Sunday, March 23, 2008

My daughter, My self.

Was rummaging through old pfotos when I saw these.
At left, myself as a flowergirl at 3 years old.
At right, Sandra at 2.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Again, another Rally...

I am at my desk, mentally preparing for a video conference to a client in Hong Kong, and occassionally distracted by the horde of rallyists traversing Ayala Avenue below.

Some of them might have their hearts in the right place. And yes, corrupt people should be brought down... No, shot instantly, he he... But right now, I think of this bungled schedule of mine, the work that needs to be done, and Sandra's school bus tied up in some traffic somewhere.

The Philippines is the poster boy for democracy in the hands of people who can't handle it well. We are too quick to table our cries on the streets and expect a political reform after. Sure, it worked in 1986. Twenty two years later, I don't think so.

Getting up from my desk to get coffee, the TV blared on about tanks rolling in Metro Manila, sort of the President's way to get more security. She and her administration have cried of an assassination plot by the insurgents. Well, what does she expect? The country is in worse shape and her family has supposedly pocketed too much money from this Broadband deal. I look at the traffic, I look at my life, working my ass off at this hour and I think hey, I can kill someone too with all the inconvenience caused. Ha ha.

I am so politically apathetic. LOL.

Meanwhile below is the breaking news from

Anti-Arroyo protesters swell, start march in Makati

By Cathy Miranda, Abigail Kwok
First Posted 14:45:00 02/15/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) At least 3,000 anti-Arroyo rallyists have started to gather in Makati City, representing various militant, civil society and Church groups.

About 100 law policemen from the city were deployed although there were those who were sent from Las Piñas and Parañaque, officials on the ground told

They also said that the rally was expected to last until 8 p.m., based on the permit that was issued by the local government.

A mass is scheduled at 4 p.m., they said.

The protesters, who are expected to converge at Paseo de Roxas, near the monument of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., are demanding the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the national broadband network controversy that has linked her husband and some of her allies to allegations of corruption.

Police have closed Ayala Avenue to traffic and only members of media were allowed to park their vehicles along the road. Radio and television reports added that Paseo de Roxas and Buendia were no longer passable to vehicles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Billiards with Dad

Once in a while, I am my father's son.

Last weekend, while every single male member of the clan opted to swim in the pool or tinker with the videoke machine (mind you, i wouldn't dare get caught with that one), I got the cue and played old fashioned 8-ball with my old man.

Growing up, I was a dutiful daughter. But more than that, I was his partner in a lot of things. We went fishing together, and I am his only offspring (yes, more than my brothers) who learned how to hold a worm, or gut a fish. He taught me how to scrub an oyster, and shuck it after. He taught me how to hold a rifle and kill a monitor lizard before it kills one of the ducks (we had a farm once). He also let me go with him to the barbershop, where barbers would lash out their own political opinions and I would hear my Dad in a heated debate. That in essence, shaped the way I am now. A girly-girl with old man insight and subtlety.

And if there's one thing I learned with him about men, is never sit them down when I want to talk about something important. Always say news "in passing", like when I'm handing popcorn during a commercial break. Or in this situation, over a game of 8-ball.

ME: I heard cousin ____ is doing well in Ireland.

DAD: (while managing to land one of the balls in the corner pocket) Yeah, she's doing great. Earning serious money.

ME: What if I get to do that? What if I venture out of Manila?

DAD: (Puts chalk on his cuestick) What do you mean? Be an expat?

ME: Not necessarily. I have this start-up idea which will involve a lot of travel. I might be gone every month, like a nomad. But I want to be based here.

DAD: (grunts) hmp.

ME: Anyway, it's just an idea.

DAD: Which countries?

ME: Some parts of Europe, and Middle East.

DAD: (misses a ball) there's something wrong with this cuestick... So you're resigning?

Not until I'm sure about it.

DAD: We can always take care of Sandra while you're gone. I'm more concerned about this travel thing. You're a girl.

