Sin mirar atras in Eight Points

Artist: David Bisbal
Released: 20 October, 2009
Genre: Latin pop, pop rock
Three tracks: Mi princesa, El ruido, Al Andaluz
In one sentence: A letdown after the promising Premonicion

There are some albums that require you to listen to them dozens of times before you acquire a taste for them. There are also albums that get old because you've listened to them too may times. Then there's David Bisbal's Sin mirar atras, an unfortunate waste of talent of the reality show success story.
1) The sound of Bisbal has not seemed to mature despite four studio albums (three Spanish ones and one repackaged album which contained previously released tracks from the first two with three English songs thrown in) and two live concert albums. The maturity of Bisbal's material that was beginning to be heard in the third album, Premonicion, has been erased. The sound of this album is no different from his sophomore effort, Buleria, which had more radio-friendly tracks.

2) I felt Bisbal's third album Premonicion was a step in the right direction, with a good mix of fast songs and ballads. The ballads were executed beautifully, and the fast songs, though still bears a healthy dose of cheesiness, displayed the strength of his voice.

3) I really wanted to like the album, as I want Bisbal to continue selling records and keep the Spanish music industry afloat. I am aware that it might be the type of album that would require multiple listens before it grows on you, but alas, it has been months since I downloaded the album and I still find a lot of tracks boring.

4) The first half of the album is really weak. In my repeat listens, I usually found myself looking forward to Al Andalus, the 7th track, which meant I had to go through six songs lest I hit on fast forward, which I almost always did. After the 1st track, the upbeat, first single Esclavo de sus besos, the album suffers a lull, as the songs coming one after another sound alike. Even the album's title track is ho-hum.

5) Things start picking up, as mentioned, in track number 7, the flamenco-tinged Al Andalus, followed by Cuando hacemos el amor, which more or less holds the momentum. In the next track, Bisbal's vocals finally soar in El ruido, a song penned by another Operacion Triunfo alumna, Vega.

6) The next track is the latest single of the album, 24 horas. The '60s feel of the song is a bit weird for me. Not as ghastly as the songs in the first half of the album, though .

7) After another cannon fodder track comes the second single to be released in the album, Mi princesa, a very beautiful song with the sweetest lyrics. I don't know why, but I kind of noticed some weird phrasing/breathing bits by Bisbal in some portions of the song. Anyway, it should have been the last track of the song, just to ensure that the album leaves a good taste in the mouth (or some good notes in the ear).

8) But no! There is a bonus track, Sufriras, a duet with British singer Pixie Lott. I do not really know what to feel about the song. It sounds like a song being played in a really cheesy Eastern European discotheque. What the heck were the record's producers thinking of when they included this bonus track? Couldn't they have let Bisbal work with David Guetta? Or one of 'em Dutch DJs? Totally unnecessary waste of 3 and a half minutes of the listener's time.

This so-so effort led me to the conclusion David Bisbal's best album is still his third, Premonicion. Two or, at my most generous, four songs may qualify as tracks to be included in a David Bisbal Greatest Hits compilation in the future. The more interesting tracks are few and clumped together in the middle. Sin mirar atras is NOT one of those albums you would really like to listen to over and over again. It doesn't even reach a point of some songs sounding old fast. Some of them are just plain boring no matter how many times you've listened to them.

Final verdict: The guy is infintely talented, no doubt. What he needs is a good album producer.
My rating: Obsessed / Love / Hooked / Like / Ambivalent / Irritated / Hate / Avoid at All Cost

Background on the singer:
David Bisbal, known for his curly locks and powerful belting voice, started as a contestant in the first edition of Spain's Operacion Triunfo, Endemol's version of the Pop Idol franchise. He eventually became the runner-up of the competition, and went on to sell a million copies of his debut album, Corazon Latino, making everyone ask who the hell Rosa Lopez is (the winner of the aforementioned competition). He became the latest member of a select group of Spanish male singers (Serrat, Sabina, Miguel Bose, the father and son Iglesias and Alejandro Sanz to name almost all of them) who have established a career across the Atlantic. His latest album, Sin mirar atras, is, as of press time, holds the 10th spot in the Spanish album sales charts, having been there for 47 weeks now. He has, so far, sold over 4.5 million copies of his seven albums worldwide.

(I Feel Like Such a) WHORE!

(That was so liberating!)

When I got into blogging like eight years ago, the thing to do to generate traffic in your blog was to blog hop. That'd mean go to Blogger or Typepad, look who just got something published, click on the link, read through the blog, decide whether you liked the blog or not, leave a message on the blog and hope and pray that the owner of the blog you visited will return the favor.

Well, apparently, times have changed. My old blog which should have contained so many entries already got into a lost-in-translation accident in a web cafe with only a Korean operating system. I accidentally deleted the whole thing. Fast forward to this current blog, which is only a few years old and is rarely updated. I used to have really good blogs in my blog roll, as in blogs that you'd really spend a lot of time reading and lose track of time eventually. So, I am currently re-building my blog roll and my blogging mojo (years in the making).

