Hit me like a ton of bricks at 5:00

I have a student that I talk to at 6 in the morning, Korean time (that'd be 5 AM in Maniila) every goddem weekday. It's a cheeseball class - we use a cheesy book and the student is, in my opinion or maybe forced by the circumstances of his book, gives the cheesiest opinions. The student is the usual Korean guy - in his mid-30s, working as a manager of some firm, workaholic (works from 7 - 9), with a child and a wife, stickler to grammar and doesn't understand the part that a huge part of the English language operates on expections to the rules, very obvious East Asian accent. There are days when I wish the ten minutes would speed past, as the cheesiness can get to my nerves so early in the day. I mean, I could only deal with so much pros and cons of being optimistic vs. being pessimistic as my patience would allow. I am guilty of tuning out at times. Me bad teacher.

Earlier, we were talking about another cheeseball topic, expectations. As per the book, I asked the question:

Me: What makes you raise your expectations? Why?

Ben: Teacher, with me, it's who. My 8 month old daughter makes me want to raise my expectations of everything. I want to be the best in my work for her. My expectations of the world are higher because I want her to experience a world that is kind to her.
* Me thinks cheesy alert, cheesy alert. Ring the cheesy alarm!!! *

Ben: I love my daughter so much I want everything to be perfect for her. Even if she has already had 2 surgeries because she has a weak heart. I know she will survive. My expectations become my hopes for her. How about you teacher? Is there anything or anyone that makes you wish that everything is perfect?

SILENCE. Teacher too dumbfounded to answer.

Ben: Teacher?

Me: Ben, sorry, I'll have to get back to you on that.

Two hours later and I have yet to go back to sleep as Ben's question has scared sleep from me.

Can somebody answer Ben's question?

Graduation Blues

It's that time of the year again! Thousands of students will graduate from school. Hence, (1) a huge number added to unemployed Filipinos, (2) a mad rush for dorms and accomodations in Quezon City and the U-belt, (3) parties, parties, and more parties, and (4) waves of nostalgia for the likes of me, who are done with all the three stages of graduation typical for Filipino students (grade school, high school, and college: I'm doing my masters but I think it'll be more of a relief rather than an emotional experience once I finish). Thus, the sudden spurts of Friendster and Facebook surveys of school experiences. And because I'm not immune to these surveys, I shall answer.

Grade school:
(1) Do you still remember all your sections since Grade 1?
Oh yes, with matching advisers:
Grade 1 - Hope, Mrs. Yusay
Grade 2 - Lime, Ms. Lacbanes (I transfered to a new school, and from that year I had sections to fill a palate colorful enough to amuse Picasso or Warhol)
Grade 3 - Aqua, Mrs. Alejado
Grade 4 - Ivory, Mrs. Llena (the former Ms. Ortiz)
Grade 5 - Cream, Mrs. Patalagsa
Grade 6 - Tangerine, Mr. Rosales

(2) Were you an honor student?
Oh yes, I had to be. NOT being an honor student was not in my parents' vocabulary. It was like not being on the honor's list was a precursor to the Apocalypse, or the plagues of Egypt. The expected me to have honors every quarter the way they expected the electricity bill to come every month.

(3) What was your favorite subject?
Sibika at Kultura. I was a sucker for memorization. I used to scan the Philippine map once and remember where each province was, their provincial capitals, which region they belong to, and to some point, their population. By the time I was in Grade 4, I was so bored with the Philippines I started memorizing the things my sister (who was already in high school and studying Asian Civ that time) was studying. So yes, Bhutan's capital was, and still is, I believe, Thimphu, and Sikkim is part of India, not a separate country, since 1975. I can still remember some of them, but I have been thoroughly left behind. I even thought that province with the Garden churva on its name was a joke the first time I heatrd it.

(4) What was your least favorite subject?
Spelling. Because I tried my darned effing best and I would still have mistakes. Grrr. I was ambivalent towards Math that time.

(5) Who was your favorite teacher?
Ms. Lacbanes, my 2nd Grade adviser and English teacher. She was like this mommy figure. Very inspiring, the best.

