I Know I Live In Hell But Thank You, Mr. Brown, For Confirming It

I do not claim to be socially responsible. Truth be told, I am far from being socially aware. That admission shames me. Trust me, it does. I am the stereotype of my generation, the seemingly apathetic. I can come up with a thousand and one excuses but it does not deny the fact that, while I am not a government official abusing power, I am just as morally and socially inept; and just the opposite, I think it emphasizes my lack of cultural consciousness.

I dutifully pay taxes, it appears, but that is because it automatically gets deducted from my paycheck. If not, I don’t know how I’d be able to do so on time and file my 2316 on or before the 15th of April every year. I was never good in math but I’ve always been good at procrastinating.

I hardly watch the news and when reading online, I skip most of the local news. I do this for a number of reasons. First, the evening news is on while I’m having dinner before I head for work. I don’t know about you but images of bloodied victims of shootouts and old politicians shaming women who use the pill just don’t go well with my food. I read the news online but I skim the headlines and skip the recycled ones. This borders on being judgmental but I can only be a masochist to a certain degree.

Sometimes there are news stories that would just call out to you no matter how apathetic you are.

1. Take the case of Kristel Tejada. You would have had a heart of stone to not have been touched by that tragedy. I’ve written about it here

2. Take the RH bill and how backwards some of our lawmakers are. As a woman, the arguments presented by some politicians were offensive and shameful. They were sickening and disheartening at the least. But when the bill got passed, I celebrated along with the Filipinos who have held on to the promise of slow steps towards progress.

3. Take the recent national elections and how disappointing for many Filipinos the results are. I only voted four senatoriables, the ones I considered worthy, and all of them lost. I was floored. This was a heartache worse than when that good-on-paper guy did not ask me to be his girlfriend.

The aftermath of the elections is just as fiery as the events prior to the elections, if not hotter. This is the time when even the apolitical cannot help but react to the poll results. Practically everyone has something to say about the candidates, both the winners and the losers. I still think it is a shame that most of the winning senators, in my belief, are unqualified. Most of them are from famous/infamous families, which apparently, these days is the only qualification you need to be elected. I’m looking at you Grace Poe, Bam Aquino and the crowd favorite, Nancy Binay.

Yes, I did not vote for them and I think it’s a travesty that they won, yet I also have to accept the fact that we are a democratic country, and these three, among others, have been voted by the majority. Obviously, I do not agree with the majority but I respect their opinion. I truly mean that. What I don’t respect are the so-called “educated” voters, mostly the middle class, who have been shaming the masa voters for their choices. There had been a lot of name calling especially on social networking sites. The “masa” had been called a lot of names: tanga, bobo, gago, mal-edukado. There is no excuse for rudeness and name calling is not only immature and crude but only weakens, if not destroy, your argument.

We have our own reasons for our own choices. We live in a free country. And while freedom may not be absolute, we should not be judged as inferior or stupid because we chose someone different.

4. Then just last week, many Filipinos cried foul when international bestselling author Dan Brown (from The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons fame), described Manila in his book as the gates of hell. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino was quick to defend Manila’s honor by writing to Mr. Brown and refuting the author’s description of the city. The outcry on social networking sites have been loud.

Again, to each his own. We are entitled to our opinion. And I don’t know about you, but on many occasions, I have described living in the metro hellish, too. Hell, just the heat, overpopulation and traffic are reasons enough for me to believe I live in hell. But Mr. Brown, I don’t think traffic, even at its worst, is a six-hour jam. That is absurd! It’s only five hours! Four at best! I kid, I kid.

I’ve been approached one too many times and offered hookers. And I’m a girl! My good friends Jayby and Kent can attest to this. Try crossing Aurora-EDSA bridge late night or early morning. The sidewalks of Aurora also has a booming flesh trade. I work nights and I used to pass by that area. From Mr. Brown’s description, he can’t be far from the truth. I imagine Manila has the same business prospects, if not, better.

Pickpockets, panhandlers, who would claim to not have seen those? If you seriously haven’t, then you’re not a resident of the metro or you’re a sheltered trust fund baby who’s being chauferred from your dreamy castle inside Forbes to your little international school inside a gated subdivision south of the metro, in which case, I regret to inform you that you don’t count as a Metro Manila resident.

