First Batch of Book Donors

Last Sunday, I delivered the first batch of children’s books to Handuraw Pizza at Sikatuna. This entry is just to say thank you to the first batch of book donors: Hazel Mae Pan, Nadia Dua, Jazz Braganza and Neoli Marcos.

Thank you, Nadj Dua! Image source: Nadj Dua

Thank you, Nadj Dua!
Image source: Nadj Dua

Thanks, Hazel! Image source: Hazel Pan

Thanks, Hazel!
Image source: Hazel Pan

Jazz and Neoli at Handuraw Pizza.

Jazz and Neoli at Handuraw Pizza.

I’d also like to thank those who already committed to donate more books. You may drop them directly at Handuraw Sikatuna. They open at 2 in the afternoon. You may also contact me so I can pick them up for you.

Uhmm, I don't recall writing this book. Photo by Jazz Braganza

Uhmm, I don’t recall writing this book.
Photo by Jazz Braganza

If you haven’t read my previous post, the book drive is for the benefit of the children survivors of Yolanda in Samar (Eastern and Western) and Iloilo.

First batch :)

First batch 🙂

Damo nga salamat!


Yolanda Book Drive

I didn’t have Barbies when I was a kid, nor did I have stuffed toys, except for that one owl holding a diploma, which was my parents’ gift back in fourth grade. I didn’t play with the owl because it didn’t look friendly and the diploma doesn’t exactly look like a playdate invite. So it stayed wrapped in a clear plastic sittting, collecting dust in one corner of our wooden divider. Instead of toys, my parents bought a lot of books for me and my brother along with sporadic toy purchases from Tupperware, of which my favorite was the red and blue shape sorter. That’s how my love affair with the printed word started (no, not with the shape sorter, the books).

Until this day, I can still see the white paper with colorful images of blond children kneeling beside their beds, reciting their nighttime prayers while an angel hover above them; or the brownish paper with Jonas inside the stomach of the big whale or of baby Moses in a basket floating in the river. Yes, my first books were Biblical stories and prayers. Then as I started school, I got introduced into the local classics like Ibong Adarna, the fables like Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing, then Pambata comics and other educational comics. Then when I was 7 or 8, my mother would take me with her to our local bank (a credit cooperative) on weekends and there I started to read The Philippine Free Press. I read about the Allan Gomez-Aileen Sarmenta case on The Philippine Free Press, as well as the Angel Alquiza rape case. My parents didn’t enforce censorship as long as my reading materials were seemingly legit. So yeah, you can see where and how my trust issues started. (Hah!)

I read practically everything then, Readers’ Digest, Health & Home (The Seventh Day Adventist’s magazine), Philippine Journal of Education, The Modern Teacher, Women’s, The Woman Today, Mod Magazine, Sweet Valley (SVH and SVU), Sweet Dreams, Mills & Boon’s, Harlequin, Sillhouette, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Liwayway Magazine, Tagalog pocketbooks, the Nido classic fairy tales (loooove those), Arthur Maxwell Bible Stories Vol. 1 to 5, my father’s Teacher’s Board reviewer, film synopses on VHS tapes and so on. My parents blamed my poor eyesight on too much reading.

Back in 2009, the apartment I was staying in, in Marikina got flooded. The place was submerged in water and so were my clothes, photographs, my books (my printed and hard bound college thesis, my classics esp, Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby and my friend’s Murakami), a few furniture and DVDs. After the flood, there was an outpouring of support from my friends and family. A lot of people donated clothes, money, food, furniture and most of all, books. I remember how happy I was when my friends gave me the books. I mean, after a disaster, the usual donations are for basic needs to help you survive and get back on track and then they gave me books. After Ondoy, those books became a promise to me, a well of hope that things will be back to normal, if not better.

When I learned about Air Juan’s book drive for Yolanda kids survivors in Eastern and Western Samar, as well as Iloilo, I just knew I had to get involved. I could only imagine what the world of literature can offer a young mind who just went through a tragedy. Maybe it can offer relief, healing, hope, a chance to dream, knowledge or if they’re not into reading, maybe a page they can tore and make paper planes with. Well, hopefully, not.

