Thursday, January 29, 2009


Yearly Horoscope for Snake

Snake Ratings 79% (10 favorable and 2 neutral months)

The Snake has an incredibly favorable year ahead. The year of the Ox provides many opportunities for the Snake to fulfill long awaited career goals and achieve more than he/she ever imagined. Your wisdom and patience are tools that prove successful in all aspects of your life. Relationships could be taken to new heights and deep and meaningful friendships are acquired. This year proves to be one of action, the year that all of your planning and waiting pay off for you. The later months prove to be especially successful, tying a year of arduous work into an extremely blissful culmination.

Snake Career

Your wisdom proves to be most resourceful this year, particularly in your career endeavors. Colleagues will admire your input and your opinion will be well respected among business circles. Your work will take you to new levels in your career, as you may see a promotion or a position change that offers you a direction that is more suitable to your skills. March, April and May are strong months for a career change or an upswing in your current position. Be prepared for an outstanding year in your work and don't be surprised if everything you do results in success.

Snake Relationships

The Snake's social life will bring a high amount of satisfaction to you this year, as will your family life. Though you tend to be more of a loner, this year will provide occasions that may bring you out of your shell. You have always been a good listener and you will benefit from being more assertive in social situations. More to the point, you may be thrown into a position to be more assertive, rather than volunteering. Your quick thinking will prove to be most useful. Single Snakes may find the romantic relationship they seek, as romance is favored.

Snake Health

The Snake will not suffer any more than minor health issues, but you may want to watch what you eat and make it a point to exercise more often, as these may be areas that you tend to neglect. Your busy work schedule and social endeavors may make it difficult to maintain a regular schedule of exercise, but you can find time here and there to do something active. This will help your heart and may relive stress from a long work week.

Snake Wealth

The Snake will do well with your conservative approach to spending. You have always been disciplined in your finances and this year proves to be no different. If you maintain your frugal manner, you will find that you have accumulated enough by the end of the year to make a large purchase that you have been planning for a long time. If you are in doubt about a particular endeavor, don't hesitate to receive a second opinion before committing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Management Advice

My boss sent me this email. Hmm...

5 Minute Management Course in Six Easy Lessons:

Lesson 1:

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor.

Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you $800 to drop that towel.' After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob , after! a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.

When she gets to the bathroom , her husband asks, 'Who was that?'

'It was Bob the next door neighbor,' she replies.

'Great,' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?'

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:

A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.

The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'

Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3:

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'

'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk 'I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.' Puff! She's gone.

'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.' Puff! He's gone.

'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager.

The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch'

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'

The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.' So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.'

'Well, why don't you nibble on som! e of my droppings?' replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients.' The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there..

Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.

While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!


Calling AA

Funny story. I was looking up ‘Airport Parking’ a few days ago from the yellow pages. There wasn’t any, but lo and behold the next entry was ‘Alcoholism’ under which there was a number for ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. As some sort of wicked dare to myself, I called up the number and was quite stupefied to hear the ringing tone on the other end of the line.

Hold up, in case you don’t know me well enough, I am someone who my friends think of as an alcoholic. Of course, I protest this and maintain that I am simply a social drinker. I may have a collection of emptied liquor bottles at home, but that purely for aesthetics and not in any way a reflection of an immense thirst for alcohol.

So going back, someone on the other end picks up and it was the voice of an old lady, probably well into her 60’s by the timbre of her voice. I was expecting a more scholarly tone, maybe a retired psychology professor who wanted to play god.

“Hi. Is this Alcoholics Anonymous?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“I just wanted to ask something.”
“How does one tell if someone is an alcoholic?”
“It depends, what symptoms do you have?”
“Uh, not me. My friend, I’m not sure exactly. What sort of symptoms are there?”
“Haha, well there are many. But of course the hardest person to convince that he is an alcoholic is himself. Unless he can admit that he is, there is not much that you can do for him.” Hmm, I think she’s on to me.
“Ah… well for example drinking oneself drunk on weekends. Is that already considered a symptom? I mean, what is the threshold for alcoholism?”
“It depends from person to person, anak.”
“Uh, okay. So what can your organization do for those alcoholics?”
“We are not really an organization, we are a group of people who share and support one another to be sober.”
“So if someone doesn’t think they are alcoholic then your group cannot help them?”
“Yes, first you have to admit to the problem first, unless one realizes this by themselves then there is not much that the group can do. You see, anak, we can only help people who are helping themselves. That is the first step and unless you admit that you are an alcoholic then you do not believe that you need help in the first place.”
“So if I want to try to convince my friend to stop it, is there a group that could be of help?”
“Well, you could put him in rehab, specially if he poses a danger to those around him. However, this will cost a good amount of money.”
“Ahh, so there are rehabs even if it is not against the law?”
“Well, some send their underage children who have developed this habit and sometimes their husbands or wives. If the person already poses a threat to himself and others, then of course they have to be helped.”
“Is this private?”
“There are private ones but those are expensive. Also, there are some government programs that are cheap but often they are unable to attend to all the needs”
“So could you give me some rehabs that you know of?”

Okay, this is the blah blah blah part. Like I really want to know about the rehab center! It seemed like the polite thing to do, and she did give a lot of time for someone who obviously had nothing better to do.


No, this blog is not a cry for help so you better not get any ideas! It just occurred to me that I haven’t had as much alcohol in me lately. Most of my drinking buddies have slowed down, and I guess having two jobs hasn’t given me too much time to spend downing bottles. So have I noticed anything different about myself since limiting my alcohol consumption? Not really. If anything, it seemed to have helped my appetite as I find myself getting hungry more often. Hmm, maybe I’ll help myself to a little drink later on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Do you not know
that in knowing is the hard part?
As certainty sets in
so soon you dare to doubt
what is not said
and what you know unawares.

When all is said
then less is known
as doubt sets in
with a careful tone
so soothing
yet doubt it you still
and are left unsure

Best to not know
and stick to the dreaming
of what you want to know.

