Harry on Betamax again in the film Making Love co-starring Michael Ontkean and my least favorite amongst Charlie's angels -- Kate Jackson. This was the very first film I saw with a homosexual theme being tackled. Harry plays Kate Jackson's husband's lover. How tame compared nowadays to all the gay films out there. This film tackled the gay lifestyle from a heterosexual's point of view. Yup, otherwise we'd see more of Harry's butt and pecs and abs instead of Kate Jackson's futile attempt to show her mettle in drama had the movie been written and directed by a gay man.

I stopped yearning for men twice my age so I bounced back with Kevin Bacon via Footloose.
This was the movie that got all of us dancing and wearing high-waisted denims that were too skinny even for the '60s. Kevin Bacon's character was raring to break the stifling rules of the community his family had just moved to. Sarah Jessica Parker in this film had shown her predilection to set fashion trends. I later followed Kevin's career and feel bad that he has never been nominated for an Oscar yet. Kevin, you will always have a special place in my heart and I forgive you for marrying Kyra Sedgwick even if I cried countless nights over it. I think you look happy together now. And please do something about your crow's feet.

Sixteen Candles was my all-time fave teen romance flick. Although I only watched it once. Every three months. For two years. Until my brother saw our video rental card and told my mom and sisters that I had rented the film more than a dozen times -- and I was officially baduy to their eyes. Well, my first look at Michael Schoefling and I fell in love. I didn't care which girl got him in the end. I was sure he was going to be mine someday. I memorized lines from the film, even tried to dress up like Michael Schoefling -- although I must admit the only good acting on that film belonged to the nerd Anthony Michael Hall. But we had enough nerds in campus and no hunks like Michael Schoefling at all.

Although the boys in school would try their darnedest to look good in khaki pants, checkered shirts with rolled-up sleeves, and top-siders. Michael I briefly saw again in the film Mermaids with Winona Ryder, a young Christina Ricci, and Cher. Too bad the magic had worn off...

In the late '80s I had found my real, true love in John Cusack. Say Anything was anything but the shallow teen romances of the past that, uhm, said nothing. In this film, John's character had real integrity, passion, truthfulness. Ditto John's acting. I cry every time I remember that scene with John holding his tape player out in the pouring rain, putting up the volume so that Ione Skye could hear it and come out to meet him. I love you John and will always love you not in spite of but even for your reeboks and trench coat.

Ah, to bring back those days of being in love and still in the closet... NOT! I will dedicate the last picture to my batch mates to encourage them to come in '80s attire when he have our reunion. We were in fourth year high school when Bagets was shown and I remember cutting classes with a girlfriend to catch an afternoon screening at the Pines Theatre.

"Here's to the old times and the best of new ones, here's to a song of glee... I'm growing up... la la la la..." forgot the words but the tune lingers. I remember having a secret crush on JC Bonnin and secretly tucked a photo of him in tight, yellow, short-shorts... I mean, I tucked a photo of JC Bonnin in tight, yellow shorts, into my secret compartment in my closet... yes, I was baduy just like everybody else of UP Baguio High School Batch '84.

Now this post was really a test on how I could manage multiple pictures in one blog entry. I think I've mastered it... what with all these former lovers to inspire me!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 6)



(Toti is busy scanning some magazines for graphic images; David enters...)

Have a presentation today?

Nah... just need some references...

Hmm... those are pretty...


I meant pretty cool... is that for a billboard?

Nope... I'm getting a tattoo.

Why would you want a tattoo? That's so last millenium.

I thought a tattoo peering out my shorts, just above my buns, would be nice for the beach.

First a small, discreet one at the lower back, then you'll add another in your arm, then you'll get one on your leg... what are you gonna do next, piercings?

Oh no, sweetie, I promise, just one, pleeeeeaaase? Will you help me pick out a design then?

It's your body, it's your choice.

Jeez... I'm having a tattoo not an abortion. Besides, it may be my body but you're the one who'll get to see it most of the time.

No, Toti, you decide. Because if one day you'll regret having it, I don't want to be blamed half for it... Why don't you try it with henna first?

(sulks) Ok... ok... so, how bout this one...

Too tribal...


