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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


My friend Ria has found herself a new job with a local petroleum company. Unfortunately on her first day she didn’t even get to step on the frying pan; she was thrown into the fire almost immediately. She told me she was really overwhelmed on the first day because of the lack of orientation.

I pray she does well in her new job, though. I’ve listened to her tales of hideous stress from her former job, the kind that cost her her health, and I figure nothing’s worth that much. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.

These days I can never seem to do anything right. I can’t make people laugh, I can’t make them comfortable with me, I can’t make my patience last, and I can’t mend my broken friendships.

All I have left for certain is the red mist in my eyes. It’s the only thing that’s left me fulfilled lately—the confidence that I can now take the fight to the streets with the Jazz instead of being pushed around like a fool.

It’s a dangerous gift, I know, but for now it’s all I have.

I am sick of always feeling sullen and guilty. I have to grit my teeth today, and pray that it will be my turn to have a little sunshine tomorrow.

God, please bestow upon me the power of great music. I need it. People will come and go from my life, but music will always be there.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Body talk

My left foot is noticeably bigger than my right.

I am very heavily right-handed. My left arm and leg are primarily just for support.

There are so many Pinoy delicacies I don't eat. A short list includes penoy, balut, taho and dinuguan.

Lately I've lost the most weight when I stopped exercising. A few days ago I was down to an unbelievable 156 lb. It seems food intake is the main factor as I've been eating less between meals.

I get queasy when I see people contort their limbs into unnatural fashions.

I can never become a surgeon because I get queasy seeing blood and guts.

Thus far, I've never passed out or fainted, ever. There have been a few close calls, but it's never happened yet.

It's been a while since I drank Coke or any soda on a regular basis. I tend to drink it just for the taste nowadays.

I've had dark rings around my eyes since sixth grade. They won't be going away any time soon.

I've never had broken bones my whole life.

The apron of "baby fat" on my gut doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. At this point in time I'll just have to accept that I will never have a washboard stomach. As long as I am fit, it doesn't really matter.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Alcoholic epiphany

All along I was excited to go to Puerto Galera to get drunk with my friends. Now, however, I don't think it's such a good idea anymore.

Alcohol seems to magnify everything in me. It's strange how a couple of light beers can make me a happy camper, but can also amplify my moping to the point where I become unsociable. Now I even managed to hurt or alienate a few of my friends in the process...sadly they had to be those I treasure the most.

I am ashamed of myself. If this is the price I have to pay for getting smashed every once in a while, I'd rather stay sober and continue playing the part of designated driver.

Driving reflections

  • I don't understand why Pinoy drivers have to stick their front bumpers to an inch of my rear at high speed. Common sense will tell you this is the stupidest thing you can do while driving. If you're tailgating like this and the driver in front of you brakes suddenly, you have nowhere to go but headlong into the other party's rear end...and you can't talk your way out of paying for the damages either.
  • A few weeks into driving my Jazz, it's become plainly apparent to me that I will never be able to duplicate the millimeter-precise parking maneuvers I once used to do with the old City. The shorter rear end fools you into thinking that it's easy to park, but the truth is the bottom steel area of the rear hatch is a huge blind spot that's very hard to measure with. I managed to nudge a low bench at Matthew's place gently enough to avoid a dent, but there's no guarantee of that avoidance happening again. The airiness inside is deceptive as well. Caveat emptor! A set of parking sensors might be a good investment at this point.
  • I got to drive the City again after a couple weeks with the Jazz and it took me all of a minute to realize how much I missed the old car. The visibility is still as perfect as ever, the heavier hydraulic-assisted steering more organic and natural in operation, and the D15B7 engine is still rather gutless off idle but echoes the same guttural, manic scream beginning at 4000 RPM. It's still the more satisfying car, the better hooligan's machine, with just the right amount of power to play with. Besides, the missing 25 BHP is evident when you push the Jazz to 5000 RPM, and it's evident the newer car is happier working at a less frenetic pace.
  • One of my few gripes with the Jazz is its audio head unit that refuses to play any CDs. While my musical tastes have become more genteel, I can only take so much of jazz and easy listening music over the radio before I crave for rock or thumping house. Now I'm torn between buying the Nokia 5300 I've been blabbing about here, or a new head unit to replace my half-operational Kenwood one. Sony's Xplod line has good stuff, and I particularly like the CDX-GT450US model with USB port and auxiliary-input jack for iPods or whatnot. The problem is it's quite pricey at PhP10,000, but at least it gives you backup audio inputs in case the CD drive conks out, which are worth the extra expense. Decisions, decisions...and I wonder if someone's willing to buy my Kenwood unit for a price reduction?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Aftermath, part deux

Apparently my last post was written a little too early.