I lie in wakened sleep
and dare to try
and make sense of
things that I don't dare know

Of this I'm sure

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And So I Did My Laundry

I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been trying for the past 2 hours but slumber has so far eluded me. I’m supposed to wake up in less than 3 hours and then drive 2 hours to Batangas and run/jog/walk 10 kilometers up and down a hilly terrain, so you could imagine how badly I need to sleep.

Maybe it’s a result of having slept through until lunch. But that was only a 5 hour nap so I should’ve been running on empty a few hours ago. And to think that I chugged 4 bottles of beer and 2 shots of brandy just this evening. I’ve even read a few pages of the books that I have just bought to no avail. Paging Mr. Sandman?

So after much frustration, I got up and opened my laptop. Figured that writing myself to sleep is worth a try. So let’s see if this works. And in the spirit of multi-tasking, you guessed it, I’m also doing my laundry.

Hmm, what to say what to say what to say? Shall I attempt poetry? Ahem…

At such ungodly hours I find

Myself thinking about nothing.

As nothing begets another in mind,

Unthoughts seemingly indeed unfascinating

What a load of crap. Though pretty boring, still did not even slightly move me closer to drowsiness. Oh well…


My dad, who I call by his first name, dropped by this afternon. No reason really, just wanted to have a little chat. It felt really weird that as the years go by he seems to get smaller and smaller. You see, in my childhood, he was a figure that was larger than life. Now that I’m all grown up and a little wiser, that image seems to fade as I discover the mortality of his person. Quite natural, I’ll bet, but it is a little sad that “super-dad” is slowly looking more and more like a real person. But granted that he is getting smaller, what he has been able to do is more than what I think I ever will in my lifetime.


For the past few weeks, I have been pining for a new home theater system. Nothing fancy, but it will still carve out a huge dent in my non-existent savings. So to be able to afford it, I have been stressing my ass off performing certain services for money. No, not whoring! (if only I were so lucky!) Can’t say actually but don’t worry, nothing illegal.

Anyway, the stress that I have been putting myself under is causing me to twitch every so often just recently. I did not know that stress was the most likely cause until Nolan told me. That information gave irony to what I was doing. The means to buy something that would take my stress away was actually causing stress? Damn.


Last night, I was talking to Ethel over the phone. I realize now that I was a bit too drunk for the duration of that call as I seem to remember bits of what my mouth involuntarily spewed out. Quite embarassing, really. So for the rest of the day, I have had this sneaking suspicion that despite the freezing temperatures in Illinois, Ethel is laughing her ass off at my expense.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I dream of rodents

A few nights back, I had a dream that I was talking to a mole about the pesky mouse that I was sharing my house with. So I looked up what this could mean… hmm


“…To dream that animals can talk, represents superior knowledge. Its message is often some form of wisdom. Alternatively, a talking animal denotes your potential to be all that you can be. …

To see a mole in your dream, represents destruction and unforeseen danger. You are secretly plotting against others or someone else is working against you. Someone around you may have their own hidden agendas. Alternatively, a mole is symbolic of your unconscious drives and things that are not on the surface. You need to go deeper and uncover what is going on….

To see mice in your dream, indicates that you are spending too much time dwelling on minor problems and insignificant matters.
To see mice feeding or eating, suggests that someone is trying to bring down your self-confidence. Some ruthless people are nipping away at your resources...”

Ahh… the plot thickens!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ang Pagtatanda ni Jepoy (Unang Yugto)

(Pasensya na, marami pang kelangan ayusin pero tinatamad pa ako, hehe)

Damang-dama ko pa ang mga pasa sa aking katawan kung saan ako tinamaan ng mga suntok at hampas ng aking ama-amahan. Hirap huminga at halos di ko maigalaw ang buong katawan sa sakit. Kaya tuwing malulubak o titigil ang bus ay halos himatayin ako at gusto na lamang humilata sa sahig. Katabi ko ang aking tiyahin na hindi ako kinikibo mula pa nung umalis kami sa bahay. Sa apat na oras na itinagal nitong biyahe ay minsan niya lang ako kinausap upang murahin para wag masyadong magalaw at naiirita daw siya. Malayo pala ang probinsya ng aking nanay, at may katagalan pa ang biyahe. Pinipilit ko na lang tiisin ang sakit ng katawan, mahigpit na hinahawakan ang likod ng upuan sa aking harapan para pigilan ang pag-aray.

Noong isang gabi, umuwi ako galing sa kasiyahan ng aking mga kabarkada. Ako ang pinaka-bata sa grupo, labing-apat na taon at katitigil lamang sa pag-aaral dahil sa sobrang baba ng mga marka sa paaralan. Palibhasa ay bangag sa paghithit ng rugby, halos magiba ko ang pinto ng aming gutay-gutay ng bahay nung ilang beses ko rin itong sinipa sa pagdadabog. Sinigaw ko ang aking pagkadismaya at pinagsarahan ako ng bahay, di iniintindi ang pagkahol ng mga aso sa paligid. Bigla na lamang bumukas ang pinto at nakita ko ang asawa ng aking ina na may hawak na tubo. Inisip kong tumakbo ngunit nangibabaw ang tapang at lalo ko siyang hinamon na pagbuhatan ako ng kamay. Kaya heto na at di halos makagalaw. Kung hindi siguro sa patuloy na pag-iyak at pag-awat ng aking nanay ay mas malala pa sana ang mga natamo, buti na lamang at hindi lasing ang gago dahil kung hindi ay pareho siguro kaming lumpo na ngayon ni nanay.

