It's the end of the world as we know it (or at least, as Wall Street would like us to believe)

Friend after looking at a newspaper headline: Ano naman ang kinalaman ng Unchained Meloday sa ekonomiya ng mundo?

Me stares at her blankly.

Friend: Lehman brothers? Kumanta ng Unchained Melody? HELLO????

Me wonders why I'm having this conversation.

Friend, because she has to have the last word: Lehman Brothers lang, di mo pa alam? Daaaah. (rolls eyes)

Me starts praying for more pressing matters, like world peace and lunch.

Random musings on this day of our Lord, the 19th of September in the year 2008, a.k.a more than a a week after my 29th birthday (pt. 3)

As a kid, I was never scared of the usual stuff kids were scared of. I like the darkness, it may give me the creeps sometimes but not to a point when I get pee-in-the-pants scared. Nor was I scared if monsters in the closet or under the bed, insects, reptiles, or any mythological, make-believe, or unidentified creature of folklore. Blood, death, or anything related to the macabre were, at a time, more fascinating and intriguing than frightening. School bullies bored me, and I think I also bored them eventually.

But that didn't stop me from being scared of Mr. Clean.

I couldn't remember, for the life of me, how I started getting frightened of him. Yes, I WAS scared of Mr. Clean, as in the hunk of a bald guy wearing an immaculately white muscle tee, with white eyebrows, an earring, and a sinister smile. I do remember, though, a life-size likeness of him, made out of cardboard and whatnot, guarding the entrance/package counter of this grocery store my mom and I frequented, because it was next to the jeepney loading station for City Heights (aka geriatric neighborhood I blogged about earlier), making it most convenient for us to buy last-minute groceries. Mothers have it in their genetic code to sense their children's fears, so my mom tells me to wait outside if she has to buy something in the store. This was 1980s Bacolod - kidnapping was not in in anyone's vocabulary, just starvation and the threat of looking like a Batang Negros (refer to earlier thread). If I wanted to come inside the store to drive my mom crazy and beg her to buy me chocolate or some nutrient-deficient snack with a free toy, I would drag her as hard as I can and run like it's nobody's business while avoiding Mr. Clean's steady gaze.

I remember feeling overwhelmingly relieved when, sometime in 1985 ( I was about to turn 6), we passed by the store and Mr. Clean was missing. I finally got to see what the package counter attendant looks like, with my mom assuring me that he has been in charge since 1983. I remember getting a puzzled look from him, as he may have probably thought that I was scared of him. For the first time in the history of my family shopping on that store, I was free of anxiety, far from getting a juvenile heart attack.

(to be continued)

Random musings on this day of our Lord, the 16th of September in the year 2008, a.k.a a week after my 29th birthday (pt. 2)

feeling: long weekend hangover (I celebrated Cheusok, suckers)!!! But I'm good, I'm feeling light and not overwhelmed by the delayed start of my work week song: Abriendo caminos, Diego Torres y Juan Luis Guerra (to supplement my easy, breezy mood)

Come to think of it, when I was in kindergarten, I was more proficient in Chinese, both in Mandarin and Fookien than in Tagalog. I learned Chinese the whole afternoon, complete with Bible verses to memorize (I was studying in a Chinese Baptist school, o ha???), the family tree (paternal uncles and maternal uncles are called differently), and the multiplication table come the 2nd year of kindergarten (up until table of 3). My Tagalog was honed by ear, thanks to Pong Pagong, Kiko Matsing, Ate Sienna, Kuya Bodgie in Batitbot, and later by Kuya Germs and his battalion of That's Entertainment starlets. Of course, I had to learn Filipino (at the time when the school subject was stilled spelled with a P; I've forgotten when DECS [so '80s, aren't they called DepEd now?] ) in grade school, which coincided with my transfer to a school that didn't really stress on Chinese education (think Xavier). Thus, my Chinese took a nosedive. To think I was the 1st student with zero Chinese ancestry to finish on top of the class in Chinese. So, now, in a 100% scale, I can only understand 30% max, with contextual clues, and read, write, and speak... 5%. Oh, what a waste!