On a whim, I tried sending Jona an email two days after we had our little talk. I was not expecting her to reply at all.

Imagine my mild surprise when she wrote back. She was happy I was "back," and just like that, we were talking again. It certainly felt odd and surreal, but I can't say it didn't make my day. I guess I'm very lucky she still indulged me in my request to get to know her better, despite the trouble my stunt had caused.

I'm not being too optimistic, but I just might have a chance with her yet and I have to start by making her comfortable with me. Unfortunately, that means I have to learn how to shut up and hide things, so this is probably the last you'll read about all this.

For once, in my six years of writing, I wish my blog was less conspicuous.

The recent events have got me thinking about just how different I am compared to a lot of people at work. People say I have guts for being as open as I am, revealing this much about myself online. Tita Vik being one of those people, I replied half-jokingly that "guts" is a euphemism for "naivete" or "stupidity."

The truth is, my honesty and openness are two things that tend to get me in trouble. While friends at work say I shouldn't be thinking too much and that I should enjoy, I can't help but think I should start to learn how to put on a few masks. I'm starting to have my fill of being this transparent, especially because now it can have disastrous consequences for other people I care about.

It's a little sad, especially because the origin of the word sincerity is the Latin phrase sine cera---literally, "without wax," and when actors used to wear masks, they were usually made of wax way back when. Unfortunately, it seems things can proceed a little easier at work without being as involved and as honest as I am. It seems I'm the only dinosaur left who hasn't yet learned the lesson that sincerity is a switch that can be turned on and off.

Never too late to start, I suppose. Professionalism and all its obstructive trappings can really suck, but I have to do what the Romans do now that I'm in "Rome" myself.

I did not expect it, but I had a brief taste of one of those things I always wrote about in this blog that I wanted. For a few fleeting moments I became stupidly happy.

My friends have told me it's a little too late for me to get to that point now. But I can't deny I felt some of that unbearable lightness of being, and it's like a really exotic drug.

I want my fix.

But I do have to wonder: how much of it do I have left in the bottle of my life?

Friends say I'll get over you soon
Thoughts of you come back to fill me with gloom
Time forgets, but I'm not over you yet
There's no sense in asking why
Until the tears run dry

There's no one but you on my mind
Searching for a perfect ending that we'll never find
If we could make it work this time

Years have gone by since you've been gone
This broken heart of mine's been waiting too long
All alone, without you I can't carry on
There's no sense in asking why
Until I'm there by your side

There's no one but you on my mind
Searching for a perfect ending that we'll never find
If we could make it work this time
We could plant tomorrow's dreams now together
In a garden to last forever more
All the flow'rs would grow
From the seeds we sow

There's no one but you on my mind
Searching for the perfect ending that we'll never find
If we could make it work this time

There's no sense in asking why
Until the tears run dry
I could be there by your side
If you would only change your mind
If we could make it work this time...

- Swing Out Sister, "You on My Mind"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


My mom barged into my room just when I was getting ready to leave for work. She had two shirts in hand, brought here from the US by Uncle Butch’s recent arrival. She wanted me to pick one.

I kept silent, but it was written on my face that I didn’t really have time for this. She left. Don’t you see your timing’s really bad? I muttered under my breath.

I guess I should know, because the same thing happened to me a few days prior.

Jona basically turned me down. As much as I was already anticipating this was what would happen, there’s really nothing much people can do to mitigate the disappointment. She had had a hard time with all the whispers and rumors at work about my stunt on Valentine’s Day, and so wanted to set herself free. I guess now I understand why a lot of my friends don’t mix with co-workers.

Watching my mom leave dejectedly as I had to leave early for the Ash Wednesday mass at work this morning, I realized I had inherited some of her ridiculously lousy timing. I had originally planned to go a little slower, but February 14 came too soon. Valentine’s Day isn’t enough of an excuse, it seems, to go out on a limb and show some people how much you like them.