Kagabi lang ako kinausap ni nanay na pinadalhan na niya ng telegrama ang kanyang kapatid at pinakiusap na doon muna ako sa probinsya makiki-tira. Bukod daw sa nangyari noong gabing iyon ay natatakot din daw siya sa pagkawala ng trabaho ng kaniyang asawa. Madalas kasi pag walang kita ay napapa-inom ito at ako ang napagbubuntungan ng galit.. Ayaw ko pumayag at tinangka kong maglayas noong gabi ding yun. Sa kamalas-malasang pagkakataon ay nahuli ako ng ama-amahan ko sa kanto habang nakikipag-inom at nagulpi na naman sa pangalawang pagkakataon. Napuno ako ng poot para sa kanya ngunit hindi na nakaya ng aking katawan ang magpumiglas pa.

Noong umaga din na iyon ay dumating ang isa pang kapatid ng nanay ko upang ihatid ako sa probinsya. Iika-ika kong pinilit na maglakad na kinagalit ng aking tiya na nagmamadali at baka daw maiwanan pa kami ng bus. Dala ang isang bag na naglalaman ng mga damit, konting pera at ilang mga pansariling kagamitan, di ko tiyak kung hanggang kelan ako mamamalagi sa aking pinatutunguhan.

Gabi na noong nakarating kami sa bahay ng tiya ko. Unang pagkakataon ko pa lamang makarating sa kanilang barong-barong sa tabi ng malawak na sakahan. Mula pagbaba ng bus, kinailangan pa naming sumakay ng dyip at dalawang magkahiwalay na traysikel upang umabot dito. Lalong sumakit ang aking katawan at halos himatayin ako noong sinabi na sa wakas ay nakarating na kami. Pagpasok ko sa pintuan ay nakatitig sa akin ang lahat, puro pasa ang mukha, payat at pasan ang malaking bag na halos ay sumayad na sa lupa.

“Ikaw ba si JP?” Tanong ng babae na di ko nakikilala kung siya na nga ang panganay na kapatid ng aking nanay.


“Punyetang bata ka, pumunta ka na nga sa ate Puring at magmano ka, walang modo!” Sumbat ng isa kong tiya. Nilapitan ko ang babae at nagmano. Hindi siya tumayo mula sa papag na nagsisilbing upuan sa harap ng maliit na telebisyon. Sa lapag ay nakaupo ang dalawang binatilyo sa hula ko ang aking mga pinsan. Sa isang sulok ay isang babae na may karga-kargang sanggol.

“San mo balak pumuwesto matulog?” Tanong ni Tiya Puring.

“Ah e… kahit saan lang po.” Sagot ko habang napapa-tingin sa paligid. Bukod sa sulok sa may likod ng pinto o sa ilalim ng maliit na hapag ay mistulang wala na akong mapupuwestuhan.

“Maliit lang bahay namin, ewan ko nga ba at bakit pinadala ka pa dito ni Grasya. Kami pa lang nga hirap na sa pagkain susuksuk ka pa.”

“At paano, puro barkada at rugby lang ang inatupag niyan!” Tinitigan lang ako ni Tiya Puring mula ulo hanggang paa. Hindi ko alam ano gagawin at nakatayo lang ako sa bandang kanan niya. Napalingon siya sa telebisyon at ako ay nakalimutan panandali.

“Dito ka na sa tabi, sa may pinto. Matulog ka na at nang makapagpahinga.” Sabi ng isa kong tiya. Nakalimutan niya ata na di pa ako kumakain habang ngumunguya ng baong biskwit. Sumunod naman ako at hindi pa nag-iinit ang puwet sa pagkaupo ay tinamaan na bigla ng pagod at napahiga at nakatulog sa puwesto.

Ako ay nagising sa pag-alog ni Tiya Puring. Ang mga pinsan ko ay may kaniya-kanyang pwesto na sa lapag at may hawak na pinggang yari sa bakal na kulay arinola. Itinuro ng tiya ko ang hapag at ako raw ay kumain na. Bumangon ako sa pagkakahiga at mabagal na naglakad patungo sa kabilang banda ng bahay. May nakaupong mama sa kabisera ng hapag. Napatingin ito sa akin at ako ay natigilan.

“Ito ba ang disgrasya ni Grasya?”, sabay tingin kay Tiya Puring.

“Oo yan na nga. O Jepoy, mag-mano ka na muna kay Tiyo Koronel mo.” Inabot ko ang may kani-kaning kamay niya at nag-mano.

“O sige kain ka na. Pasensya ka na yan lang usong pagkain dito, ha.” Ang hapag ay nalatagan ng tatlong plato na naglalaman ng kanin na halos puro tutong ang pagkaluto, bagoong na pinigaan ng kalamansi, at ang natira sa dalawang lata ng sardinas. Bagama’t payak ay mistulang mas marami pa rin kaysa kinasanayan kong kanin, mantika at toyo sa aming sariling bahay. Dumampot ako ng plato at kumuha ng pagkain. “Magtira ka na lang ng konti para sa Kuya Nonoy mo. Pauwi na siguro iyon galing pasada.” Tumungo ako at pinigilan ang sarili sa pagdakma ng ikalawang piraso ng sardinas. Bumalik na ako sa inangkin na puwesto sa may pinto at naubos ang pagkain ng ilang dakot lamang.

“Tiya Puring, may tubig po ba kayo?” Ininguso niya ang banga na may gripo, dali-dali akong umabot ng baso at umigib ng tubig bago ako mamatay sa pagka-bilaok. Sa wakas nagkalaman din ang tiyan ko.

Tumayo si Tiyo Koronel at hinugasan ang kaniyang plato sa batya. Sinabihan ako na iwanan na lamang ang plato ko at baso sa tabi ng batya at ang ate Cora ko na daw ang maghuhugas. Inutusan niya ang sumunod sa panganay niyang anak na lalake, si Kuya Bebot, na mag-igib mula sa poso para sa banga at sa timba na gagamitin sa paghuhugas. Tumayo si kuya Bebot at kumuha ng dalawang malaking timba at lumabas. Si Tiyo Koronel naman ay lumabas at nagpaalam sa asawa na manghihiram ng araro sa isang kapitbahay.

