about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Lately I've returned to playing badminton again after a pretty long absence.

The first game I played I literally sweat bullets. I was so easily exhausted and I ran out of breath after no more than one set. My footwork was erratic, my shots no good and my positioning always off.

I am thankful that lasted for all of one day.

In almost no time at all I was back in form, repeatedly testing my fitness to play badminton competitively. I slowly became more confident of myself and my skills. As it turns out I didn't need retraining after all---what skill I previously had were simply dormant and needed awakening.

My playing and skills aren't perfect by a long shot; I have all the old faults I had before I stopped playing 2 months ago. However I feel I've gotten more acute in my awareness of where the shuttlecock will go.

My skill was certainly enough to win the recent CAOlympics last Saturday for my team. Not to sound arrogant, but I felt that playing in Villamor AFB twice a week was more challenging than playing there. Only a handful of players there, I felt, had the proper knowledge of the game's rules, not to mention the knowledge and skill of making shots and proper footwork. No matter, it was still fun playing.

However, the previous afternoon I had played 4 games in 3 or so hours (2 wins, 2 losses) and so I felt rather exhausted---even till today. My head hurts, I feel out of energy to do anything and I feel dizzy.

Right now, no badminton for me. Today, at least.

I'm feeling the itch to buy another HG Gundam Seed model. Since I can't play badminton and I'm pretty damn bored at home, I figure maybe I should exercise my brain and fingers in something productive.

Money's the only problem, I guess. I have enough to buy the HG Aile Strike Gundam kit, but that's not the only expense I'll have. I'm not entirely sure if I have enough money to spare to cover my other expenses.

Maybe I should just cut down on food?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Lately I've been on a little movie-watching spree.

First I watched was the much-ballyhooed "The Terminal." In my opinion this movie has a very vapid, almost ridiculous main plot, and it's a triumph of marketing that people won't notice it one bit. They'll simply be transfixed at Tom Hanks' stellar character acting.

I had a hard time believing it was him because he pulled off his Eastern European role pretty damn well...but it IS him. The other actors (I'm so tempted to call them "bit players" because that's what they really are) have their moments, but without Mr. Hanks, this movie will inevitably fall apart.

Conversely I had a hard time believing the great Andrew Niccol co-wrote this film. Sure, the Niccol trademark of unusual situations is there, but I don't remember "Gattaca," "Simone" and "The Truman Show" being this pathetic story-wise.

Next one was a film I really should've seen in the cinemas last year: Quark Henares' "Keka."

I have to say Quark is a wunderkind. He wrote this film, directed it and even starred in a cameo role playing himself (a disgruntled director). The brilliant thing about "Keka" is that it comes off as very fresh; it doesn't ever try to be anything foreign as it overflows with local culture.

Yet it pokes fun at itself for being a film out of the "baduy" or tacky Philippine movie tradition, epitomized in the 1980s by the actors suddenly breaking out into a song-and-dance number that ends with some happy freeze-frame.

Cinematography's quite excellent---I love how the film has an eye for shadows and bright colors. The characters Keka and Jason have their own soliloquys on the movie and they really are cohesive to the plot's movement. Keka herself is all too human. Despite the plot premise being a bit over-the-top (she's bent on killing the five fratboys to avenge the death of her boyfriend PJ), it's still a good way of depicting how people should deal with getting over a past love.

Ending's quite lovely too...open-ended, yet fulfilling.

We should model our thesis film on this.

The last one was the highly popular French film "Amelie."

I don't know...I think I missed a beat with this one as I was pretty sleepy by the time I watched it last night. But for what it's worth I thought it was a fascinating film. Indeed, it was a modern-age fairy tale, with Amelie deciding to be the guardian angel of everybody in her neighborhood, doing favors for them, taking care of them and occasionally getting back at the assholes that pick on them---without their knowledge, just like a true guardian angel does. So when the time comes that she sees her happiness, she's constantly at two minds about it, not sure about following her happiness or foregoing it to help others.

I think I should watch this again...but I enjoyed it. Amelie has the greatest imagination sometimes and that endeared her to me.

Technically there's nothing wrong with it; it maintains a very homey feel throughout the length of the film through its warm, bright colors and high saturation. Sometimes the film turns very silly with its scripting though---but to good effect.

This song is from "Keka's" soundtrack...and I've known it by heart for quite a while.

Sadya ba talagang ganyan?
Palakad-lakad na nakatungo
Saan patungo?

Ngayong wala ka na, kailangang
Masanay na muling nag-iisa
Saan ka na kaya?

