Monday, December 31, 2007

Reduced Friction

This holiday season is, by far, the most boring one I have ever lived through. True, a lot of things happened, never a dull moment, really, except that whatever's going on, I'm not feeling it. I'm not quite sure how to put into words what I feel, or cannot feel. It's as though the spirit of the Winter Solstice has been, more than just commercialized, also exorcised.

I used to be a gift-giver during this season. It does not necessarily imply, though, that I like giving gifts. Au contraire, I don't like second-guessing what other people might like or dislike. Yes, I could have just settled with giving people senseless aromatics like candles or oils or, uh, scented photo albums or, uhm... cakes, fruitcakes... scented fruitcakes! However, my code of ethics, which has more than once gone against my better judgment, made me exert an effort to really give.

Truth be told, I used to give gifts only to my friends. I'll admit that it is one of the reasons I don't have that much friends; it is that much easier to micro-manage your relationships. This year, however, I am bathed with a sense of surreal quality, as though what I'm doing may or may not matter at all.

Allow me to elaborate, I started working, and a six-month probationary period, at June 25 this year. As such, I am scheduled to be regularized on Christmas Eve, that is, if I am to be regularized. In other words, I have no clear idea whether I'll be seeing the recipients of my gifts ever again or if I'd be updating my resume for some other company, hopefully, someplace with less homophobic people.

Anyway, it went well, somewhat. Unexpectedly, really, one of my friends, er, warm acquaintances actually liked what I gave him. I guess it might be for those kind of smiles and thanks that I decided to invest, err, give gifts to my co-workers, I mean, friends. Who knows?

Christmas was a pretty dull event. After some kind of altercation between my family and the other families on my dad's side three years or so ago, it was, so to speak, the first day "we", as in the family tree on my dad's side, were together for Christmas ever since "the incident". Really, it pissed me off. An uncle all but ignored me and was muttering under his breath something about chairs and tables. Other cousins, aunts and uncles also, quite overtly, made a point of not sharing a table with us, despite there being enough space for three or four more people. Smiles were forced, laughter was kinda stifled, everyone gave off the impression of happiness but everyone old enough to know also knew it was a rather tense happiness at that. It sucked, really, and it was a "family" gathering I'd rather not repeat anytime soon.

Things were a bit better with the family on my mom's side. For one, it was not a large family so it was rather easier to form connections. For starters, they were only four of them. The eldest died by a railroad accident, so I was told. The youngest, on the other hand, had, for all intents and purposes, dropped off the face of the earth. That left only two families, two pairs of parents, six children and me, the lone adult-child.

Anyway, the day after Christmas was the birthdate of my sib. There was not much by way of guests and the party was rather boring too. Still, it was just right for cooking good ideas... or what seemed to be good ones. In any case, it ended with us going out for another family adventure on Rizal Day.

First stop was Quiapo, that dirty place in dirty Manila famous for its Church and equally infamous for the mendicants of pirated wares, palm and card readers, hawkers of potions to induce abortions and nimble-fingered thieves, all who plied the dirty streets of dirty Manila. However, my parents, my aunt and my uncle all thought it was a good place to buy fruits for the New Year. Indeed, as far as price goes, it is good to buy in the Quiapo market, perhaps second only to Divisoria.

After this little adventure, which started with a trip to the Church (Is it just me or is it really burning hot in that hell?), we proceeded to Luneta park. After all, what was a Rizal Day, which we weren't really celebrating, without a trip to the place where he was shot, immortalized, bastardized, vandalized and worshiped? It was a rather dismal atmosphere we had for breakfast there; the ground was still damp where the trees shaded it while the air was uncomfortably warm where the glaring sun prevailed. There was enough wind up above to half-heartedly pull on kites but not enough at ground level to cool the heated populace.

It was crowded, at least, that's what it seems to me. I haven't been to the park frequently enough to judge accurately when it is crowded and when the people are sparse. Everywhere I look, there are people: fellow civilians in picnic mats having breakfast, or an early snack, vendors of balloons, toys, kites and trinkets, peddlers of rice cakes, delicacies, taho and newspaper (it was still early morning), overtly gay or lesbian people screaming over a spider, locking lips, holding hands and, well, being intimate, children clothed with ash and dirt and soot begging for alms where the park's security guards cannot see them and athletes training for arnis, taekwondo, running, badminton, cycling, whoring, man-whoring, resting, sleeping or lounging, among other people. Well, it was what I expected from Manila and I was disappointed to have been proven right.

Mavi on IceAround ten, we moved to SM Mall of Asia and had an exceedingly early lunch. By eleven, we were slipping controllably on ice.

Ice-skating is a rather nice experience, that is, if you don't mind the fees, the smelly skates and helmet, the lustful jeers and hearty applauses by the audience without should someone slip and fall, the occasional slip and fall, the rare collisions with fellow skaters, the tired arms and exhausted legs afterwards, the abrasive ice as you skid helpless across it on you skates and hands, the burning acid of envy and jealousy as you watch figure skaters skid past you or the surplus saliva you secrete when you speed by a cutie you've been eyeing the entire time.

Seriously, it could have been a lot more fun, if I hadn't been developing a headache or nursing a cough at the time. Well, it would definitely have been better if everyone just agreed with me that I am, I really am, a figure skater and that people just don't know how to appreciate the figures I'm making. Really, I didn't slip or lose my balance, it was all part of a trick that is rather difficult to duplicate.

In the rink, there were, in my opinion, roughly three types of people. The noobs, which is, I have to admit, where I belong, are composed of people who can navigate on ice from okay to fairly well. Quite a handful of them, like me, my brother and my cousin, along with nearly half the noob population, can pick up speed and control how they slip across the ice just fine. They cannot, for the most part, do tighter spins or glides, skate backwards, leap across the ice or swizzle from rest. Those are the job for the pros. These people are the object of jealousy, attention and, should they falter, jeers. The last class of people are the uber-noobs, that is, people who immediately feel an inclination to lie on their backs the moment they step into the rink. My sister is one, but as she said, it's hard for a big person (I'm not sure whether she meant breasts, hips, legs, neck or, uh, personality?) to find her balance.

Generally, people navigating across the ice follow a set of rules. A noob on a collision course with another noob or a pro will not collide; one or both of them veers off from quite a respectable distance. A pro and another pro on a collision course are not; depending on their level of skill and trajectory, they can actually veer off on the last two second to the evitable collision. Actually, I have to admit, there was this girl in pink who I've been eyeing for some time. She wasn't pointedly prettier than the rest but she was agile and graceful. Once, when she was skating backwards, she almost collided with another pro who was looking elsewhere. What happened was somewhat beyond my understanding. Basically, there was a clink of metal, with a few shaved ice, she lifted off a few inches and, the next second, she landed right beside the other guy and safely skated right past him. The other pro, himself, also gaped at how she evaded collision by nearly a hair's breadth.

Dealing with uber-noobs, on the other hand, is not a life of roses. They are the most unpredictable lot. They use their arms a lot, especially in flailing. They can skid okay for a few yards before suddenly tripping up on their own toe pick, momentarily levitating like the aforementioned girl in pink, but with much less grace and agility. A pro on a collision course with an uber-noob escapes unharmed while the startled uber-noob screams, attempts to either veer off or reach the wall and promptly falls on their butt or on their face. A noob on a collision course with an uber-noob may not be as lucky, depending on their skill level; they may narrowly evade the accident or end up with more than their skates on ice.

I remember reading an article featured on the New York Times, re-featured by a local newspaper and recycled by the same paper in their Tech news. Delft was a town in the Netherlands where cyclists speed past pedestrians through the town square. Pedestrians attempting to second guess the oncoming cyclist and avoid him are likely to startle him and collide. However, if they just ignore him and keep going at the same pace, the cyclist can safely predict the movement of the horde and safely steer his way about.

The hour draws near when it becomes the first day of the first month of the next year. It doesn't feel as magical now as it did in years past but, for what it's worth, I wish everyone a Happy New Year. May the Fates be kind to you, er, us. May the Earth Mother welcome more of her rogue children in her warm, grave-like embrace. May the world finally recognize the figures I'm skating.