Ang unang araw ko sa bahay nina Tiya Puring at Tiyo Koronel ay napuno ng pagmamasid lamang. Walang kumakausap sa akin at hindi rin naman ako kumikibo. Para lamang akong pusa o aso na nagawi sa bahay nila at sinusulyap-sulyapan lamang ng mga nakatira dito.

Si Tiya Puring ang panganay sa magkakapatid nina nanay. Sa maghapon ay puro gawaing bahay lamang ang inatupag mula sa pagpilili sa bigas, pagpa-kain sa mga alagang manok at isang baboy at paglilinis ng bahay at bakuran. Minsan ay lumalabas ito pag may nakikitang kapitbahay na nasa labas, makikipag-usap at magtatawanan tungkol sa bagong mga usap-usapan at tsismis. Bagama’t mukhang masungit ay di naman kinaliligtaan ang pag-alok ng pagkain sa tuwing naghahain para sa tanghalian, meryenda at hapunan. Sa mga patay na oras ay may paborito itong puwesto sa may sampayan sa labas kung saan siya naninigarilyo ng kaniyang Alhambra.

Si Kuya Nonoy ang panganay na anak at namamasada ng traysikel sa umaga at hapon, kasabay ng pasukan at uwian ng paaralan. Sa kalagitnaan ng araw ay umuuwi ito para kumain at matulog. Ang asawa niyang si Ate Cora naman ay abala sa paghuhugas ng mga pinggan at plato tuwing tapos ng kain at paglalaba sa may poso ng mga damit ng buong mag-anak. Habang abala sa mga gawain na ito ay nasa tabi lamang niya ang anak nilang si Jonjon na kundi tulog sa kanyang istroler ay sumususo sa kaniyang ina. Nakatira sila sa isang kuwarto sa likod ng bahay ngunit pag araw ay dito namamalagi upang manood ng telebisyon at tumambay.

Ang dalawang sumunod na mga anak ay sina Kuya Bebot at si Reynan. Dalawang taon ang tanda sa akin ni Kuya Bebot habang kasing edad ko naman si Reynan. Sa umaga ay pumapasok sila sa paaralan at pagdating ng tanghali ay nasa labasan na at naglalaro o kaya pinapatulong sa gawain sa bukid ni Tiyo Koronel.

Ang bahay ay maliit lamang, halos iilang dipa lamang ang nilaki sa aming bahay sa skwater sa tabi ng riles sa Maynila. Wala itong mga kwarto sa loob. Sa gitna ay isang papag na yari sa kawayan. Sa isang sulok ang munting telebisyon na nakakabit sa baterya ng trak. Sa sulok na nagsisilbing kusina ay isang hapag kainan na yari naman sa bakal ang natutupi nitong mga paa at ang ibabaw naman sa kahoy na dinamitan ng dalawang patong ng plastik. Ang kusina ay may lababo na naglalaman ng batya, may banga at timba sa sulok at ang mga plato, baso at kubyertos naman sa kabilang dulo. Ang pagluluto ay ginagawa sa labas. Ang gatong ay kadalasan mga bao ng niyog na pinatuyo o di kaya uling na nakatabi sa isang malaking sako. Sa likod ng bahay ay ang hiwalay na kuwarto ng mag-asawang kuya Nonoy at ate Cora. Hindi kalayuan dito ay ang kulungan ng nag-iisang inahen na baboy, katabi ng isang maliit na kubo na kung saan nakapuwesto ang inodoro at nagsisilbing paliguan na rin. Ang mga manok ay malayang lumilibot sa bakuran ngunit pag gabi ay umuuwi sa isang maliit na bahay. Sementado ang sahig ng bahay, ngunit ang mga pader ay hindi pinalitadahan at ang bubong ay mga retasong yero. Gawa sa kahoy ang mga bintana na binubuksan kapag araw at nakasara sa gabi at dahil walang kuryente ang purok na ito, gasera o kaya de baterya ang kanilang mga ilaw.

Sa mga sumunod na araw ay nararamdaman ko ang pagka-buro sa bahay. Kaya pagka-hapon ay sumasama ako sa dalawa kong pinsan na maglibot. Kadalasan ay dinadalaw nila ang bahay ng isa nilang kaklase upang maglaro ng basketbol. May kalayuan din ito at bagamat ilang pilapil ang daraanan at tatawid ng isang batis ay tiniya-tiyaga nila ito para manood ng Slam Dunk sa telebisyon sa bahay ng kaklase at matapos ay maglaro ng basketbol, pilit ginagaya ang mga napanood. Minsan ay niyayaya nila ako makisama kapag kulang sila sa manlalaro ngunit madalas ay naglalakad lakad lang ako sa paligid, nagmamasid sa mga tao.

Isang beses ay sumama ako sa kanilang dalawa sa paliguan. Dito nila hilig maligo at lumangoy kapag mainit ang panahon. Natuklasan ko dito ang mga tulya na nakatira sa buhangin na nasa ilalim ng tubig. Sa pamamagitan ng pag-iipit sa mga maliliit na tulya na ito sa daliri ng mga paa ay nakakuha ako ng higit yata sa dalawang kilo. Gamit ang suot kong kamiseta ay inuwi ko ang mga ito at nang makita ni Tiyo Koronel ay niluto ang mga ito. Nabusog kaming lahat sa tulya na sinawsaw sa bagoong at kalamansi at mula noon ay gumaan ang loob ni Tiyo Koronel sa akin. Dahil dito ay napadalas ang aking pag-uwi ng mga matutuklasang pagkain. Mula sa kangkong sa mga paboritong pinagbababaran ng kalabaw, kuhol na hinuhuli kapag sumama ako sa Tiyo ko sa pagtatrabaho o mga papaya at langka na pinababayaan lamang sa mga gilid ng kabukiran, ginamit ko ito upang matuwa sa akin ang aking Tiyo at Tiya. Kapalit nito ay tinuring na rin ako tulad ng isa na nilang anak na labis ko naman na ikinatuwa.