I am back to my melancholy self, mired in thoughts of unrequited affection and what could have been. I figured the heady rush would have me end up a wreck sooner or later. However, Aileen told me never to regret the roses I gave.

This whole Valentine’s thing is a reprise of what I had with Pam in grade school twelve years ago. I was game, she wasn’t. I do have to say, however, that this was one of the most spontaneous things I’d ever done.

I suppose it was for the best. This had to happen, and despite the frankly ridiculously fitful amounts of sleep I get over the past couple weeks, I guess I’ll be fine. It’s just sad Jona never realized how special she was, always selling herself short, even up to the end when I had already told her otherwise.

The tears have been shed, the frustration already commiserated. I am so, so glad I have friends like Aileen and Tita Vik on my side when I need to return to an even keel.

Now, maybe I can sleep a little better.

I am so, so sick of insomnia.

Time can be a lonely place
An empty space
You don't feel anything
Where there's nowhere else to hide
You can't decide
Is this all there is to life?

If nothing else exists

It wasn't meant to be like this

Where do I go for the rest of my life?
How will I know when tomorrow's impossible
Without your love

Someone say it isn't true

It wasn't you
Soon you'll come back to me
Every time I close my eyes
I see your smile
Everything I believed is gone
If you're not coming back
There's something that I've got to ask

Where do I go for the rest of my life?

How will I know when tomorrow's impossible
Without your love
There's nothing left there to believe in anymore

I can't escape the thought of you in everything I do

Where do I go for the rest of my life?

How will I know when tomorrow's impossible
Without your love

- Swing Out Sister, "Where Do I Go?"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kung hei fat choi/gong xi fa cai

Before I forget, I'd like to wish my Chinese friends a happy lunar Chinese New Year!

First of summer

It’s sure gotten hot all of a sudden. After a couple of weeks of unusual February chill, the summer rushed into our open windows and cars parked outdoors with its stinging heat. The air conditioning of our old Honda struggled to cool the smoldering interior despite being turned up to near-maximum settings.

My grandma and Tita Vik got a two-month-old pug puppy to succeed their big Rottweiler Zero as their house pet. They hadn’t thought of a name yet, but over my grandma’s birthday lunch a while ago, they thought of naming the fawn-colored little guy “Cosme.” What started out as a joke soon turned into reality.

Because of Cosme’s vulnerable little body, they came over our house today to pick up one of our dog cages we used when Chico and Cooper were still small. They were able to see our furry little friends up close and personal and at least had a laugh or two. After they left for home, I had a long-overdue haircut myself as my head of hair’s already too thick for the coming season.

The aftermath of my Valentine’s Day stunt wasn’t as desirable as I had hoped. Increasingly I found myself getting impatient and forgetting the whole rationale behind it, and I guess I started to act strangely. I may even have pressured Jona into talking with me, even if I didn’t mean to. She told me she’d have something to tell me by tomorrow, and to be honest I felt the same sinking sensation of dread all throughout last night.

I’m trying to push this all away by distracting myself. Funnily enough, I found one such distraction this morning, when I decided to check tire pressures and inflate all our spare tires to 36 psi for storage. Odd, but it was effective. Nothing like a little manual labor to get my mind refreshed.

Session three of the Choral Singing Workshop went very well. We now know how to sing the timeless love ballad “Ewan” in four voices. It’s a shame it was Warlito “Potpot” Yalung’s last time teaching us though, as his group, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, had a Visayas-Mindanao tour and someone else would be teaching us next week. He did tell us that the "Madz" were accepting auditions now…but I don’t have illusions of being able to make it there just yet.

On a side note, Aileen told me about her little plan to take us to Puerto Galera on the weekend of March 10. Right now we’re just working out the dates and other details. We already brought it up a month ago, and it’d be fun to get drunk without anyone knowing who I am except my friends. That might just be the place to break my alcohol cherry. I can’t wait. I hope it does push through on the 10th.

Since it’s the onset of summer I think this song is most appropriate for the occasion.