So far, those have been the news that caught my attention. Well, there’s the opening of SM Aura but meh, anything about Mr. Sy and his empire is disgusting to me anyway. I know I still buy groceries from SM from time to time but darn, his empire is everywhere it’s hard to escape him. There’s also Vin Diesel and Sarah Jessica Parker visiting our country. Hmm. Not interested. I’m mostly like this when reading the news. So I guess I’ll see you next time some headline catches my fancy. In the meantime, I’ll wait for my chauffeur to bring me to Shangri-La for lunch.

Excerpt from "Inferno" by Dan Brown

Excerpt from “Inferno” by Dan Brown

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Looking Back At My “Fictional” Attempts

Photo source: kidsinthekichen.blogspot.com

Photo source: kidsinthekichen.blogspot.com

I don’t tell you this often enough but I’m really grateful for your taking the time to read my stories. Cheesy but I can’t thank you enough. And it just warms my heart that some of you may be numbers on my blog stats and unknown faces from halfway across the world but I’ve already shared a lot about my inner thoughts and quirks.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Today, I was rereading my old posts and decided I want to re-post some of my favorite fictional stories. If you haven’t read them, here’s your chance. If you have, please tell me what you think about them.

 

The first one is called Purple and Red. It’s about a woman with an intense need for affiliation and a low self-esteem. It also hints physical abuse.

Maybe you locked yourself in your room grieving the silence of the phone. Did he forget your birthday or was it anniversary? You wanted to paint your bedroom red but you are waiting for his approval. So now it’s still the lifeless gray that matches your gloom.

You may read the full story here.

 

The second one is the love of a witch and a prince called Witching Hours.

The prince had a recurring nightmare of riding his horse on the forest and running after a woman in a billowing red skirt. But before he could catch her, he gets thrown off the horse.

For the full story, just click here.

 

The third is about a rainy morning and the memories that pour with the drops on the window pane.

And on rainy mornings, I stay in bed and look out the window and wonder if you still look up at the sky and ask why she’s crying.

The full story is  here.

 

 

Again, thank you so much, everyone.

PS. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Perfect Date Ideas From A Self-Proclaimed Spinster

I’ve had my fair share of dating horrors. In fact, I have told you about my spectacularly disapponting date with a guy who liked Westlife. If not, you can read about it here.

Yeah, yeah, I have this annoying love affair with hyperbole. So anyhow, it’s Friday and so most people are in good spirits. I hope you are too. Well, I am. And so today I will write about something positive. Hmm. Like what? Crime rate? Upcoming national elections? The April 15 deadline for filing of taxes? Geezz, can you tell how I’m oozing with positivity right now?

Let’s talk about dating, which personally is a comedy of horrors. I’m pretty sure Billy Shakespeare is turning in his grave right now for my usage of one of his famous plays. If you are hoping I would lay out for you fool-proof dating advice, you may stop reading now, though I hope you wouldn’t. Surely, you have to understand that a 29-year old spinster is in no place to dish out dating advice in any shape or form. But just because I am a self-confessed spinster and apparently unpopular with guys, doesn’t mean I am without my wishes for a perfect date. And that’s what I want to share with you today.

It’s actually a tie. So I have two perfect ideas for a date. Before I tell you what they are, I’ll tell you first that when I was in my early 20s, I thought a perfect date for me would be in a museum. What could be more romantic than walking through high-ceilinged halls full of different artworks? Plus the silence of the sculptures as the dust tries to settle on the frames of paintings provides a charmed setting for a budding affair. The soft echo of your footsteps as you pretend to look at sketches would be the perfect soundtrack of your own romantic comedy. As you can see, I lived in a European romcom when I was 20. Think Amelie and The Spanish Apartment. But since I’ve been on platonic dates in a museum twice with two of my good guy friends, I’ve scrapped out the perfect museum date.

So my perfect date idea #1 is at a blood-letting activity. Now before you clutch your imaginary pearls, let me explain myself. The reason why I think this is perfect is aside from you are making a contribution to the National Red Cross, this also gives you a glimpse into what kind of person your date is. If he is willing to give blood on your first date, there are only two valid possibilities. Either he is desperate and willing to do anything and everything to get laid or he really cares about such causes as helping those who need blood.

