Dear Inday : haere mai, mabuhay & welcome 2 New Zealand!

hello brave new world !

[ Note : Inday is not the most flattering of Pinay names, but we can’t deny it’s a term of endearment.  We originally meant this for a particular person coming to these shores soon, but it’s applicable to every new wife assimilating herself to a strange new world because of her Kiwi husband.  Thanks for reading, and happy birthday to kabayan Mr Ariel Alvaran ! ]

Dear Inday :

KIWI MEN like to sweep their girlfriends off their feet, but are as down-to-earth as the prospective providers that they aspire to be.  They have an eye for beauty (otherwise, how did he notice you?) but love to work with their tools, their muscles, and the rough brown earth.  They love their life partners and relatives fiercely, but won’t mince words to correct wayward ways.  To say the least, New Zealand males are a study in contrasts.

But where are my manners?  I’m so happy your arrival to Wellington is imminent, I’m so happy that you’re starting a new life with your Kiwi love, and I’m so happy that you’re ready for everything with uncritical, open eyes !

That’s too many happys in one sentence, but there’s no overstating the moment.  You can expect, as I’m sure you will agree, a 180 degree turn in prospects, lifestyle and attitudes in New Zealand.  It’s not just the scenery and the standard of living, but the culture shock, the multiracial demographics, and the thousand-and-one adjustments you will make.

Coupled with this is getting used to living with someone now, as you are also recently married to someone outside our culture.  I am sure you have emotionally and psychologically prepared yourself for that, and the fact that you love each other very much is no doubt a big help.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the white people around you.  Well, they may or may not overwhelm you, but they did me, so that’s what I’m telling you first.  It’s like there’s a surplus of blond hair, blue eyes and statuesque height all around, like the characters you saw on TV and the movies are now in 3D.  They are people just like you and me, fart belch and pick their noses (when no one else is around) but happen to be a little better on the eyes.  It takes a little getting used to, like…

the dollars and cents, the sales, and the staple food. Get used to them, too.  As little as NZ$50 will buy you two bags of groceries, good enough for your beau and yourself for the better part of a week, quite unsettling when you consider the four-digit pamalengke for medium-sized families back home..  Both supermarkets and department stores also hold giant sales almost every month, the competitors just taking turns so they don’t overlap, don’t try to buy everything in sight.  Bread and meat are the staples here, although lots of Kiwis have become health enthusiasts picky about their food.  Don’t worry about your rice and Asian spices, there are Asian stores in every city.

Getting a job.  You will find it convenient and practicable, as long as you and Kiwi hubby aren’t starting a family asap.  You will need to supplement his budget, because Kiwis are quite disciplined savers, like to get value for money and, to be diplomatic about it, are very equal-opportunity when it comes to sharing expenses around the house.  On your side, you will want to send money home to the folks and siblings too, you want some spare bills and coins for your little pleasures, and sometimes you’ll have erratic cravings for bagoong, longganisa and chichirya that he won’t understand.  Buying them with your own money forestalls any guilt feelings about using his.

you can be warmly dressed and remain fashionable.  Nine months out of 12 in Wellington, Christchurch or even in Auckland, you need warm clothing, and the warmest NZ day is still the coldest 5 percent of days in a year back home.  But you don’t have to sacrifice looking smart and sexy, with all the cool autumn and winter fashions available.  You might even suppress laughing to know that kids sizes are quite accommodating to many Asian women, Pinays certainly included.  This means you get them at lower prices, and if you don’t mind pre-loved wear, the opportunity shops (or op shops) are also good alternatives.  Bottom line is you will continue to look trendy, desirable and  eye candy to your man, without serious damage to his wallet (and yours).

If all forms of entertainment fails and you’re still lonesome for home, just remind yourself that there is a robust Pinoy community in almost every major population center in NZ, you just need to reach out and touch someone.  Church groups are the natural places Pinoys gravitate to, and Pinoy Masses are at least once a month throughout big parishes in Auckland and Wellington.  There are Pinoy groups that celebrate Independence Day, Sinulog, even Simbang Gabi and other well-loved Philippine traditions.  The way the global barangay is growing, you will never run out of townmates, kabayan and kapamilya.  There’s even a Filipino channel available for you and hubby to subscribe to.

