Saturday, February 26, 2005

To The Last Drop

There's a lot to like about Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events: a subdued Jim Carrey (which is a contradiction in terms); Meryl Streep's delightful supporting turn; spectacular production design; Jude Law's voice (for the ladies, that is); and Emily Browning.

[Photo taken from here.]

The movie's end credits are also lovely. I caught the last full show at SM North yet around twenty people stayed for the credits. It's either they liked it so much or they expected additional scenes at the very end.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Must've Looked Like A Terrorist

I was part of the office delegation to yesterday's rally at the People Power Monument. To blend in I decided to wear faded jeans, beat-up brown long-sleeves, sneakers, a cap, and a sunglasses. I think it worked too well. A member of the Presidential Security Group approached me and asked for my credentials. I identified myself and my office yet he still looked inside my knapsack. He opened every zippered compartment and leafed through all the papers I had inside. He looked disappointed when he didn't find a bomb. Of course, my office ID only arrived today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Injustice

[Photo taken from here.]

The commute from my office opposite SM North to Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall in Cainta was hell but Sideways was worth it. The movie put me in so good a mood I let the stupid phuck who wisecracked "Eh 'Isang Linggong Pag-ibig' pala 'to!" midway through keep his life.

Out On A Limb

[Photo taken from here.]
Comedian Chris Rock, host of this year's Academy Awards, warned that he'll raise hell on the program if Jamie Foxx doesn't win the Best Actor trophy for his performance in Ray. I agree with him.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Not Seventeen Anymore

Self-medication is fun! My calves and lower back were sore from playing basketball Friday night so my doctor prescribed lots of bed rest. I was horizontal until Sunday noon but it was perfect.

Sampling The UP Fair

I pass through UP Diliman to get home from work to Marikina. Because it's the week of the UP Fair, I catch a bit of the nightly concerts they hold at the Sunken Garden. Last night there was a band playing as I walked to the UP Campus-Katipunan jeepney terminal. Their music reminded me of Wuds so I went for a closer look. Now, Wuds is one of my favorite local bands of all time. I first heard them in high school, and I liked their brand of punk so much I saved my allowance to buy a cassette tape—which I still have to this day—of their 1994 album At Nakalimutan Ang Diyos. Unfortunately they were no longer active by the time I got to Manila for college. But when I approached the stage last night, I confirmed it: it was Wuds! They were playing a retooled version of "Inosente Lang Ang Nagtataka," a song I first heard off the compilation album Pinoy Bato: Pinoy Rock 90s. And I still knew the lyrics! The band left the stage right after that song, but I was too nostalgic to be bummed.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Perks Of My Job

A man came to the office last week asking for a letter of referral to another government office. My officemate drafted the letter, and since our boss was out, I signed it. I can't describe the look of gratitude on that man's face pero talagang nakataba ng puso. To think we did nothing more than give him a piece of paper with my signature on it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Feet Of Clay

The wife Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez is suing him, alleging that the PBA legend abused her physically throughout their marriage. As can be expected, the retired cager denies the accusation. Frankly, this news item threw me off. Fernandez was my childhood hero. He was a classy athlete. But the thought that he might have thrown right or left hooks at his wife as easily as he hoisted those famed hook shots somehow tarnishes his reputation and achievements. It's inexcusable for a man to hit a woman except under the most extreme of circumstances, and sometimes not even then. But that's just me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tag Team Poetry

I found this written on a piece of paper tucked into my old planner:
"804" The night flows into my veins like sugar and cream I'm twisted with vertigo, seeing pink And when the stars are laid out, helpless in the sky Don't remind me of that Goldfinger song Stardust on Earth breaking the monotonous black Please, please let go of my ears It is a map of hazy lights, hazy air I see your obsolete philosophy on the Golden Arches Industrial air displacing my world and my dreams Maybe I could swallow the optimism Speaking of lights, I am lost in the dark Feel the tickling sensation in your butt now that I imagine it Heights make me scream into myself Take this orange and shove it up your nose When all the lights go out, I'll go to sleep Don't sing from your throat, you'll pass out
It's a collaboration—Layla, Yay, Joel, and I took turns writing one line each. And we titled it after the unit in Loyola Condominium where we wrote it. There's no date, but I'm sure we wrote it before one of our block parties.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ka Biyak

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army solemnized a gay marriage between two rebels. That is truly revolutionary. It might even make for good recruitment propaganda.