Lingid sa aking kaalaman ay hindi pala lahat ay natutuwa sa akin sa bahay na iyon. Ang mga kabutihang ginagawa ko ay nagdudulot pala ng inggit at pagkainis sa dalawa kong kasing-edad na pinsan dahilan sa mas madalas na silang pagsabihan at pagalitan ng kanilang ama’t ina. Mabilis nang napupuna ang kanilang katamaran at paglalakwatsa nang walang katuturan at madalas ay ihambing sila sa akin na dapat daw ay tularan nila. Dahil sa inggit at pagkainis na ito ay hanggang sa lampas ng konti sa isang taon lang pala ako maninirahan sa bahay na iyon.

Ilang araw matapos manganak ang inaheng baboy ni Tiyo Koronel ay nakapulot ng tare na ginagamit sa panabong na manok si Reynan. Ito ang kaniyang naging paboritong laruan at kaniyang ginagamit sa paglalaro sa mga palaka, butiki at kung ano ano pang mga hayop ang kaniyang naaabutan. Sa isang pagkakataon habang ako ay pumipitas ng alatiris sa puno ng kapitbahay ay napansin ko na nakawala ang isa sa mga biik mula sa kanilang kulungan. Sinundan ko ito ng tingin maglakad hanggang sa may gilid ng bukid kung saan naglalaro si Reynan ng palihim gamit ang tare. Nung lapitan siya ng ligaw na biik ay kinuha niya ito at kitang-kita ko na ginilitan sa leeg. Tawang-tawa si Reynan sa humihinang pagpupumiglas ng kawawang biik at hinayaan itong tuluyang mamatay bago itinapon sa gitna ng palayan. Bigla akong tumalon pababa ng puno at sinugod si Reynan na hawak hawak pa ang duguang tare. Nagulat siya sa mabilis kong pagsugod at di na siya naka-iwas pa sa aking suntok. Nabitawan niya ang laruan habang pasabunot ko siya hinila papunta sa bahay at isinumbong sa kanyang nanay.

Magkahalong bugbog at mura ang inabot niya sa mga magulang dahil sa pagpatay sa biik na magiging puhunan sana para sa binyag ni Jonjon. Kahit ang pagmamakaawa ni kuya Bebot para sa kaniyang kapatid ay hindi pinansin, bagkus ay nadamay pa siya bilang masamang halimbawa para sa mas nakababatang kapatid. Nanahimik na lamang ako habang lahat ng ito ay nanyayari, bumalik ang mga alaala nung ako ay nasa Maynila pa. Kung alam ko lang na ganoon ang kahihinatnan ay di ko na sana siya isinumbong at pagsasabihan ko na lamang siya.

Lumipas ang ilang buwan mula noong pangyayari pero ang alaala ni Reynan at kuya Bebot sa aking pagsusumbong ay sariwa pa sa kanilang mga isipan. Isang araw matapos akong mangolekta ng mga kuhol ay niyaya ako nung dalawa na tumulong sa pag-kuha ng kahoy sa bundok para ulingin. Iniutos daw sa kanila yun ni Tiyo Koronel. May dala silang mga gamit at sinabing pati gamit ko raw ay dala na rin nila. May kalayuan din kasi ang pinag-kukunan ng kahoy kaya kailangan ay may baon na dala. Sumama ako sa pagiisip na inutos nga iyon ng Tiyo ko at iniwan ko na lamang ang mga kuhol sa kusina. Nagsimba noong araw na iyon ang dalawang mag-asawa at kaming tatlo lamang ang nasa bahay.

Ilang oras ang nakalipas bago kami nakarating sa bundok. Magdidilim na noon at kinabahan na ako na baka tuluyan na kaming gabihin. Di ko rin kabisado ang mga dinaanan namin kaya sumusunod lang ako sa magkapatid. Tumigil kami sa magubat na bahagi ng bundok at nagulat na lamang ako noong maglabas sila ng mga pamalo sa kanilang dalang bag. Pinagtulungan nila ako sa kadiliman at ako’y wala nang nagawa. Tuluyan akong nawalan ng malay sa dami ng tinamong tama sa ulo at nagising na lang ako sa iba pang lugar, mas magubat at nakatali sa isang puno sa gilid ng bangin. Sa aking palagay ay mga hatinggabi na noong nagkamalay ako at ang laking takot ko sa iba’t ibang ingay ng mga hayop na pumapalibot sa akin. Wala na akong nagawa kundi umiyak at humingi ng saklolo, ngunit walang sumasagot. Ilang oras ang nakalipas at ako’y tuluyan nang napagod at nakatulog sa pagkakagapos.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Murphy’s Attack: Day Five of the Drunken New Year Adventure

January 3, 2009

All four of us woke up late on the third day of the year. Whether it was the cold, vodka or Archie’s Tinola, it was evident that May and Jane missed the bus that they were not going to ride. It was the last day of our adventure, and already we were dreading the return to work on Monday. We sluggishly packed up our things, wearily lounged around the house and waited for everyone to be ready to hit the road.

We went to Café by the Ruins for a very late brunch. Midway through the meal, friends arrived. Another group of 4 people who have also made an adventure of the start of the year, actually tracing the same highway that Archie and I had traveled, catching up with us at last here in Baguio.

Come to think of it, this whole trip was actually borne out of a meeting between Archie and 3 of the members of this group. Leo, Fritzie and Majo were at the Gateway Mall when Archie came up with the proposal for the road trip to Pagudpud which was our back-up plan to the original Batad nature trip. The only issue was the timing. Archie wanted to stick with the original plan of spending the eve of the new year away from it all while the 3 of them preferred to start the trip on the day of the new year. The result was a split, 2 separate groups with the same ultimate destination but different schedules and itineraries. Both groups were supposed to meet up in Pagudpud, but that did not happen because of schedule problems. So the only feasible meeting place was in Baguio, but nothing definite was planned.