Facebook has this blog community and I joined it because I want to lurk around good reads and hopefully get the people who write these blogs I frequent come visit my blog too (long shot, but hey). The latter thought is really not as important as the former one, knowing that the visitor to my blog may be bored because of the lack of updates. So I joined Networked Blogs with that mindset. after going through the registration and all, I discovered that there is a discussion board filled with people who start topic threads about their blogs, promoting them and promising to return the favor of following the blog of someone who has followed them.

I was uneasy with the idea from the start, knowing that the whole arrangement can be tricky in a number of circumstances. For example, what if somebody is following you and is expecting you to return the favor, with the other person having a blog that's entirely an SEO marketing tool? Or a blog full of religious entries? As much as I fully respect the reasons behind having an SEO blog (I am a ghost writer for SEO articles, for goodness sakes) and I feel it is any one's right to use a blog to spread religious platforms, I am not really comfortable with following them.

I follow blogs because I actually enjoy reading them. Through the whole follow-my-blog-and-I'll-follow yours process, I also felt like I was cheating some people who were expecting me to follow their blogs when I didn't really appreciate the content of theirs. Honestly, it doesn't take much to make me want to read your blog, just as long as I don't see misplaced widgets and fonts of different sizes and colors (I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive when reading) and the content doesn't read like it was copied and pasted from something I can read in Ezinearticles. If I had the urge to read an informative article about how to lose weight with the help of a miracle drug or how to monetize a blog, then I would go read e-How or Ezine, thank you. Other than that, there is a 95% chance I'll read (and eventually be compelled to follow) your blog. The chances of that reaching a 100% will happen if you keep a blog on books, movies, pop culture or current events.

Anyway, going back to that FB blog community, I got to read some blogs that were in those discussion groups and have actually followed some of them. I also felt like I did some subtle (actually, obvious) whoring of my humble blog, just to get into the "I'll follow you if you'll follow me" bandwagon. I have to say I felt a bit icky afterwards. My only consolation(s) is (are) that I did find some blogs that are really fun to read in these discussion threads, and I feel they are really worthy of a wider readership.

So I think I'll go ahead and click on some more of those threads and those blogs, but I won't be doing the vice-versa-following deals anymore. It just doesn't feel right for me. No judgement here; some people have to do what they feel they need to do. As for me, I feel the need to write more.

Epic WTF of the Week 06-11 September: Stuck in a Hole He Can't Get Out Of?

The John Lloyd - Shaina "thing," bow.

I'm sorry, but am I the only one in the Philippines immune to John Lloyd Cruz's (from hereon to be referred as JLC) charms? Sorry, but before I get stones hurled at me, let me rephrase that: I like John Lloyd Cruz as an actor. The looks department... OK, I guess? He looks neat all the time. Not neat as in swell, but neat as in literally neat, as in clean, as in no matter how many hours he spends in that bicycle of his (his chosen sport), he'd still look fresh. What I'm not getting is JLC's ability to turn almost all Filipina women (or at least those I know) into dangerous lionesses ready to pounce at anyone who dares to say even the slightest not-so-nice remark about him. I dare anyone. Go tell your Filipina friend that John Lloyd Cruz is ugly. The easiest you can get away with is a 'how-dare-you-say-that' glare and a hissy fit to last an hour minimum. That I do not get. I really find him rather vanilla.

Which leads me to Shaina. Amidst intense speculations months ago, the two finally admitted they are in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, leading some people to ask about where Ruffa Gutierrez is in the picture. The 1993 Miss World 2nd Princess and JLC were apparently an item after the latter's split with celebrity stylist Liz Uy and while together in the series 'I Love Betty La Fea'. Public opinion was a bit muted with the JLC - Ruffa affair because a) the two never admitted to any romantic relationship, b) Ruffa Gutierrez is a giant, and c) any disparaging remark against Ruffa will catch the ire of her mom, Anabelle Rama, someone who, according to an informal Facebook survey, Filipinos would not want to get into a bar fight with (after Manny Pacquiao and along with Dionesia Pacquiao).

With the truth coming out, mouths silenced during the time of the JLC - Ruffa non-relationship went wild, returning to their lioness modes and lambasting the not-so-poor Shaina, with comments ranging from "Lucky beyotch, I hate her!" to "Mamatay ka na, makating babae!" (lit. trans.: "Die already, itchy woman/harlot/whore!") As much as I do not understand the JLC adoration, I also do not understand the Shaina hatred. I mean, I understand how all gays and girls hate her guts for snagging THE JLC (with me going, "Big effing deal!"), but can't they give her a break? I guess she all the Shaina hatred is justified because noone really hated Ciara Sotto, JLC's first boyfriend because at that time JLC hadn't reached the LPIB (laglag-panti-ikot-bra/panty-wetting-bra-twisting) level of matinee idol-ism yet. Liz Uy is too alta (literally high, figuratively high-society, classy, well-bred) for anyone to bother with, and Ruffa, well, I've already mentioned the reasons earlier. It appears that Shaina is the most accessible JLC girlfriend so far, so people think that it's fine to hate her. Therefore, I conclude she needs an image consultant, stat.