All in all, you are going to have a wonderful stay here in NZ, but home will always be where the heart is.  Best wishes to you and hubby, and cheers and mabuhay to a wonderful life together!

Kabayan Noel

belated happy birthday Jen Chan !

belated happy birthday (22nd March) Ms Jennifer Chan !

anyone who laughs at your corny jokes regularly has to be on top of your list of good guys 🙂

If you agree with that, then Jen has to be very near the top, as she always found our jokes funny, although she might have been polite majority of the time.

Seriously, we’ve only been classmates with her once in high school, but together with her equally convivial sis Steph, have been a constant source of mirth, friendship and bonding almost three decades thereafter.

Which only makes us guiltier we missed her birthday last week.

I hope the weather in Canada isn’t as forbidding as we Asians imagine it to be, regards to your wonderful family, and many happy returns dear friend !


Lighter sole, gladder soul

[ Note : Length warning : this is an extra long blog, belated happy birthday to kabatch Jenn Chan ! woo-hoo!]

IN THE END, I had to insist that he accept the shoes; that I had so many other pairs they gave me only marginal benefit per additional pair.  He found it  hard to believe that I was giving him hardly used, decent kicks just because.

Bottom line was, I couldn’t bear to see a fellow runner run in shoes that gave him blisters that would or wouldn’t have eventually bothered him, but given the frigid autumn nights, the roughly 7 km distance between the mill and his house, and the disturbing guilt-ridden reality that I had good shoes and was biking home, it only made me feel worse.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The pic you see above is one of I think 15 pairs of Nikes i own, it’s probably fair to say I conceal a shoe fetish particularly of Nike runners, but I need to qualify that.  To varying distances and degrees, I run whenever time and the weather allow, flat feet and awkward gait wear out a pair rather quickly, so I tend to alternate shoes the way a woman does, keep a sharp eye open for sales and outlet stores, and simply put, I like shoes.

[This was a remnant of our basketball days in good old St Jude Catholic, when every self-respecting basketball junkie wouldn’t be caught without adidas, Converse, Pumas or other  Eighties icons of athletic wear.  But the coolest and newest thing were the Nike swooshes that came out of nowhere and swept every would-be skywalker, no-look passer and behind-the-back dribbler off their collective feet.  Wear those Nikes and you were THE MAN, oohs and aahs were paid as tribute even before the opening buzzer sounded. As only the most privileged and serious shoe enthusiasts could afford the Nikes, we could only admire from afar.  They also doubled as effective distractions that kept defenders of Nike-adorned scorers focused on the neat swooshes until the latter scored unmolested under the goal.]

Back to 2012. Recently a Maori temp’s been doing  the late afternoon to evening shift at the packing machines alongside our mill.  You pack flour into 20kg bags, probably 20 pallets in 90 minutes between breaks, that’s around 20 tons passing through your hands, arms and shoulders  four times a shift.  You have to be strong and quick, not to mention durable.  It’s an unenviable job I personally wouldn’t choose to do because I once had to fill in for someone calling sick, and I was sore for two days.

The temp was around my size but didn’t have an ounce of fat on him, I kid you not.  It’s like he had no patience to waste on anything other than hard bone and toned muscle; every joule was going to be spent on expending useful activity.  The trouble was he looked gaunt and underfed as well, of course I wasn’t gonna tell him that; Maoris are known to be as proud as they are self-effacing, in the same way Asians are self-deprecating and deferential almost to a fault.

Every teatime I would bring out my fruit, sandwich, rice meal  and sometimes a chocolate bar that I swiped from Mahal’s stash.  In contrast, he would have coffee, coffee and coffee.  Did I mention that he would have coffee for lunch?  I think I offered him some of my food once, the way Filipinos do to whoever they encounter in the smoku (breaktime) room as a common courtesy, only I really meant it, as he looked like he needed a little snack.  Each time he would give me a curt shake of the head or a short but polite “no”, no shrug of the shoulders or forlorn look that would betray the involuntary fast from reinvigorating nourishment.  For some obvious reason (that I certainly wasn’t gonna mention), he wasn’t bringing baon or food to work, and he wasn’t accepting charity, no matter what I said about Pinoy traditions about sharing.