H'wag mo akong sisihin
Minsan ika'y hanapin
Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na
Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na...

Nasanay lang sigurong nandyan ka
Di ko inakalang pwede kang mawala
Hayan na nga

Nababato, nalulungkot
Luha'y napapawi ng singhot
At talukbong ng kumot

H'wag mo akong sisihin
Minsan ako'y iyakin
Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na
Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na...
- Sugar Free, "Unang Araw" (Sa Wakas/"Keka" OST)

Friday, September 17, 2004

The new term's started and so far things look like they'll be a lot smoother this time around. I gotta say I'm pretty lucky all my profs seem likeable and easy to get along with.

Time will tell I suppose.

I finally bought an 1/144-scale HG Aegis Gundam model kit, and I constructed it from parts to finished model in 5 hours. And I feel good about it. My friend Mark Año told me that for the price, the HG Aegis Gundam kit was good value for money as it took a considerable amount of time and patience to assemble.

For some reason I can't stop touching it or fiddling around with it. Despite its being extremely fiddly and having so many joints (due to its transformation from mobile suit to flying mobile armor), I keep changing it from MS to MA mode and back. The GAT-X303 Aegis just looks so damn cool.

I plan to get an 1/144-scale HG Aile Strike Gundam model kit next, around the same price as the Aegis. It should be fun pitting these two arch-rival mobile suits together.

Got to chat with Rona last night. She's just about to begin her major subjects and she sought my help for her FOTOCAM class. After that we basically talked about anything under the sun.

At first she struck me as quiet when I met her a term ago. She told me ever since entering Pops, she's changed for the better and become more sociable. Pretty much a nice girl from my point of view. I didn't even suspect her unsocial tendencies before.

I'm sort of jealous of her because she has a lot more time than I do in Pops and she's a vocalist (I love her voice), but I'm glad I'm actually in Pops in the first place. Already I can feel Rona's attachment to Pops in me too. Despite the problems that arise, I want to stay as long as I can. I want to make the most out of every day I'm still there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I might as well move on to more creative endeavors. Literally.

I've been eyeing Bandai's Gundam mobile suit model kits lately. (Yes, I will no longer deny I am a Gundam fan, and yes, I was deprived of the toys I wanted from my childhood. Heheheh.)

I actually bought one---a 1/144 Sword Strike Gundam from Gundam Seed, at PhP350. I took my sweet time assembling it piece by piece...and I was rather disappointed that unlike my previous model (a fake Wing Gundam Zero Custom, from Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, that I later threw away), the only mobile limbs on the Sword Strike I bought were the arms. No movement from elbows or knees.

Damn. You couldn't do too much with it, ultimately.

As it turns out my fake Wing Zero Custom was a fake HG (high grade) model kit, so all the limbs were articulated in all the right places. That means I'd have to shell out PhP900-1000 for a 1/144 HG Aile Strike Gundam, colored and articulated in all the right places. (One consolation was that if I ever decided to get the HG Aile Strike, I could use the parts I got from the Sword Strike I bought.)

I decided to save up for a 1/144 HG Aegis Gundam. The cool-looking pinkish-red one with the way-cooler transformation into mobile armor mode. Damage: PhP845.00. Not bad, considering the other equivalent HG model kits they had were priced well into the PhP1200 range.

And then as if to mock my meager expectations, there still existed even larger 1/100 scale models (PhP1400-1600) and MG (master grade) models with full details and extensive armatures (PhP2600). Buying those things is going to put a serious dent into my meager finances.

1/144 HG Aegis Gundam na lang po...

Chrissa was very right about one thing: The main enjoyment one could get with these model kits is the actual assembly.

I guess looking into the Gundam kits is just my way of trying to make up for my clumsiness at tasks with my fingers. :p

Monday, September 13, 2004

Quote of the moment.

"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade for heaven's sake. Sometimes a bit sour, but nothing a little sugar couldn't fix. Just add sugar."
- Martin Nievera, concert artist

Friday, September 10, 2004

I realize that despite the openness I display in my blog, there are still a lot of things I don't say in these pages but occupy my mind anyway.

I am afraid, I suppose. Seeing as how things on the Internet magically and automatically become public domain (someone managed to copy my blog word for word before), I may be courting trouble once I start to pour out more than the requisite modicum of myself. I have perceptions of myself in others that I want to protect, yet I know I have little actual control over what changes these perceptions will take given future events.