Last weekend, the WWW was ablaze with word that after a night of debauchery, John Lloyd and Shaina got it on and because of fatigue and alcoholic intoxication, JLC's member got stuck in Shaina's female parts.

Yes, whoever you are, if you aren't familiar with Philippine showbiz and wondered if you read what you just read correctly, well, yes, YOU READ IT RIGHT!

Mr. John Lloyd Cruz, who will always be Rovic to me (his breakout TV role), had his penis stuck in Ms. Shaina Magdayao's vaginal cavity, or so the rumor went. While I just couldn't help but laugh uncontrollably at the entire thing (pardon the immaturity), self-proclaimed insiders have added details to the rumor. As with any urban legend, it starts with a doctor, who happens to be the friend of the neighbor of the cousin of the second wife of the aerobics instructor of the insider, verifying that JLC and Shaina snuck in a hospital (Makati Med? St. Luke's? QC or Global City?) with only a blanket covering them, the guy on top of the girl, to have a medical procedure done for them to be separated. More insiders poised to quash any cynical thoughts were quick to point out that what happened is an actual medical condition known as (drum roll please...)

vaginal captivus
an occurrence wherein the vaginal opening of a woman closes, perhaps due to fatigue.

And yes, to strengthen their case, insiders point to an episode of Grey's Anatomy which has featured such a case. Apparently Grey's Anatomy is now the paragon of truth in anything medical (sorry, cannot confirm the episode, stopped watching the show after its second season; besides, my medical show is House). Everyone involved has denied what happened, and I hope people will leave it at that.
I mean, really? Penis captivus whatever? WTF. Epic wow.

Ironies and Surprises

How ironic it is for my dad to pass away when my last entry for this blog was about dads!
Speaking of irony, because of my dad's passing, I shall go home again this Saturday, the second time in a month. Which is weird because the last time I went home prior to two weeks ago was in 2007. So, yes, I have spent 2 Christmases and New Years away from home. And now, suddenly I'm going back and forth to Bacolod like some carefree jet setter, which is of course, farthest from the truth (being carefree and a jet setter).

Anyway, my dad's death and the impending event (as early as Monday I thought something was going to happen this week) had me on a purging mood. Aside from over-consuming food rich in fiber (to good effect), I had cleaned my cabinet, bookshelf and cupboard. I have also "streamlined" my web persona which had me deleting my Friendster account. I know, Friendster is so 2007 and everybody's profile there hasn't been updated since last year, so what's the use. One social networking persona down, less chances of identity theft, and what I have left are my Facebook, Twitter and Blogger accounts.

I have a LiveJournal account which I keep so that I could comment on LiveJournal blogs. Next subjects of my cleaning itch were my 4 email accounts. I actually have 5, but I'm letting the 5th account die a natural death, meaning let that account be filled with spam and offers from Chinese DVD pirates and Canadian pharmacies for Viagra. I painstakingly deleted three and four-year old e-mails, most of which were e-mails of the "pass this forward of you'll die" variety. yes, I was a bit gullible to those things at one time in my life. But there some of those e-mails that I didn't get to forward to 20 or so people because some of the instructions on them were rather impossible to do, or simply stupid.

For the past four years, a toilet sink has fallen on my foot, I have been stitched below my chin because I stumbled on an escalator that suddenly stopped, some friends have decided to un-friend me and a motorcycle has hit me while I was crossing a street. But obviously, I'm still alive and I have outlived my dad who doesn't have an e-mail account, and thus wouldn't have been a victim of these e-mail scams. So screw those people who pressured me to email something or I die. Burn in hell together with those Liberian people who asked for my bank account details in exchange for me being a keeper of their ill-gotten wealth. This world is full of weirdos.

Just this morning, while I was purging my e-mail accounts of filth, I chanced upon an email from Blogger notifying me that I had a comment to be moderated in my blog. SURPRISE (ala Chris Daymon)!!! The comment came from an Edward Copeland, whose name I somewhat found familiar. True enough, he has a film blog I follow and apparently, he has given me the honor of a Versatile Blogger Award. Part of me wanted to erase the comment, thinking it was one of those spam comments that lead me to chat with topless blond girls in my area. Duh. Thank God it was not.
So, OK, I'll participate, which demands me to follow these rules (up until this time I was a bit irritated. An award with rules to follow??? Geez. But then...fine.):

• Thank the person who gave you this award
Thank you, Mr. Copeland for this honor. I do try. I am as versatile as anyone can be and I am really trying to be a more active blogger. I try, I really do. I will try my best to be worthy of this honor.