If you would like to donate books, (textbooks, children’s stories, dictionaries, young adult fiction, etc.), you may drop them off at these locations:

59 Salvador St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City

ESI Bldg., Miriam College (Mar 24-28)
Quezon City

Handuraw Pizza, 1A Masunurin St. cor. Anonas Extn
Sikatuna Vill., Quezon City

You may also email me at or text at 0906-487-3234. I can pick them up wherever it’s convenient for you, granted, of course, you’re based in Metro Manila 🙂



That Awkward Moment When I Was A Drunken Tiger

On the 9th of March, along with five other Greenpeace volunteers, I donned a tiger costume, faked fierceness and roared to campaign against the deforestation in Indonesia. To clarify, I was not in Indonesia, I was at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife. It was my first foray in environmental campaigns.


It was a beautiful Sunday morning, the sun not too hot and a mild breeze was comforting for the crowd at Wilflife, mostly families, hobbyists and the GP (Greenpeace) activists. It was an almost perfect day for a save-the-trees campaign. Almost.

If we’re friends on Facebook and/or Twitter or in real life, you may have remembered me posting about GP’s campaign to stop the massive deforestation in Indonesia. You see, big corporations have this not-so-great, in fact, a fraction below evil and totally irresponsible idea of clearing the forests and replacing them with palm tree plantations. Why? Because palm oil is like gold in manufacturing. A lot of the products we use in our daily life uses palm oil: soap, toothpaste, shampoo, chocolates, cooking oil, you get the picture. To be fair, and this may restore your faith in humanity, some manufacturers have already committed to join the campaign and not to get their palm oil from the Indonesian forest turned palm tree plantations. But as it is, there are still major corporations who have not joined the call. I’m looking at you Procter & Gamble. Hello, there, Head & Shoulders.

So Greenpeace is urging the public not to boycott P&G products but rather, ask P&G to use palm oil from sustainable sources. See, profit or progress is never an excuse for destroying the forests.

By the way, the forest in Indonesia is considered the lungs of Southeast Asia. You don’t want your lungs destroyed, right?

jump shot

Anyway, on a lighter note, I just want to share what I learned from the activity:

* Don’t attend a GP event (or any outdoor activity for that matter) with alcohol still in your bloodstream or hungover as alcohol has been infamously linked to impairment of judgement. So expect a lot of second guessing your actions and trouble remembering instructions. Also, decision making skills may be a bit slow, at times, almost nonexistent and definitely not so impressive.

* Being lethargic does not really go well with a tiger costume at the park. Faking alertness and an upbeat mood is inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol you have just consumed a couple of hours prior.

* Keep in mind the importance of staying vertical when you’re nauseous. At one point, they asked us to be on all fours because, you know, tigers, and I almost hurled. I tried my best to stay standing from that point onwards. There is no way you can be fierce while vomiting.

* If you hold a sign saying Free #TigerHug, random strangers will approach you for a hug. Maximize the awkwardness by educating them on the campaign. Hey, they owe you for the hug.

* You get instant good vibes when you hug a tree. Enough said.

* Trees do have a way of reminding you of beauty and selflessness and first love and poetry and rusty childhood memories. No, seriously, they give us oxygen and then we cut them. Harsh much?

* Doing something for the environment gives you a high. Alcohol can do that, too, but the former does not make you puke.



Note: Photos by Isko Noveda

PS. To get a better picture about this campaign, please watch this

UP Tacloban Survivors Trying to Survive the Holidays

More than a month after Haiyan, the survivors are now starting to rebuild their lives. It’s a tough road ahead but they are not alone. Filipinos from all walks of life have reached out to the survivors be it through financial assistance, food and clothing donations, prayers, while some have volunteered services. The Filipinos are also very grateful of the outpouring of help from other countries.
Pen, Moi, Yo, Boris and Mom not in the photo: Junella