Photo source: prometheus.med.utah.edu

Photo source: prometheus.med.utah.edu

An equally important reason why this donating blood is perfect is because after you’ve given out 500cc of your own blood is that now you two have the perfect little excuse for a red meat feast or buffet. You need all the red meat for your red blood cells. So hey, win-win, right? If a worthy cause and a buffet won’t seal your bond forever, then nothing would.

Perfect date idea #2 is a little picnic at night in the middle of Sunken Garden while listening to 90s and early ’00s boyband music. You could also add reading your favorite children stories and/or rhymes to the repertoire. You only need finger foods, mat, candles, iPod/phone for your music and story books. Think Nsync, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. If a guy is willing to listen to crappy boyband music with you, he may be: a, someone who has terrible music just like you; b, desperately wants to sleep with you or; c, willing to forego your horrible taste in music for a shot at a meaningful relationship. So again, nothing to lose and everything to gain in this setup.

Photo source: wikimapia.org

Photo source: wikimapia.org

PS. The children stories part is a subliminal attempt for him to think that you would one day bear his children. I am assuming you’d be down for that. No pun intended.

PPS. You are only allowed to stay at Sunken Garden until 10 in the evening.

So anyway, since I don’t see any dates in my foreseeable future, I’ll just enjoy my Friday listening to The Dan Band’s Candy Shop. If you haven’t heard of Dan Finnerty or The Dan Band, it’s about effin time you listen to him/them now.

TGIF!

Why I’m Still Single

1. I did not forward those chain letters and SMS.

2. I have terrible taste in music. Gil Ofarim and LFO. Are you happy now? Geez.

Photo source: tumblr.com

Photo source: tumblr.com

3. I rarely wear dresses and heels.

4. I don’t work out and my metabolism is practically nonexistent.

5. I don’t like most people.

6. I don’t like animals, too. I’m not gonna pretend to like your dog no matter what breed it is. I like plants though.

7. I have thicker legs than most men I know.

8. I don’t have a sense of direction, literally and figuratively.

Photo source: betcheslovethis.com

Photo source: betcheslovethis.com

9. I don’t wanna wear heels on my wedding day.

10. I’m still not over him.

Forget The Men. Pick A Guy. 2 of 2

This is a continuation of Forget The Men. Pick A Guy. This is the list of what men are like.

Photo source: quickmeme.com

Photo source: quickmeme.com

Men tend to tell you what to do. Most of them are control freaks. This is both good and bad.

They check your tires before your big trip.

They say, “Call me when you get there” because they want to make sure you got there safe.

A man remembers to tell you the doctor’s office called.

Men won’t go into therapy to better understand their crazy selves.

A man takes revenge. You would never want to hurt his woman nor his children.

Men assume guys are boys who haven’t manned up yet.

Men don’t want to talk to women about their feelings of inadequacy.

Men have keys. They have the codes to alarms.

And I wanna add:

A man is often quiet that you wonder what goes on in his head and if he ever listens to you. (He does, unless you’re nagging him then he just shuts down.)

A man usually is absorbed in his work and chores. You would not want to interrupt him when he’s working.

A man rarely talks about his feelings. Sometimes never. But his silence speaks volumes, and you can see in his eyes the answers you are looking for. (Yes, I’m a hopeless romantic.)

A man rarely shows affection in public. No hugging and kissing in grocery aisles. But he wraps his arms around you when you sleep.

Most men dress horribly, at best, neutral like jeans and sneakers or perpetually in boring shirt and dress shoes.

A man will not watch The Notebook with you. He likes The Fast and the Furious. (Totally fine by me.)

Jon Hamm and Armie Hammer are men.

Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/fashion/20love.html?pagewanted=all

Forget The Men. Pick A Guy. 1 of 2

This is an article written by Cathleen Calbert back in September of 2009. My friend posted this on Facebook, and we got into a discussion on our preferences: do we want a man or a guy? She wants a guy whereas I like a man. The author married a guy, and it seems that the mature choice is a guy. But then maybe you’re like me hopelessly dreaming for a man.