• Share 7 things about yourself

1. As mentioned earlier, I just lost my dad. So, that makes me a semi-orphan. My mom is still very much alive and is hinting on a Hongkong vacation to ease her mind off things after the pressures and preps of putting my dad to eternal rest.
2. I love movies. I do not hold myself in high regard as to my taste, but I love foreign films. I love that by watching these movies, I get to live vicariously through the characters in more interesting places and times without leaving the comforts of my chair.
3. Aside from films, I also love watching reality talent shows. I am constanty irritated by how the more talented ones get eliminated early on and how the ones that come out victorious eventually get endeared to the viewing public, eventhough the fact remains that they weren't as talented as their fallen comrades (e.g. Jasmin Trias [over JHud???], Kris Allen [over Allison and Adam???], Virginia Maestro [over Chipper???] and Lee Dewyze [over Mamasox???]).
4. I know of a friend who doesn't eat bananas because a teacher once told her bananas are food for monkeys (Jenny Araojo alert!). What I haven't told her was that I was once traumatized by a teacher too, and that teacher was to alter my diet forever. When I was in kindergarten, a classmate asked our teacher where fishes pee and poop. Dearest teacher answered in the water. Inquisitive classmate retorted, "But that's where they live!" Dearest teacher answered, "YES!" with a matching squirm, obviously realizing how disgusting her answer was. 24 years fast forward, I haven't eaten fish. I eat crab, shrimp, and lobster, but no fish. Damn teacher.
5. I am interested in anything Indian and anything Hispanic. Thus, I know which ecdl video footballer Fernando Torres starred in (Ya Nada Volvera A Ser Como Antes[ecdl is el canto del loco]) and who that woman in the Olay Total Effects ad now showing on Philippine TV is (that's Bollywood star Kajol [wife of Ajay Devgan and cousin of Rani Mukherji] - the gesture in 0:10 is a giveaway).
6. I just realized that I've been living in Manila for 14 years already. That's almost half my life.
7. I love reading too, or rather shopping for books. Last year, I bought 43 books and actually read 4, two of which I actually bought in 2008. The rest, as of presstime, have been collecting dust. That must change.

• Pass the award along to 15 who you have recently discovered and who you think fantastic for whatever reason

• Contact the blogs you picked and let them know about the award.
OK, I shall choose 15, but I have to violate the earlier rule. I haven't discovered great blogs as of late. So, I shall bestow the awards to 15 blogs I follow but haven't been given the award. I hope that'd be just fine. But this will be done in the coming days, OK? Getting 15 blogs and informing them would just be a lot of work, considering I still have 5 essays that needed to be finished for work. AND I'M A SEMI-ORPHAN!!!

* * * * *

P.S. I hope no one gets offended with the way I "handle" my dad's death. I am mourning, but I choose not to be heavy or dramatic about it. My father was never one who was sad about things. I'm thinking he would be so weird-ed if he sees me, my mom or my sister hysterical over his passing.

A Tale of Two Dad Movies: Somewhere vs. I'll Be There

The only thing common between Somewhere (Sophia Copolla, TBR in December 2010) and I'll Be There (Maryo J. de los Reyes, June 2010) is that both movies are about dads, their daughters and that seemingly complex relationship between them. And I guess that's all the commonality we'll ever see between the two. As for differences:

(1) Yes, Somewhere is the title of a song from the musical West Side Story. But the chances of Sophia Copolla naming her film after the song is close to nil. In contrast, the Martin Nievera song is all over the KC-Gabby movie. From the trailer to the actual movie, instrumental version to the almost-standard mega-hammed version present in all Star Cinema movies named after songs, which are increasing at an alarming rate (is that Gary V. singing?).

(2) Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning (how she has grown superfast) are not a real-life dad-daughter team, something that Gabby and KC are. Which should have been an advantage, but then...not really. Not at all.

(3) The trailer itself for Somewhere is sparse of dialogue, while I'll Be There's has almost the entire story, complete with all the crying and the dramatic retort, laid out.

(4) As for the dialogue, what's with KC delivering the "clincher lines" (e.g. "You would be different, things would be different"; "You weren't a father to me at all, period.") in full theatrical bravado? Where's the restraint?

(5) I've always thought Maryo J. de los Reyes veered away from the waterworks, but just from the 3:40 trailer, there are 6 shots of KC and/or Gabby crying. That's one crying shot per 40 seconds!

Would it be impossible for Star Cinema to produce a schmaltz-free movie? I guess not.

See for yourselves:

Before I forget, happy father's day to all dads, including mine of course!

Eight Random Election Afterthoughts

1. Ara Mina lost. Anjo Yllana lost. Aiko Melendez lost. Bottomline: Pops and Paulie, don't even think about it. Or better yet, tell everyone you don't know who the heck Jomari Yllana is.

2. May mga schoolmates (high school and college) pala akong politicians. Sa mga nanalo,congratulations! Sa mga di masyadong mapalad, (a) Di kailangan nasa gobiyerno para maglingkod-bayan, (b) Stick to your guns and serve the public if that's really your calling; the public will see through you, (c) End of the world na raw sa 2012, but then kungpostponed there's always 2013.