Looking back, I'm grateful though that I was exposed to different cultures at an early age as it cultivated my interest in foreign languages and the like. Maybe I should give that Ateneo Professional Schools brochure a second look.*

* APS (Salcedo Village campus), in partnership with the Confucian Institute, is offering Mandarin lessons in different levels.

Random musings on this day of our Lord, the 8th of September in the year 2008, a.k.a my 29th birthday (part 1 of 29)

I am currently feasting on a slice of melon, a cheese spread sandwich, and a pitcher of orange juice. This brings me back to my kindergarten days, back to when life was still mundanely easy and I could still count the years id my existence with the fingers of one hand. also, I remembered the woe I would cause my mom when I would come home from school with my lunch box still containing an uneaten peanut butter sandwich and a tumbler full of orange juice, untouched. See, I manifested early signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior (read: homosexuality) by refusing to consume anything that is not color-coordinated. Thus, a peanut butter sandwich should go with chocolate milk, a cheese sandwich must be paired with orange juice, and milk, preferably Anchor (Nido and Birch Tree made me wanna puke), was to be drunk at lunch with white rice and whatever viand.

My fixation with colors ended one day when my mom, in a sermon which probably lasted for an hour, but for a 6 year-old kid felt like the whole afternoon, showed me a picture of the infamous batang Negros.

(not the precise picture, but you got my point, I hope)

For '80s kids, the Batang Negros, with ribs poking out and a bloated stomach, was every parent's weapon against children who have picky appetites. Alas, as much as I did not like mixing colors, I didn't want flies and other insects swarming all over me. As THE Mariah Carey once allegedly said, " Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." Thus, my career with colors was cut short. Oh, the possibilities.

It's (insert adjective here) to be back in your hometown

What's quite cool about working as a teacher online is having holidays when your students want to stay stupid. It gets better when you teach students abroad, because you celebrate holidays of their countries and you get double pay to work during Philippine holidays. I mean, who cares about that EDSA thing when you get to go to the office hassle and traffic free and you get to have an ultra-long weekend from the 6th to the 10th for Seollal, or Lunar New Year? Happiness!

So, I decided to surprise my family, whom I haven't seen as a whole for two years , by going home. Pro: lots and lots of R&R. Con: loads of food, as there is absolutely nothing to do in Bacolod other than stuffing oneself with calories way over RDA limits. With hunger killing countless victims in destitute places, I know it may be audacious to put food as a con. But try visiting Bacolod and you'll get my drift. The only other activity is trying to burn excess calories by walking the long stretches of Gaisano, Robinsons, or the relatively new SM mall, the latter my mother chose as the site for my one-and-only consented TSABS appearance.

TSABS - (pronounced as tee-sabz) to see and be seen appearance. A term coined by my first officements and I to call that almost-perfunctionary public appearance a probinsyana/o who has been away when s/he comes back to her/his province, to function as a walking trophy by his/her parents and be a walking billboard to remind everyone that they are being graced by the presence of someone fresh from wherever. It is always assumed that the TSABS-er has made it big wherever s/he has been, or else s/he wouldn't have the face/nerve/guts to display her/himself in public. Also, it is assumed that the TSABS-er will greet, kiss, smile, or acknowledge the presence of everyone, from long-lost relatives to unrecognizable kindergarten classmates, or stand the chance of getting branded as thinking too highly of her/himself to socialize with small-town nobodies. Thus, the TSABS-er must strike a prefect balance between looking spiffed and chic (or else be plagued with "Yun ba ang galing Manila, ba't parang namulubi?" looks) and being Ms./Mr. Congeniality (or else beauty parlors the next day will abound with stories along the line of "Abaw, ang bata ni ***** nag-abot, daw si sin-o na guid. Nakatapak lang sa Manila wala na guid gapamugno, daw namenusan na guid di sa aton.")