Too butch... you'll need a Harley and leather pants to go with that one.

This then...

Are you out of your mind?! Even Hannibal Lecter would find that way too heavy... honey, you could get arrested just for having that tattoo.

Ok... I'll just decide on my own then... thank you very much...

(The doorbell rings. Toti goes to open door, he leads JC, a young, good-looking, buffed, tattoo artist into the living room, JC is holding his backpack and helmet)

You ordered pizza?

David... JC. uh... JC, this is David. JC's here to do my tattoo...

I think I better hang out here a bit...

You can't stand needles... now go up to your room. I'll call you when it's done... surprise!

Just one tattoo, honey... and that's all he's doing okay?

(Toti signals David to leave the room as Toti removes his shirt. JC sets up his equipment. David goes upstairs... After an hour and a half... JC packs his things, Toti pays him, and leads him to the door... JC revs his motorcycle... David hears this and so he goes back downstairs)

Done already? Well that was quick! Lemme see...

Don't touch it, it's still sore... (Toti turns his back and reveals on his lower back, just above his buns, a yellow, Tweety Bird tattoo)


Whaaat?! What's so funny?!

Tell me that's in henna, honey...

Nope, it's permanent. If it were in henna it wouldn't ache this much.



Oh honey, what kind of pansy would get a Tweety Bird tattoo? Did you ask permission from David Geffen?... Honey, you're never getting past immigration with that tattoo... they'll skin you alive for piracy! (trying to stifle his chuckles) I can just hear all the jokes by the beach now: "Uhm, mister, there's a tiny bird up your ass!" or even "I tawt I taw a puddy cock!" hihihihihihi
You could even get into trouble when a kid runs over to his parents and says "Dad, that man put my Tweety Bird on his ass!" hihihihihihihi you'll be the butt of jokes... on twitter!

You didn't want to help me pick out one... so live with it!

hihihihihihi... no more showers together in the meantime honey, unless you want them to be laughfests! Oh, and lights out in the bedroom from now on...

That shouldn't be a problem... I'm sleeping in the guest room. (he goes upstairs)

Honey, shall I bring up your dinner?! You want wine to go with your birdseed?! hihihihihi

Saturday, July 18, 2009


A friend had lent me her copy of The Secret and have browsed through it, again, this rainy weekend. I got bored so I go online and check their website and am flooded with testimonials from people who have benefited from the book. I am however a skeptic at heart, and naturally veer away from the mushy stuff especially if it's too hard-sell. And why does their website have a paying-members-only page? Hmmm...

I decide to go to youtube. I chance upon a video of Sharon Stone giving a tribute to Tom Hanks as The American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Awardee in 2002. I don't know how I got to that video when I was originally searching for 'men in speedos'. Anyway, Sharon Stone was in white pants and a sleeveless knit silver blouse. And the whole time I was listening to her speech about Tom Hanks's contribution to AIDS Awareness I was staring at the 'favorite' link below the video screen.

I thought: Silver knitwear, favorite, silver knitwear, favorite... AHA! With 'expressing gratitude' in my consciousness from reading The Secret to Sharon Stone's silver knitwear: Here now is a list of a few of my favorite things and why I am grateful to have them.

1. I have a classic silver turtleneck sweater I bought from the ukay-ukay in 1997 and still keep to this day. I only wear the sweater for special occasions because all that sheen reeks of formality. Unlike Ms. Stone's sleeveless number, mine is a body-hugging top. It is perfect for semi-formal events paired with black pants or grey flannel slacks. Wearing the sweater I feel like a million bucks, knitted bling makes you feel rich, but also because I am forced to pull up my back so the sweater doesn't scrunch in the middle, giving me perfect posture. I lengthen my neck so the turtleneck doesn't scrunch up also, but basically because the silver yarn is a tad itchy. All in all it is a comfortable and warm top for chilly nights. I've worn it on Christmas and other Holidays -- yes, even in Manila. And I have been complimented many times for it. The sweater makes me feel good and reminds me that you can never go wrong with a classic.