If I may, let me get back to Maoris.  One of the catchphrases I’ve heard about them is Maori, loud and proud.  They don’t say this for nothing.  They are very proud of their history and culture, sure some of them  think they don’t need to pay taxes to government, and sure some of them prefer to stay unemployed and rely on the benefit, but on the whole Maoris live by a strong work ethic and place high value on families and love for country.  My new workmate was no exception.

The fact that someone at work had a much harder job than mine, had a very humble food budget (none except for a dollar or two at the vending machine after payday), and didn’t look like he had much better at home evidently wasn’t reason enough for anyone, much less me, to be a crybaby. A job was a job was a job, if anything the hard work must’ve inspired him to transcend his relatively Spartan lot in life.

My temporary bisor didn’t help matters.  Subbing a few weeks for SuperBisor who was giddy with his newfound love in our very own homeland, he studiously avoided not only the new guys but anyone who didn’t share his accent and pay grade.  I didn’t want to make him look worse so I made it a point to stay friendly enough with the temps, but respected their space otherwise.

Getting home however was another kettle of fish.  SupeBisor offered rides in his papogi  Mazda (but not for long, twas probably gonna be a family car) to anyone who was caught on the wrong end of the shift roster without hesitation, and it was a few awkward moments every night before the carless guys, Maori temp almost always included, accepted his generous offer, generous especially when the nippy winds were encouraging upturned collars and stretched hoodies.

But SuperBisor was gone for the next four weeks, there were no cars on the parking lot after 4 pm, and the bus stop was empty except for scowling owls and indifferent lizards after the clock struck eleven, which depressingly was just minutes before our shift ended.

and don't forget it's nighttime :(

except for the fact that he was wearing shorts, this was how Maori Temp looked, somewhat

I had my ever-reliable bike, and I had hoped everyone had their rides organized, but Maori Temp was methodically strapping on his combat boots and backpack, all dressed up with nowhere to go.  I was afraid to ask and had an inkling of how he was going home, but asked anyway.

Am running home bro, it’s good exercise and I’ll be home within an hour.

I knew where home was, a good two hours’ walk as the crow flies. But in the middle of 12 degree weather?  And at night?  Even makunat Pinoys like me loved to pinch a penny and stay fit in one swing, but I wasn’t pushing it.

Don’t you have a ride?  Are you sure it’s safe?

Been doing it every day since (SuperBisor) left, no way I’m stopping now.  Besides, how else can I go home, he said not in a way to elicit pity but as a matter of fact, like how the sun was gonna rise tomorrow and set  12 hours later.

So that was how it was gonna be.  Which philosophically I had no truck with, save for the combat shoes.  It was murder to be walking in them, never mind running in them, and my jogger’s sensitivities were offended by the realities  that Maori temp was contending with.

Your day is gonna be full tending to those blisters and calluses bro, I tried to tell him without exclaiming, cuz my mind was preoccupied with the thought of running in combat boots nightly for at least  45 minutes, which was the time he proudly said would take him to negotiate the roughly 5 to 10 km distance.

I’m used to it friend, and before either of us embarrassed ourselves further, he hit the road without further comment.  Awkward!

* * * * *

Which brings me to the Nike Prestos.   They’re not my favorite pair, as I divide the Nike platoon between battle-ready and pamporma.  The first squad is good to go for any fun run, half-marathon or theoretical cross-country adventure that comes my way.  The next group is for walking, malling with the missus, or any all-purpose lakad that I might fancy. (But when you’re a good dad you love all your kids right? Not that I’m comparing shoes to kids, heh heh 🙂 )

The Prestos belong somewhere in the middle of the groups, having been veterans of many a workout, hike or trot on a mildly warm (no such thing as hot) summer day in Welly.  They also look cool with maong or Bermuda shorts.

But in the overall cosmic scheme of things they belonged to Maori temp’s feet. Deep down it was the right thing to do, my nagging insides told me.  To get feedback,  I told esposa hermosa a short version of my story the previous night, and without hesitating a beat she said andami mong sapatos, di mo naman nagagamit  yung iba.  Bigyan mo na sya ng isang pares, kawawa naman, without inquiring further.