Parked car, this night sky
Makes city lights shine like diamonds
Our song plays on the radio

We’re living it up, make this night ours
We own the world, I wish this lasts forever
Alone with you tonight,
Further in you feels so right

Parked car, this night sky
Makes city lights shine like diamonds
Our song plays on the radio

We’re giving it up and just a little more
This heartfelt leap, I surrender
With arms raised, tonight
Arms raised…

We’re giving it up and just a little more
This heartfelt leap, I surrender
With arms raised, tonight

Anywhere, with you
Anywhere, with you
Anywhere, with you…

Drive me away
‘Cause the night just feels right
Take me away with you tonight
Anywhere, with you

Drive me away
‘Cause the night just feels right
Take me away with you tonight
Anywhere, with you

Parked car, this night sky
Parked car, this night sky
Makes city light shine like diamonds
Our song plays on…

- Urbandub, “First of Summer”

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Given all the nervousness and frayed nerves I got leading up to it, Valentine's Day actually was a little...anticlimactic.

I left my half-dozen orange roses on Jona's desk at 7:30 a.m. and waited for the minutes to count down before she walked into the door. In the meantime, I kept myself busy with what work I could find at that early hour...which wasn't much.

When she saw the roses and read my letter...I guess she was in shock. We hardly spoke today, except for an SMS message from her. She told me she was surprised, she didn't know how to react, and that maybe we could talk about this when we're both ready.

My sincere reply: I'll wait. I'm just happy you appreciated it.

I just hope I didn't scare her off. I hope this doesn't mean we'd get more awkward around each other than we've already been.

The funny thing about this whole stunt is that absolutely no one at work suspects it was I who gave Jona her roses, apart from the few people who already knew about it. Owning up to it now doesn't seem like a good idea. She's a shy girl at heart, I suppose, and I guess I've also worn the deed quite well. Maybe it was for the best that I did this as quietly as I could.

Other than my flowers and letter for Jona, and the accompanying Valentine's traffic in the evening, for the most part this was a normal day.

Now all I can really do is wait. I don't know how long it takes, but I will wait for her.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stepping off into thin air

So now all the preparation and the secrecy come to a halt, and now I take a big step into the unknown once again. I guess my friend Jajah was correct in saying that there’s no template we can follow when it comes to relationships. Every time is the first time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By now you should have already seen the roses and read the letter that came with them. I hope they tell you that there’s someone who wants to get to know you better, and he’s not so far away.

I’m trying to be as prudent as I can with you, trying not to rush things and become impatient. Even if we don’t end up as a couple, you can rest assured you have me as someone you can be yourself with. Well, that’s what I want to happen, anyway.

The ball’s now in your court. I admit I don’t like the feeling of not being in control of things, but it’s now up to you. If nothing comes of this stunt I’m pulling, I hope I at least gave you a reason to break into that lovely smile of yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jona.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Birthday reality

There are downsides to sharing your birthday with your parents' wedding anniversary, like having to share the celebration with them. Fortunately this year, that wasn't a problem. My relatives at least remembered that I was turning 24 today, and manifested it by bringing a "chocolate marjolais" cake dedicated to me along with a few little presents. The whole time I was under the impression that their visit to my house this afternoon was for my folks' wedding anniversary, so this was a nice gesture.

Unfortunately I didn't hang around very long as I already had other plans for my birthday. I chose to spend it with Denz, Jajah and Matthew at Glorietta while watching "Night at the Museum" and looking for cellphones at Goldcrest, and it was worth it. Ben Stiller's latest movie is a lot less irritating and predictable than most of his popular works, and we really admired how the writers and producers ran away with the concept of history becoming alive. It just so happened to be a funny film as well.

The trip to Goldcrest was a fruitful one for Denz as he found and bought the flash attachment for his Sony Ericsson cellphone. I also found out I could save quite a bit on the 5300 purchase by trading in my current 6600.

Alas, Jajah had to be home by 7 p.m. and so I drove them home. Along the way we teased Matthew about Tyff, recalled old "driving songs" and basically chatted away.

Thanks guys. I hope you had fun on my birthday, because I sure did.

Birthday wish

A lot of new things have popped up in my life recently as a result of my 24th birthday, the most conspicuous of which is the not-quite-new Honda Jazz hatchback in our driveway. The little surprise that my team prepared last Friday caught me totally off-guard, too.

As nice as they are, however, they weren't really what I wished for.

What I really wanted for my birthday was you becoming a bigger part of my life, and me in yours. I would so love to spend more time with you talking about everything under the sun other than work.