2. Two books I will never throw away in my collection are A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and Out Of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Both books were given to me by my teacher Vicky Rico-Costina. The first book was handed to me at the end of First Year High School in 1981. Vicky had scribbled on the inside page: For Martin, who was a good and happy bear when I was around -- fondly, Miss Rico. Vicky was my English teacher and the first person to encourage me to spend time reading books and to write essays. She was an unorthodox teacher taking our class out in the sunshine to observe nature, flying kites, playing games, and through these activities imparting our lessons in English.

I was fortunate to have Vicky as a teacher again in college. This time we had tackled the dreaded Shakespeare, unpronounceable Maupassant, suicidal Hemingway, and other great writers. On one of our first days in English 3, Vicky had brought a tape recorder and played us some Beatles songs as we dissected Lennon and McCartney's poetry. Eleanor Rigby could've been the girl in 'She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways'.

We had to do a movie review of Out of Africa, so the whole class caught an evening showing in the old Pines Theater in Session Road. I submitted a darn good review if I may say so, as Vicky upon giving back our graded assignments, asked me if she could keep mine for posterity. She gave me a copy of the book at the end of the semester, again, writing on the front page; To Martin, who best appreciates Isak Dinesen's world -- Miss Rico. I remember her reading passages from the book to our class -- Vicky with her impeccable diction -- it was like listening to a professional recording of the book.

I am grateful for having Vicky and other great teachers while in school. They taught me valuable lessons I still hold dear today.

3. My grandfather's brandy snifters because they bring me back to my childhood when I would be asked by my Lolo Ikong to pour him two fingers of brandy in his glass. Those glasses are now collectibles according to Martha Stewart. I am grateful that they just might be worth gazillions on ebay someday.

4. My brown, leather bag given to me by my sister. No, not the one mistaken for an Hermes by a dingbat. The brown, actually tan, back-pack with the heady leather smell that reminds me of horses and the time this same sister bought a horse and how we all learned to ride bareback that summer in '78. Horseback riding was a wonderful diversion for me while being riddled with adolescent anxiety. I am grateful for my sister and how to this day she is generous to me.

5. My father's gas range and oven that I inherited when he passed away in 2005. Slightly used as he had just bought it when he remodeled his house, the truth is I was the first one to use it when my Dad decided to test the oven by roasting a turkey. He bought the big bird from the supermarket and ordered: "Cook it!" I miss the old man and am grateful we patched things up before it was too late.

It's 6am and I have got to get some shuteye as I will be meeting up with my other sister after lunch. I am grateful to this sister for giving me her slightly used skin products that she buys on a whim but develops allergies or skin reactions to after a few days of use. Now I shall lather the Retinol-A cream before I doze off to ensure a youthful skin tone later when I wake up. Who knows who else I might meet at Shangri-La?

Friday, July 17, 2009


Sometime in May, a post on The Baguio Writers Group Facebook page was seeking for a writer to do a feature for a national glossy that catered to stylish homes. I was interested in the assignment as it would be a great opportunity for me to go up to Baguio. I contacted Ms. G (the contact person of the magazine) and told her I would be available on the day of the shoot. I was supposed to meet their photographer, the interior designer, and owner of the house to be featured, sometime in late May.

Despite a 15-hour trip from Kalinga (I was up there for another project) and barely enough sleep, I go to the house 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I interview the gracious owner, a Korean national, and get the vital information I needed within 15 minutes. During that time, I had noticed fake plants, synthetic flowers, and fake grapes (Oh gawd!) in strategic portions of the house. Not to mention the cheap, unopened champagne bottle and the wine glasses (take note, not champagne flutes) by the bathtub. Also, the throw pillows still had their price tags attached to them as well.

The photographer arrives after some 15 minutes of the agreed call time with his wife, who I thought would be assisting him. The photographer's wife, all throughout was overly saccharine and patronizing not only to the owner (I looooove your house, I loooooove your toilet, I looove the jacuzzi, I loooove your throw pillows, I loooooove....) but to everyone present in the shoot. "Martin, I loooooove your bag! Is it Hermes?" stressing on the last word to let everyone know that she knew how to pronounce Ehr-MEHS. (How I wish my brown leather tote was Hermes, but no, the dingbat apparently can't tell Zara from Hermes).