Pen, Moi, Yo, Boris and Mom
not in the photo: Junella

Last Saturday, my colleagues and I visited the UP Tacloban students who relocated to UP Diliman who won’t be going home for the holidays. These students will be spending Christmas and New Year in Diliman because they’ve lost their homes in Eastern Visayas and for some, even their families. Kalayaan and Molave Residence Halls are their temporary homes under the supervision of Sir Gerry Lanuza, the current head of the Office of Student Housing (OSH). Female students are staying in Kalayaan while guys are in Molave. They take their meals together though: breakfast at Kalayaan, lunch at Molave and dinner at Bahay ng Alumni.
kalay sign

Mr. Joseph Torrecampo, a faculty of the Department of Psychology (CSSP -UP Diliman), together with his wife who’s a professor at College of Arts and Letters, are organizing tutorials and non-academic activities for the students while the they are on holiday break. Mr. Torrecampo approached us thinking we were from McGraw-Hill Education. McGraw-Hill, as known here in the Philippines, is the “encyclopedia company.” Our parent company is McGraw-Hill, but we are from the other side of the fence, McGraw-Hill Financial, to be specific: Standard & Poors. Anyway, he explained that they need materials for the quasi-remedial English classes. They need books, journals or magazines with content that they can use for the tutorials.

Mr. Joseph Torrecampo and some of the student survivors during tutorials

Mr. Joseph Torrecampo and some of the student survivors during tutorials

I know we are all busy with the Christmas preparations and we may have drained our budget with buying gifts, but if you have books and other literature you can share with these students, they would really appreciate it. You can also donate money and Mr. Torrecampo and his wife will use the funds for the materials.

UP Tacloban students

UP Tacloban students

If you’re willing to donate, you can reach me at:

Thank you in advance and happy holidays.

Note: All photos taken by Ma. Junella Gazmen.

Immigration And All That Jazz

NAIA Terminal 3 (bound for Singapore)

Immigration Officer: (Checks passport) First time to travel?
Me: Yes.
IO: Purpose?
Me: Vacation.
IO: Can I see your return ticket?
Me: (Hands the tickets: SG to KL and KL to MNL)
IO: Can I have the card you used for the reservation?
(Karen butts in because she used her card for the tickets)
Karen: I booked it. Here’s my card.
IO: Where do you work?
Me: Standard & Poor’s.
IO: Can I see your ID?
Me: (Hands company ID)
IO: How long have you worked here?
Me: Almost four years.
IO: Where’s your immigration form?
Me: (Hands immigration form)
IO: Where will you be staying?
Me: At my friend’s at Pasir Ris.
IO: What does she do?
Me: She works at a bank.
IO: Where?
Me: DBS.
IO: Okay. (Hands me my stamped passport.)

IO: (Checks passport) First time to travel?
Karen: No.
IO: Where’s your old passport?
Karen: I don’t have it anymore.
IO: Where did you travel before? Because you’re supposed to attach it to your new one.
Karen: Singapore in 2007 and Dubai in 2009.
IO: (Leaves desk to check on something) Where did you study in college?
Karen: UST.
IO: What was your major?
Karen: Entrepreneurship.
IO: Are you traveling with her? (referring to me)
Karen: Yes.
IO: Where are your return tickets?
Karen: (Hands tickets)
IO: Do you have the card you used for the tickets? It ends with xxxx.
Karen: Yes. (Hands the card)
IO: Okay. (Hands stamped passport.)

Changi Airport Terminal 1 (arrival)

Karen and I filled out disembarkation cards then queued for immigration.
Me: (Handed passport and card to the IO then noticed I left a piece of paper on the desk where I filled out the card. It has my passport info and my friend’s address and phone number.)
Sir, can you give me a second? I’ll just run and get my paper. I left it at the desk.
IO: Sure. Just close the gate.
Me: Okay. Thank you.
(Rushes to get paper and back to the IO)
IO: (Hands me my stamped passport)
Me: Thank you.

Changi Airport Terminal 2 (bound for Kuala Lumpur)

IO: (Checks my passport) Where’s your immigration paper? (Heavily accented. I could only understand the paper part.)
Me: I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?
IO: The paper?
Me: Oh. Here. (Hands the immigration card)
IO: (Checks the card, stamps passport, then hands it to me.)
Me: Thank you.

LCCT Kuala Lumpur (arrival)

IO: (Checks passport) How long are you staying here?
Me: Actually, sir, I’m also leaving tomorrow.
IO: Okay. (Stamps passport then hands it to me)
Me: Thank you.