Monday, February 14, 2005

On My Wall

Posters: Q Shandy; Muhammad Ali; Greenpeace Southeast Asia; Sum 41; Eraserheads; Dashboard Confessional; Levi's 501; Mariah Carey; Wolfgang; Yoko Kumada; and Sayaka Isomada

Stickers: Lucky Strike; KKK Optimus; Greyhoundz; Sipol; and MTV Talk

UP Maroons flaglet

Red rosary

Years-old Palm Sunday palaspas

X-Men print-out signed by Francis Magalona

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers movie premiere ticket

Chinabank brochure

Malaysian magazine with Jeon Ji Hyun on the back cover

Levi's 512 flyer

Eiffel Tower key chain

Miller Genuine Draft flag

Watercolor pencil artwork

Wall fan

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bad Mascots

Each day after work I pass by SM North to get to the terminal for UP Diliman-bound jeeps. Last Friday, I chanced upon Jollibee performing at one of the mall's parking areas. I had to stop—it's not everyday there's an oversized, aerodynamically incorrect bee dancing to "Choopeta." Midway through the song Jollibee asked a lady in the audience to dance with him. When she refused, Jollibee did some macho dancer moves to entice her some more. It was a hoot! I won't be surprised, however, if years from now that lady wakes up in the dead of the night shaking and sweating as if from a bad dream. Mascots (and clowns) are the stuff nightmares and phobias are made of, you know. In 1999 we were in Cebu for the Ad Congress when a female friend and I ran into Jollibee inside a mall. As soon as she saw Jollibee approach, my friend clamped two hands on my upper arm. She panicked. Almost in tears she urged me to get away from there, and fast. We ducked into the nearest store and hid behind a clothes rack for a long time. It was there that my friend admitted that she had been deathly afraid of Jollibee since childhood. She agreed to go out the store only after I made sure the coast was clear. A few years later I accompanied my cousins to a Kids for Christ assembly where the organizers invited a mascot. Unfortunately, before the program started some of the children saw the mascot half-dressed backstage—the guy had the rabbit suit on but not the head. To say that that killed the magic is an understatement. When the mascot finally came out, the kids ganged up and hit him. I didn't stop the kids, nor did I pity the man inside the rabbit suit. Serves him right for being stupid enough to be caught with his head down.

It's A Sign!

Further proof that the universe conspires against me: there's no big red Chippy in supermarkets whenever I need a little cheering up.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Couldn't Care Less

I'm boycotting the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association championship series between Barangay Ginebra and Talk 'N Text. I root for San Miguel Beer, see, and I'm still pissed at their semifinals loss to Ginebra two weeks ago. SMB has been my favorite team since 1989 when I started following the PBA. That year the Norman Black-coached Beermen captured all three conferences. Players like Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez, Hector "The Director" Calma, and "The Skywalker" Samboy Lim were part of that Grand Slam season. They were my heroes growing up. I even imitated Fernandez' knock-kneed stance at the free throw line. After those legends retired the SMB almost always fell short in the championships. Still I kept the faith, this time in Beermen like Nelson "The Bull" Asaytono, Paul "Mr. Excitement" Alvarez, and "The Triggerman" Allan Caidic. And despite leading SMB to nine championships, Coach Norman was replaced by the fiery Ron Jacobs. The franchise rebounded only in 1999 when "Dynamite" Danny Seigle entered the PBA. Together with Danny "Raise The Roof Kid" Ildefonso, Olsen "Rah-Rah" Racela, "The Scavenger" Freddie Abuda, Boybits Victoria, and Nic Belasco, Seigle led the Beermen to a pair of conference titles. The next year they annexed two more. Since then they've won only one title, the 2002 All-Filipino Championship. This was supposed to be their comeback season—Seigle is once again in the line-up after sitting out close to two full seasons due to an assortment of injuries. It turns out another title wasn't meant to be. Oh well, I suppose we'll get 'em next time.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Panatang Makabayan