Meow put it perfectly. Here was a regular HCPer (a proud ADIK I might add...don't deny it!), whom I didn't communicate with on a regular basis until just recently, and yet she managed to say quite truthfully that I was the type of person who picked out his words every so diligently. This I did so, she said, because of prudence---making sure that I didn't say anything wrong.

Yet that sort of fear is what I should be conquering in the first place.

I've got to get it into that thick skull of mine that I'm only human. No matter what I do, I cannot and inevitably will not please everybody. I am flesh and blood and as such I have the desires that come with them. Most importantly, I cannot hold myself responsible for everything that goes wrong.

It will probably take me a lifetime to fully embrace my humanity, to stop pretending that I am simply an obedient android. I've seen my innards through X-rays, I've contracted all sorts of diseases, I've hurt myself and others. How long can I keep on denying what I essentially am?

Perhaps I am blessed then, having all these good people around me to help me appreciate myself for what I am---no pretenses needed, no fake personas required. Simply me.

"Love thyself before truly loving others."

I've been meaning to talk about Denise. Ever since I realized my jealousy back in Bacolod I came to one conclusion.

She will always be like that. She will always attract men. I can't explain it very well but she just makes them gravitate to her because of what she is.

Call it "machismo" or whatnot but every time I see someone swoon her and actually succeed, I get so frustratingly jealous. Perhaps this is because I tried the same thing and failed, twice. Our being friends is good but it's probably just hurting me in the long run. I feel I have to stop being close to her for my own good. She doesn't need me anyway. I figure it's the other way around.

After our thesis is done I should seriously think about getting her out of my life. It will not be easy. I didn't realize it but currently she's a part of all the things I've joined, including Pops.

Haruki Murakami's novel "South of the Border, West of the Sun" suddenly thrusts forth from my memory, having re-read it during my trip. Murakami made mention of removing past experiences, as if surgically removing internal organs from one's body. "Something just dies inside you," he mentioned about hysteria siberiana.

That's something to think about methinks. In a sense, we all have hysteria siberiana...we need it. We have to head to the netherplace "west of the sun" to truly move on.

In that sense perhaps I need hysteria siberiana.

I am so bad at forgetting past experiences that they keep haunting me into the present. My bedroom is testament to that. Sometimes I wish I can just forget at will...but then the movie "Payback" springs to mind, the process of forgetting whole chunks of memory having serious consequences.

What a bizaare quandary, really.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My last post seems to have elicited a number of reactions---some favorable and others not so.

In spite of that, I'm thankful. It's affirmation, I guess, that the humble visitorship figures I receive in e-mail about my blog are real.

Last night I got an SMS message from Denise.

"Mike my ex read your blog and called me a bitch. Do you have something you want to tell me?"

I simply replied "Wala naman. Good luck sa iyo." This I said with reference to PJ.

A number of people have told me that Mike and Denise's breakup was anything but smooth, and I suppose this latest issue involving my blog is proof that these two still carry hatchets for each other.

I have to wonder...has my admission of jealousy been more misconstrued? I simply said I was jealous and that's that. Any other beef she picks up has nothing more to do with me or my blog.

The girl should start reading this goddamn blog before begging questions, for starters...

I've been meaning to talk about this for a long time. I have often wondered what would happen to my blog if I died.

I met an online acquaintance of mine from PinoyExchange, and I only remember her by the alias "Sacrosanct." Like me, she kept a blog. Like me, she used to post at the Electronic Gaming forum. Like me, she's also from De La Salle University.

Unlike me, she's dead.

I've heard stories from fellow PEX friends that Sacrosanct took her own life last year. From what vague news I heard she had family problems, and she overdosed on sleeping pills.

A few months ago I remember leafing through my private message inbox at PEX. The two of us used to talk a bit via PMs. I was still a freshman back then; she was already in her third year if I'm not mistaken. Reading through those precious few PMs, I felt rather down about how she's no longer with us.

I had the privilege of meeting her once. She had a reputation for being the best girl at Capcom fighting games at the University Mall arcade. I didn't think she would be that beautiful though. She was seriously very cute. Managed to shake her hand, introduce myself as my PEX alias, and do nothing else, as she was with her male friends finishing a bout of Street Fighter EX2. That was it.

Her PMs are still in my inbox. I remember I bugged her about the horrific September 11 massacre. I remember how we used to talk about a certain uncouth individual on the forums. It seems memories like that are all that exist of her, now---including a sticky thread on all PEX forums about her life, death and fellow PEXers' condolences.