A few minutes before the clock strikes midnight,
In a dim room with only a computer screen's light,
Came a message for a tiger, sleepy and exhausted
Who, though he may be, by the winter's cold, muted,
Still has his claws, his fangs and his deathly glare
That all who earns his ire might die by his stare.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Why I hate Makati

Howl, great wind of the Western skies!
Grind against our human truths and lies.
Carry the news of our destructive ways.
Forewarn those before us to seek another place.

I hate the city of Makati. That much, however, I am sure you can infer from the title.

It's a rather nice and busy place, the hub of commerce and the fulcrum of the Philippine economy. It is, therefore, expected that it should be the site of numerous attacks to and from the government, overt or covert. In my recent memory, it has been the victim of a bombing, which is still seen in the public opinion as seesawing between an intentional government scheme, an intentional terrorist attack or an unintentional gas leak. Much more recent is a bloodless, pointless coup staged by no less than a Philippine senator, which, instead of resulting in some sort of change in our beloved nation, only served to call the attention of the masses to the "brutal" treatment of the media, much to the aforementioned senator's consternation, I suppose.

Still, overall, it is still a very advanced city, what with its towering buildings, insolently piercing the skies as Longinus spears. It has a hotline system people could call in case of an emergency. When, in the past, a typhoon knocked down pylons supporting major power lines, Makati is as lit and busy and cool and alive as ever while, around them, neighboring cities and districts languished in agonizing heat and darkness. Each year, from January to June, Makati also draws a throng of hopeful yuppies, all hopeful to land a spot in the corporate world they could use as a foothold in beginning the long, hard, arduous climb up the career ladder.

However, it is, for me, a terrible place to be in, especially the area around Ayala Avenue. It is a wind-swept place, the air being pushed, shoved and whirled around in howling torrents as they ground against the artificial canyon we, humans, have erected. It is quite an orderly place and I found one reason for it: bus and jeepney stops aren't just stops. There's a spot for buses to load, for jeepneys to load, for passengers to disembark from buses and for people to get off jeepneys. As a consequence, if you wanted to get anywhere, you'd have to do a lot of walking.

Walking is actually good for the body. It is quite an ordeal, however, when gusts of cruel winds batter your frail frame and your ears are filled with a cacophony of revving engines, honking horns, howling winds, droning air vents, people chatter and just chaos, in general. Your lungs are treated to different aromas of engine exhausts. Indeed, the world seemed like a cold, harsh and uncaring place that only catered to professionals who had nothing but money in mind. Then again, those are just my impressions.

When walking at a brisk pace, as people hurrying for their job interview or application exam two blocks and five minutes away usually do, it is quite easy to miss all the little details. However, after those exhausting interviews and exams, when one tends to wander slowly, gently meandering between shops, cafes and fastfood (They have McDonald's on every block, I believe), one gets to see the finer details. Scattered about are sunburnt soot and grease-coated people, peddling candies and cigarettes, sometimes offering to buy your empty printer cartridges. Some of these people, the spitting image of poverty in a city of wealthy elites, just settle for dreams; you'd see some of them in nooks and crannies of buildings, happy in their own personal dreamworld, despite the glaring sunlight, the oppressive heat or the blasting noise.

When crossing streets, as walkers are often wont to do, pedestrians are provided the stifling discomfort of claustrophobic underground tunnels. In truth, I am sinning against charity here; the underpass systems at each intersection are actually roomy, almost cavernous when compared to those of Manila. Still, the harsh lighting, the cold, hard tiles, the frozen faces of fellow pedestrians, the echoing click of numerous pairs of leather shoes, the intimidating Cylon guard, they're all enough to drive a poor peasant like me into temporary insanity. Well, to be fair, I don't generally like being underground.

Speaking of underground, the Metrostar Express, a light-rail transit system, goes underground at Buendia and Ayala stations, an ordeal I had to face during that summer when I am being summoned to job interviews in the Makati area. Where, one moment, there was the sky and space, a few moments more and you'd be in a dark, cramped tunnel. Ever and anon, halogen lights would flash by, cruelly reminding you that the tunnel walls are less than a meter away. If you're a really unlucky claustrophobic, on the other side another train would thunder past, also painfully reminding you that they are also less than a meter apart.

Still, there are some things I liked about Makati. People generally tend to be orderly, in the sense that they generally do not cause undue distress on fellow pedestrians. In a cold and impersonal way, everybody minded their own business. Also, when riding the Metrostar Express, there is, when approaching Ayala station, a neat nook illuminated by the sky, filled with mold, stagnant water and, among other things, lots and lots of ferns. I really liked this reminder that life is a hardy thing, struggling to find their spot in a world that, altogether, doesn't seem to want them here.

In Makati, I met a man who made my dreams come true. Twice. And that man was the first of the many people I met later on in my life. He was, all in all, my first. I'd have to admit, I really liked what happened between us back then, to say otherwise would be hypocrisy. However, as things usually go with pleasurable things it quickly became an addiction that, even now, I am struggling to conquer.

It is said that he who has tasted ambrosia will go loony in his life in trying to capture the same taste later on. I'm not loony yet. I'm just hateful of the place where it all began.

These are the reasons I hate the city of Makati.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why I hate Manila

I hate the city of Manila. That much, however, I am sure you can infer from the title.

It is a rather nice and nostalgic place, one that brings back fuzzy memories. For my parents, a visit to the capital of our country is a trip down memory lane as they both studied in a college there. Here, they used to hang out with friends now far away, dead or dying. This road, they often traversed in their cheap rubber slippers to save on jeepney fare. On this spot, they used to do their projects, sneaking about and climbing fences to gain access to the park instead of paying the entrance fee.

I, too, remember Manila from my childhood days. Oh, the horror as I, an impatient kid back then incapable of keeping still, traveled by jeepneys, sitting uncomfortably for each ride. Every time we switched rides, "Ha? Sasakay na naman?!? E kasasakay lang natin e!" (What? Ride again?!? We just got off!) I had no idea back then that jeepneys actually travel different places; I was more focused on my buttocks sore from what seemed like long hours of sitting.

Each trip to Manila only meant one thing: a trip to the doctor for my vaccines. It was always a painful encounter, probably more so because I couldn't see the needle. I mean, when it comes to stabbing me with something I can't do anything about, I prefer to see what's going on rather than be surprised with a sudden prick. I didn't hate my doctor aunt but I did grow afraid of her. On family gatherings, I always suspected she had an immunization pack handy in her handbag. I'd be wary and steer away from her whenever I can.

As a pediatrician, my aunt had a friendly secretary who sold us rosquillos: sweet ring-shaped biscuits, which I happily munched after my shots. Also, her clinic had one of the best rocking horses in the world. It was a wee white horse with large spots of different colors. Sadly, though, I doubt they make such playthings anymore. Even if they did, I doubt today's Playstation and Xbox kids would enjoy them as I did long ago.

Near the hospital was the Yellow Line of the Light Rail Transit. At the time, it was the only train servicing the metro. My mom would usually sit on the chair while I had to stand up like a gentleman. "See that sign?" my mom once said. "Tayuman," I read. "See? Exactly! Tayo (stand), man. It means you have to stand up." I was wondering if there was a Tayugirl sign somewhere so she could stand up and it'd be my turn to sit down. At the age of 7, it dawned on me that Tayuman was the name of the station, not an order for all males to stand up. Still, I enjoyed that train ride, either because I have never rode a train before or because I'm getting sore legs instead of sore buttocks.

Also near the hospital was a branch of Shakey's Pizza. I really liked their pizza and chips, though I didn't, at the time, remember liking them as food. All I knew was that if it was Shakey's, I am happy.

However, those trips to Shakey's were quite rare and, oftentimes, we usually ate at the open-aired Chinese restaurants Ma Mon Luk or Rose Canton. It was really a terrible ordeal; as a kid, I could not comprehend how my parents managed to eat at such dirty surroundings. I mean, you could really make patterns with the soot of what would otherwise have been a white vinyl-tiled floor. I remember tearfully pleading with my parents, "Ayoko dito, ang dirty-dirty e!" (I don't like it here; it's so dirty here!)

Years have passed; it's been quite a while since I've last been to Manila. Sure, ever and anon, there would be the educational field trips to Manila Zoo (I got lost there when I was 4; when I returned to the group, I fell in love with my best friend who held my hand tightly so I wouldn't get lost again. Well, granted, it was puppy love and I wasn't gay back then) or Fort Santiago (they have a splendid view of the infamous Pasig River, responsible for the drowning of several unnamed, dead heroes; the dwellers of its banks retaliated by killing the river itself) We also visited the Museo Pambata, which was not just for kids, mind you, the San Augustin museum and, of course, Rizal Park.