ME: I'm waayyy over 30, Dad.
(i then hit the 5th ball into the middle pocket)

He sighs and fumbles with the chalk again. And then he goes:

DAD: When you travel, do you ride in Business class?

I guess that's my Dad's way of saying, I hope you'd be well taken care of.

And then, distracted as he was, he won the game.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Everyday, Sweet Sunshine

Another Coke ad, quite upbeat and positive, albeit not as moving as the one in last month's post. Directed by Ken Chung and colourgraded/post produced in Hong Kong.

Monday, February 4, 2008

...of an Old, Beautiful Time

I love the charm of provinces, with simple folk showing much respect for old things passed on to them by their grandparents' grandparents. I love seeing hand-carved furniture or hand-blown glass meticulously cared for by next generations. I don't consider this materialism, more like sentimentality and remembrance of family history.

This romance for old things has died, unfortunately. The rise of IKEA (I call them fast-furniture, lol) has killed this respect for lovely, old bric-a-bracks. I am guilty of this too, I'd be quick to let go of anything old or worn-out. It seems practical to just buy a new one than maintaining something special.

Anyway, when work beckoned us to find a picturesque rural neighborhood (and no beach communities included, darn!) we chanced upon these lovely archaic houses, about 200 years old. And because this government of ours is too poor to declare the houses of historical significance (meaning shell out money for maintenance), the 21st century descendants have taken it upon themselves to salvage what's left.

We didn't intend to shoot the houses, just the streets and alleyways around them. But the pretty little details of these homes seduced me into venturing inside. And armed with just an old Nokia phone, these pictures don't really do them any justice.

I loved the four-poster bed, intended for a señorita, set near her wide french-lace curtained window where she was once serenaded, or presumably seduced. I loved the glass door knob on her bedroom door, which could've trained her to handle things delicately, and not to bang it if she ever got upset (I would do a lot of door slamming if I weren't allowed out of the house).

There were small washed out watercolour portraits, a far cry from the lush acrylic or oil paintings that hung in the homes of the old rich. The portraits may be small, but quite tasteful. Whoever the old ancestor was (an 18th century Chinese immigrant, the one in the picture above, next to the mirror) was modest, considering his home was huge. The mirror in itself is also a conversation piece. A letter from his son was etched on the glass. "To my dearest father, the master of this home", it said.

I was also peeking -- alright, rummaging -- around the house, looking for little clues of their personalities. And in one old drawer, I found this. A stack of crumbling documents. This one is a last will and testament, dated 1865 and written in Spanish, the Philippines' mother tongue in the colonial days. The paper was literally deteriorating in my hands (O, God forgive me for holding them). I hate being this curious and nosey, but I was drawn to the beauty of the script. The way his pen swirled revealed his education and genteel nature. And that in his last days, he bequeathed this lovely house to his younger sister. It was not a very special story, but this paper, this house, is like stepping into someone's diary. Ordinary made extraordinary by time and care given by the succeeding generations. And with that, I said my apologies to the spirits and put the documents back where I found them.

A superstitious camera crewman said there were ghosts in the place. I didn't feel that at all. The house is not haunted for me. It was loved, and that is why it felt so inviting. In fact, if I was lucky enough to see a ghost, I'd probably say "Good day, Sir. You have a lovely home".

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Potipot Island

In a country with 7,101 islands, there are about over 30,000 beaches here, some more popular than others. I've ventured into the popular ones and I am not impressed with the commercialism of Boracay, Palawan or Puerto Galera. I like secluded beaches more, so I cajoled my college buddies to go with us to Potipot Island.

It was a 6-hour drive (we got trapped in Holiday Traffic) to Uacon, the mainland that faces Potipot. Uacon is a sleepy town with very modest accommodations. There isn't even cable TV within miles. And the sand is very soft and fine, though very dark as well, almost black that when you're swimming in it, it feels like you're swimming in mud.