Sacrosanct, I certainly hope you're fine, wherever you are. I have no doubt you are missed here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I seem to have been born with two demons very close by, and after all these years I haven't been able to get rid of them at all.

They are demons called self-pity and inferiority complex.

They come and go, but when they do hit, they do so very hard...and they hit me right in the middle of the Bacolod tour. Right smack in the middle of the drunken Friday night revelry just beginning to unfold before my eyes, I was beginning to cry. Before I could humiliate myself any further I clambered down the stairs to my room and wept my eyes out alone. There I was, a crying fool talking to himself, feeling miserable.

I've never understood why I've had to feel like this. It's always had something to do with never fitting in, I suppose. Even though I'm active in Pops I can never muster the kind of popular rapport other people can. All I get from most of the Pops people is a perfunctory "Hi"---no nice long friendly chats, no one tugging at my hands wanting me to come along, no shared knowledge of the little things that make Pops life interesting.

It's not only in Pops, mind you. Every time I'm with a new group of people I seem to run aground, never winning as many friends as I wanted and making enemies along the way as well. It's no secret now that I suck at people skills. As much as I would want people to be with me and actually enjoy themselves, I can't. I'm so afraid of doing them wrong, of disturbing them, that most times I would simply just step aside.

Why did I join Pops in the first place? Perhaps I joined because I was their ultimate fan. I saw them perform back in my high school days and was inspired by the desire to become part of them one day. All my life I've been a frustrated performer, and now that I'm finally in Pops but working behind the scenes, a bittersweet feeling just wells up from within me. I guess this is fate's way of telling me that I'm relegated to simply being a fan of Pops for the rest of my college days---taking their pictures, doing their voice-overs, but never captivating an audience.

It makes me regret fully dedicating myself to Counterpoint back in high school when I could just as well have joined the DLSZ High School Chorale. So many people sensed potential in me to be a good singer in 7th grade. Back then I dilly-dallied with what I wanted, content on knowing that I could do all of these things (or "talents") but never cultivating them to the fullest. Seven years later, I can still sing quite well, yes, but whenever I hear the vocalists do their sectionals I retreat into my shell of inadequacy and regrets.

Yes, I am irrational, I have hopelessly low self-esteem and I have precious few friends who transcend the oft-(ab)used label. I have lousy luck with the women I like because my self-pity was one huge factor that ended my one and only relationship anyway. How I wish I could turn all these things around. I probably could, but I still don't know how.

Maybe I should fuck thinking about myself and try thinking of how to help others? But I've always done the latter...

Then we went to the Bahay Pag-Asa Center of USLS, a short bus ride away, the following day.

This center was for all those children in conflict with the law, as Brother Gus explained to us. Ideally the government should be able to protect and provide for the reintegration of these youths into society but they failed miserably. These kids stay in jails which are hell on earth, where they experience being physically, emotionally and sexually abused. I'll spare you all the gory details. It doesn't help that 40% of these kids are in fact innocent.

Bahay Pag-Asa was the very first center of its kind, aimed at getting these kids off the streets, giving them a proper environment for education and giving them the basics to start their own livelihood. We saw these kids and they didn't stink like street kids usually do. They're very clean---right down to their living quarters. They were shy---language barriers owing to that, I suppose---but I could sense the intelligence in them. They were able to plant vegetables, cook, cut hair, make handicrafts, and even forecast the weather for the next 12 hours. More importantly these kids were happy.

I felt tears welling up in my eyes again, and I apparently wasn't alone. Had I not hurt my eyes and run out of tears from crying the night before, I would've cried along with our young fiddler Martin who felt the same thing I did. These kids were a lot worse off than I was, yet they survived and were lucky enough to be picked by Bahay Pag-Asa to become productive members of society, to work their way out of the poverty they were born in.

What the fuck was I crying about the other night? Not fitting in? Not getting to do what I dreamed of? Being jealous of PJ's moves on Denise? I felt so ashamed at the triviality of my concerns.

I'll definitely remember this place, I told myself. When the time comes that I can earn my own money (and lots of it), I'll make sure to donate what I can to Bahay Pag-Asa. I seem to have been able to help their cause by purchasing a ticket of Pops' concert last year. The Brothers have a good thing going on here and they're planning to open similar centers in Manila and in Iligan City. They'll need the help they can get.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I am back.

Five days in Bacolod? It feels like I spent just two. I guess it can't be helped. Although we were there primarily for work, we enjoyed a lot.