LCCT Kuala Lumpur (bound for Manila)

IO: (checks my passport then stared at me)
Me: (Starts to get paranoid: Do I look different in my photo? I shouldn’t have tied my hair in a ponytail. Now he thinks I’m a different person.)
IO: (stamps my passport then hands it to me)
Me: Thank you.

NAIA Terminal 3 (arrival)

IO: (Checks passport and immigration form) Write on the form the name of the hotel where you stayed.
Me: Okay. (Writes hotel name then hands form)
IO: (Stamps passport then hands it to me)
Me: Thank you.

*The Bureau of Immigration (Philippines) claims they are intensifying their campaign against human trafficking. Meh.

Outsourcing, Offshoring and Sex

“Offshoring and outsourcing today are like sex in the Victorian era: repressed or criticized in public discussion, much practiced in private behavior.” 

That is a very interesting analogy by Ben W. Heineman, Jr. in his article In Defense of Responsible Offshoring and Outsourcing in the Harvard Business Review.

Is sex a valid analogy? DEFINITELY.

Think about how widely criticized outsourcing and offshoring is, then think about the massive trend of the transfer of portions of work and sometimes almost major parts of businesses from highly industrialized countries in the West to developed and developing countries in the East.

Now let’s take a look at the parallelisms. Take love out of the equation, sex, through time, has been linked to power and money. When I say money, I’m not just referring to street-level prostitution but all situations wherein sex has been used to leverage power and money, to further one’s goal/s in life; in the same manner that outsourcing and offshoring is a great leverage to drive business goals. The capitalist market is a cutthroat industry where you either sink or swim. In a world where no one is created equal — yes, not all companies are equal, the challenges for businesses is to ride the change through recession and expansion, not barely surviving but competitively playing with peers.

According to Wikipedia in the Victorian era, “sex was something that was not discussed openly and honestly, [and] public discussion of sexual encounters and matters were met with ignorance, embarrassment and fear. It seemed that aside from being a moral issue at that time, sex was also a social, political and economic issue.

Now let’s take a look at the economics of outsourcing. The main reason for outsourcing and offshoring is cost efficiency and for this, they are widely criticized. People usually think that the cost of capital is directly correlated to the quality of product and/or services, i.e. the lower the capital, the lower the quality of product and/or services. In a capitalist world, everyone wants to flaunt the money they earn but almost no one wants to admit the money they lose. Some conservative businesses still view outsourcing and offshoring as accepting defeat or settling. But the success stories of outsourcing and offshoring for big and small companies alike, obviously defeat that view.

Thankfully, sex in the Victorian era has evolved and the sexual revolution paved the way to a more honest, respectful and less pretentious view of sexuality. In the same way that, through time, capitalists can also hope for the same revolution. Sex can make or break a king and a regular citizen alike. It seems that sex may be one of the great equalizers for humanity; in the same manner that outsourcing and offshoring can be the great equalizer for small and big companies alike.

Humpty Dumpty and the King

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Image source:

Image source:

The King himself went to see Humpty to try to fix him. The King saw Humpty broken with his parts scattered all over the ground. It looked tragic but not totally hopeless for Humpty was still alive. So then the King started talking to Humpty and slowly coaxed him to pick up the pieces and fix himself back. He even offered to help and then started picking up some broken parts. Humpty politely declined and begged the King to stop what he was doing. He tried to explain to the King:

“I know I can pick up the pieces and fix myself. I won’t be good as new. There will be missing pieces. There will be some parts that will be beyond repair, but I would still be able to function, then, maybe do new things. Maybe make a new life. A different life perhaps. Make new accomplishments or make new mistakes. Doesn’t really matter. I can walk a different path. The possibilities are endless.

I know it’s not the end for me. Not yet anyway. No, this isn’t the end. But for now, let me stay here. Let me lie here with the ruins. Let me not worry about the days being empty, because the day I pick up the pieces and put myself together is the day I start to stand up again. And when I do that, I would have to walk and leave this place. I would need to move on and keep walking, never look back and live life again. And today, I’m just not ready to do that.”