Sandra had a great time though, she played with the sand and made "mud pies". I guess I need to be thankful for her ability to make do with what's available, since TV nor toys were not at her disposal.

But at least Potipot island is just a kilometer by boat. In fact, it's within view from this beach.

So we took a P400 (about US$10) boat ride to the island. The boat is a rickety thing made from plywood and bamboo. I didn't take any chances and insisted that Sandra wear a life vest. The vest was something I brought along. Life vests and safety gear ARE NOT AVAILABLE in this province. Case in point, we are literally hanging on the boat with our butts because there were no proper seating and we just leaned on the banca's edge.

Potipot is a stark contrast to Uacon. Take note that it's just a kilometer away, but the sand here is pristine white. On the background is the banca that we rode on, and the mainland of Uacon, Candelaria.

There is absolutely nothing in Potipot. No resorts, no electricity, not even a bathroom. It's just a secluded mushroom -shaped island of misplaced trees and white sand. It is serenely isolated, which made the 280km trip from Makati worthwhile. Unlike Boracay, no one will try to sell me stuff while I'm on the beach, and there aren't any giggly honeymooners either. Just perfect.

One of the few pictures of me and the girls together. In reality, we took a second to pose and then just ignored each other the rest of the time. Everyone had a thing. Trish wanted to bake herself in the sun. Vecs wanted to explore inside the island. Sandra wanted to build castles, catch hermit crabs or snorkel. I just wanted to breathe it all in. Oh the blue ring right at the edge of the water is where the sand disappears and one just drops to infinity.

Surprisingly, Sandra took to the water immediately. I expected her to chicken out when we saw that it was too deep, but with the vest and a wakeboard, she seemed very confident. I didn't take chances though. I was swimming close to her like a mama whale next to a calf.

Though the bad thing about playing mama whale is having this for a constant view -- Sandra's side. There's really nothing much to see down there, since I may need scuba gear and a diving torch if I really wanted to see what's in that blue abyss. Besides, in this deep water, Sandra safely swimming is a much better view to me.

I'm really glad we made that trip. But I sort of regret taking this picture. Because now, I really do wish I was there.

Christmas Madonna

This is a retro post, since I didn't have much time to blog around Christmas time.

The Christmas party at the office as usual, had production numbers with high expectations. I guess that's natural when you have production designers at your disposal. Anyway, the gays at the office wanted to do Madonna drag but didn't have enough gays to portray Madonna in all the stages of her transformation. With the lack of drag queens around, they turned to the next best thing, the "fag hags" such as myself. I got the part to perform 2-stanzas of Holiday from Madonna's Blonde Ambition Japan tour. And not to sound biased, I did look the part, though I looked more like I came from Yokohama than she did. LOL.

Getting "adopted" for New Year's Eve

It was my first new year without Sandra and family. I would've wanted to just troop down to Ayala avenue and just get lost in the street party crowd all by myself. But I decided against that and accepted an invitation from the neighbors to watch the fireworks from their penthouse.

It's 2008. I'm a big girl now, and if I still go on with my being introvert, nothing would ever happen to me. So for the first time, I attended a party where I knew nobody but the host (and not very well at that). The host was a mis-transplanted Aussie who didn't have a family here. Come to think of it, most of the people who attended didn't have families. So we were like adopted misfits, warmly welcomed to his home to partake of spaghetti, sausages, grilled chicken and booze.

My co-adoptees were also a mix of characters. Engineers, stock brokers, IT geeks, a Harley biker, housewives and provincial natives, and ehem, bargirls. All of us had nothing in common, except for the fact that we were all alone. I came in a proper suit dress, and was surprised to see some girls wearing revealing tube tops with their breasts almost spilling out. One girl looked at me oddly and I looked at her back oddly, but decided... oh what the hell. We exchanged hugs and greeted each other happy new year. Just for this day, I suspended all judgment.

And from the penthouse, we had a 180 degree view of fireworks from Ayala and the rest of Manila. And for someone whose lonely, it wasn't such a bad place to be in.