So both groups met at the Café by the Ruins finally, and it lasted for less than an hour. As we were all ready to head out to Manila after the meal and catch up with some social obligations, the other group were barely in town and needed to stay to enjoy the sights, temperature and wares the city had to offer.

And so early in the afternoon, we started our trip to Manila.

The trip was generally uneventful for most of the way. A lot of jokes, songs and stories were exchanged. A few short stops, the first at Rosario, La Union for restroom breaks and cigarettes and the next at Paniqui, Tarlac for snacks. We had taken shortcuts through vast expanses of ricefields and farm to market roads to make the trip quicker and with less traffic.

Twilight caught us on the inroad to the SCTEX, and we were making great time. However, Murphy caught up with us right in the middle of the new highway. Doing 100kph on the SCTEX, our rear tire suddenly burst. Fortunately, control of the car was not compromised and we were able to move to the shoulder safely for a tire change. It was pretty routine, up until I discovered a disturbing occurrence. Inspection the burst tire, the aluminum rim that the rubber tires were mounted on was losing a fairly large chunk. To make matters worst, the spare wasn’t inflated up to the required pressure and that meant I had to nurse the car until I could get more pressure into the spare.

A patrol from the SCTEX management appeared to make sure that we as well as the other passing traffic were safe. We explained what happened and cautioned about the missing pieces of the aluminum rim which might cause damage to other vehicles. Responsibly, they searched for the missing pieces and when they did find it, caught up with us and gave us the missing pieces. Looking at the 2 separate chunks of metal alloy, I couldn’t help but wonder if the damage was caused by all the stresses imposed upon the rim by the journey. And if so, does that mean that the other 3 rims were compromised as well?

And then another problem emerged, the short cuts we took, though faster, also took its tool on our gasoline consumption and now, the warning light glowed once again. So nursing the car by driving at the minimum speed limit on the highway, I was thinking that one, I did not have another spare, second, will the other 3 rims give as well, and last, if I had not judged the distance correctly, we might run out of gasoline. Murphy was celebrating!

So we limped in at the first gas station that we encountered on the NLEX and had solved two of the three problems I was concerned with. Fortunately, Murphy hadn’t shown himself again after that. Just in the nick of time, we were able to reach Quezon City, and put a close to our New Year Celebrations.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Archie’s Tinola: Day Four of the Drunken New Year Adventure

January 2, 2009

It was a cold day in Baguio and everyone decided to sleep in. I was the earliest to go to bed, hence I woke up first to find leftovers from a drinking spree the night before. Having nothing to do and fearing eviction from such wonderful, and best of all, free accommodations, I started cleaning up. I was washing the dishes, extremely mindful of the cold cold water running from the faucet when Archie and Jane also woke up and started cleaning up as well. Pretty soon it was all finished and we started lounging around the living area, with our faces buried in the glow of laptops.

I guess all of us didn’t mind staying in as we have all had our fair share of what Baguio offered in the past. Archie tinkered with Jane’s awesome mp3 collection of the best Disney movie themes, hardcore videoke classic OPMs and ultimate power ballads on her hard drive, obviously impressed with her taste in great music! Archie, not one to be left behind, also bedazzled the room with classic Pantera, Metallica and Alice in Chains anthems, interspersed with hard hitting riffs from the likes of Clair Marlo, and several Japanese pop icons.

And so most of the afternoon was spent doing nothing but listening to Archie’s pint-sized speakers and talking about a range of topics from the mundane to the even more mundane.

I remember having suggested that I was craving for Tinola, and Archie gamely volunteered to do the cooking, obviously to impress on everyone his above average culinary skills, thus proving that Ateneans not only are able to rant about the uncanny weight of the common papaya, but are also able to make a meal out of it, too! So late in the afternoon, the whole gang finally got off their asses and made a trip to the market to justify the killing of a perfectly innocent chicken for human sustenance.

The marketplace was packed with people that you could drop a pin and it would never reach the floor. Ingredients were bought: spring chicken, ginger, papaya, and whatever else made up Tinola. I bought broccoli while May and Jane picked strawberries from a pile. There was also the hypnotic appeal that somehow brooms had on Archie and me in the middle of the market. We stood there swallowing the vendor’s sales pitch hook, line and sinker. We didn’t want to leave, it was all wonderful, we wanted it so! Unfortunately, we couldn’t have it. We had to let it all go and stick to the food.

Loot in hand, we went back to May’s apartment. Appetizers went out, strawberry fondue and broccoli. Archie lovingly cared for his Tinola, making sure that it received enough attention and very careful not to overcook it. You see, Archie is quite superstitious about these things. Last year, I was with Archie on lonely Potipot Island to celebrate the start of the year, he was cooking up something then as he is now. Turns out, he had undercooked it back then, and his year ended up in a culinary fiasco, either bitter to taste or sorely undercooked. Understanding his obsession to get his cooking right this time, I supported him all the way, knowing fully that this was something he wanted to end up perfectly.

And so finally, he laid out his Tinola on the table, and it was a resounding success. All the ingredients seemed to match each other perfectly, and the textures and tastes were exquisite! Archie was ecstatic deep down inside and secretly hoped that this would be his year at last!

Achie’s Tinola success was celebrated with Vodka later that night. Chomping on left over bagnet and tuna, all of us, with the exclusion of the hard working May, let our minds expand, tackling topics such as Relativistic Physics, the absurdity of religion and, of course, the dreaded love. Obviously, such topics were too much for a single bottle of vodka so I made a run for another bottle while picking May up on her lunch break. And as I paid for the vodka while carelessly flirting with the clerk at 7-11, I couldn’t help but wonder if it will indeed be the year of Archie, picturing him pounding on his chest as all the months of the year swing by, hollering our new found motto.

Murphy Rears His Ugly Head: Day Three of the Drunken New Year Adventure

January 1, 2009

Pagudpud was all that we expected it to be. Great beaches, strong winds and one heck of a journey! But there was more, as we woke up to stronger winds and dark clouds. The rain was pouring in all conceivable directions as I pondered the possibility of being stuck here as the threat of landslides and our car being stuck in the mud came as a possibility.