Image source:

Image source:

I’ve read this “Humpty and the King” story a long time ago. The original story was much, much shorter, about two to four sentences. I tried researching online but couldn’t find it, then somehow got inspired to rewrite it from what I could remember from it.

I Could Be The One by Avicii feat. Nicky Romero

Here’s a list of what I learned from the music video I Could Be The One, also known as the story of a boring fat girl who dreamed a better life:

Don’t watch the video if you don’t appreciate satire, in which case, you should also stop reading this now.

Bored office workers surf non-work related sites such as online shops and self-help sites, especially fat office girls.

If you’re a fat girl, everyone will ask you to lose weight, which translates oftentimes to eating less or eating healthy. The right response is to tell them to eat a dick. Seriously.

Fat girls can shag hot bald guys, also long-haired model-type blonds, especially when there’s lots of alcohol involved pre-coitus. Anything and everything is possible with the help of alcohol. That was emphasized by the scene showing empty bottles on the night stand and the dresser after the fat girl woke up confused about the night before and with a naked beautiful male on her bed. Now if that shot of the bottles on the dresser was taken out, given that the girl was shown partying the night before, the correlation between fat girl-hot guy hook-ups and alcohol wouldn’t be too painful. Still painful but not too much. Oy vey!

Image Source:

Image Source:

The only thing your to-do list should have is to not give a fuck. That is all. The video will make sure you won’t miss this by dedicating a couple of seconds to a tight shot of the post-it of this list.

Just because you’re a fat girl who has finally transformed into a better looking fat girl, it doesn’t give you the right to ruin other people’s fun. Oh wait, it does? Why the hell didn’t I get the memo? Seriously, I would have appreciated it if the fat girl was giving the finger to skinny bitches drinking skinny margaritas on the beach. But a little girl making sand castles? Really?

Fat girls, even when they’re having fun, still look fat, sad and a joke. Feel free to spot the scenes illustrating this. Hints: sloppy kiss with the hot bald guy, ass grabbing at a party, humping on a yacht, the windmill scene, pot session, riding a horse by the beach.

If you’re an ordinary-looking fat girl, everyone else in the office seems thin and not-so-ordinary. Of course, in real life, most office workers are at risk of obesity. Yay?

If your life is one big routine, all you’re really doing is dying. No joke here.

Fat girls shouldn’t ride horses. There’s just no graceful way of mounting the beast, especially stallions. Gravity is almost always not on your side when you’re overweight.

One of the saddest things in the world is staring at the crotch — which happens to be inches away from your face — of a barely clad male stripper with a stupid look in your face. The right way to do it is to look unaffected while smiling naughtily (achievable by lifting the left corner of your mouth with your lips closed) every few minutes, even though on the inside you are jumping giddily while throwing your arms in the air.

Image Source:

Image Source:

If you’re a fat girl, you will be treated like a doormat, unless you do something about it. Okay, that was an exaggeration. Not all doormats are fat girls. I mean, you don’t have to be fat to have people walking all over you. Kidding aside, if you’re fat and a doormat, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what kind of masochism you’re gunning for.

If you have a bitchy hot girl, possibly with eating disorder colleague who probably is your superior and she rudely dumps paperwork on your desk on a regular basis, you will one day let go of your rage and just lose it. And I mean rampage in its rawest form. Needless to say, it won’t be pretty.

The moment you decide to change your life, you get killed.

The moral of the video? Don’t try to change your life or go into a vacation. Let people walk over you. That’s okay. Not all of us are created equal. If your looks are ordinary and you are fat, you are a tragedy. Accept that. Believe in your shrink and take that pill. Continue your routine because such is life. If you do otherwise, you can get killed. You don’t wanna get killed.

I did not use asterisks to soften R-rated vocabulary because that would be doing the video a vast disservice.

This post is dedicated to JJ and Ann who are big fans of this song.

Sorry, JJ, it took me a long time to write this.

When You’re Desperate For Answers

Harboring a suspicion that your significant other is cheating on you?
Thinking if you’ll ever get that promotion?
Wondering if he’s gonna call tonight?
Thinking if she’s thinking about you, too?
Anxious if you’re gonna get that job?