On my last year in college, I met someone from Manila. To be more exact, he lived in the provinces and he stayed in Manila as a dormitory occupant. A nursing student, he was my contact in a social networking site for years. That day, we both found an opportunity to meet each other offline.

To sum it all up, it was a one-week love affair. Despite having known him for only days, I felt that he just might be the kind of guy who I might be willing to spend the rest of my life with. I'm afraid I am entirely inaccurate in describing it as a love affair; it was not quite love but it was, for me, no casual date either. He is also one of the best kissers I have ever locked lips with my entire life.

He knew how much I hated Manila, but, for a week, I did my best to be there. He had been through some bad times; I went there when I heard the news. At the end of that week, however, he broke off with me. He didn't feel "the spark", which was enough reason for him. Additionally, we had differences in our beliefs; he was a practicing Catholic while I was a skeptic agnostic. I don't wish to antagonize him; forgive me but I still hurt whenever I remember those times. That night, we shared a final kiss and a promise to keep in touch with each other.

Months have passed since then; time had caused us to forget, to be busy, to fail to keep our promises. At this moment, I am wondering what disasters at work the next week will bring. At this moment, I believe he's either asleep or reviewing for the nursing board exam. For my sake, I sincerely hope he has already forgotten that week we spent together.

Ever and anon, I'd wake up in the midst of a fitcul slumber, my skin seeking a touch that had warmed it before, my lips searching for a kiss that was never there and my heart, aching for the loss of what could have been, at the very least, a friend.

I have never returned to Manila on my own again. Even now, I am being overwhelmed by the bitter memories I dug up and, in the privacy of my domain, allowed myself to shed these salty tears.

These are the reasons I hate the city of Manila.

Dust and smoke and soot and ashes,
Floatsam, jetsam and acid washes
Tell me tales of ancient ages,
Of people struggling in their cages.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Brother. Is not. A pig. Da?

Once there were two sib-plumbers
who fixed a leak in the city sewers.
Behold when they exited the pipes,
the found a world of toadstools, fireballs, blocks that go ka-ching, Koopas... and, uh, pipes?
Forgive this poor poet's faulty time;
at least, somewhere there's a rhyme.

The subject is something I usually cannot discuss comfortably with other people. It is, I suppose, a lot like sex; you just don't talk about it in public. However, I have been thinking lately that I have been enjoying something a lot of people usually don't and if, perhaps, I may be of help to those people, then what a better way than through a non-fictional article, say, a blog post?

Anyway, the topic is about siblings.

Augh! Please! No! Ergh! Blech! Urgh!

Okay, so maybe there's a lot of people out there that generally don't get along too well with their sibs. My sister's a bitch or my brother's too bothersome or the baby is such a crybaby. I definitely agree, heheh.

Grant this poor blogger some moments to bore you with the details of his sordid life: I am the eldest of four children. The next pregnancy brought a female, named "Good Sister", who happened to be so good, God took her even before she was born. Next was another female, named "Evil Sister", and Satan, in his world-embracing benevolence, allowed her to do more of his works on earth. My third sib is a male called Imp, the progeny of Loki, a satyr trickster and anathema to Evil Sister. The last one, Gaki, was also a boy, a brash, insolent brat witty enough to evade death from his three elder sibs.

Each of us are quite unique individuals. I am an offense-type spellcaster who specializes in the arcane, uh, stuff. Evil sister is a heavy-duty offense-type low-moxie apprentice well on her way to learning the kitchen arts. Imp is rather well-versed in smithing, forging, metallurgy and a lot of the baser crafts known to peons, peasants and paupers. Gaki is, well, just electrically annoying. He's a rather fuzzy energy ball and, as our mother called him, a bundle of joy. As you can see, each of us have our differences in craft and personality. Oftentimes, that's where trouble begins.

Like I said, Imp is the bane of Evil Sister's existence and he'd continue to pester her, sometimes, for no sane reason at all. Actually, we all pester each other but it so happened that Evil Sister has a very short temper, and lands rather heavy blows might I add. The crafty Master Gaki, too, cannot always evade Imp's trickery or Evil Sister's fists. Please don't ask where this humble sorcerer enters the fray.

Imp has been known to put salt in evil Sister's drinking water. I write on Imp's face while he's sleeping. Evil Sister wakes Gaki up by incessantly poking him while Gaki has this aura that usually spells disaster for me.

However, different as we may be from each other, we do tend to protect our own. We're perfectly amiable people who, only, sometimes gang up on whoever is insane enough to bully one of us. We don't openly acknowledge standing up for each other 'coz that's really cheesy and all and if, by chance, they stumble upon this blog post, I'd die of disgust. Still, as I've heard before in a movie, it's these differences that supports our colony, err, family. We know perfectly well when to fill in for the others' chores or who's responsible for what.

We also have fun together, which usually involves hurling kidou, spells, ninjutsu or genjutsu. Sometimes, we even kick each other just for the hell of it. We also have this stupid running game where we just run and startle ostentatiously every time any of us meet. When any of us points out a flaw in another, we just shrug and have a good laugh, instead of blowing a fuse (with the exception of Evil Sister, as her fuse seems to be embedded in nitroglycerine-soaked kieselguhr)

It might seem ridiculous for someone my age to be releasing Bankai or equipping a gunblade just as it is unusual to see a kid, twelve years younger than I, engaging someone twice his height in physical combat (which usually ends in death by tickle-related asphyxiation). I suppose it's all just a matter of meeting everyone halfway.

We also enjoy sharing some things. A simulation game by Maxis, The Sims, is perhaps the best example. I like 2D-scrolling games better. Evil Sister prefers the Zen of puzzle games. Imp rather enjoys strategy games while Gaki prefers mindlessly arcade games. So what brought us together in a simulation game? Is it the joy of ruining each others' families? Is it slapping the other's character? Is it in racing each other to reach level 10 in career? Or in re-furnishing our own houses every time a new nifty item has been downloaded? Why the heck are we not upgrading to The Sims 2? Why don't we even install add-ons like Livin' Large, Makin' Magic or Hot Date? Why am I writing in questions?

Seriously, I dunno... it's probably something you gotta figure out yourself... by meditation or looking at the stars or casting runes or some shit like assuming the thinking position in the loo.

So, I guess I'm not really helpful in aiding other people to relate to their sibs better. Oh well, just sit back and enjoy brewing envy or jealousy, haha!

Anyway, if it is of any help, we sometimes fart on each other, just like normal siblings do. However we don't, as a rule, sneeze on each other 'coz that's like, gross, y'know? Kinda like unforgivably disgusting.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You Own my Heart (and Spleen)

"May I see your diploma? I just wanna make sure they're not from some med school in the Philippines."

All too often, doctors and nurses in the Philippines have been subject to ridicule not only from foreigners but even from fellow Filipinos as well. A rather obscene "joke" I have once beheld was a simple logo in a T-Shirt: UP Diliman College of Nursing.

There are, over here, a set of infamous career paths that, despite their potential to yield higher wages, are most certainly in the not-something-to-be-proud of list. Call center agents, for one, earn that much more because, in return, they are disrupting their normal lives for a more stressful environment. Imagine inverting your Circadian cycle, what, every week? Every month? Still, they are subject to ridicule and the job is considered "dishonorable" by almost any non-desperate IT graduate since, after all, it does not require intelligence, only proficiency in English. I must admit, I am not exempt from that way of thinking.

Nursing, too, is another job deemed "ugh" by many. I have to admit that a lot of nurses are brilliant individuals. Even doctors study nursing because there is that much more money to be made of it (assuming you do get to work overseas) The problem is that the lucrative call of cold hard cash has been responded to by greedier, yet less talented, individuals. I know it's the same everywhere and I'm not singling out the nursing profession. Besides, that's not also my point.

What I'm trying to say, though, is that, despite my unfair thoughts towards nurses, they still have something I absolutely envy: the power to save the ones they love. After all, what can I, a mere IT programmer, do to save anyone? Oh, shall I help you email something to your relative in Manila so she could send money back home for your mom's operation? Hmmn, shall I use this length of LAN cable to strangle that picaroon who's robbing you in a dark alley? Shall I help you make a "jazzy" Friendster account to help rescue you from your suicidal depression?