The article is long and instead of reposting it, I’m breaking it out into a list. And this would be two parts because the list is, again, somewhat long.

We’re gonna start with the Guy.

Photo source: thefrisky.com

Photo source: thefrisky.com

Guys are often in between things like jobs and houses, which means they’re more likely to stay up with you all night, drinking wine and playing gin rummy.

They’ll rub your belly. They’ll lick chocolate off it.

They’ll like your cute little dog.

When going on a trip, guys say, “Love you, have fun,” because they can’t imagine anything bad happening to you.

Guys can wallow in confusion. They can decide to leave their brides on one side of the country as they head to the other.

Guys can sweetly stick. Yes, they’ll walk past whole bags of garbage without seeing them, they’ll play their guitar while the dog snags an entire meatloaf from the counter and eats it, but they’ll say, “Hi, sweetie,” when you walk in the door, laden with groceries.

They’ll go into therapy to better understand their crazy selves.

Photo source: inquistr.com

Photo source: inquistr.com

Guys wear the kind of clothes they wore as boys even when their hair silvers: cool jeans and baseball jackets coupled with stupid T-shirts boasting faded logos from exotic locales.

Guys are boys who didn’t grow up to be men.

Guys are capable of swooning over a new writer they’ve just discovered, or of speaking passionately about some idea.

A guy is a possibility.

Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/fashion/20love.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

So Unsexy by Alanis Morissette

I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind

Oh these little protections how they fail to serve me
One forgotten phone call and I’m deflated
Oh these little defenses how they fail to comfort me
Your hand pulling away and I’m devastated

When will you stop leaving baby?
When will I stop deserting baby?
When will I start staying with myself?

 

 

Easter Sunday And All Things Celebratory

Photo source: coolwindsresidences.com

Photo source: coolwindsresidences.com

My Mom was a devout catholic and raised us to observe the lenten tradition. Easter Sunday is widely celebrated in the whole christendom and I remember my Mom waking us up at dawn and dragging us to church for the “sugat” (in Waray) or “salubong” in Tagalog. The event includes Virgin Mary meeting/reuniting with the resurrected Christ with young girls in white singing hymns and throwing flowers to the parishioners. When I was in fifth and sixth grade, I became one of those girls. I remember being so excited to wear a white dress and carry my little basket of flowers like a three-year old flower girl in a wedding.

Just like many catholics (or Christians, for that matter). the whole meaning of Easter was lost on me. To me, Easter marks the end of lent, meaning we can eat meat again and that it was the culmination of the weeklong prayer vigils, stations of the cross, novenas and processions.Surely, those are more than enough reasons for a celebration. The resurrection of Christ is still a mystery to me as is his death and its significance. They keep saying we are celebrating the living God, the ever loving God, the one who loves us unconditionally and has given up His life so that we may be saved.

I want to celebrate Easter the way I did when I was 10 and was wearing a white dress and carrying a basket of flowers. But I can’t. I’m way past innocence and has mourned the church I grew up in. Why is the church who preaches about love condemns the gays? Why wouldn’t it allow women to have choices regarding their own health and well being? Why is it covering up its own transgressions? How can they continue protecting the priests and other church officials who have molested children? How can the church be so wealthy when they preach about being humble and meek and renouncing worldly possessions?

Photo source: gstatic.com

Photo source: gstatic.com

Easter is a new beginning. New beginnings give us hope. Hope is the light that guides us in the darkness that we live in. When everything else is gray and cold, we can hold on to that hope. We can hope that one day things will change for the better. We can hope that one day we would be closer to equality. But until then, we have to do our share and stop bigotry, condemn abuses and respect women and their choices. And when that day comes, I’d probably wear a white dress and carry a basket of flowers.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Real by Plumb

Well be pleased, world
If this is what you wanted
This young girl is everything that you made
What will she say?

Aren’t I lovely
And do you want me cause
I am hungry for something that will make me real
Can you see me and
Do you love me cause
I am desperately searching for something real.

Let The Slow Clapping Commence

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com

Greenbelt apparently is a haven for expats. And where there are expats, you will also find the — how should I say it delicately, uhmm, you know the girls in skimpy dresses or short shorts with matching f**k-me heels? But just to clarify, not all of them are prostitutes, the other half actually are girlfriends/wives of the expats.