We claimed our complimentary breakfast at the restaurant. People began to come in, obviously a bit tired from the night’s festivities. Afterwards, Archie took out his trusty snorkel and goggles and decided to brave the waves to check out the marine life. I tagged along, hoping to take some pictures. I had earlier wanted to do some jogging but decided against it. I was in for a long drive ahead and didn’t want to risk cramping up. We walked along the coast to more hospitable beachfronts and found killer waves crashing violently on the shores. Archie braved the first of the waves, but found himself in a frenzy trying not to get sucked into deeper waters. The weather made the beach treacherous and so that was that.

After some further exploration of the cove and some pictures, we trudged back to the resort, battling the rains and the winds along the way. It was close to 10:00 and we had better be on our way. The next destination was Baguio City, to meet up with some friends of mine, May and Jane who spent the holidays cooped up in May’s apartment there.

Once again, we were back in the car and off to another place in as many days. Shortly upon leaving Pagudpud town, the clouds suddenly disappeared and the sun was forcing us to squint for vision, seems like Murphy had shown up in Pagudpud!

First of the scheduled stops we had pre-decided upon was the famed lighthouse. Excellent photo opportunity of the structure as well as the view of the northern coast. I remember cursing Archie for making me trek uphill through a dangerous and slippery trail when lo and behold, there was a concrete stairway leading all the way up to the peak. MoFo!

Laoag was host to lunch. Nothing fancy, and real cheap! We somewhat walked through the center of the city, snapping photos of historical and significant monuments and buildings. Impressively clean, well planned and with polite and friendly citizens, definitely one of my top five favorite cities in the country!

We returned to Vigan prepared with our shopping list. Archie bought a T-shirt, I some refrigerator magnets plus a rice-cake dessert that doubled as a weapon of self defense. Of course, we just had to get a kilogram of bagnet which will serve as a bribe to our Baguio hostesses. Hahaha! At this point, we were both already closely watching our budgets. We were almost out of free booze and with 2 more nights to go, getting drunk in some bar might just overstretch our resources.

Loaded with our bribes, we hit the road amidst the twilight for the summer capital. We figured we could have dinner in San Fernando, La Union and then be at Baguio by 9:00 before May would leave for work at 10:00. The road was pretty dark before we left Ilocandia and we discovered that Murphy had some surprises for us.

The first was our brush with Murphy’s bicycle. Charging through the 2-lane national highway at 80kph, the monotony of the drive was harshly interrupted by the faintest and lucky glimpse of Murphy riding his bicycle with nary a reflector to give us an inkling of his presence. I hit the brakes hard and swerved towards the center of the road, just barely missing the oncoming traffic on the other side. Archie was furious (and suddenly awake) and I had decreed that all bicycles were to be banned on national roads starting on the first day of my eventual presidency of the republic! As if that were not enough to remind us that he was hot on our trail, Murphy also sent his demon canine after us. Still on the national road just on the outskirts of San Juan, La Union, Murphy’s dog suddenly decided to slowly cross. I caught him in my headlights just in the nick of time as I jumped on the brakes and skidded all over the asphalt! This clever canine deviously calculated the exact moment when he would safely jump out of our terribly compromised path and we were again just lucky enough to have found ourselves alone on the highway. Stupid son of a bitch!

We took our break in San Fernando City, opting for Jollibee as Happy Tummy was already closed for the night. There was a choice to be made if we should take the more treacherous Naguilian passage or the safer but further Marcos Highway. We decided upon the Naguilian route as we wanted to do good on our 9:00 deadline. This was more treacherous in the sense that the road was narrower and the hairpins were tighter and more numerous. This time, Murphy sent his drunken minions against us. They heckled us by walking on the road at least 3 abreast and taunting us with their non-linear and erratic movement.

We finally arrived in the city, and felt our way to May’s apartment. Still smarting from Murphy’s antics, we became irritable and immediately abused our hosts’ hospitality by forcing them to yield their couch and imposing our will upon the refrigerator and cupboards. May and Jane just didn’t stand a chance against our combined green and blue double assault. I pity the fools!

A New Frontier for a New Year: Day Two of the Drunken New Year Adventure

December 31, 2008

Somehow I awoke pretty early despite going to bed really late. At five o’clock, I was staring at the ceiling and having a cigarette for breakfast. Archie was still asleep on the other side of the room and I was waiting until 7:30 to wake him up. The cognac was gone and the restaurant wouldn’t be open until 7:00 for our complimentary breakfast. So there was really nothing to do. Oh well.

The day really started with the breakfast. We wanted to be off pretty early so that we could arrive in Pagudpud while it was daytime. The trip would take us to the very heart of Ilocandia, including some interesting spots along the way.

By this point, we had a chance to sample the trip in broad daylight for the first time over a distance that was relatively unfamiliar to the both of us. Vigan was our scheduled first stop, a chance to get some photographs as well as grab some lunch. We arrived just in time, around 11:00 and had a chance to roam around the cobblestone laid street and take a look at the wares displayed by the numerous stores lining it before Café Leona opened for lunch. Lunch consisted of some Ilocano treats, including a serving of really small fish (looked like alamang, really) which was quite tasty on rice. Then there was okra, our pinakbet was just full of it. Why this is a regional favorite, I’ll never understand. Something that slimy just doesn’t do it for me.

After lunch, we were off to our ultimate destination, Pagudpud! Judging from the maps, the trip was to be a good four hours, not enough time for any more long stops. It was also at this point that we finished off a CD with a shitload of mp3s, and we ended up listening to my Taken by Cars CD over and over and over again.

We passed through the rest of Ilocos Sur and reached Ilocos Norte, the farthest north that I have driven so far. Surprisingly, unlike Ilocos Sur, the roads were in excellent condition further north. We passed through Laoag City, taking note of some sights that we could take photos of on the trip back. Our next stop was at a viewing post for the Wind Farm. Hurray for renewable energy! This was the perfect prelude for the continuous gusts that we were to experience from hereon.