3. If Noy would rather be sworn in by a barangay captain, look no further. Anjan na sa senado o, number 1 pa - IDOL KO SI KAP BONG REVILLA!!!

4. Risa Hontiveros said it’s mathematically impossible for her to get the 12th spot in the senate race. Ma’am, as much as it hurts me to say this, we were hoping against hope. After all, ang kalaban mo sa karera, nakakabayo! Ang pagbabalik ni Leon Guerrero sa senado!

5. Villar and Loren lost, and I was kinda expecting them to get even with their ineffective endorsers by replacing them in their shows. After all, they paid millions to these stars for... nothing. So I was visualizing a Jed Madela vs Eric Santos vs Christian Bautista vs Tita Loren showdown tomorrow on ASAP XV. I was also expecting Tito Manny to get contestants who swam in a sea of garbage for Wheel of Fortune and Biga-10. But now that it's Binoe Padilla hosting Wowowee, I guess Tito Manny will have to make do with replacing Lolo Pidol in his TV5 shows and guesting in Show Me the Manny, perhaps.

6. The only scandals that work nowadays are scandals about stolen stuff. This means, yes, Filipinos (including me) do not really care about having a president having allegedly failed what turned out to be fake psychological tests (I didn't vote for Noy because of his apparent lack of skills, not because he was allegedly cuckoo. Heck, the first senator I shaded was #13 - someone who has been confirmed depressed after her son's death – Miriam). People of my hometown don't really care much for Japayukis getting allegedly raped by the vice mayor and several councilors. The councilors who ran again, plus the vice mayor all won. Compare these to the C5 extension and PSE sweet deal scandals that were thrown to Tito Manny. No amount of endorsements from Lolo Pidol, Wowowee and People's Champ resuscitated his credibility.

7. What the effing eff was Willie Revillame thinking, challenging ABS-CBN to fire him because of Jobert Sucaldito, just days before the elections? In the first place, he's not exactly A"Bias"-CBN's (I don't really 100% believe in this, I just want to use it) darling as of the moment as he endorsed Manny while the TV network has made it quite clear from the start they were leaning towards a Noynoy presidency. And the smug attitude by saying "ABS-CBN is not the only TV station in the Philippines." The heck? ABS-CBN has kept you despite that "explain before you complain" scandal, the anniversary stampede and your generally inept and irritating manner of hosting. Now that your presidential candidate lost and with the ire of your rival Joey de Leon who has TV shows on TV5 and GMA, which TV networks are you actually planning on transferring to? IBC 13? NBN? The Dating Daan station.

8. Boy Abunda on 'Kris's Despedida' issue: "Give the girl a break." Uhm, Kuya Boy, kaya nga pinapaalis, para siya magkabreak! Isipin mo, kung aalis si Kris, magkakabreak siya, magkakabreak din ang sambayanang Pilipino! Bongga!

Why I’m voting for Gibo Teodoro

Finally, I have decided who to vote for President on Monday. After much thought, it came down to either Richard Gordon or Gilbert Teodoro. Sorry, but at least for me, the others weren’t even close. I eliminated Villar as early as when he announced his candidacy (and it wasn’t even because of the C5 issue). Nicanor Perlas and JC de los Reyes didn’t really strike me as people who can actually do things on a national scale, although I applaud their efforts in their previous endeavors. Jamby’s anti-Villar campaign focus at the start of the campaign did not impress me. Noynoy Aquino was someone I considered up until I realized something – he hasn’t really done anything. So, I choose Gibo.

I have no grand illusions of this decision as having a ground-breaking, earth-shattering effect on the elections, compared to what I think a popular noontime show host thinks of his grand Vice President “announcement,” but hell yeah, it’s my vote and I am making sure I’m making an informed, well-thought decision. People who think making such a big deal out of one’s vote is unnecessary, close this note now. I guess I’m just someone who thinks exercising my right to vote will give me the right to participate in my country’s future. So, yes, I’ll be entitled to complain come hell or high water if Gibo doesn’t win and whoever sits in the presidency constructs another circus with a 6 year run.