(6) Who was your least favorite teacher?
No comment. Hahahaha. Ummm... when I was old enough to hate any of them, I realized that these were just people doing their jobs and if I don't like them, there's a great chance they'll sense it and they'll hate me too. I refused to waste energy.

(7) Most memorable line from a teacher:
"Kulang na lang kay Mark masking tape. Natam-an ka baba-an!" - Mr. Rosales
I think the way my teachers hammered the "you don't have good manners if you talk in the classroom" stuck with me forever. I don't like talking. AT ALL. My anti-social awkwardness probably stemmed from these encounters. Oh, I just psychoanalyzed myself. Hehehehe.

(8) What was your lowest grade?
I put the C in GMRC. Refer to question 7 answer. I dunno. I guess more than my blabbermouth, I thought the teachers hated my guts. I thought I came accross as someone who tuned out if I wasn't interested. Which I did most of the time. I don't have a very high IQ, but I thought I actually did well in absorbing all the stuff I was "hearing" in the classroom because I never remembered studying at home. after class. My idea of "studying" was doing my homework and getting quizzed by my mom when there's a scheduled test or during exam week. Which means that I had, and still have, great retention skills, depite my refusal to pay that much attention and talking with my seatmates through classes. But with IQ, genius, and most of all diligence, I'm as normal as normal can be, close to mediocre, actually.

(9) What was the highlight of your school year?
Christmas vacation and choral singing contest. Intramurals for the last two years of grade school.

(10) Were you active in extra-curricular activities?
No. Tennis was alien to our school so sports was out of the question.

(11) Did you join any conest?
I didn't have stage fright, but I thought it was icky to perform in front of your school. I lost in a poetry declamation contest in 5th grade. I won the general information contest godeffinggiven school year (long live trivia!!!). I loved writing but I always lost every essay writing conest. I guess I just didn't (still don't have) the discipline.

(12) Any embarassing experiences?
No. I was terrified of my mom storming into school and whacking my butt in front of the student body, so I had to maintain a perfect facade.

(13) Were you ever sent to the principals' office?

(14) What was your most vivid memory of grade school?
Owing to my very good memory, I have tons of memories:
  • Getting my C grade and being told that my talkativeness could get me a low gtrade.
  • Everyone ganging up on me because I co-wrote (read: CO-WROTE) this super-mean song about a girl me and my two friends didn't like. Suddenly, my two co-composers deserted me and I was supposed to be the evil Mozart of Grade 4. And I had to stand up for an hour for my ugly behavior. Yes, I was soooooo sorry for it, but there were others involved. My co-writers eventually became the high school valedictorian and the other didn't finish her college degree and from what I heard, is now a single mom. (WOW!!! THE WHO???)      
  • Winning a province-wide quiz show sponsored by the Rotary Club. I thought, that was cool, answering a bunch of questions correctly and getting a trophy. And 3,000 bucks, I think. I remember getting exempted for a good number of exams because my teachers, who have cursed my blabber mouth, suddenly became superproud of me and eating a lot of McDonald's caramel sundaes, the height of luxury in Bacolod City that time.
  • Going to confession with Msrg. Liu and celebrating mass once a month.
  • Experiencing inflation with siao kai, from 25 - 50 centavos in one year!!!
  • Eating in Celine's. 
  • Going to Nita's in case there was something out of the ordinary needed (protractor, art paper, bond paper).
(13) What was your graduation like?
Grade school graduation was uneventful.

(14) What was your grade school sountrack?
Soundtrack? If I remember correctly, The Bodyguard soundtrack was so popular when I was in Grade 6. NKOTB! Jeremy Jordan! Debbie effing Gibson! Tiffany! Michael Jackson! Gloria Estefan! JOSE MARI CHAN AND EFFING BEAUTIFUL GIRL AND CHRISTMAS IN OUR EFFING HEARTS!