And oh how Ms. Photographer's-Wife loved to name-drop. You could hear her voice more than the owner's during the tour of the house. This is the same woman (on-a-junket) who, when ordering during lunch (the Korean owner and his wife had treated us to a nearby restaurant after the shoot) decides on the most expensive item on the menu -- steak. She should've taken a hint when our Korean hosts shared a salad after which the wife had simple pasta while the husband settled for grilled chicken.

But I digress... umpisa pa lang ito.

That entire morning was not too inspiring. My interview with the Interior Designer was so-so. Just like her design. Safe and simple. I asked her what her inspiration was: "I wanted a modern look..." sayeth Ms. Young-Interior-Designer. I wanted to blurt out: "Modern?! Honey, it's contemporary not modern! You should know the big difference if you even came from a reputable design school!" But, I restrained myself, wishing she, the Interior Designer, restrained herself design-wise and not suffuse the house with non-biodegradable materials.

And puhleeze, in all my years as a Production Designer and Interior Decorator -- I have never used plastic/fake items for decor. In hindsight, I am just so glad I did not mention other houses in Baguio City that would definitely merit a feature on a national glossy that catered to architecture/interior design.

A few days after the shoot I go back down to Manila and by June 4 I submit my article via email to Ms. G. I admit the article was rushed and 'basic' -- but no, I did not mention Miss Photogenic-Saccharine and how fake and plastic she was. Neither did I mention the fake and plastic plants in the house. I wrote about the architectural and interior design merits of the residence. The article truly lacked inspiration -- but that is my excuse. I, however, did tell Ms. G that they should feel free to give me their inputs and that I was willing to do a re-write. I also got the owner's email address so I could correspond with him in case the editorial team needed more info. Ditto the email address and contact numbers of the interior designer.

In the same email, I told Ms. G upfront that I received email (two days after the shoot) from the owner saying he wanted me to state in the write-up that 'he was selling the house and plans to build more houses in the future'. I also told Ms. G that the interior designer had emailed me separately (again, some days after the shoot) asking me to put her name and contact details in the article 'just in case some readers have questions'. I asked Ms. G if the magazine allowed this and if so, I would just put it at the end of the article. Being familiar with international design magazines, all contact details regarding a specific article are given a separate page/s towards the end of the particular issue.

Now I am not insinuating payola here, heck, even Oprah shamelessly plugs products on her show. I have nothing against advertorials as well. But if indeed this stylish home magazine featured the house because of a 'request' from the owner and/or interior designer, then the magazine has lost integrity-points on this writer-designer's meter. They are supposed to be design gurus, aren't they?! To continue...

I do not hear from Ms. G nor from any representative of the magazine. But wait, this story gets better...

By July 2 I emailed Ms. G:

"It's been a month since I submitted the article on (location and name of owner of house) and still no feedback from you. I think you owe it to update your commissioned writers/contributors. Especially if we went out of our way to pursue an assignment."

Ms. G replied: "I am certain your article merited publication. If there was anything lacking or necessitating change, editorial would have gotten back to you immediately... For your payment we would need your name as you want it to appear on check, your mailing address and TIN."

I replied saying 'thank you' and supplied her with her request. I told her I was willing to pick up the check as I am Manila-based.

Again, I did not hear from Ms. G or any of the editorial team or staff members of the magazine. Now, here's the part that's fodder for newsies, writers, etc.

Last July 14, the Executive Editor of the magazine whom I will now refer to as Ms. VD, emailed me:

"We regret that you felt that it was taking us time to get back to you with feedback. However, we'd like to explain the protocol of (magazine), which is standard for the national glossies:

"A magazine that commissions a writer for a story has an obligation to remunerate that writer and let him know when the article comes out, but it does not owe the writer feedback. All our contributors, who are also regular contributors to other national magazines, understand this.

"However, we respect your request for feedback and will be honest with you: the article was not up to the usual standards of the magazine, and given the time constraints, it was impossible for us to send it back to you for refinement...

"To be fair, I'll email you your original article and the new one. We regret if you, after comparing the two, still feel aggrieved -- although please note it is the prerogative of the editorial team to try to get each article up to at least the minimum standard of the magazine...