So, why am I voting for Gibo?
  • At least for me, the presidency is a job. I consider myself a part of a 36 million-strong country-wide HR department who’ll determine the candidate fitting the position. As any other job interviewer, the first thing I’ll be looking for are qualifications, of course.
  • Noynoy Aquino was 3-term congressman and a senator for close to three years. For those more than ten years in the legislative, he became Deputy Speaker for Luzon (a bone tossed by then House Speaker de Venecia to placate his LP dogs/supporters) and Senate Committee Chair on Local Government. He authored 9 bills plus sponsored another 9 in the senate, and those that were actually passed into laws add up to a total of (drumroll, please)... 4. Yes, there’s definitely more to legislature than to write laws. I understand there’s check and balance with the executive and judiciary, adhoc senate committees, etc etc – I graduated with a Political science degree, thank you. But when you have someone like Miriam Defensor-Santiago who has authored around 700+ bills since 2004, heads senate committees, is battling depression after her son’s suicide AND is allegedly psychologically unstable, Noynoy’s 18 bills just doesn’t seem to make sense. At all.
  • Erap has had some really solid accomplishments during his interrupted presidency, including the quashing of the MILF, the “booming” of the BPO industry and the use of his picture on MRT cards, a project his predecessor masterminded. He was also found guilty of plunder beyond reasonable doubt and was sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Meaning, he would still be in jail now if not for the presidential pardon a little lady bestowed on him. Bottom line: he’s a criminal who got away.
  • Whatever happened to Villar’s Capitol Bank? I still remember watching the news with people lining up just to discover that bank already closed. I just cannot imagine someone running my country if he couldn’t even prevent his bank from going bankrupt. Yes, I know, businessmen are supposed to take risks and make mistakes. But come on, this was a bank with other people’s money, for effing goodness sakes, gone, just like that.
  • The use of children, poor (as in fiscally poor, not just cutesy poor) children at that, to campaign for you is inexcusable. I don’t even care if the jingle is as catchy as H1N1 flu. What the heck, letting children tell the public that you are God’s sent to eliminate poverty because you were poor before? How creative and thoroughly disgusting. The worst thing with that campaign was that people easily dismissed it as “You have to hand it to his PR men, the ad is so catchy.” Seriously? From my end it sure looks like Children of the Corn dressed in tattered clothes. Read: BRAINWASHING the most vulnerable, because they are (1) children (who are like tape recorders and repeat anything, catchy or not) and (2) poor (who’ll do anything for a warm meal).
  • Another thing that bugs me: candidates that claim that they used to be poor. That was like 30 years ago. You are swimming in money now. Get over it!
  • I will not vote for a candidate who hasn’t done anything and just tells everyone to vote for him because he’ll “continue” his parents’ legacy. Our country is brimming with heroes. In that case shall we invite all Osmenas, Aguinaldos, Quezons, Garcias, Magsaysays and Rizals to run for presidency? On second thought, why don’t we all invite all descendants of St. Lorenzo Ruiz to be president? That’s one person recognized not only by the Filipino public, but the entire Catholic Church on all corners of the world. That way we don’t just get the son of a hero and a dead president, we get the grandson or granddaughter of a saint. A SAINT!
  • I will not vote for Bro. Eddie because it’s his second time to run. Now, he’s claiming he was called by the higher power for the second time to run again. Now if the same higher power called him to run the first time, why did he lose? The higher power may act in mysterious ways, but for him to let his “chosen one” lose the first time and call him the second time seems a bit absurd.
  • Jamby, after Gordon and Gibo, actually has the best public service track record. What I don’t like about her campaign is that she started off by doing an anti-Villar campaign. I don’t really want to give my vote to someone who’s just presenting herself as an alternate to someone she hates. As much as she has already started showing TV ads of her platforms and issues, I think it’s a little too late.
  • Until the last minute, I considered Richard Gordon, but then if he couldn’t even run a campaign with his running mate, I’m afraid he might be running a one-man show should he become president. That’s rather scary.
I am voting for Gibo because he has the qualifications for the job. He has the smarts, the leadership skills, a clean track record and holds himself accountable to everything he has done. No “vote for me because I’m the chosen one.” No “vote for me because I’m the son of heroes.” No “vote for me because I used to be poor and poor kids are singing my campaign jingle.” No “vote for me because we all hate this shark of a candidate.”

Of all the candidates, I see myself voting for Gibo and actually being proud of voting for him. I don’t get the feeling that I’ll have to defend him or think twice before telling anyone that he has my vote. If he wins, I am convinced better things are in store for our country. If he loses, then I won’t really be surprised if we’re headed for another six years of waste.

EPAL (Eight Points at Labay-labay*)

* Randomness, in Ilonggo labay-labay (stress on 2nd and 4th syllables) means random and, most of the time, unnecessary stuff. In Bisaya, labay (stress on 1st syllable) means to throw, so I guess, it sort of means the same, right?

(1) I am currently in that smoking area/al fresco area of McDonald's Greenbelt. A few minutes ago, I was minding my own business (tending to my Facebook restaurant and reading Jessica Zafra's blog) when I saw, from my peripheral vision, a European-looking guy (think Peter Sarsgaard) walk over the waist-high glass fence that separated the area from the sidewalk. He approached me, and in ever-so-thinly accented English, asked me for 29 bucks because he needed that much to go home to San Pedro, Laguna. I was dumbstruck for around three seconds before I offered my apologies.

(2) He went inside the store, probably to ask for 29 bucks from someone else. His head was filled with sweat and I was freaked out for a minute before recovering. He was so precise. 29 pesos. He must have really needed it. Lord, sorry. I'm just your regular, jaded Manila resident whose first reaction to any solicitor is a quick N-O.

(3) If he had said that he needed 29 bucks to get to his next pit stop before a team catches up with him in the Amazing Race, I would have reached for my pockets in no time, nanginginig pa.

(4) I just watched An Education days ago, so I really have a HUGE thing for Peter Sarsgaard. It is difficult to say no to Peter Sarsgaard.