The following article written by a college blockmate was published in the "Youngblood" section of last Saturday's Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"Noypi" By Sharwin L. Tee A FEW months ago, I accompanied my brother to Guam where he represented the Philippines in the World Bowling Youth Championships. I joined the parents and other supporters in cheering for our young bowlers who played very well while maintaining a certain class and camaraderie that the participants from other countries respected and envied. But it was there where I had a most interesting and infuriating experience. One day an old Filipino resident of Guam approached me to ask why an American was coaching our team. I explained that the American was actually our assistant coach and that the head coach was a Filipino. Not satisfied with my answer, he asked why our assistant coach should be an American. Did this mean no Filipino could handle the job? he demanded. I was beginning to see what he was getting at, so I stopped myself from saying that the American was one of the best coaches anywhere in the world, and just said he was there because he could give us a different, a Western view of bowling. Still looking unsatisfied, he asked me a question that at once incensed me. "Eh ikaw?" he said. "Hindi ka naman Pilipino 'di ba [How about you? You are not a Filipino, are you]?" That question has continued ringing in my ears since that day. That time though, I remembered the Filipino value of respecting one's elders so I resisted the urge to tell him off and politely explained that I was born in the Philippines and I lived there. His response was worse than his question: "Eh, hindi ba Chek-in ka?" I was too stunned to answer him and I went back to cheering for our team. I wanted to understand what was wrong with the man. He saw me cheering for the Philippine team, and more importantly, he talked to me in Filipino. Yet, this man still considered me Chinese -- and worse, "Chek-in" -- and not Filipino. I started to think about nationalism and what being a Filipino meant, and I realized how distorted his definition of being a Filipino was. For this man, and no doubt for many others here in the Philippines, the concept of a Chinese-Filipino and our community continue to be something mysterious and, sadly, gravely misunderstood. The mere term "Chek-in" or "Intsik" is an indication of that, since they are considered as insults by some Chinese-Filipinos. I had an interesting visit to a friend's house once. Upon my arrival, my friend's mother greeted me with a warm smile but she did not speak to me. I later found out from my friend that his mother asked him discreetly if I could speak Filipino. We both had a good laugh over that, but I also had to shake my head over her misgivings. For the record, I can speak English, Filipino and Chinese. Like most Chinese Filipinos, I can speak English and Filipino fluently but struggle to speak fluent Chinese at times. Also, for the record, I do not enjoy chicken feet and the black and pungent "sibut" soup. Moreover, not all Chinese-Filipinos are good at math. I almost flunked my high school math and I had to take a remedial course on the subject when I went to college. Furthermore, I am a devout Catholic. Buddha is somebody I studied about in college, not somebody I pray to. Lastly, if a war breaks out between China and the Philippines, I will fight with the Filipino people. I have no connections to China. I feel no loyalty for that country as I consider it a foreign land. Don't get me wrong. I am proud of my Chinese heritage. In fact, I try to share the beauties of Chinese culture, like the moon cake festival and the Chinese New Year with my friends, but I am a Filipino and I make sure everyone knows that. It was only lately that I realized why that man in Guam infuriated me so much. It was not that his questions betrayed his bigotry. What made me angry was how horribly imprecise his definition of being a Filipino was. Being a true Filipino is never about race. After all, being “kayumanggi” [brown-skinned] does not make one a Filipino. Malays, Thais and Indonesians are also sometimes “kayumanggi.” I had hoped that the first "Mano Po" film would have made this point clear. A true Filipino is one who respects his elders and knows how to repay a debt of gratitude. He is one who respects the law and works hard to make the Philippines a better place to live in. He is one who, at the end of the day, loves the Philippines and proudly proclaims himself to be a Filipino. I am a typical Chinese-Filipino. I have Chinese blood. I have a light complexion and I have slits for eyes. I speak Chinese and I admit that I enjoy siomai and other dimsum items. Do these make me a non-Filipino? I beg to disagree. I love the Philippines and I am proud to be a Filipino. Noypi ho ako, hindi Chek-in. Sharwin L. Tee, 25, coaches his old high school's varsity bowling team.
Reading this made me recall the countless times I called ST and Jowett "tsekwa" to their faces. I meant it as a joke, of course, but it never occurred to me that I was being hurtful. That same night, I was glad to hear Jowett say that he didn't take offense. Here's hoping ST feels the same.