Seriously, nurses, and medics, in general, are people I've always envied because of the power they have over life and death, no matter how small. When I was young, I also wanted to be a doctor (mostly because the pay is high) until I learned I have to deal with blood. I'm not scared to see blood or anything but I also wasn't too keen on getting it all over my hands, all over my clothes and, mostly, all over the place. Something about it is just... unsettling.

Why am I saying this right now? Only too recently, I've had a very disturbing dream.

I was walking along a dark sidewalk with the love of my life... well, maybe the current love of my life, who knows? :P He took the outer side, the one exposed to traffic. From behind, a large truck climbed up the pavement and struck him down. When I got to him, he was all bloody and his breath came in rasps. He is unable to speak and his lungs were filling up with blood (don't mind how I knew, it was a dream) and, sorrowfully, there was nothing else I could do for him.

When I woke up, I quickly checked my IM list and, thankfully, he was still alive. He may not know it, and, by God, I hope he doesn't ever, but he's one of the few people I would gladly die for. More specifically, he's one of the few people I'd ever think of giving my blood to (I'm of blood type O)

In any case, that is the reason I, a rogue sorcerer, envy those from the order of the white mages. I may be fairly capable of destructive arts but things like that rarely save people. I do find it quite bemusingly ironic that an offense-type spellcaster as I should seek the mastery of curative spells.

There is no greater joy and glory
than for me, my life, to give,
when Death whispers out to thee,
that there be a chance for you to live.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Dark Bite... Fatman!

Both your mouths always eat.
One of them devours the seat.
The other bites into dead meat.
You don't really know when to quit.

I hate fat people.

Actually, I don't really dislike all obese people. To be more exact, I feel absolute hatred to those waistline-enriched people who act as though they are entitled to that extra space they occupy.

For example, when riding a bus, I was unfortunate enough to have been seated in what once was a three-seater. The other person's bottom, however, stole space equivalent to that occupied by two and a half butts of average people. To make it worse, the bitch kept on wriggling in sleepy discomfort and muttering under her breath as though I was the one who had wrongfully encroach on her sleeping space.

In a jeepney, there is also an abundance of horribly ill-mannered pigs. A fat man seats himself with open legs while other passengers are forced to assume uncomfortable positions. Some had to twist their bodies into strange shapes while some have only half their bottoms seated. (Kinda gives a new meaning to the term half-assed, don't you think?) This obnoxious guy, on the other hand, had his entire gluteous maximus and a healthy part of his massive upper thighs on the seat while, on the back rest, lie his back, shoulders and even his elbows. On a jeepney full of passengers, such conduct is gross and unacceptable.

I have also encountered a bevy of heavy girls, walking side by side. I'm afraid I err against charity when I say the truth that they are lumbering about, occupying the entire sidewalk. Now, I have no problem walking side by side with my friends but, in a sidewalk teeming with pedestrians in a hurry to get to wherever it is they are going, I believe ethics should take precedence over trivial acts of shallow friendship. There is, I fear, much acrimony I feel but I'd still like to point out that it is wrong to block another hurrying person's way when both of you have equal rights over a public pathway. Equally wrong is hissing in annoyance whenever one inevitably brushes against you as we hurry on to our destinations.

I am perfectly aware, though, that I'm having double standards here. After all, I do get annoyed when there are times I feel as though I live in a world designed for pygmies. I do get inconvenienced by low doors and ceilings, by mirrors that cut off my reflection at the chin or by grocery cabinets that put items deep inside the lowest shelf. I do complain, from time to time, though, generally, I just accept that the world is made that way. I don't believe it is quite ethical of me to force my friends to hang their mirrors, paintings or shelves that little bit higher. Neither do I believe it is acceptable to cuss at people for having low ceilings in their houses, apartments, jeepneys or buses.

I am aware that not all fat people can really help it. It could be genetic or something medical. However, do pardon me for admitting that most fat people remind me of individuals with no self-control when it comes to eating or, at least, practicing healthy eating and exercising habits. I still hold hatred for obese people who arrogantly steal public spaces and other people's private space. I do, however, know that not all people shrug off their largeness as easily.

There was this voluminous lady who boarded the bus alone. She sat behind me and, as the conductor passed, she paid the amount for two people. Kudos to the fat woman who acknowledges her extra girth and pays her way! Boo to the insensitive jerks and bitches who conduct themselves as though they were thinner, slimmer or sexier than they really are!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Burn, Baby! Burn!

Burn baby, let's stoke this fire;
let us be consumed by this desire.
Embrace me, claim me as yours once more
until daybreak, when we awaken as before.

The Earth Mother, in all her majestic power and vast wisdom, has, I believe, made a grave mistake in bestowing upon humans the gift of fire. Of the four classical elements or the five Oriental elements, fire is the most unstable and destructive element of all, often defying harmony with the others.

Water can, by sheer volume, destroy coastal villages by hurling tons of itself upon the land. It can undermine the earthen mountains and trigger the collapse of cliff faces but does it not heed the call of the earthen moon and peacefully head back to the ocean as the ebbing tide? The wind that lashes at the leaves, and even the trunks of the massive wooden trees, can be injurous to these life forms but does it not bring the hope of new life for every grain of pollen it carries on its agile wings?

Metal is mostly a sleeper, slumbering deep within the warm, rocky-hard cushions of the earth and it is no surprise beasts that come into contact with its venomous awakened state, with all its grumpy personality, are often led into a deep and eternal slumber back into the loving arms of the Earth Mother.

Fire, on the other hand, is quite a quarrelsome element. Against water, it hisses defiantly even in death. With wood or with air, it rages ever more angrily, asserting dominance or, at the very least, displaying sheer power. With perseverance, it weakens earth, even metal, and forces them into a water-like state, incapable of holding their own shape. Given time, it will vaporize everything and dominate over all, feeding on the carcasses of the brethren it has killed.

Yes, like I said, fire is a very violent element, one that, I think, should have never been harnessed by humans. We, like all our fellow creatures, should have been content with the light and warmth from that great ball of fire hovering far, far away: the brilliant star so livid with energy that the Earth Mother thought it wise to maintain a respectable distance. However, it is oft of no use crying over spilled milk or, in this case, burnt elements.

I do, as a sorcerer, find it ironic that much of my spellweaving, storytelling and wordforging works have been powered by that massive ball of fire. In the past, I have attempted to help heal the planet by being conscious of some of my destructive habits. However, I am unable to resist the call of lust when, just this afternoon, I was commanded to burn a pile of garbage. It has been quite a long while since I burnt dried leaves, indeed, a much longer time since I last casted lvl-2 Fire, but the call was strong and my will, as weak as paper against flames.

Ten minutes later, I was standing in an empty lot, almost devoid of life. As a human, I feel relieved that the place now holds a lesser probability of being infested with unhealthy, noxious life forms. It does feel good when your surroundings are "clean" As a sorcerer powered by the sun, I felt immensely powerful then; a light breeze had picked up and strengthened the raging flames. Dry twigs and leaves cackled their drying breaths and even I had to move back as the conflagration burned the air itself.

As a son of the Earth Mother, however, I do find it the least bit funny to be reducing it all to ashes, when putrefying agents could so easily have brought them back to the folds of the Earth Mother's embrace. Now, all that was left of them were glowing embers and lifeless strips of ash floating about the sky.

It's not easy to heal the planet for a man who has an affinity to fire. I suppose even some doctors find it difficult to reconcile their medical knowledge with their habits of smoking, or drinking. We all have our weaknesses and for mine, I beg the Earth Mother's forgiveness.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Eat me!

Hunter, what be thou seeking?
Tourist, where art thou going?
Hermit, who art thou waiting for?
What once was there may be no more!

It has been a very, very long while since I last wrote a blog entry for no other reason than a sudden change in my life. This poor sorcerer, Jean R. Mavi, has begun working for a living. While I'd hate to point out that I'm still freeloading in my parents' abode, it was, all in all, an acute change in my life.