(5) If he had asked me for some other thing, it would have taken me a full minute to say no. Nobody says no to Peter Sarsgaard. Who the F cares about Maggie Gylenhaal? Actually, I would have said yes.

No, wait. My morals are intact. Intact ampota.

(6) Now, why is he going home to San effing Pedro in effing Laguna? No offense to Laguna residents, but...?
(7) Wait, are there an abundance of cash-strapped and impossibly hot foreigners in San Pedro, Laguna? Shall we all move to effing San Pedro like, now?

(8) Will somebody tell me how to react to a hot foreigner soliciting cash?

Oysters:Pearl = Me:Ranting

A pearl is formed when a foreign object is introduced into a mussel or oyster. In turn, the animal coats that foreign object with a substance called nacre. The piling up of nacre makes the pearl.

Now, if human beings could only be like oysters that not only coat irritants, but also create something beautiful. Alas, this is not the case, especially for your truly. Irritating objects are subjects of, well, irritation, and therefore it is my ernest wish that they be eradicated from the face of the earth. No, I'm not an oyster, hell no. So, sue me.

It just so happens that our planet is filled with irritants, and much of them are things I cannot really eradicate, unfortunately. They come in all forms and circumstances, mostly unavoidable - songs that stick in your consciousness like moist booger, overheard conversations you wish you hadn't heard - you get my drift. So, let this blog serve as my vent for things irritating, in the hopes that, despite not having the enviable talent of oysters, I may still hold on to what's left of my sanity.

Case in point:
One afternoon, I was in line to pay for junk I wanted to eat minutes later, and two ladies dressed in university uniforms were engaged in a very animated conversation. It was their turn already but the girl holding her supposed purchase was lost in her thoughts, as she was trying to remember something to contribute to aforementioned conversation. The cashier was thirty seconds close to hurling expletives, with her eyes ready to commit murder, if looks could kill. The conversation became a variation of the popular noontime show staple Pinoy Henyo, and everyone got into the action because it felt like the girl will not hand in the bottled water she wants to buy unless she remembers what it was she really wanted.

Girl Friend: So, inumin siya? (So, it's something to drink?)
Gaga girl: Oo, shiet, ano ba kase yun? Ungggggggh. (Yes, shit, if I could only remember. Scary sound of frustration that one wouldn't expect a lady to produce, with matching feet stomping).
GF: Softfrink?
GG: Hindi. (No.)
GF: Kape?
GG: Hindi.
GF: Juice?
GG: Mmmmmm.....deeeeeeeee. (Neeeeeeee..........oooooowwwwwwwwwwwww. Imagine sound of someone constipated for two days.)
GF: Masarap? Ano color? (Is it delicious? What color?)
GG: Parang yellow na orange. (One of two things: Mountain Dew or urine???)

Cashier is frothing at her mouth and threatening to transform into Emily Rose any second.

GF: Iniinom natin? (Do we drink it?)
GG: Oo naman. (But of course, stupid.)
Counter bagger: Malamig siyang inumin? (Is it a cold drink?)

GG shots CB a sarcastic glance along the lines of "Yah, like that's gonna help" while refusing to honor what I felt was a valid question.

GF: Oo nga, malamig? (Yes, is it cold?)
GG: Duh, syempre. (Duh, of course, with matching rolling of eyes, with undertones of "Why did you listen to lowly counter bagger. You're supposed to be on my side. Some friend, eejot!")

Cashier breathes extra audibly like her lungs were about to combust.

GF: Naku, ano kaya yan? (Oh my, what could that be?)
GG: Basta, maikli lang yung name. (Well, it's got a short name.)
GF: Mga ilang letters? (Around how many letters?)
GG: Sure ako. Sure ako. Two. Two letters. Ayan na!!! Nasa dulo na ng dila ko!!! (I'm sure. I'm sure. Two. Two letters. There it is! It's at the tip of my tongue).
GF: May ganun ba? (Is there such a thing, you moron? We're causing a scene. I don't wanna be identified with you after this.)
Cashier: Coke? (In between gnashed teeth)
GG: Two letters, 'te. Two!!! (Two letters, sister. Two letters. Don't you know how to count? You're the cashier, you're supposed to know how to count.)
Me, who is 95% so over this woman: RC?

GG stares blankly at me, considers my answer for 5 seconds, then says: Hindi e. Hindi siya softdrink. Pero two letters talaga e. (No, it's not. It's not a softdrink. But it really has two letters, with her eyes starting to get misty from the struggle of thinking)

Two guys who looked like construction workers making the building beside the store and our office were behind me at the line. One of them was beginning to mutter "Pasalamat to babae sya..." (She should thank her lucky stars she a girl or else, I would have clobbered her to a pulp).

Then, by some stoke of genius, GG turned around and looked at the construction workers behind me. Her eyes widened like she found a pot of gold when she saw what the other construction worker was holding.