(15) What were the most famous TV shows when you were in grade school?
Cable TV was still not that popular, so people were so into Maalaala Mo Kaya, Palibhasa Lalake, Maricel Drama Special, That's Entertainment, Doogie Howser MD, Blossom, Punky Brewster, Seaquest (I remember Darlene Sy with a mad crush on Johnathan Brandis), Karate Kats, Duck Tales, A-Team, Airwolf, McGAYVER!!! And of course, last but not the least, Beverly Hills 90210!!! You're so lost on Monday mornin if you didn't watch 90210 (it was shown on Friday night).

(16) Any grade school trends?  
OMG. Yes.
  • Pencil case with the "piano"
  • Pencil case with the buttons that you push to let out the ruler, magnifying glass, etc. (WHOTHEFECK NEEDED THE EFFING MAGNIFYING GLASS!!!)
  • Pencil case with the "air freshener" aka pong-it/kulangot (those small smelly things)
  • "Lata" pencil case
  • Laffy taffy, Bubble Tape, and that chewing gum with the container that looks like a locker (that teachers asked for to convert as their chalk holders) 
  • Ball pens with smelly ink (Happy friends was the brand, I think, I had one and threw it, it gave me a headache)
  • Bensia ballpens and may bala na pencil
  • Automatic pencils with lead
  • Smelly fruit erasers (I had a grape one which Martin Velez took a bite of. He was absent the next day.) 
  • Foot long ball pens (that you cannot put in your ultra-cool pencil case)
  • BACKYARD! TAPUNGULAY! (Hwa Ming exclusive)
  • Cleaners (I was always Thursday, alphabetical order, which is a good thing, Friday always gets to apply floor wax)
  • Padako-dako contribution sa Mission (the Grade 5 triumvirate of class advisers: Mrs. Bosime, Mrs. Patalagsa, and Ms.Baroa were super keen on winning every damed year)
  • Pop Swatch
  • TRAPPER KEEPER (my mom put her foot down and did not let me have this, the 1 and only 1 trapper keeper fresh from my USA aunt was used by my sister)
  • Merit pad paper and notebooks
  • Those big Tiger lunchboxes + Coleman water jug
  • Chinese jackstone, chinese garter, jumping rope (teddy bear, teddy bear...)
  • Lagsanay (and its variation lagsanay-pungkuanay), tubiganay,tingayuhanay, and the classic UNDERS KINGDOM (the cause of lost buttons and torn sleeves among Hwa Ming grade school students, much to the woe of grade school teachers)
  • AUTOGRAPH BOOKS!!! (Who was your first love: GOD, Who was your first kiss: PARENTS, What is love? Like a rosary, full of mystery.)
  • AUTOGRAPH DEDICATIONS!!! (TCCIC, Thank you for giving me space to write in your beautiful autograph, Stay cool, and PICTURE TO FOLLOW!!!)
  • GAME AND WATCH (I had the Popeye running around saving jumping fishes with a fishbowl G&W.)
  • Speech plays for Grade 5 ((Hwa Ming exclusive: Cops and Robbers, Police Academy)
  • Everyone bringing his or her own volleyball and basketball in the classroom
  • Memorizing Shylock's Revenge, Mother and Child, and The Bumblebee (for Grade 4 Speech class, Hwa Ming exclusive)
  • Archie comics

Breaktime Laughs

As someone who evaluates English classes, I sometimes come across instances between students and teachers that end up being funny, mostly unintentionally. I do not pass judgement that harshly (I don't think of them as stupid or incompetent just because they slip into wrong grammar or mispronounce some words), and no way do I want to make fun of my teachers. In fact, I salute them for their efforts in getting their jobs done to the best of their abilities. Talking to 25 to 35 different people, with different personalities, backgrounds, ages, language competencies  and different moods is no easy job, AT ALL. I have been there, done that before (the exact day before I signed my papers I had 39 (THIRTY EFFING NINE) students in my schedule - despedida???), so I should know better than to mock these people.  

But hey, some slips are just plain funny and they're there to be noticed and brought to the teacher's attention for their improvement. If they're funny, then I'm no Grinch to turn poker-faced. Besides, it's good stress relief as well. Lastly, I'm not in any way perfect, but then this is my blog and I won't wash my dirty laundry filled with grammatical slips and mispronounced words in public.