Image Source:

Image Source:

Well, wonder no more.  The Book of Answers is here to answer all of your questions. Close-ended questions, that is. From silly questions to the most core-shaking ones, The Book of Answers has the answers.

Q: Do I look fat in this jeans?

Q: Should I get a brazilian?

Q: Will I always be fat?

Q: Will I ever get married?

Q: Is Edward Snowden the real life Jack Bauer?
A: UNQUESTIONABLY. (Don’t make me say “I told you so.”)

Q: Am I gonna have kids?

Q: Is Matt Scannell gonna marry me?

Q: Are we ever gonna be friends again?

Q: Am I gonna be rich?

Q: Am I gonna have a rich husband?

Q: Will I ever have a bald guy partner?
A: THERE WILL BE OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME. (As long as I get my bald guy. Dammit.)

Q: Should I get plastic surgery?

Q: Am I gonna meet him soon.

Q: Is he gonna cheat on me?


I highly recommend this book when you badly need a laugh. If you and your friends are bored on a Saturday night, check out this book for some of the questions that have been plaguing your mind/s. Again, they have to be answerable only by yes or no. Close-ended, you guys.

Also, I have to qualify my recommendation. I don’t recommend buying a brand new copy. The one from *Fully Booked costs Php 605.00. I suggest buying a preowned copy from **Booksale and from online stores. I don’t guarantee that Booksale has a copy though but you can always check and/or ask their staff.


*Fully Booked, as their About Us page boasts, is “a haven for book enthusiasts, which has a cozy atmosphere, soothing music and well-informed staff.” They succintly describe their shops as “not merely bookshops but lifestyle destinations.” Let me spell it out for you, Fully Booked is a bookstore for the middle class and probably, the 1%-ers, too. Here’s their site

**Booksale claims to be the Philippines’ biggest source of low-priced unused as well as previously-owned books and bargain publications from the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. You can check their site here. If you’re a student, a yuppie, middle class but not a snob, a too-good-to-be-true 1%-er, Booksale is the place for you.

Hymen and Babies

People say that in the old days if you so much as get caught holding hands with a guy, then you sure would be married. Maintaining a spotless reputation was on top of the list back in the day. Apparently, for single women, reputation has a lot got to do with virginity.

Nowadays, obviously, the culture has somewhat shifted. The state of a woman’s hymen is now mostly a non-issue. In fact, intentional tearing of the hymen due to certain “recreational” activities does not qualify anymore as a reason to force couples to marry. These days, it is the status of the womb that has become the deciding factor for many marriages. Tying the knot due to pregnancy, mostly unplanned, it seems, has become the rule rather than the exception. I don’t mean that as a criticism; rather, a mere observation.

Image Source:

Image Source:

As a woman, whether you are from the olden days when indulging in premarital sex would earn you a stoning or at least the reputation of the village slut or you are a “modern” woman living in today’s supposed more liberal view of your gender, the fact remains that you are still forced to conform to society’s presribed behavior, which is still for the most part, biased, pretentious and self-righteous.

How familiar are these situations?

A: X is getting married.
B: Is she pregnant?
A: Yes.
A: Oh, that’s why.

A: X is getting married.
B: Is she pregnant?
A: No.
B: Then why?

Image Source:

Image Source:

A: I don’t understand why X won’t marry her boyfriend. They’ve been together for years and their son is about to start school.
B: Because they don’t want to get married.
A: But why? I don’t understand.

A: X is pregnant.
B: Wow. So when is the wedding?
A: I don’t think she and her boyfriend are planning to get married.
B: But they should, shouldn’t they?

I cannot extol on the valid reasons to marry. There are thousands of references written by experts that you can use for that topic. Besides, at the end of the day, to marry or not to marry is definitely your choice. And your partner’s, of course. Whatever reason you may have for marrying your partner, may it be something that would solidify your marriage and keep you together, rather than drive you apart. And more importantly, I dare say, may it also be something that makes you happy.

Image Source:

Image Source:



The author (an almost spinster) is being pressured by her family to find a suitable husband soon or at least have a baby. But she would rather marry for convenience if given a chance.