Whether or not I get this wish, I'll find out in three days, I suppose. By then I'll probably reveal who you are in this blog, because there will no longer be any need for hiding.

Until then, take care my dear...and stay happy.

Quote for the moment:

"Now that we've found love, what are we gonna do with it?"

- ending song to the movie Hitch

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A lazy Saturday

Session 2 of the Chorale Singing workshop had us reviewing our high school music lessons, from staves and notes to rests and slurs. It felt like it was going to be boring at first, but it was all preparation for learning how to sight-read musical notes to be able to sing them correctly. The boredom ceased when we got to experience the real thing. This was a lot harder than I thought!

After the class I ambled around Glorietta. An acquaintance told me about the new Battle Gear 4: Tuned machines at Timezone, and I wanted to ask around about the Nokia 5300 once again, this time over its accessories. Strangely enough, I didn't find myself all that interested in getting behind the wheel of Battle Gear 4, and as excited as I was about the 5300, I decided I've had too many luxuries for one month and that it should wait. At least now I know where I can get the 5300, its fancy Bluetooth headphones and a 1GB microSD card for PhP15,000.

The Jazz amazed me again when I drove home. Despite the artificial steering, I can't fault that it'll corner the C5 offramp to SLEX at an unbelievable 80 km/h. The chassis is that good. My City makes that turn at 65 km/h before hinting that it may be too much for its aging chassis.

When I got home I took out the vacuum cleaner and cleaned the Jazz. I got rid of the cheesy mock-leather seat covers, as they just hid dirt and I never really liked them anyway. Out went the carpets, too, although I made the boo-boo of forgetting to put them back in before I left. Apparently I had made them a potential target for Cooper, Tango and Chico's urine. The new Daewoo wet/dry vacuum cleaner was ridiculously powerful compared to our old Electrolux one from the 1980s, and so made cleaning a lot easier.

I still can't believe how filthy the Jazz had become in the past couple of years. Folding up the rear seats, I saw a lot of crumbs and dust that had laid there since God-knows-when. I even found a PhP1 coin underneath the seat covers of the driver's seat. To add insult to injury, the rear center seatbelt buckle apparently got crushed, and the retaining floor bracket for one of the folding rear seats had folded up itself. The previous owner must have been a real slob. I may drive the nuts off my cars, but you can never say I'm anywhere near slovenly when it comes to their interiors.

I wish I could stop there, but even the exterior isn't without its woes. To my chagrin, I found two little spots of rust. Why is there rust on a two-year-old car?! Sadly this is something even the newfangled wet/dry vac can't fix. All I can say is this car is lucky it has me as its owner now.

After mass we went to Matthew's house for his birthday party. It was nice having all the SVMM people around, and I stayed long enough to meet Tyff, the girl he was always talking about in all those surveys. Her boyfriend Robin was quite the trivia buff, and we were exchanging little trivia quips back and forth over glasses of gin-pomelo and brandy.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jazz comes into the City...

There was nothing out of the ordinary when I backed my blue Honda into the home garage last Wednesday night…or so I thought. With my head turned to the rear window, I noticed there would be four cars in total crowding into our driveway instead of the usual three.

The first thought that popped into my head as I trail-braked the SX8 City into position was Who’s our guest? But then it was weird: the silver little hatchback was wedged into the inside by our other cars, so maybe it was someone staying overnight.

On closer inspection the foreign car revealed itself as a silver GD1 Honda Jazz 1.3. Okay…what was this car doing here?

My dad asked me while I walked up the front door. “So how do you like it?” Now it occurred to me that this car was a new addition to our family, probably under my mom’s name.

However I wasn’t prepared to hear the truth: it was a birthday present for me.

Holy cow.

My folks had paid for the second-hand Jazz 50/50. Now I always thought there would be a fourth car along the way because Bianca would have to learn to drive herself to work at her very early schedule. Besides it was a very open topic. It never occurred to me however that it would be given to me as a gift.

They said the next car I’d have would have to come from my own pocketbook…which is what I had in mind while I was driving the City in the first place. Still, I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed by it all, and it felt so surreal.