My eight favorites transcribed (grammatical errors were transcribed as is, so if you think a sentence sounds wrong, it was said that way, don't go hating my typing skills, capish?):

(1) Teacher: Why do you like tiger?
Student: Yes.
Teacher: Do you know any tiger who's nice?
Student: Yes.

* By this time, I was like, "Hey teacher take a hint. The student's not understanding half of what you're saying. But then comes...*
Teacher: I'm a tiger. I'm nice too.
WTF? Did teacher suddenly turn feline on student??? Tarzan, isdatchu???

(2) Teacher: Are there pedestrians in Korea?
Me: Ummm, lemme guess. NO. Korean people have built-in wheels under their feet. Some of the more privileged ones (Heroes, Korean version) may have wings.

(3) Teacher: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Student: I want to be a doctor.
Teacher: Wow! Being a doctor is hard. So, be better be good in your studies, OK? So that you'll be a better doctor. Better days are here if you'll be a better student.

* Me: Di siya mahilig sa better.*

(4) Teacher: What did you do today?
Student: My school is on winter vacation.

* Methinks students have vacations, not schools.*
Teacher: No, no, no. Your school is not on vacation...
* Me: Yes, go on...*
Teacher: Your School is IN vacation.
* Me: Taena. Ginto na naging LBM pa.*

(5) Teacher: Our word for the day is "like". Use "like" in a sentence.
Student: SILENCE.
Teacher: Do you like you best friend?
Student: SILENCE.
Teacher: Is your best friend kind?
Student: SILENCE.
Teacher: Is your best friend funny?
Student: SILENCE.
Teacher: Is your best friend smart? Is he good? Is he understanding?
Student: ....Yes?...
Teacher: OK, say your sentence. "My best friend is understanding."

*Me: Di ba... Inutusang bumili ng tinapay sa tindahan sa kanto, pumuntang Megamall, at bumalik na may dalang harina.*

(6) Teacher: Any questions?
Student: Teachuh, what is a hose?
Teacher: Hose? Uhmmmmmmm...you know when there is fire...and fireman goes to the rescue...and takes out a long hose....and the water comes out........ WHOSSSSSSSSSSSH....WHOOOOOOOSH..... That's the hose.
Student: SILENCE.

* Me: SILENCE. LONG SILENCE. Yosi break, please.*

(7) Teacher: So you had general cleaning this weekend?
Student: Yes, we had...
Teacher: Oh, that's great! It's good to general clean. Everything is new, right? The only thing that are not new are the people. Hahaha. You really have to take away the old things and start for the new beginning. So, you're really looking forward for a brand new day. That's nice. It's a brand new things to come this year.

* Me: ................................FLOWERS. (YJ and Randy inside joke).*

(8) Teacher: So, you're really proud to be Korean huh?
Advanced student: Yeah, I remember in 2002 World Cup people were on the streets cherring, everyone was so united. I watched the soccer game in a large screen by the Han River. We beat Spain's sorry ass.
Teacher: *IGTING ANG TENGA* Oh... so what happened in 2006?
Student: Well....Korea...
Teacher: Got eliminated. And who's the #1 ranked tennis player?
Student: Uh...Nadal?
Teacher: Yep, he's from Spain. And who are the current European soccer champions?
Student: Um...Spain?
Teacher: Yep. And who are the current Davis Cup champions?
Student: I...
Teacher: Spain beat Argentina. Didn't Korea get eliminated in the...oh, FIRST ROUND?
Student: Oh...
Teacher: Uhuh.
Student: Ummm...teacher...are you Spanish?
Teacher: Ummm...no...I....I was just trying to play devil's advocate...hehehehe. So I guess, Korea is a great sporting country, huh?

Taena Macmac, wag mashadong pahalata!!! Affected much?

EPAL: Eight Points at Lusog: Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona

(1) Lusog? Yes, lusog as in healthy. That's how Scarlett Johanssen's breasts are - healthy, beautiful, well-placed, and allegedly all-natural. Oprah, God bless her soul, can rally all she wants behind Kate Winslet's "real" breasts that starred in The Reader. But I am with Scarlett, all the way.