"We, of course, take into consideration that perhaps the subject matter wasn't your forte, and that you are capable of great work elsewhere."

I take a look at the attached article and... lo and behold... they used my Title, my Introductory Paragraph, and cut&pasted phrases / sentences from my original write-up. At the end of the article was my name above the other writer's name. Pumanting na ang tenga ko (my ears were in jeans)!

I email Ms. VD:

"After mulling over your email, I have decided to appeal to your sense of fairness and now graciously ask you to:

1. Not use my title for your article

2. Please tell your writer/s to re-write the entire article without quoting and/or copy-pasting any of my phrases and sentences and more importantly not to use my structure and tone and rhythm in their final write-up.

3. Kindly ask the accounting department and/or (Ms. G) to reimburse the expenses (transportation and other incidentals) I incurred when you commissioned me to do the writing assignment...

I am now quoting portions of your approved article that you attached to your email to show which portions I believe I had originally written and/or expressed and that you have lifted verbatim or otherwise...

(I proceed to type in bold font the Title, Introductory paragraph, and excerpts from my article. After which I continue...)

"Granting that my article did not merit "the minimum standard of the magazine" I humbly ask you to accede to my request above promptly."

Ms. VD replies (within hours but I only got to read the email the next day):

"The July-August issue is already in the newsstands. Unfortunately, it is too late to revise any of the articles.

You have a choice of two options, though:

1. We will reimburse your expenses, and we will print an errata in our September issue stating that we were mistaken in crediting you for the article. In this option, you will not be paid a professional fee.

2. We will not reimburse your expenses, but will, instead, pay you a professional fee, which you will receive at the end of the issue's newsstand life (in this case, end of August). Since we already have your TIN and mailing address, you will only need to supply us your bank account details so we can make the deposit.

Please let me know which option you decide on. While all this is an admittedly regrettable episode, I hope both parties can move on."

Teka, teka, teka! How dare Ms. VD use that tone! What Gall! So I replied:

"Dear Ms. VD,

"Thank you for your prompt attention on the matter.

"The first option you are offering me is another slap, not only on my face, but an insult to all writers who have been in the same predicament as myself. You must realize that this was not and is not an issue of remuneration. I am speaking for all the writers who in the past have been discredited, maligned, plagiarized, and under-compensated for their hard work in the past, by people like you and the publications you represent.

(I know I shouldn't have said 'in the past' twice, but I was soooo angry I didn't read through my email before clicking the 'send' button)

"Be that as it may, and lest I may be perceived as a difficult person -- I will accept your second offer if only to put to rest this 'regrettable episode'.

"The more important thing than moving on is for you to learn as well from this experience."

Ms. VD replies:

"The second option it is."

And it turns out, tada! Ms. Vd is actually a Mister as he so signed his last email.

I wanted to write another email, but thought, hey this is a good blog post, so here instead is my intended reply:

Dear Mister VD,

No, you will not have the last say. Nor the last laugh.

I am not going to give you my bank details as yet, for this will be a final test on your publication's sincerity and willingness to offer me a professional fee in the first place. If by the second week of September I do not hear from your office, then I will just have proven myself right that you would prefer getting writers, who are not on your payroll, to do assignments, and if possible to get away with it, not compensate these writers for their work. (Thank you MegatonLove for reminding me about Pinoys and their TY mentality).

If that happens I will email you by the third week of September giving you the bank details of The Baguio Writers Group as I wish said professional fee to be given to them instead.

It is no wonder that your output reflects the mentality of your editorial team. My sister was right in not renewing her subscription to your magazine a few years back. And just to show you how unattached my sister is to your issues, (out of a gazillion interior design/architecture magazines, both local and international that my sister subscribes to) your magazines were the first she let go when she had a garage sale. But even at the low price of P20, no one bought your magazines.

Aw, Mr. VD, that leaves us with no recourse but to donate those issues to the palengke -- in the hope that it just might elevate the lowly tinapa -- sosyal ng pambalot 'no? Hindi newsprint ha?!