Where before, I would have easily "encouraged" my parents to buy unnecessary luxuries like books, cake, lotion or perfume, I am now acutely and painfully aware of the weight I have to support. I've been hearing lots of comments on how I must've gained weight but I'm sure you know that is not what I meant. This adverse turn of events, however, have made it far easier for me to recognize I have a problem and, as some chipper optimistic buckets of silly sunshine say, the first step to solving a problem is to recognize (or acknowledge) its existence.

For one, I never really believed that I was spending too much for, when I was still a student or job-hunter, I relied immensely on the coffers of my parents. Having my own stash now, however, made it painfully easier to keep track of my expenses. Yes, dear reader, I am now aware that I am a shopaholic food-tripper.

My work takes me in quite close proximity to several malls, as a matter of fact, they're all a stone's throw away. Granted, you really need powerful arms and a stone of dire lightness and infinitesimal size. Still, the trouble lies in the fact that the shortest route home involves passing through one of these malls to emerge at the highway on the other side.

For people without my affliction, this is as easy as a walk in the park. For me, it was pure torture. For the first few weeks, I endure the tempting calls of the, previously, inanimate objects on sale. Someone must've released Allspark's energy for the cakes began to call, in a sing-song voice, "Come, Mavi. You know you want to eat me!"

Perfume bottle would assault my nostrils with their gaseous tendrils, drawing me near as though saying, "If you leave your money on this counter, you will feel as light as I do." Various food items would, undoubtedly, hiss in their sizzling voice, "Oooh, sssomething sssoundsss hot, sssmellsss tasssty and looksss appetizzzing." Books will whisper in their papery voices, "Mpph-ppph-kpp-phh," which, for the life of me, I don't understand. It's probably an invitation for me to buy and read them to figure out exactly what they meant.

Oookay, so maybe I got a little too creative (or, perhaps, terribly unoriginal) with the Allspark stuff. However, I kid you not (or, in the words of some vulgar marines with unsavory vocabulary, "I $#!+ you not") when I claim it takes tremendous willpower, self-restraint, mana and hitpoints to resist the temptation. It is more difficult doubly so when one of my alter-ego's pipe in, "Hey, I'm not a monk or ascetic, so to hell with moderation," completely unaware that hell is, so far, an unmoderated place. (Apparently, the admin wanted full control)

Despite the cool air-conditioning, I cannot help secreting beads of sweat on my temples, my neck and my torso whenever I stay far too long in such a horrid place. I often find myself willing my feet to move faster, that these trials be put behind me quite sooner. Praised be the merciful goddess I don't own a credit card or I might not have endured these temptations for so long!

To you, unlucky reader who had the benevolent heart to wade through my flood of petty troubles, I thank you. I do regret, however, not being able to offer those in similar situations any advice. I find myself as completely in the dark as the rest of our suffering brethren.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scent and Aftertaste

Far be it from me
to post what I ate
but such food, really,
I'm sure is top-rate.

This is a post I have been putting off for more than a month now. During the course of my job-hunting days, I have been traveling to different places in the Metro. Among others, I have also been coming in and out of the Ortigas area. Its proximity to one of the leading malls nationwide almost always meant that any dealing in the area, such as exams, company talks, interviews or job offers, inexplicably and unerringly lead my feet to above average, non-fastfood dining establishments.

In an earlier post, I have already described to you a Happy Potion I have discovered. Today, allow me to share with you my thoughts on some of the dishes of Spaghetti Factory.

Like their name says, they do specialize in spaghetti, pasta to be accurate. Their meals, however, come in prices much more suited to spend-crazy yuppies than penniless job-hunters like me. Truth be told, even if I was a yuppie, I'd still probably be penniless 'coz we don't use pennies in our country.

Still, I do have some stash hidden specifically for this purpose; suffice to say that I have paid a visit to their Megamall branch a couple of times.

It being the Spaghetti Factory, I might as well begin by describing their spaghetti. It's long and thin, most probably made of wheat, yellowish-white in color and looks a lot like spaghetti. Seriously though, I have tasted two sauces that came with their spaghetti: Bolognese and Pesto. The Bolognese sauce was fine, almost a bit too average and has no feature too special. Their pesto sauce, on the other hand, is something quite positively indescribable. One can really taste the herbs, smell the roasted cashew and get drunk in the scent of some unknown something. It is quite unlike the pesto-pestuhan sauce I encountered in the college cafeteria.

To describe it as delicious is not quite enough; it tasted really good that the complimentary after-meal breath mints seemed like an insult to the dish. It leaves a roasty, woody after-taste and after-scent that could very well be compared to an orgasm's afterglow. No, really, I told you it was indescribable; I fear I am doing much injustice by attempting to describe it.

More than just pasta, they also offered fried chicken. I was never easily wowed by fried chicken so I supposed it'd taste as starchy as the chicken prepared by two of the leading non-KFC fastfood chains in the country. It was, then, a pleasant surprise to bite into Spaghetti Factory's chicken. Like their pesto sauce, it also seemed to specialize in scent and after-taste. To be sure, it still tastes like chicken and the breading is not anything too amazing but it radiated a sweet warm scent, which, to me, smelled a lot like hot butter.

For dessert, I once ordered a mango crepe but I am quite disappointed to remark that it looked like something I could easily make myself. At 89 bucks, it seemed hardly worth it.

This afternoon, I also ordered an appetizer: mussels with spinach, Parmesan cheese and Bechamel sauce. The menu said (or probably warned) that it was a new item; I should have known by then. Anyway, the sauce tasted too much of sour tomatoes that the flavor of the mussels was nearly drowned. I'd also like to comment that their mussels needed more cheese. I'm saying this simply because I have tasted better baked mussels elsewhere.

It's kinda sad for me to end this post on a depressing note but when it came to beverages... Suffice to say that Spaghetti Factory makes excellent pasta. And chicken. Period.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Zero (in stasis)

Today, the warrior falls into a slumber. He is hibernating in the core of the sun. When will he re-awaken? Who will wake him up? I do wonder.

I have been wondering about other things too. As a believer of karma, I now ask myself, am I really a bad person?

Or, if an omnipotent being does exist out there, does she really hate me personally?

No. No poetry fragment for today. I'm tired of thinking too much into a lot of stuff. Maybe ignorance really is bliss.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A New Chapter

I am but a little jar
overflowing with dreams.
I am a jar full of dreams
but I am just a little jar.

When the next dawn comes, a new chapter of my life begins. The next time the sun rises, my life as a university student ends and I shall awaken to a new day as a part-time yuppie and a part-time bum.

At this very moment, I have chosen to play Jim Chappel's Gone, a piano instrumental that I, for a strange reason, find to be very effective in moving me to tears. Every time I hear it, my mind is filled with images of people close to me in different states of death. Right now, I do think it is quite appropriate for, after all, this is a day of farewell.

There were a lot of regrets I was suddenly made aware of. I should have talked to him, smiled or said hello. I should have been nicer to her and helped her in the academic problems she's been having. I should have listened to him, laughed at her jokes, greeted this and hugged that. I guess one thing that really gets to me is the chances at friendship I have, now, lost. I suppose that, from this day onward I shall never hear from a lot of nice people ever again, simply because I have been to chicken to just so much as smile.

To all the people I have ignored, seemingly or for real, and to all of you who have been very nice to me, I'm very sorry for being the jerk you know I am. We may not meet again but if I could really go back, I'll take the chance to be your friend. To all those who have taken time to be nice to me, I will never forget your kindness; I may not be able to return it to you but I will pass it on to the friends I have yet to meet. To those who have been of hindrance to me, knowing or otherwise, I may resent you but I will treasure the knowledge my experience in interacting with you has given me; rest assure I have learned much and will be more crafty and sly the next time I meet people like you. To a select few of you people, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have graduated today; as a matter of fact, I'd probably have graduated earlier.

Today, I sang the national anthem and the song of my alma mater with pride welling deep within me. Today, I am no longer a student but I will never cease to be a learner. Life goes on and continues teaching me beyond academics.

As of now, my memory of my batchmates begins fading and I cannot help but sorrowfully bid farewell to those I will never see, or remember, again. Today, there is a lot of people I would like to congratulate, however, I was, once more, too embarrassed to even extend my hand. Today, I have formally congratulated, wished luck on and bid farewell to only two people.

To everyone else who might be reading this entry, we most probably will never meet again. I regret not having spent time or paid attention to you as much as you deserved. I sincerely apologize for ignoring you guys.