Sunday night, my friend, Ryan and I decided to brave the rain for some much needed alcohol fix. We were supposed to meet at 10 at Distillery but apparently, they’re closed on Sundays. So then we headed to Greenbelt, which not surprisingly, was still abuzz. The rain has stopped then but the air was thick with humidity. My shirt was drenched in sweat and my hair stuck to my nape. I was in my usual shirt and sneakers combo. For someone on a nightout, I looked like I just finished an intense workout.

After a quick dinner at Cucina Andare (pretty much their version of banchetto) we went to look for a bar and settled for Spicy Fingers at Greenbelt 1. The place is nice if you’re into red decor and somewhat pricey drinks. Uhmm, yes, don’t go there wearing red. You’ll blend with the couches and you could easily be mistaken for a server and/or crew.

Quite naturally, Ryan and I surveyed the surroundings and realized that we were in a place crowded with expats and their significant others, Filipina dates/girlfriends/wives. Now this is the part where I have to duck because you’ll be throwing rocks and tomatoes at me but I would just have to put it out there. I’m one of those people who make fun of Filipinas with foreign partners, especially those with cringe-inducing older partners. My friends and I refer to said expats as “pangkabuhayan showcase.” I guess the nearest translation of that is a source of livelihood.

Of course, not all of these interracial relationships are fiscally motivated. I do have friends who have expat partners without the economic factor being the forefront of their love stories. For this post, I won’t be using the current nationwide statistics of these unions because I’m too lazy to research the numbers. Instead, I’ll use the crowd at Spicy Fingers.

So most of the couples there were American and European men, mostly middle aged with Pinay partners aged early 20s to mid-30s. Roughly. There were also a group of Indian couples with Filipino friends. Or maybe they were Turkish. We could hardly tell. There were only 3 tables expat-free, Mine and Ryan’s, a yuppy couple’s and a group of 4 girls. To be honest, we don’t really know the reputation of Spicy Fingers. For all we know, they’re really a famous hotspot for interracial nightouts. But anyway, Ryan and I couldn’t help talking about these couples. We both admitted we were being judgemental in thinking these women are all after money and/or getting out of the country. And at the height of meanness, every time we see a Pinay-expat couple with age/looks disparity, we would do the slow clap. Too much age disparity deserves a slow clap with standing ovation. That mean.

You see, Ryan and I truly are not just ignorant, prejudice pricks because soon after, we launched into a socio-economic discourse of these relationships. Yes, we poke fun at these Pinays but how many among us see them as women who gave up the traditional romantic notions and instead decided to be pragmatic and made sacrifices just to provide for their family, help send their siblings to school, help a sickly relative get proper medical treatment, help parents build a house with a roof that could withstand typhoons and so on and so forth. Isn’t that noble than, say, marrying your childhood sweetheart and still asking money from your parents because you’re short on rent? Of course, I’m not saying that my example is a representative of most Filipino couples. What I’m trying to point out is that my Filipino couple example isn’t a butt of jokes, but those interracial relationships are.

I can’t help feeling sad looking at these girls who were mostly my age. Can you imagine being young and sleeping next to someone older than your father? How about relocating to your husband’s place where the sun does not show up for months? Most of all, how would you feel knowing that your family and friends talk behind your back about how you married your husband so you could get a green card and/or send your brother to college. Also, as is always being pointed out, these women actually help the economy, mainly due to remittance.

But I really shouldn’t feel bad for these women. What do I really know about what they think when they lie at night? Why do I even think that they are sad and wish for a different life? For all I know, as they lie next to their husbands at night, the last thoughts they have before drifting to sleep is how grateful they are for the life they live.

I don’t want to preach about how we should probably lay off on the jokes and the slow clapping. It’s not my place to do so. Besides, I know I’m still gonna make the jokes and do the slow clap. But I hope we try to see them in a different light, too. How about respect for their choice? How about appreciation for their wisdom and courage? But geez, I wish they would lay off on the skimpy dresses and the stripper heels.

 

*For Tasos. When I fell for you, the thought of you building my parents a big house in the province didn’t even cross my mind. I did daydream though of us and blue-eyed kids in a classic Greek house. Lol.