The reality of the Jazz being mine made itself felt during the past couple of days that I was able to drive it. Having several obvious scratches and a rather dirty interior from its previous owner made for a slightly underwhelming first impression, but for me it’s all about the drive. This is where I learned that while it’s easy to be appreciative of cars you test-drive, there’s a lot more you can say about them when you actually own them on a daily basis.

The Jazz I tested almost a year ago carried the L15A VTEC engine and the CVT. My 2005 car has the more frugal but less powerful L13A3 i-DSI lump and a good old manual gearbox. Both have electric power steering. It’s interesting how both cars square up to my City’s old D15B7 engine, stick-shift and hydraulic power steering.

  • Barely 5 minutes into driving it, I could already sense the electric steering feels video-game artificial compared to the City’s hydraulic helm. While it’s capable enough, it’s rather numb in terms of road feel and a little disconcerting at first. To my slight disappointment, the textured steering wheel itself can get slippery if you get sweaty hands. Moving the wheel on your palms alone is out of the question.
  • The L13A3 engine can never claim to be a powerhouse; it was designed for maximum fuel economy, not Honda’s hallmark high-RPM horsepower. However, despite being 30bhp down on the Jazz VTEC and my old City, the 1.3L unit is much better at torque delivery at low RPM than either, making for easier driving. It’s also surprisingly easy to hustle to the redline when overtaking. What horsepower is there is easily accessible by working the slick shifter, and for public roads 82bhp is already a lot. I’m impressed.
  • The driving position is very good, although I reiterate the opinion that perhaps this car was designed with the CVT in mind, due to the van-like pedal placement. The clutch takes relearning: it’s slightly offset to the right, spongy, and has a hard-to-feel contact point, which affects smoothness in first-gear crawls. My City’s clutch has a snappy spring-like action and meaningful weight, in contrast. The brakes are quite good.
  • Make no mistake: while the Jazz feels huge inside, it’s a very compact car in terms of exterior dimensions. Relearning the dimensions of a small hatchback coming from a compact sedan means the spaces you once thought were too close for comfort are actually still at least 6 inches away from causing any dents. How Honda liberated all this room from such a small, modern car amazes me to this day.
  • I’m all for refinement, but the Jazz is almost too refined. The whole combination of light-effort electric power steering, low road-noise levels, gruffer engine note and airy interior conspire to make driving seem easier than it really is. The unfortunate downside is it has less of the raw mechanical character of the City it replaces that made it so great to drive hard. I don’t discount the car’s good traits—Car & Driver deem its US Fit cousin as the very best subcompact around, despite running the L15A VTEC engine—but it’ll take a while for me to fully appreciate the Jazz’s slightly different dynamics and priorities.
  • The raison d’etre of the L13A3 engine is fuel efficiency, and it’s certainly amazing how the Jazz ran with so little fuel in its innards from my house in Paranaque to my office in Mandaluyong. I expect it to handily outstrip my old City in this department, which still manages a commendable 10-11 km/L in my high-revving hands.
  • The best punchline I’ve yet heard about the Jazz came from Jajah: “You could make babies in this car!”

At least now I can say one of the items on my wishlist came true...in a very unexpected way. Major thanks to my mom and dad, this was the biggest surprise I've ever had.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chasing a light from my days of despair

At work, Paolo J.’s musings about securing his confirmation certificate from Colegio San Agustin, his fixation on Lego bricks as a kid, and his stories of his own “school of hard knocks” got me thinking back to my own childhood. The first thing I mentioned was pretty important to him as he’s getting married soon.

I kept quiet, but I suddenly felt this urge to look for something from my troubled youth. Growing up in the clique-filled rich kid’s school called De La Salle Zobel meant I was a semi-permanent misfit and an open target for rejection and hate. I have to admit some of it was righteous, due to my being a social “late bloomer,” but that doesn’t mean I have a lot of fond memories of the place where I spent 13 years of my life in, either. In those times of misery, I was desperate to look for anyone who would take me in as a friend. However, searching within that very small “social fishbowl” proved frustrating.

Cheri Donato became our guidance counselor when I was in third grade. Actually, she was assigned to handle four batches, from third to seventh grade, and she was one of the more popular counselors around due to her warm, welcoming demeanor. I was an occasional visitor to her little office as a kid, but when the depressing adolescent travesty of sixth grade came along, I took to her office so many times for solace.