(2) So, I shall refer to Ms. Johanssen's breasts as THE Breasts of Scarlett (aka THEBoS, as inspired by Gualby/Almer's THE Sarah Gerone quip). THEBoS were brought to my attention by friend who wanted to donate the 2 hours she wasted on THE KChard film to KC for her acting lessons, when she texted that THoS deserve separate billing in the movie He's Just Not That Into You. I haven't watched that movie yet and I forgot where I placed that Vanity Fair cover with Scarlett, THEBoS, Tom Ford, and Keira Knightley, so I didn't really have a mental picture. When I first watched VCB last January, I really didn't mind THEBoS, as I was more into checking if Javier Bardem was flabby (he's not) and if Penelope was deserving of the awards buzz she had been getting (this was before the Oscars and GGs, when she usually lost to Ms. Winslet in the previous derbies).

(3) So, to get a picture of THEBoS, I watched Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona again.


THEBoS did not disappoint. IN VCB, THEBoS made two prominent appearances: first when Cristina (Johanssen) and Juan antonio (Bardem) were doing it on the floor and they (THEBoS) were strategically covered by Juan antonio's arms and second when Cristina was awakened by Juan Antonio as he had to go to the hospital to fetch Maria Elena and THEBoS were delicately covered in white sheets- this was the more prominent appearance.

Glorious! BRAVO!!! Sure beats Castaway's Wilson as best performance in a non-speaking part. To think they were covered on both scenes. BUT DAMN!!! Such health, richness and beauty! Hell, yes THoS deserves separate billing. Can we have THoS included in the opening AND closing credits of whatever Ms. Johanssen's next movie is, please. These are hard-working, beautiful breasts. I wouldn't go as far as giving them Oscar statuettes, but they deserve their own Academy and Actors' Guild membership, I guess. Coupled with that raspy, I-can-still-sound-damn-sexy-even-if-I-just-read-the-phonebook voice, the sensual combo of THEBoS and the voice are a sure way to get industrial-strength boners in no time.

(4) So, now that I think I've given enough tribute to THEBoS, I just thought, Scarlett + THEBoS + his hotness Ryan Reynolds. Damn, no wonder why they got married faster than anyone can say "pre-nup". Oh, I'm supposed to write about VCB. I digress.

(5) Rebecca Hall did excellently as Vicky. I don't think she has gotten enough props for the way she portrayed the idealistic, seemingly stuck-up character. Hall found the right attack to her character, giving it the right amount of prim and proper without coming off as a Miss Minchin, anal, party pooper stereotype.

(6) Penelope Cruz, whose cleavage also deserved proper billing in her Oscar-nominated performance in Volver 2 years ago, does well as Maria Elena, the unstable ex-husband of amorous painter Juan Antonio. I think the kind of crazy she put into the character was the typical bungangera uberpassionate stereotypical Latina crazy which I didn't think she had difficulty getting into character with. The somber drab look certainly helped her establish how loony Maria Elena was. One of my favorite performances of the year, but then again the other supporting actress performances his year were really strong as well.

(7) I am not particularly a die-hard fan of Woody Allen, as I've only seen very few Woody Allen films (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Everybody Says I Love You, and Match Point), I have to say that this would top my list as my favorite Woody Allen film. It maintains a unique brand of wit Mr. Allen's films are famous for, yet stays very contemporary. I've always had this notion of Woody Allen's films as dated, but this one is very fresh.

(8) There is still somewhat a strong Woody Allen mark in the movie - the hanging ending, characters who take their melancholia in stride, the 3rd person narration is Woody Allen, only in a different voice. The somber core of the movie's theme gets a fresh, breezy treatment, thanks to Johansson's free-spirited character and the setting's beauty - Barcelona's vibrance, color, and life. The result is a beautiful balance, and I liked my dose of Woody Allen no-so-lite (but not heavy at all), thank you.

Eight Points at Lait (EPAL): When I Met U

(1) Yes, the title was not erroneously typed. It's really U as in U that's short for university, U that's the 21st letter of the alphabet, U as in one of 'e, letters the Germans like to put an umlaut on the top of, which texters have then used to make messages cuter and friendlier. 