The winding roads leading to Pagudpud took up a lot of petrol, causing me to miscalculate as we ran dangerously low on fuel with about 40 kilometers to go. The small town feel gave me some fears about not being able to find a gas station further down the road just as the warning light glowed on the instrument panel. Bummer. Turns out, a few kilometers further were 2 gasoline stations, the last for the next 30 kilometers to Pagudpud town. Whew.

Relying on information from RJ and Kim who havev already been there, resorts abound on the Saud Beach front but were non-existent on the more challenging and unspoiled Blue Lagoon. So we headed first to Saud, planning to hit the Blue Lagoon early the next morning. We found a relatively affordable resort in Vista Del Mar, I think it was named. The place reminded me of the many resorts you would find easily accessible in Batangas,lots of people, tourists and kids running around on the densely populated beaches. We had decided to stay here, though until we arrived upon some interesting information: there were resorts at the Blue Lagoon after all! Needless to say, we quickly got out of there after asking for directions and some details from their staff.

The drive to the Blue Lagoon was both exciting and nervous. There were no directions posted save for a crude street map we memorized posted at Villa Del Mar which did not help all too much. We relied on asking locals and sheer intuition to get to a long, winding and unfinished road leading to the hidden cove of the Blue Lagoon. When we got there, we discovered why both our sources were unsure if there were any resorts, the resorts were further down a small dirt road leading to a rugged part of the cove. We checked in at the Kapuluan Vista Resort, a villa inspired gem that was not only affordable, but had decent amenities and a good restaurant. We immediately settled in by having coffee at the restaurant and a chance to check out the clientele. The resort was booked with friends of the owners who decided to celebrate the coming of the new year together with their families. We were informed that they were offering a buffet as well as a fireworks display later on in the evening.

Evening found us downing beers at the restaurant while waiting for the buffet to be ready. It finally was four beers after, and it was a belly buster! 3 different kinds of pasta and fish fillet were served along with a gourmet-looking cilantro soup and buttered bread. We could barely walk back to our room. Then came the long wait for the midnight fireworks display promised us. While waiting, we decided to break open our next bottle, scotch whiskey while music-tripping to some heavy rock. We were chanced upon by the owner, who looked youngish for such a resort and were invited back to the restaurant and wait there. So we took our bottle back to the restaurant and chatted a bit with the polite and pretty staff.

The fireworks display was a fitting for the occasion as no expense was spared and we thanked our fortunes for another great beginning to the new year!

A Long Drive and a Long Walk: Day One of the Drunken New Year Adventure

December 30, 2008

Rise and… holy shit, it’s just past midnight. With just under 2 hours of solid sleep, I woke up finding that I haven’t a thing packed yet. Not really a good start to what is going to be a 5 day, 4 night New Year’s road trip. I texted my navigator/buddy, Archie, that I was going to pick him up around 2am but got no reply though. Figured he was still asleep, no worries.

I started to pack, getting my clothes right off the clothesline. Yeah, I just did the laundry that previous morning as I found that I was running dangerously low on clothes. Stuffed them in my travel bag along with some toiletries and proceeded to make some sandwiches for the trip ahead.

I got to Archie’s place around a quarter to 2. We had that last mug of coffee first to clear any cobwebs then started on our journey. We took the drive to the north. First through the NLEX, then SCTEX. That went by quite uneventfully, the very early morning brought us only the scarcest of traffic. Sunrise caught us taking a break, sandwiches and juice at the 7-11 at Urdaneta in Pangasinan. Approximately halfway to our halfway destination. Of course, with the light came traffic. Tricycles plying the national highway often impeded our progress throughout the trip but we were able to maintain our (leisurely) pace and got to San Juan, La Union around 8:00 in the morning.

We were supposed to check in at some German place, but when we got there what seemed like the person in charge was pretty unwelcoming and told us they were full. No wonder there was no one in the whole inn. Duh. So we went next door, Scenic View Tourist Inn where we found more affordable rates and friendlier people. Go Pinoy!

We went up to our rooms and slept. Zzzz.

It was almost lunchtime when we woke up and pondered on what to do. We looked up some places in San Fernando City that we could see but we soon found out that our sense of direction was close to non-existent. We did find the Happy Tummy, a sort of Chowking rip off but with better prices. I had a Halo-halo despite my coughing fit. Yummy! After walking around the market and checking out some pirated DVDs that were on display, we went back to the inn and went to the beach. I didn’t swim though, perish the thought of me getting a terrible fever and being stuck in that place until the new year! Just went around and took pictures, and attempted to practice my golf swing. Too bad there were a lot of people around, besides the great possibility of hitting someone with a bad shot, I didn’t want to humiliate myself in front of everybody by swinging and missing terribly!

As the light was fading, we went back in and celebrated with a bottle of fine cognac and chicken adobo which we brought for the trip. Then I did something stupid… we seemingly ran out of cigarettes so I volunteered to run to the corner store to buy some. It was closed when I got there, but I thought there would probably be a store open along the highway, after all it was only past nine o’clock. I walked to the highway, all drunk and determined to smoke. There wasn’t much light, but I thought there should be a store not too far away that was open. Looking left, there was a bridge. That wouldn’t do, I hated walking on bridges and was afraid of heights too. So I went to the right, trudging on the dusty shoulder numb to all the vehicles of all sizes that zoomed along. In my state of drunkenness, I failed to realize that I had already walked quite a distance. I was deep into my daydreaming and was oblivious of both time and distance. When at last I got to a store, I turned around to find a sign that told me I was a kilometer away from where I started! When you think about it, the kilometer long walk wasn’t that bad, but it does start to suck when you realize that you have to walk another kilometer back to where you started. Sheesh. Funny thing was, turns out that we weren’t out of cigarettes as Archie found a pack of it the next morning. Hahaha, very funny 2008.