Back then, I had such a hard time with my classmates that I dreaded school. I came through the classroom doors every day with an uneasy heart and a wandering eye, wondering what they were finding obnoxious about me now, wondering what exactly I should be doing to have them stop recruiting upperclassmen to make fun of me. I thought part of the solution was to approach our dear Teacher Cheri for help, and I did so a lot of times. I even got my most outspoken critics to air their side in these sessions.

It wasn’t until I got out of Zobel and moved on to DLSU for college that I realized how wrong I had been. Despite my maladjustments in my youth, for the most part it was the culture of Zobel itself that made me sullen, awkward and unhappy. Worse, I learned much later that all these counseling “sessions” were anticipated by my classmates because they were convenient breaks from classes…to my regret.

Still, Cheri (I’ll drop the “teacher” tag from now on) tried her best to understand me, despite all those times when my bitterness, anger and frustration must have scared her and the other counselors. Before I graduated from high school, she became part of Zobel’s Adult Night High School program and as such we saw each other less and less frequently. I have to admit she had disappeared from my mind the whole time I was finally enjoying myself in college.

PJ’s musings of his childhood silently prodded me to seek Cheri out. I casually headed to my computer and entered her name on Google.

Imagine my surprise when I immediately saw her on the search results. Apparently she is no longer with Zobel, she’s now working in a logistics company, and she got married to a certain Mr. Villasin within the five years we didn’t see each other. But it was definitely her. I could even recognize her in the picture, and I managed to call her up on my lunch break.

It felt so good hearing her voice again.

Despite my little disclaimer of an introduction (“I’m not sure if you’ll remember me…”), she recognized me right away. She was about to get out of her office, but we exchanged cellphone numbers in case we could catch up with each other again in our spare time.

A hearty grin crossed my face after we hung up. It was so nice to finally reconnect with one of the few memories of my childhood that I still hold dear to my heart. Perhaps now that I’m no longer a troubled adolescent (just a melancholy adult…hahaha!) and she’s no longer my counselor, Cheri and I could finally be friends as equals.

If by any chance you’re reading this, Cheri, I am eternally grateful to you for everything you’ve done for me all those years ago. Let’s have coffee sometime.

How a primetime game show just exposed our politicians

With the elections drawing near, I think there’s no better representation of most of our politicians than tonight’s game of Kapamilya Deal or No Deal.

A barangay captain was playing this time. Whatever winnings he had would supposedly go to his constituents in some province in the Visayas that speaks the Ilonggo dialect. Apparently these poor people had so many problems in their area so this seemed like a magnanimous gesture on his part.

Now, I didn’t catch the beginning of the game, but I had seen what was arguably the pivotal moment. All that remained unopened were the briefcases with PhP1, PhP10, PhP300,000 and PhP1 million, and of course, one of them was with our Mr. Barangay Captain. The banker called up host Kris Aquino with his offer to buy the contestant’s briefcase for PhP280,000, and so Kris went with her usual question: “Deal or no deal?”

The show had a video feed of his constituents watching him play. The contrast between them and the studio audience was like night and day. The live audience had its arms akimbo, waving “no deal” (such gung-ho riskiness is typical from them nowadays), but every one of his constituents had thumbs raised and yelling “Deal!”

I could have sworn I saw the greed in his face when our barangay captain said “No deal.”

The briefcase he chose to open next had the PhP1 million. And yet, I could have sworn I saw the same greed again when he stubbornly said “No deal” on the banker’s next offer of PhP90,000—markedly reduced, but still an undeniably sizable amount of money.

To make a long story short, the man chose to fight for his briefcase…and it contained a measly PhP1.

You should have seen how his constituents held their heads in disgust.

He had let them down because of his greed. And yet, after it was all said and done, he still had the gall to put on this depressed act and say “I really played for you guys.”

What a bunch of crap.

The man just could not admit that he was exposed on national TV for the selfish bastard that he was. The man just could not admit that he got carried away by the lure of money, that he conveniently forgot that he was still the captain of his barangay.

This is just one barangay captain, folks. Imagine how greedy our other politicians are…especially those whose asses are perched on high-ranking positions.

Voters, choose your poison well.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Undue pressure

In the end, I got tired of being jittery and nervous for two whole weeks over my Valentine's Day plans. All along, I was thinking too far ahead, worrying too much about outcomes that aren't even at hand yet without acting on what I had now.