Hardheaded

One's pants size isn't the same as one's belt size. I learned that earlier tonight when I looked for a belt in SM North. I was going from rack to rack when a saleslady offered her help. I asked her to find me a size-32 of the brand and style I had chosen. There was none. We looked at other belts but couldn't find a size-32. The saleslady then asked if I wanted a size-34. "No, I'm a size-32," I said and looked some more. After a while she found a size-32. I tried it on—kapos! It wasn't even close. Without being told, she handed me a size-34. It fit just right! I mumbled thanks and hurried to the cashier. D'yahe!

Sunday, February 6, 2005

My Birthday Came Early

Camille and her sister Cybs decided to do some spring cleaning yesterday. When they finished, the items they had duplicates of they put inside a paper bag and gave to me as a gift. That's how I ended up owning a boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. And since there's nothing sadder than a Comm graduate who hasn't completed the Godfather trilogy, they threw in VCDs of that series as well as Bend It Like Beckham and Any Given Sunday. I was struck dumb when they gave me the loot bag. They like me. They really like me. As it stands now they needn't get me gifts for a long time—they've covered for every gift-able occasion in my life for the next couple of years. I can't thank them enough.

Friday, February 4, 2005

My Theme Song

Trust System Of A Down to succeed where Rage Against the Machine failed—to be a card-carrying political band yet not take itself too seriously. Unlike RATM whose idea of fun is to cover Bruce Springsteen's "Ghost of Tom Joad," SOAD releases a carrier single that ends:
My cock is much bigger than yours My cock can walk right through the door With a feeling so pure It's got you screaming back for more! - "Cigaro," from Hypnotize
Balls-out lunacy, I love it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

On My First Day

Since I now work for a Presidential Commission I had to accomplish a Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth. Despite my generous valuations, my net worth still didn't amount to much. I was taken aback. Aba, poor pala ako? Lennon's lyrics came to mind—Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can. I can, John, I can. Like someone said, I "travel light."

"To My #1 Fan"

My boss was out of the office yesterday so I had to sign in his behalf an urgent letter to Malacañang. I hope Gloria is pleased with my autograph.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Fomenting Praningococcemia

A University of the Philippines-Los Baños professor theorizes that ukay-ukay items caused the recent spate of meningococcemia cases in Baguio City. Since meningo's pathogenic bacteria thrives only in temperate places, he says the only way the disease could've entered the country was through ukay items that come mostly from Europe and the United States.

The said UP professor stands by his conclusion even if it's not based on any scientific study. He points out that the epicenter of the meningo scare—the Baguio Public Market—is where most of these ukay-ukay stalls are located. Also, the climate in Baguio is almost the same as that in temperate countries.

I don't know what to make of this. The theory sounds logical yet asinine at the same time. C'mon, death by lethal 1999 Fall Collection Armani? I don't think so!

Everybody's trying to be an expert, and this leads to further misinformation and paranoia. It's just static that doesn't help at all.

But between us friends, my twenty pesos say meningo comes from tourists. There are a lot of those in Baguio. Also, Japan and South Korea are temperate countries, too.