GG: AYAN!!! Ayan!! Girl, Ayan o! (There it is!!! There! Girl, there it is, pointing her friend to what the guy was holding)

The guy was holding a plastic bottle of C2 iced tea.

C2. C. Two. C. 2.

GF: Ah!!!!!!!!!!! C2! Hahahahahahaha. (Nervous laughter, meaning: Shet, nakakahiya ka.)
CB: C2 pala e. (Oh, it's C2. If you weren't pretty, I swear you're just plain dumb.)
Cashier: C2? (Medics, I think I'm gonna faint.)
Construction workers: Ah, eto? (Oh, this one? )
GF: Girl, balik ka dun at kuha ka na ng C2. (Girl, haul your hiney on the double and get that effing drink before someone whoops your ass.)

After the two of them left the counter, I looked at the cashier, the two construction workers and the poor bagger. I swear they, me included, looked like we almost got ran over by a car seconds ago.

Cue REM.
"Don't let yourself go." (looking at the bagger whose mouth was still agape)
"'Cause everybody cries..." (looking at the cashier who has been shaking her head for two minutes now)
"Everybody hurts...." (looking at the two construction workers, whose bottles of C2 iced tea are already dripping precipitate)
"Sometimes." (Feeling like I just ran a 100 meter dash)

I walked out slowly of the store while devouring my bag of Mr. Chips in record time.

I could just imagine how difficult it is to be an oyster.

The Fast and Comfortable are Complaining

"The aid is never fast enough for the armchair aid workers sipping their lattes."
STEVE MATTHEWS, spokesman in Haiti for World Vision, on the critics who say that aid has not gone to Haiti quick enough; blogs and social networks have questioned the response to the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake

Oooooh, now that's a fierce bitchslap from someone who's actually there! Amidst all the clamor by bloggers and social network addicts for whoever is in charge to speed up the aid to the hapless victims, let's collect ourselves and think. Or as Kris Aquino has popularized with her interview last week, count to 10, or at least say you tried.

Now, as someone who is from the Philippines, a country with a social calendar that's incomplete without its at-least-once-every-quarter share of natural and man-made disasters, I could only imagine how difficult it must be to send all the help to Haiti. The Philippines is also surrounded by water, and the logistics of passing aid in that kind of situation is almost impossible. To send planes and helicopters full of aid is time-consuming and budget-draining. I mean, where else can Haiti get aid? From the rest (read: poorer) regions of the country? From the Dominican Republic, the only country that shares a border with them?

Yes, it is a foregone and mildly irritating conclusion that aid for Haiti would primarily come from the US. Of course, when the US headlines a cause, whatever it may be, results are expected to surface as fast as a McDonald's counter giving you your Big Mac and French fries. So, what to do Americans do when CNN and The Huffington Post report of the continuous suffering of Haitians? Complain via their blogs and social fora.

Well, well, well, isn't that just convenient? Now, before hurling a fresh batch of complaints, consider: if you donated cash to Haiti victims (like I did when the deadly typhoons hit this country), it should be understood that your cash goes through a process. Your money will be used to buy stuff. The stuff will be packed and transported, which will take a bit, considering the stuff will not be going through the Channel Tunnel or be transported by a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Once whatever stuff was bought with your money arrives in Haiti, relief workers need to sort through them again and they will be transported to where they are needed the most, which will take more time, considering the earthquake made Port-au-Prince's roads worse than rocky road ice cream.

So, I dare say, if you want fast results, results that you can actually see and experience for yourself, why not go to Haiti yourself and lift some bricks and recover some victims? I don't know how you're gonna go there, maybe take a plane to Santo Domingo and walk. Volunteer under the Red Cross. Ask Ricky Martin to lend you his private jet. But until then, if you think that your monetary donation gives you the right to yap the whole day and demand that the UN move their asses, you are unfortunately wasting your energies.

I knew a lot of people, in the midst of the two typhoons hitting the Philippines in the span of two weeks, actually move their own asses and distribute relief goods or use their surfboards to rescue flood-stranded people. In hindsight, I could only remember the actual victims complaining because they had the right to do so - after all, they were suffering. The rest were busy in networking with their friends on how to join a volunteer group and using their Facebook, Twitter and Blogger accounts to organize relief efforts. To summarize, everyone was too busy with their own thing to complain. People like me, who were a bit chicken to brave the chaos or were hampered by logistics to help and could only spare a few pesos, shut their holes and knew that the people actually doing something were heroes.

So, bloggers who can't seem to do anything but complain about how slow everything is with regard to Haiti while typing their entries in Starbucks, shush. If you want fast results, get your own asses moving and experience how it is to actually help these people in Haiti.

Until then, why don't you pray along with Pat Robertson?

* * *

Don't even get me started with the Dominican Republic. Read "The Feast of the Goat" by Mario Vargas Llosa for more info. But before you get your underwear in a twist, the Dominicans are doing all they can, with even their congressmen pledging 10% of their salaries to the Haiti efforts. It's just that the road between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo has not been developed, with their nasty history and the mountainous landscape between the two capitals.