Thursday, July 16, 2009



Megatonlove asked me a few moons ago to blog about the Pinoy's propensity to misuse apostrophe s ('s). Although based in 'the wilds of Belgium' I think Megaton still comes across that distinctively Pinoy error in her facebook or probably has a good memory of it while still living in these 7,000+ islands.

So here goes:

The apostrophe is used to indicate plural and possessive forms of words or to indicate missing letters and digits.

With singular and plural nouns that do not end in s, place apostrophe s ('s) at the end of the word to create the possessive form.

SINGULAR: dog -- dog's chef -- chef's William -- William's

PLURAL: geese -- geese's men -- men's feet -- feet's

With singular nouns that do end in s, add apostrophe s ('s). We should stick to the general rule when we can.

boss -- boss's Jones -- Jones's bus -- bus's

lass -- lass's class -- class's Charles -- Charles's

Please note that there are several exceptions to this rule:

1. The possessive forms of the name Jesus and Moses take a simple apostrophe.

Jesus -- Jesus' Moses -- Moses'

2. The possessive forms of names more than one syllable that end in s and whose final syllable has an /eez/ sound take only an apostrophe.

Euripedes -- Euripedes' Socrates -- Socrates' Ramses -- Ramses'

Please remember, however, that most of these are names of long-deceased Greek philosophers or Egyptian pharaohs and of little concern to the general populace.

3. When the object of the preposition in the expression for something's sake ends in s, that object takes only an apostrophe.

for goodness' sake for Jones' sake

To add apostrophe s ('s) would give us three s sounds in a row and that is too many for an articulate speaker to make.

With plural nouns that end in s, just add an apostrophe.

tigers -- tigers' boys -- boys' hearts -- hearts'

rats -- rats' beasts -- beasts' militias -- militias'


The apostrophe is used to create the plural forms of letters and abbreviations.

1. To form the plurals of single letters, add apostrophe s ('s): R's, t's.

2. To form the plurals of abbreviations with internal periods, add apostrophe s ('s): Ph.D.'s, M.D.'s.


The apostrophe is used in contractions to indicate missing letters.

is not -- isn't he is -- he's could not -- couldn't


We often pronounce words in a colloquial manner, leaving off a letter or two. When these colloquially spoken words are written, we use apostrophes to indicate the missing letters.

That ol' car has served me well.

In this example, the adjective old has been shortened to ol'. The apostrophe stands in for the missing d.


The apostrophe appears in numbers to indicate missing digits.

1981 -- '81 1917 -- '17 1941 -- '41 2009 -- '09


Q: "I collect first editions. My favorites are by Charles Dickens. Do I write that they are Dicken's, Dickens', or Dickens's novels?" asked a book collector.

A: The apostrophe rules advise that you add apostrophe s ('s) to show possession with singular nouns that end in s. The phrase Dickens's novels is the correct choice.

This is a difficult and controversial issue. There are two schools of thought regarding the use of the apostrophe with singular nouns: the pro-apostrophe s camp and the apostrophe only camp. The latter camp suggests that we add only the apostrophe and eliminate the s. Some books say do it one way; some say to do it the other; some say that both ways are all right, depending upon the writer's preference. This writer is of the apostrophe s ('s) camp, but you should choose the method that you feel communicates the idea of possession most effectively.

I think most Pinoys err with apostrophe s ('s) by using it when they intend to pluralize a noun

we repair shoe's -- when the correct phrase should be -- we repair shoes

and most often use s apostrophe (s') when they mean the possessive form of a noun

Martins' blog is helpful -- instead of the correct form -- Martin's blog is helpful

That familiar phrase keeping up with the Joneses implies there are several people whose last name is Jones... the phrase keeping up with the Joneses' lifestyle uses apostrophe s ('s) properly but the phrase becomes redundant because it is precisely their 'lifestyle' that is supposedly the one the envious neighbors are 'keeping up with'.

Thanks' Megaton's for hers' suggestion for todays' blog po'st.

note: post in bold type was taken from The Grammar Bible by Michael Strumpf. A very, very exhaustive and highly recommended reference for all writers, bloggers, and sticklers for grammar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


After an exhilarating night out with the girlfriends (ok, it was just one girl and two gays) I decided to go to Malate for a nightcap. I chatted with the regulars, said hello to the waiters, smiled at the cigarette vendors... and found my usual seat outside by the entrance. I like al fresco evenings in Malate, especially after a downpour. Reminds me of Lingayen, Pangasinan... you know, bagoong of the fish variety.