To all of us, my sincerest congratulations. May we face the world better equipped with the knowledge the university has given us.

May we meet again; best of luck and fare thee well.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Potion

Truth be told, I have a lot of insights I'd like to share at the moment but I am quickly running out of time. Instead of a lengthy discourse, I'd just like to share a concept called Happy Potion.

See, there do exist, in this heather world, certain fluid mixtures that, for some unknown reason, give an inexplicable feeling of happiness and contentment the moment the drink slides down one's throat. It is not all about the taste, but also involves the scent and even the after-taste.

C2, a local iced/green tea product by the Universal Robina Corporation, was one drink I was, at first, doubtful of. After all, I have sampled several powdered iced tea mixes that, to me, one company's lemon iced tea tastes pretty much the same as the next one's. They claimed to give a cool and clean feeling, hence, the name. Initially, they released four flavors: green tea, lemon, peach and apple. While it is true that their lemon iced tea tasted as I suspected, their peach-flavored green tea got me hooked.

Somewhere in the year 2006, they released four new flavors: strawberry, lychee, kiwi and forest fruits. I don't think I'd like to taste anything lychee anytime soon. Their strawberry-flavored green tea was just as alright as my beloved peach. Their kiwi and forest fruits flavors, however, made a loyal consumer out of me.

Kiwi-flavored green tea had this peculiar scent that breezes through my nostrils as the drink sloshes down my throat. It has an indescribably lingering after-taste. Forest fruits, on the other hand, had an overpoweringly sweet scent and after-taste. It is best imbibed cool, but not cold, since much of the flavor is lost on freezing taste buds. Drinking any of these two flavors brought a smile out of me, sometimes in unlikely places, earning me a few strange looks from onlooking people.

The only possible downside I can see is that the two flavors are, well, strong, as a matter of fact, stronger than peach. They have this irritating feel at the back of the throat not quite different from that left behind by an oversweet drink. For me, however, it is best described as the pinching feel left behind by a strong orange juice. The price, however, is quite affordable to a lot of middle-class pedestrians, with the small bottle ranging from PhP18.00 to PhP22.00

A pizza company, Shakeys, has recently released here in our country their newest offering for the summer. With the ordinary name Fruit Coolers, the menu described it as "A mix of fresh fruit syrup and mint, mixed with soda that gives a cool and refreshing feeling. Enjoy it in green apple and watermelon flavors." I must admit, the "cool and refreshing" clichè and the oxymoron "fresh fruit syrup" had me in doubt. However, one sip of the watermelon flavor is all it took to turn me into a believer, gloria hallelujah!

The fruity taste of watermelon was a bit shocking at first, abruptly biting the tip and the sides of your tongue. After a few moments, the coolness of soda water will wash over you and the scent of mint will relax you as you exhale. Again, a waiter and a waitress gave me funny looks; I then realized that I had yet another of those Happy Potion smiles plastered on my face.

The price can be a bit high for some pedestrians, like students, for example, but I do think the PhP54.00 I've spent on a glass is quite worth the exhilarating experience.

I'd like to conclude this time, not with a stanza of poetry, but with a few words straight from my heart. Somewhere in this heathen world, there is a Happy Potion meant for you. Go out, search for it and, when you finally find it, keep the experience in your memory. Remember that there once was a time a drink made you smile. Lastly, remember to drink it again sometime in the future.

No, seriously, I'm fresh out of poetry.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wallpaper Paste

I will not lay claim to being a gourmet or a connoisseur; I am but a mere pedestrian who wishes to get my money's worth when it comes to food. Like every other consumer out there, I want to get the most bang for the buck and I'm not just talking about volume.

We all have them, the places we love to eat and the establishments we abhor. When something is wrong, it is our moral duty, as consumers, to point out these infractions to our taste and, crossing our fingers, hope that the management takes action. However, upon returning and still finding the food and the place as worse as before, it is probably forgivable for a person to blog about it, right?

First off is a local fastfood chain of Oriental cuisine, which we'll just refer to as Cho-king. Now, in reality, I have not much complaints about their food; truth be told, I love their king's congee, pork tofu and nai-cha (milk tea). There is, however, one branch of this chain that does great injustice to the other branches. Its Philcoa branch is, to say the least, the dirtiest branch I have ever been to. The chairs are all smudgy, the floors are grimy and the table all greasy.

If you order any congee in this place, expect a rice mash that, if anything, tastes like wallpaper paste. Believe me, I know what wallpaper paste tastes like. With pork tofu, they cannot seem to find the right balance between pork and tofu. I often get served a heaping of tofu with very little pork. Other times, though, they get the right balance with pure pork fat and tofu. Worse, the sauces they used on that side dish seemed to be comprised of colored warm water. I cannot taste soy sauce or even vinegar there.

If, on the other hand, you avoid the horrors I mentioned and decided to buy Chao Fan, or mixed rice, expect your serving to be over-moist, sticky and soggy. In truth, it tastes like it has been freshly reheated. If you order braised beef toppings on your rice, expect a helluva lot more rice than beef. Oh, sorry, I meant, "Expect more rice than rubber." As a matter of fact, anything that is supposed to contain beef probably must have been substituted with rubber.

I know I sound bitter, crazy and clueless to what I'm ranting. I am bitter, yes, because I feel like I have been cheated. More than twice. Crazy, maybe, because I kept on hoping they'd at least heed my feedback and improve their food and services. Clueless? Most probably not. I know what I'm talking about because I've been to three other branches: Berkeley Square, SM North and SM Fairview. I'd especially like to commend their Berkeley Square branch.

That branch is noticeably cleaner than any of the other branches I've been to. The staff is really friendly, the food really is hot (at least, not re-heated) and when you order soda with ice, you don't get a heaping of ice with a little soda. Their beef is tender, not rubber; their congee is tasty, not bland, their pork tofu really has pork, not pork fat and their mixed rice dishes are moist enough but not too soggy.

Like I said, I'm not primarily a "taster" but a "feeder" but just because I like to eat does not mean I have no sense of taste. I'm not a professional critic who'd say, "The flavor of this ingredient is overwhelming the natural taste of the other," like those judges on Iron Chef. I am merely a consumer who, unlike those judges, needs to spend to eat.

Eat, devour and make merry
for this very day we'll all die.
Drink, imbibe and be happy
'til it's time to say good-bye.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My Name is Mavi

Today is the first day
of the rest of my life.
The future starts today.
Tomorrow, perhaps, a blur?

I just found out that I liked job interviews.

While the notion of being subject to the scrutinizing gaze and almost-too-personal interrogation might not be to a lot of people's liking, I happen to enjoy the attention. I find pleasure in those brief golden moments in time when what one says and how one says it really does matter.

I've been through three job interviews in my life. The first one was almost just a formality; my employers already knew me before I applied or, more correctly, was recruited for the job.

The second one was for an outsourcing company, which, interestingly enough, was one of the top 10% highest-paying IT companies in the country (If you have the same priorities as I do, you'd find those numbers quite interesting indeed). I believe the interview began with the interviewer asking me what she should call me.

"Mavi," I replied.

It was going fine until I, in my foolishness, blurted out, "I am a totally honest, God-fearing person entirely incapable of fabricating fictitious events in my personal history." Okay, so maybe it wasn't really that; it was more along the lines of, "I am a level 2 probationary acolyte of Northrend's Undead Cult. My personal goal in life is to be a level 10 dual-class necro-sorcerer," to which the interviewer replied, "Oookay... care to explain further?" Then it all went downhill.

The most recent one was for an offshore company. They are one of the top 25% highest-paying IT companies in the country (Again, another interestingly noteworthy piece of info). I was almost ready to give up as I spent forty minutes waiting at their reception area. Granted, I was ten minutes early but that still meant the interviewer was 30 minutes late.

What they lack in punctuality, I soon found out, they made up for in the liberties they gave their employees. It was a bittersweet company, a sharp contrast of nice and nasty. There are certain aspects I like a lot and there are others that make me think twice. Allow me to point out, though, that, for this one, I did not voluntarily divulge being an initiate to an unorthodox paranormal organization.

I digress, though. This third interview began with, "So... what should I call you?"

"Mavi," I replied.