We were on the last flight to Bacolod so many of the Marketing members, like me, missed the performance at the Carmelite Sisters. For most of us Marketing members, it was a case of getting to Balay Kalinungan (House of Peace) at the University of St. La Salle and getting rested for the next day.

We took the bus going north of Bacolod, to a town called E.B. Magalona where we had our free one-hour concert. We staged our show at the stadium behind their town hall, and it was packed full of school kids. After the show the kids went after our vocalists Blossom, Mark O. and Jigs---throngs of them asking for autographs.

Friday, September 3rd, was the busiest. Although we didn't travel all that much, this was the day when we had two separate concerts at the USLS Coliseum. In the morning, Burn, Gab, BJ and I went around the campus and coliseum area posting our sponsors' streamers, working with the marketing people of Honda Cars Negros Occidental.

Our 2pm matinee show was more for the young students, not only of USLS but also of neighboring schools. Knowing how teachers invite their little tikes to these things, you can pretty much imagine the coliseum was packed to the bleachers. Having been in charge of voice-over duty, I missed my cue because I did my spiel too early, but overall it was okay (it could've been a lot worse).

The 7pm gala show went pretty much like clockwork except for one of our vocalists irreparably destroying one of the songs in the repertoire, Hoobastank's "The Reason." In all three concerts, Mark T. made mistakes on this particular song, and I kinda took it hard because this, more than any other song in the repertoire, was MY song---I could sing it the best. At least there weren't any other major screw-ups. I wasted four rolls of film and two sets of AA and LR44 batteries covering all three concerts.

After the concerts we were pretty much free to have some fun. In Pops fun seems to instantly mean "alcohol"---and these guys were serious drinkers.

I got so terrified of how these friends of mine downed their alcohol. A lot of Pops members were years younger than I am and I was quite frankly scared of how they drank. Lots of noise, lots of drunken stories, lots of groggy people dancing with empty bottles in hand.

I suppose I'm just too ignorant of social drinking sessions. I never drank a sip. The farthest I went was sniff one of the empty Vodka Ice bottles just to have an idea of how it tasted...and it smelled like clear soda. Damn. This stuff was even easier to down than Smirnoff Mule---and I hardly drink more than two Mules.

Despite being averse to all the noise and confused by the red faces and unsteady gaits, I was relieved to see my friends knew how to handle their alcohol. They didn't sleep while they were intoxicated; they were aware enough to drink lots of water to get them to piss the alcohol out. When tempers flared, they kept others cool.

I might still be afraid, but at least I know now that I can help my inebriated friends.

I had quite a problem fitting all my pasalubong into my luggage. My mom had asked for barquillos, my sister asked for piaya, and I was curious about these napoleones pastries that Rachel kept on raving about.

I ended up ordering two boxes of napoleones, buying two large boxes of barquillos and a box of ube piaya. Yikes. It was a miracle I ever got my pasalubong to fit into my bags at all.

On balance I have to say, Cebu Pacific should be lauded for truth in advertising. For some reason my partners-in-flights and I always get caught in the 5% that don't make it to the carrier's claim of being "on time 95% of the time."

Still, I'd rather have a late, safe flight than a haphazard one. That said, I wonder why on our flight to Bacolod, one of the DC-9's engines gave out a loud pop on landing under full reverse thrust...

Bacolod was the site of some romantic goings-on.

Denise introduced me to her high school friend Beth, who had since returned to her hometown and USLS for college. I didn't get to talk to her all that much but I thought she was cute and charming, and quite a girl to talk to as well.

But when we were escorting her home I caught sight of Denise and PJ holding hands. It seems PJ's been wooing Denise for all these past few weeks and she seems to like him in return. It's probably irrational yet I can't help but feel jealous. Oh well. I might as well take it with a grain of salt.

As for Beth...well...what's gonna happen to that anyway? I like her, sure, but it's a long-distance relationship that doesn't even exist, and her being associated with Denise doesn't help matters all that much. Another "oh well" ought to escape my lips.

One of our violinists, Ida, also seems to be the apple of a lot of pairs of eyes. Vocalist Peter and saxophonist Sigay seem to have their eyes fixed on her.

...Ehhh! Fuck love, fuck relationships. I might as well stay single, keep from thinking with my dick, get no one pregnant and work till I become financially stable.

Hmmm. At this rate I ought to say a litany of "oh wells." Hah-hah-ha.

This...is my second alma mater song.

If I were to live my whole life again
I'd still want to be a Lasalista pa rin
Bayaran man ako I would still say to you
I'd rather be green than be blue...