My sister survived her TSABS ordeal years ago when she came back from Manila and decided to work in Bacolod. She's not all ma-chicka and the works, she breezed through her homecoming after the first week by smiling and teenybopper-ing her then 25-year old self around town. I, on the other hand, am awkwardness personfied. I so happen to be every family's TSABS nightmare. People who know me should know that I'm NOT the best in quick friendship-building and superficial relationships unless my dear life depended on them. Heck, I'm awkward with anyone I haven't seen in 3 days, how much more with people I haven't seen since I was in my Trinity Christian School uniform? I spent every college Christmas vacation hibernating in my home; unavoidable family get-togethers are dealt with an hour's guest appearance. High school reunions? I honestly don't have time for them, especially when a rare Maggie Cheung movie is shown on Star Mandarin and I'm thinking I'd be stuck with Studio 23 in Rosby's/Dave's TV when I get back to Cervini. Yes, I have been called anti-social. You, dearest reader, are most probably not. We live in a diverse society. That's what makes the world such an interesting place, cue swelling orchestra music. To make it crystal clear, unless you are Daniel Brühl inviting me on a date, DO NOT bother trying to get me out of my house during my oh-so-rare visits.

Also, unless you're my mom telling me to get my lazy ass out of my bed and get fresh air.

I don't think my mom is aware of the TSABS phenomenon. If she is, I'm sure she is fully well-aware of her son's allergy with it. Thus, when she tells me to see the outdoors, she comes especially equipped with subtle hints of me getting new stuff. I may have adapted to life here in Manila, true, but it actually is all the more reason for me to fully appreciate the language of FREE. As far as I am concerned, the only appropriate responses to free would be "yes," "of course," and "why not". Responses to the opposite would be downright rude. Otherwise, invitations to go to malls in my dear city "just for the heck of it" have been answered by yours truly with reactions ranging from looks of autistic ignorance (Mall? *me stares into space*) to blatant statements of "In Manila, I eat, watch movies, shop, and undergo most of my existence in malls , and you want me to go to a mall here, too?"

Thus, on the 4th day of my surprise visit, with my mom equipped with the language of free, I succumbed. Not proud of it, but alas, my defenses crumbled. It was a Saturday afternoon, so the mall was filled with people. I saw some old classmates, who I thought were looking at the opposite direction. I didn't bother. I broke ruler no. 2 of TSABS. I don't care. As for rule no. 1, I did try to look presentable though. I psyched myself for a possible paparazzi attack; I wouldn't want pictures of me looking ratty splashed across the tabloids. Humor me.

I did see a lot of familiar faces, I didn't put on the Ms. Sunny Sunshine visage. I don't want to come across as too assuming. What if they aren't who I thought they were? Spare me the embarrassment! On with the TSABS! Enter Prodigal Son sans drama! Enter Serena van der Woodsen! Enter the Count of Monte Cristo! Enter me!

I saw somebody though. My first school crush. Oh dear, I actually held my breath! Oh, the tingling sensation. Aforementioned crush was in a different year, so we were never classmates. But it sure made my day to see the person. The sight of crush was a calm oasis amidst the bullying, irritating teachers, more irritating classmates, and most irritating lessons. The Chinese-ness of our school showed every time we had to enter class by forming effing lines, whether it be after morning assembly, after recess, after lunch, after every frigging time. But I didn't mind that much, as it was a chance to see crush. Enter Twilight zone/Mao Zedong propaganda music for some readers who might be creeped out at this point, but for me it was always birds chirping, squirrels coming out of their burrows, and Snow White in coloratura soprano singing "I'm Wishing."


Tugging along crush was with two chubby toddlers. Twins. So cute and cuddly. Looks exactly like crush. Two steps behind was another familiar face. My mom followed where I was looking and told me about crush having a family and being an architect and all.

TAKE ME BACK TO MANILA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!