Tita Vik was correct. All these things I'm planning basically amount to an elaborate way of telling you that I admire and appreciate you, and given the chance I'd love to get to know you better. Of course it would be great if you took me up on my offer of a date, but if not, I doubt you're the kind of "unappreciative psychotic bitch" Tita Vik told me about. This sickening feeling of dread is all just part of the ride.

Nothing ventured nothing gained...and I haven't done any venturing for far too long. Good luck to me.

Quote for the moment:

"It's harder for a girl to live happily than to win a war."

- Ennil El, After War Gundam X

Coming and going

Just like that, Auntie Carole is leaving us again. It hardly felt like she was here because of the brevity of her stay, just two weeks, although I'm sure she enjoyed her stay due to other activities.

At least it was fun seeing Cooper constantly barking and wailing at her while she was smoking a cigarette at home. The little pug didn't know whether to tell her off or to circle her and lick her fingers. Chico was more civil, just quietly lying on his belly.

Her husband Uncle Butch is coming pretty soon here too, though, for his semi-regular golf thing. I can't wait for that too.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My birthday present came a week early.

Due to the slightly greater need for watching DVDs—after all, my sister has also been complaining—over getting a music-playing cellphone, I decided to buy the Philips DVP5965K player as my birthday gift a week early. I brought it home by cash and what remained of my SM gift checks from Christmas (I could have sworn I had PhP1,500 of them so why was I missing PhP500?).

The DVD player worked quite well, playing a lot of media in different formats, although I was curiously disappointed as to why some of my DivX material on CD didn’t run. The manual suggested it might have been due to an unfinalized CD-R. Hmmm. At least it has a USB port to test this further, and it’s appreciably lighter and thinner than our old DVD player that now refuses to read any disk laid on its loading tray.

Even so, the hole the DVD player made on my wallet didn’t stop me from window-shopping for the Nokia 5300 even further. It seems like I’ve already found the absolute rock-bottom price it’ll sell for…and maybe I’ll add a little more for a large-capacity MicroSD memory card and those spiffy Bluetooth wireless headphones. All that won’t come in a while, though. I’ll need to recoup my funds again if I don’t intend on blowing my pending bonus in one spurt.

Before blowing my paycheck in the afternoon, I had attended the first session of the chorale singing workshop I had signed up for from the office. It was interesting to see how singing well isn’t just a function of the throat and vocal chords; rather it actually involves the whole body, from head to foot, and it begins with proper posture, breathing and vocal onset. The twenty or so fellows I shared the class with were a nice bunch, too, and so far I don’t have any reservations about spending four more Saturday mornings at MSE.

Finally, I took up Chen and Aileen’s advice. I went to a nearby florist’s and looked for roses for the girl I like.

Hmmm. Maybe the less I talk about this particular tidbit of news, the better. Even a talkative bastard like me knows the value of suspense.

Friday, February 02, 2007

It's that old familiar feeling again...

Just when I needed a boost to my flagging morale, the friends I so wanted to talk and pour my heart out to are nowhere to be found.

I am lonely again, despite having people to talk to nearby. Once again, there is no one to help me through, no open hand to fish me out of this freezing hole I fell into.

Time and again I keep telling myself to cope with the loneliness. Yet I know deep down it's never a healthy thing harboring this sickening feeling.

Now that I have chosen to take a chance with you, I wonder if you will be able to take it away?

It started off so well
They said we made a perfect pair
I clothed myself in your glory and your love
How I loved you
How I cried...
The years of care and loyalty
Were nothing but a sham it seems
The years belie, we lived a lie
I love you till I die
Save me, save me, save me
I can't face this life alone
Save me, save me, save me...
I'm naked and I'm far from home

The slate will soon be clean
I'll erase the memories
To start again with somebody new
Was it all wasted,
All that love? ...
I hang my head and I advertise:
A soul for sale or rent
I have no heart, I'm cold inside
I have no real intent
Save me, save me, save me
I can't face this life alone
Save me, save me, save me...
I'm naked and I'm far from home

Each night I cry I still believe the lie
I love you till I die
Save me, save me, save me
Don't let me face my life alone
Save me, save me, ooh...
I'm naked and I'm far from home...

-Queen, "Save Me"