It might sound strange that for two job interviews, I began with a name that, once upon a time, was not my own. Now, of course, my pen name is as integral a part of my identity as my eyeglasses. Still, I am quite touched that the next question of both interviewers is, "Mavi? Why Mavi?"

See, it may sound pathetic but I am really moved that they considered me as a person with a nickname totally different from his given name and not just another prospective employee. After all, they could have chosen not to take interest in my unorthodox nickname and proceed with, "So, Mr. Mavi, about your application..."

On the bus ride home, I suddenly remembered a scene between Agent Smith and Neo in the movie The Matrix. Agent Smith, of course, addressed Neo by his given name, Mr. Anderson.

Through gritted teeth: "My name is Neo."

It is with apprehension and a bit of fear that I wonder whether Mavi might, one day, take over my life and wrestle the reins from me.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Overthrow! Dark Revolt

Now my blind eye sees...
that sometimes...
the hand of Fate must be forced!

-Illidan, Demon Hunter
Warcraft 3, Frozen Throne Expansion Pack

Today has been a day of disappointment and shadowy realizations. One upon a time, a light shone through the dark sky; dawn has broken into my world and the sun appeared to give me warmth. I once dreamt of owning part of that warmth but the sun just smiled, nodded politely but stayed conveniently out of my reach. Since then, its influence on my life has waned as a shooting star and several other stars lighted my sky.

Today was the day I have come to realize what I should have known so long ago: the sun can never be mine. With the notion that I must learn to let go for real came the darkness I had once been acquainted with.

A female acquaintance of mine once said she liked me better when I was cheerful, instead of the dark brooding killer she had met years ago. Now, it seems I have been unwise to banish darkness completely out of my life. I have made the same mistake as the Protoss Conclave who, in their single-minded faith in Adun and the Khala, exiled the Dark Templars from their midst. Was it not with the combined light and dark forces that the Zerg Overmind was finally defeated?

I do recognize the irony, though; the sun that shone for so long on my life shall herald the darkness unto my world. Yet, more than ever, the darkness has revealed what would have otherwise remained unseen in the glare of light. The shadows of the dark night has shown me quagmires of false hopes, slippery slopes of optimism and sharp craggy outcrops of obsession. In searing heat and glaring sunlight, all I would have seen was a vast desert dotted by fleeting mirages of oases that were never there.

The sorcerer is almost awake; more than ever, the jester struggles to remain the warrior's master. The sun and the stars are giving way to a dark sky, as fleeting as they themselves are. The sky begins to turn as day and night chase each other about. I, for one, am praying that balance may finally be found.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Musings of a Chronic Liar

Look deeper into my eyes
And tell me a string of lies.
Say everything is fine
and that you will be mine.

Has it ever occurred to you that someone, somewhere knows something you don't and they're having a good time at your expense?

Call it conspiracy theory or whatnot but I have always had the nagging feeling that shaving creams and/or after-shave lotions might have hair growth stimulants. If it were so, there is nothing we consumers could do about it since, after all, they never were supposed to inhibit hair growth nor did they advertise doing so. Still, it is a pretty darned smart way to ensure that their customers will keep on buying their products. To us, they are just implements to an eternal ritual against something we, as humans, have deemed inescapable: shaving. To them, they are almost a self-sustaining investment.

How about those mold and mildew cleaners? What if each droplet of acidic liquid poured onto the grout between ceramic tiles contained a certain chemical, which, when decayed, encourages more fungal growth? The companies selling these cleaners, too, did not advertise retarding mold and mildew proliferation. They were supposed to clean but not keep your tiles clean. If these indeed contained such chemicals, we'd be in a never-ending battle against fungus.

Another one I have had the luxury to experience: anti-dandruff shampoo. So long as I keep on using it, I don't get flaky scalp; it must have some strong chemicals for even its vapors sting my eyes. However, when I discontinue usage, I get a dandruff boom. Does it also have nice ingredients that decay into bad ones?

Ahh, the refined art of subterfuge. Technically, the makers of the three products never lied to us; they just happened to omit certain facts from the mass media. Given that I, too, enjoy "lying" to others, I'm beginning to wonder if any of those people might be my kin.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cleansing the Celestials

The sorcerer stirs in his sleep,
dreaming, never dozing deep.
The radiant sun is burning bright,
flaming in its light and might.
The fleeting wind races through
the tangled woods where it once blew.

Once upon a time, there was a sorcerer who, for his sins in trying to wield magic as his own, was put into a fitful sleep, only to awaken when he is needed once more. Ever and anon, he stirs, whenever the call of power is felt nearby. The impact of meteorites, lividly raging storms or slowly creeping frost all sing the tempting song, enticing the prisoner to wield them once more.

Today, however, a greater song pervades the air. The season of frost is now past and the season of blossoming has arrived.

I have always liked spring. It is a time when most probably everyone feels alive. Like fall, the day is absolutely bright and sunny but, at the same time, cool and gusty. The harmony of sun and wind creates a weather that is neither too hot nor too cold: a weather that is usually known as perfect. The season of blossoming and the season of molting are the perfect seasons to fly kites, to run about in the open, to smile and laugh without inhibition, to sing and be joyful, to hunt and to mate.

There used to be times that I'd be burnt-out by the sheer pressure of the projects I'm doing. Usually, it takes very little to restore energy to me, coffee, cinnamon, a spot of brandy or such truck. Music, too, especially rock, has proven especially effective in kicking my blood alive.

Very recently, though, I experienced a burn-out so exhaustive that even music can only do so much. It was then that I realized the importance of sun and wind in my life. A scream from the Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair couldn't have put it better, "I have to get out! I am a Marshwriggle! I can't stay in these caves for so long; I need the sun, the wind a
the sky!"

While I generally have no idea about Marshwriggles, except that they aren't good to eat and that they, in turn, eat eels, I do agree that I, like him, do need the Earth Mother (and the sky gods) more than I am willing to admit. Like the lizards and salamanders, I now make it a point to bask in the sun for some time shortly after awakening. I have resolved to quit my dependence on the cursed coffee and harness the sun, instead, to jump-start me every morning.

Spring is such a lovely season.

(A friend once commented that my posts are too long to be digestible. Please do bear with me while I research on procuring low-dosage brews)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You Conceited Arrogant Bastard-Jerk of a Pootfah, You Braggart, You...

I know you've cut yourself before,
swallowed countless pills and more
but look inside these bloodstained doors
to see my life is worse than yours.

Why do humans brag?

I was wondering why we, as supposedly the most advanced specie on this planet, have this deep-seated urge to brag to each other the exciting and interesting (sic) facets of our life. These stories, much as they are entertaining, can become quite boring once the novelty wears off.

In book sales, book clubs and even the most hallowed libraries, we could hear people muttering about the latest books they've bought: books written by this so-and-so author. Asked what they understood from the book, they'd blush in embarrassment and just simply say the book was so deep for their understanding, which, to them, makes it all the more valuable. I mean, what is the use of a book if you cannot understand it at all? That is, of course, aside from self-defense, miscellaneous paperweight, surface, part of a costume, props or an impressive collection of smart clean (and unused) hardbound tomes.

These days, it seems that it does not matter what you know but who you know. A lot of people have resorted to name dropping, claiming to have had rubbed elbows, sexual contact or a small plate of peanuts with this best friend of the cousin of a sexy star. In all their nonsense talk, it would appear that the name of the sexy star, who happens to be a complete stranger to them, has a greater effect than that of their best friend or cousin, who practically know them for years or so.

I, too, would not claim immunity to this. I do regret to say that I have probably made one of the biggest mistakes in my life.

Allow me to elaborate. I was waiting for an interview at a certain building in a certain commercial district when I happened to nod my head and doze lightly. I could have hardly afforded such sleepiness during a job interview so I descended to the ground floor to search for coffee. Just coffee. Just something with caffeine that would wake me up enough.

I found two coffee shops, which, to my utter shock and horror, sold coffee at prices more than a hundred bucks each. In my defense, it is quite different just hearing of these things and actually experiencing an equivalent of a highway robbery right in front of the counter. Worse, the "coffee" I bought did almost nothing to wake me up. For comparison, my instant coffee, which costs less than twenty bucks a pack, keeps me awake for at least four hours while this... "special" coffee gave me under two hours before my eyelids involuntarily dropped down. Oh yeah, it did taste just a little better than my regular coffee and left an interesting raspberry aftertaste I could smell on my breath up to half an hour later: an experience as enjoyable as paying for it is not.