Into my third gulp of cold, San Miguel Strong Ice, this kid, who I vaguely know but did recognize, comes over to buss me, I offer my cheek so as not to offend the zealous wannabe, after the perfunctory beso-beso, he asks in all contrived concern: "Why are you so lonely?"

Moi?! Lonely?!

Just because I go to a bar alone doesn't mean I'm lonely. Just because I don't hang-out with oodles of friends doesn't mean I'm lonely. Just because I prefer to bask in my thoughts than engage in small talk doesn't mean I'm lonely.

Loneliness is cluelessness. You, idiot! You don't know me from Adam to even presume I'm lonely. We've never met on a level for you to make any conclusion with regards to my emotional well being. You don't even have an iota of discernment to feel where I'm coming from, who I am, my thoughts, my feelings, my background.

Loneliness is trying to fit in when you're obviously a square peg in a puzzle of (well) rounded individuals. Get a life and the experience that comes with it, you dodo!

Loneliness is you in your skinny jeans (so last season), your over-lathered-with-hair-products hair, your fake laughter, your breath in bad need of mints. Your eagerness to belong. Anywhere.

Leave me in precious solitude with my cold beer as I contemplate being alone in fetid Manila.

Have you ever read Thoreau? No, wait, do you even know how to read?


Sunday, July 12, 2009

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 5)



(Toti is eating sinangag and longganisa while David is having pancakes, bacon, eggs and a glass of milk)

Wait, hold it right there... (reaches for his celfone and takes a picture of David) There, you'd be perfect for our next ad campaign (shows David his pic with a milk mustache)

Oh, but that campaign has been done before...

I know, but it's what the clients want...

How original... I preferred your 'Camping Storyboard': where the kids tell their father & mother to drink their milk, and tell them all the benefits of why they should drink milk everyday, why it's good for the bones and all that... then the kids tuck their parents in bed, kiss them goodnight, "now you be a good Daddy and Mommy, the kids are going out tonight"... then they go outside in the moonlight to their backyard, meet up with their friends, go inside the tent they've pitched, play cards, smoking imaginary cigarettes, while drinking milk out of beer mugs!

I know, I loved that concept too... but even the creative team didn't appreciate the irony... they still want the mother-goose-everything-rosy-and-sunshiney-the-world-is-perfect TV commercial... how cutting-edge, only the cutting edge needs a good slap on a leather strap...

Are they still using that fat actress as endorser?

(almost chokes on his food) David! She's the mega-star! Don't let any of my co-workers hear you say that... that's almost sacrilegious! They'd burn you like a fattened capon, chop you to pieces, toss you into the boiling cauldron, and offer you to the high priestess of Philippine Advertising... you know, the one who thinks he's Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada!

(chuckles) Go easy on the vinegar dip, honey, your tongue's acerbic enough... where'd you learn to spew such language?

My mom raised me well... you should've met her... oh boy, at less than 5 feet tall, how she could make a mouse out of my Dad with her one-liners, with one look, and the perfect jab of her retorts! BAM! And my Dad would start to thrash everything within grasp!

Must've been fun growing up in your household...

Yeah... but at one point my parents' daily drama got the better of us. We had scrambled sarcasm for breakfast, grilled arguments for lunch, pancakes slathered with saccharine apologies for the afternoon snack, a heartily tossed catharsis salad for dinner, then a mug of forget-about-everything-that happened-today chocolate milk before bedtime. (Toti loses it...) AND I WAS ONLY FUCKIN' 5 YEARS OLD!

(Toti tries to regain composure, he vainly attempts to hold back the tears welling up in his eyes as he tinkers with the food on his plate, his hands shaking...

Beat. David reaches over and holds Toti's hand...)

(standing up and sings...) And that's how the little girl down the lane grew uuupppppp! (Toti lights up a cigarette and steps outside towards porch.)

(Beat) I'm just here, honey... I'm just here. And will always be here. Don't you forget that. (He starts to clear the table...)