(2) As part of the movie's title, the "U" just showed the producer's (or whichever genius thought of using the effing letter) desperation to make the cursed movie cuter than it already is supposed to be. Of course, the end result looks plain stupid. So stupid I started thinking of ways to complete the title. Here are some attempts:

When I met U, I realized that I only have 5 letters to go before memorizing the entire alphabet.
When I met U, I wondered if you were Burmese, as U is used as an honorific address in Burma/Myanmar (e.g. former UN secretary general U Thant).
When I met U, I found out that I really didn't care much, so much so that I couldn't bring myself to spell an effing 3-letter pronoun that refers to U.
When I met U, I found out that you're one sloppy speller and I got turned off.
When I met U, I got amazed by the amount of ink that you saved by disregarding the letters y and o.
When I met U, I was regaled by UR stories of avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome by just typing U in UR txt msgs. 

(3) The U in When I met U sounds corny, cheesy, and feels like it was thought of by someone who was just downright lazy and spelled poorly. Please, no excuses of "it has been done before." The prior use of U in a movie title was in "My Only U" with Toni Gonzaga and Vhong Navarro, use of which is forgivable because: (a) The latter movie was a comedy, a genre that gives enough leeway for silly titles, (b) A movie with its main star named V-H-O-N-G can get away with bloody murder.

(4) The movie has Richard Gutierrez in stages of undress. True, true, they're stuck in an island, Richard has a great torso, Richard undressed is a gay audience crowd-drawer. What bothered me was how too perfect he is. Seeing him shirtless reminds me of those food items displayed in front of fast food restaurants and food courts. They look so shiny, perfect, and mouth-watering but upon closer inspection, of course, they're not real and they're made out of resin, lacquered or varnished to perfection. So not unlike Mazjh's perfect wedding bouquet, simple yet exquisite. Conclusion: Richard Gutierrez looks varnished. I was worried that he would do a Steven Segal while they were stuck in the island. Good thing he roughed up a teeny-weeny bit. By Steven Segal, I mean someone who doesn't get bruised, get hurt, or dislocate a strand of hair even while hell and high water have risen. Go ahead, watch any of Mr. Segal's films, quick. That pony tail ain't moving nowhere.

(5) KC was cruelly casted as a promo girl. To achieve promo girl persona, KC adapts this parlorista/palengkera demeanor, complete with accent. Please, parlorista demeanor complete with accent + alabaster skin DOES NOT A promo girl make. Never in a million years have I seen a promo girl as flawless as her. Someone as beautiful as KC can do promos for cigarettes or cocktail drinks in bars or nightspots, but grocery store promo girl? Naglolokohan ba tayo? 

(6) First film with KC and Richard was filmed in Greece. The story was cheesy as a bottle of Cheeze Whiz, with musical number to seal the deal. Wonderful Greek vistas saved the film. In this film, Palawan was beautifully shot, and that and only that saved the film from being unwatchable. Thus, when the two too-beautiful-for-their-own-sakes marooned people finally got rescued out of the island, excrement began/resumed. Iya Villania was not as bad as Alfred Vargas, who played KC's needy boyfriend, complete with forlorn choirboy eyes. Ugh. Wasn't this guy good in the Tanghalang Ateneo plays he starred in? 

(7) For a movie that promised to be better than the first movie of the KC-Richard tandem, it wasn’t that big of a leap. I found myself lost in the sea of unnecessary subplots and melodrama. Uck. I needed some rescuing as badly as, if not more than, the movie’s two leads. 

(8) Rica's movie review expresses her desire to have the two hours she spent in watching the movie back and give it to KC for the latter's acting lessons. I, on the other hand, would like my two hours back by tearing the movie to pieces for the said time. Once I've consumed two hours in degrading the movie, I shall call it even, and the cosmos shall return to its proper order. A day after watching the movie, aforementioned blogger and I exchanged text messages about the movie's demerits for about 20 minutes. Now, I am spending an hour blogging this entry. 40 more minutes and justice shall be mine. After all, as someone who we shall call Cedie once said, "Ang sarap kayang manlait!"