If this coffee they sell in "chic" shops really just taste like coffee and doesn't actually have caffeine, then I suppose I should no longer be wondering how people can spend their entire day inside one and still get enough sleep at night.

Interestingly, though, a lot of people do loiter around these shops for hours on end, purchasing nothing more than a really, really small cup of coffee barely enough to drown a hamster in. I am more than aware that these people aren't really there for the coffee or the other stuff the shop offers, like blueberry cheesecake or strawberry shortcake, no. They're there simply because they want to be seen there. How pathetic is that? In my ardent desire not to be associated with these people, I hurriedly left the shop, drank my coffee bottoms-up and headed for the elevator.

The job interview lasted for an hour, giving me enough free time to get the hell out of the commercial district and catch a bus home before finally dozing off into a shallow slumber. I would be first to confess that I had inadvertently volunteered too much information partly, to impress the interviewer, but mostly to bag the job. Let's not go into that, though; I am never too keen to discuss to other people my shortcomings, at least, those that I already am aware of.

Lastly, though, I have noticed another form of bragging, which, at first glance, does not seem to be bragging at all. How many times have we heard of people "bemoaning" to each other how tormented their life is? It usually begins with one person saying, "My life sucks. I just blah-blah, so-and-so."

Not to be outdone, the other will respond, "You think your life sucks? See, I'm this-and-that. Such-and-such happened."

A third person could very well pipe in, "That's nothing. See here, I used to be dum-dee-dum but then tra-la-la and so you see, I live a pathetic life."

Do these kind of people amuse you? Do they enjoy showing the world how pitiful their circumstances are? Are they competing for sympathy? (I do think the supplies of sympathy worldwide has become alarmingly limited) I don't think so.

What I do think is that, viewed from another angle, they are bragging. They're not having a contest just to see whose life sucks the most. They're also trying to outdo to each other that, not only did they experience those stuff but they also survived it. It's like swapping war stories and determining who survived the worst war.

I believe, though, that I have already observed a bit too much, so I'm gonna stop here. 'coz you see, I've already had to put up with a lot in my life. It's really pathetic, dealing with all those people; my life sucks, right? Eh what? You had a bad day? That's nothing; see here...

Alright, alright. I'm stopping here. Really.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It is Time

The descent of the grains of sand,
the sweep of a shadowed hand,
and the silent clacking of a clock
goes tick-tock, tick-tock.

Of all spells available to the modern-day magic users, perhaps the most tempting to use would be those that alter or control time. Strange it is, however, that no magic has ever been powerful enough to fully control the progression of time.

Time is, indeed, a very powerful force and harnessing it is quite risky, to say the least. It has weathered rock cliffs, eroded mountain slopes, built and destroyed empires, dug valleys and even corroded monuments that were supposed to withstand the passing of time. True, its actions may be as slow and feeble as an aged hermit but this old man has lived far longer than us. If, as they say, experience is the best teacher, then this hermit has the cunning sagacity and shrewd wisdom of an old man who has lived since the beginning of, well, time.

This recent holiday season, I have received a several e-Books from a close friend, including a copy of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. A very scary non-fiction, its first few chapters, dealing with the forces within the universe, makes for a very scary read. More than ever, it has highlighted to me the fact that time is not a force to be trifled with. With events like volcanic eruptions, continental drift, asteroid bombardment, global ice age and the desertification of Africa, the Earth seems more than willing to subject itself under the influence of time. Even the sun or our very own galaxy dare not defy it.

Time can be likened to fire, in that it can be wild, unruly and dangerous. However, just like fire, time too, can be a most useful resource and several civilizations have taken to "paying for your time". Hardware designers are employed to fashion processors that can execute more instructions within the same amount of time than older versions. I suppose nothing could articulate it better than a quote from a dearly beloved professor, Evangel P. Quiwa, regarding the tradeoff between time and space in computer algorithms: "It is better to waste space than to waste time. Memory space can always be recovered but time wasted is time lost."

It is no trivial matter, then, to lie in wait for something. I am not one of those people who vehemently abhor the minutest of waiting and can't seem to be able to stand still for a minute or five. Neither am I one of those people who will intentionally arrive more than an hour late. I am but a simple person with a uniquely simple mind... Oh, scratch that; the last one was quite irrelevant, methinks.

In my life, I have met a lot of people whom the Fates, the Earth Mother and a certain ka-blam! somewhere in my hypothalamus have declared vital for me to meet. Setting a rendezvous is, almost always, a dreaded task for me. Far more often than not, I manage to end up being on time while the other parties I so eagerly anticipate meeting turn up an hour late, if at all.

Around year 1995, being caught in a traffic jam was a perfectly good excuse for being late. Not too many people had cars back then. Nowadays, it is perfectly ridiculous to say you were late because of the traffic. It has become a common fact of life here that much more people now own, not only cars, but also several other vehicles like SUV's, CRV's and a whole plethora of other terms I do not fancy taking an interest in. It, therefore, goes that the most pathetic excuse ever conceivable was, "Sorry I'm late. Traffic was a killer."

Still, however, in my not-so-humble opinion, perhaps that last line was more palatable to my ears than the one I'm usually getting: "Oh, I'm sorry. I overslept/just woke up." Disturbingly, it seemed to happen a lot more often in the most recent parts of my life that I couldn’t help but wonder, "Is this Karma? Is this devised by a cosmic judicial system to punish me for past misdeeds?" What does irk me is that it could very well be my penance; I must admit I have quite a lot of misdeeds when I was still young, impulsive and foolish.

I once met an individual who ranted to me how he waited for his mom for more than an hour. He was livid with rage that he refused to speak to her for a few days. More than anything, he relates, time is of great importance to me. It does come as a surprise then when, one day we were supposed to meet, he turned up just over two hours late.

There is also another person I am supposed to meet around dinnertime in a fairly uncharted area for me. I also ended up waiting two hours and a half in a dimly-lighted sidewalk, with nowhere to sit down on, rain beginning to pour by sheets and the constant danger that lurk in the unknown shadows.

Another person supposed to be present for my birthday had me waiting three-quarters of an hour before calling to say he couldn't make it. Quite angry, more with myself than with the other guy, I just heaved a sigh and went home alone.

Strangely enough, I noticed that all these preposterously impolite acts I have beheld were only committed by males. Never mind their sexuality because they're all varied on their tastes except that all of these people had penises. I might be wrong but as far as I can recall, never was there a female who made me wait for long hours, stood me up or, worst of all, made me wait before calling to inform me I was stood up.

In a lot of classic literature I have encountered, the books always seemed to imply that women, by protocol, arrive at a much later hour than men. "The Queen is never late," they say. "Everyone is simply too early," they say. "Don't point out how late a woman is." Even in the modern world, we see lines like: "Ginger, have you no idea about being fashionably late?" or "If you set a date, we'll be ready an hour late. We simply cannot rush doing our hair/nails/makeup."

What happened? Have the times changed so much that men, figuratively, donned women's skirts, held their feathered fans, wore their tiaras, bumped with their crinolines and, heaven forbid, spent half an hour painting their lips?!? (I must admit that even I use lip balm just so my lips wouldn't look too dry) Now that I muse it over, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.

With the rise of the term "metrosexual", almost every pedestrian male has turned into a creature whose vanity could very well rival that of a woman. Touching another man's hair is considered sacrilege. Oily faces are a no-no. Unstyled hair is a forbidden thing to wear. What's to say that men now are not too eager to be waited upon?

Does this mean that, with the change in the world today, men are less likely to perceive the value of time than the other half of the population? Is this the reason why, "I'll bide my time," sounds perfect coming from old hags or sassy bitches and sounds completely pathetic from a respectable hermit or an insensitive jerk? Is this why women are more adept at casting hexes and curses than us, biological males?

I should like to think not, mostly because I'd want to exempt myself from this generalization. However, it is severely disheartening and socially discouraging to set another rendezvous. Already, I have wasted at least 24 hours of my life on just waiting.

Do me a favor; meet me not more than 15 minutes late.

Lastly, if you are my destined soulmate, please, oh, please, don't make me wait my entire life. Else, I'd give up on you from time to time. Who knows? Only time can tell.