(shaking and in tears mutters to himself) Didn't they know better than to feed their kids verbal abuse...

A new e-postsode of Toti & David will be posted every Sunday

Saturday, July 11, 2009



To continue with Over the Edge of the World, Laurence Bergreen does not skimp on the sexually curious details:

"A few days later, Pigafetta confided to his diary that he, along with other men of the fleet, had been intimate with the women of Cebu. That was not surprising in itself; far more extraordinary were the bizarre sexual customs practiced by both sexes, especially palang, or genital stretching.

"'The males, large and small, have their penises pierced from one side to the other near the head, with a gold or tin bolt as large as a goose quill,' Pigafetta observed, scarcely believing his eyes. 'In both ends of the same bolt, some have what resembles a spur, with points upon the ends; others are like the head of a cart nail. I very often asked many, both old and young, to see their penis, because I could not credit it.' Fascinated by the devices, Pigafetta studied them closely.

...Pigafetta received a graphic lesson in the art of love, Cebuan style. 'When the men wish to have communication with their women, the latter themselves take the penis not in the regular way and commence very gently to introduce it [into the vagina], with the spur on top first, and then the other part. When it is inside, it takes its regular position; and thus the penis always stays inside until it gets soft, for otherwise they could not pull it out.'

Palang was not confined to men. Women also used it, starting in infancy. 'All of the women from six years and upward have their vaginas gradually opened because of the men's penises,' he learned. Having sexual intercourse with palang prolonged the act; the bolts and spurs discouraged sudden movements; and it was believed to intensify the pleasurable sensations in the vagina. Intercourse using palang lasted as long as a day; or even more, as the two lovers remained locked in an embrace of passion.

Pigafetta's clinical description contained enough detail to suggest that he observed the islanders having intercourse, and he came away both excited and dismayed by what he saw. 'Those people make use of that device because they are of a weak nature,' he decided, equating weakness with pleasure-loving... 'all the women loved us very much more than their own men,' presumably because the unadorned Europeans lacked the cumbersome accessories.

The Filipinos emphasized female sexual pleasure, and women even had access to artificial penises to assuage their lust. The Spanish, especially the clergy who came after Magellan, were intent on eliminating the practice, which they felt was nearly as repugnant as palang itself.

It can be said that Magellan's do-or-die emphasis on conversion interfered with precious cultural traditions, but he saw matters quite differently. He was engaged in a mission to rescue a benighted people from barbarism in this world and perdition in the next. In contrast to his pragmatic crew members, who considered themselves travelers through an alien landscape, Magellan conducted himself as if he were an instrument of the Lord. He believed that Providence had sent him to the Philippines to bring Christianity to the heathen and considered the local customs as grave social ills. In Magellan's mind, Christianity offered the best, and the only cure."


Phew! Again Bergreen puts everything in its cultural context. The dichotomy between the Europeans' morality and the natives' sexual practices are analyzed taking into consideration the period in which these events occurred and how it had fueled the Spanish and Magellan himself to be steadfast in their founding of Christianity on these shores. Indigenous peoples throughout history had their unique sexual nuances much to the amazement of the white explorer.

What I find utterly disconcerting is that there still are people in this modern day with a magellan-mindset. The kind of people who only view the world according to their beliefs, standards, moral values, etc. Worse, these same people sincerely believe in their hearts that it is their duty to impose these same beliefs, standards, moral values, etc. on the rest of humanity.

Case in point is pornography. I view porn, on my own time, alone. There has been so much flak and ado about the subject matter even on beloved twitter, but I say -- if you don't like porn, don't view it! In the same breadth, if you're not for gay marriage, don't marry the same sex!

What will these people do next?! Ban salt, sugar, alcohol, soda -- because it's bad for our health? Will they also start to impose that we wear the same Sunday-school-uniform? Welcome to organized-faith-couture. Margaret Atwood wrote about that future possibility in "The Handmaid's Tale".

I say we should ever be vigilant for our basic right, as humans, to chart our own courses, speak our preferred words, and make the daily ADULT decisions for ourselves.

One question, is there any relation that both 'cucumber' and 'cumbersome' have the word 'cum'?