Loosely translated, she took the words right out of my mouth, clearly implying that anyone in my position (and in my shoes, literally) would do the same.

* * * * *

Maori Temp returned the pair to me three times during the shift, good thing I thought of giving them to him at log-in.  He didn’t understand why I was doing it, even considered that I was selling the same, and might have accepted if they were battered and scruffy, but they were far from unwanted (by me).  Getting rid of them wasn’t the case, wanting him to use it was.  Setting aside eyebrow-raising awkwardness any further, I had to pretend I hated the pair.

I have so many shoes I don’t know what to do with them (only partly true), I insisted.  They would be wasted on me, and you’re doing me a favor by accepting them (wink, wink), OK ?

If you put it that way bro, I’m happy to help, the outlines of a broad broad smile  forming on his bony face.

* * * * *

Feet, toes and I slept a little better that night.

Thanks for reading !

the asymmetric loveliness of peklat bungi & other imperfections

SOMEBODY CLOSE to me has been on pins and needles recently for a few reasons, most prominent of which is the stress of going through medical exams and tests, evolving into worries about not measuring up to the test requirements, and preoccupations about imaginary imperfections and flaws, cosmetic or otherwise, in this person’s otherwise ideal-looking appearance.

I want to tell him that he looks better than half the people in his generation, he’s fit, and has 90% uncharted rest of his life ahead of him, but this person just wouldn’t understand, from the vantage point of needing to see everything mapped out before him, having all the options available, and looking his Sunday best at all times, albeit with nowhere (yet) to go.

In short, not having seen the ugly side of life, he is at a loss with what he sees as his many imperfections.

Swallowing hard and begging your kind indulgence, I’m going to tell Person Close To Me (PCTM) a few warts and scabs about myself.  He’s seen some of them, but I will remind him about such, in order that he realize that he hasn’t got such a bad deal, and that there are worse things than being 17 :

Deviated septum – this is actually a kind way of saying I had the pleasure of having the bridge of my nose bent 10 degrees by a wayward elbow in halfcourt basketball, circa 1984.  The nosebender had this distressing habit of swinging his elbows around everytime he collared the rebound, and my face happened to be in the way.  I had to have cotton swabs in my nostrils for 48 hours and breathed through my mouth the whole time, and eventually it straightened out, but I never poked my nose (literally) into a loose ball situation again.

Rolled ankle – bulbuous with angry veins wrapped around it today, I landed on my left ankle hard and cruelly (tapilok) one wet afternoon many years ago while playing the same game above, and was immobilized for a week.  The swelling subsided, but the veins remained where they were, and I would never be a foot model again.  These are the wages by the way, of recklessly playing on slippery, sunbaked and sometimes muddy concrete that a teenager’s love for basketball never complained about.

Bicycle accident – I lost one front tooth and chipped another  while using my face as landing gear, flying out of a bike that thought it was a plane two years ago, ironic because I thought the last vestige of my lost youth would be my winning smile, instead it was one of the first to surrender to the ravages of time.  To top it all, I fractured a pinkie finger without even knowing it as I was so worried about the tooth I thought I could still recover, and because I failed to properly do the exercises taught by the physiotherapist, it remains bent out of shape to this day.

Miscellaneous – My thunder thighs go to sleep 15 minutes after I sit down.  My gimpy knees start screaming when I don’t jog on the softer grass.  I break out in a rash when the thermometer goes below 14 degrees Celsius.  And whether it’s because of blocked sinuses, fatty tissue or some other obstruction, my sleep apnea-snoring concerts are world class, and esposa hermosa needs to either sleep ahead or wear factory earmuffs to stay sane at night.

***         ***         ***         ***         ***

There you go.  You wanted imperfections?  Everybody has them my dear, and it’s what makes each of us unique.  If we were all Bradley Coopers and Megan Foxes (who blew $60,000 on cosmetic surgery and still hated the way she looked afterward, ayeeeee!), the world would certainly be a less interesting (but more sigh-inducing) place.  We lose weight, gain it back, get buff, go to flab.  In short, we’re never happy and never sad about the way we look, constantly justify and torture ourselves with our self-image.  It’s our lifelong preoccupation, and the day we stop making ourselves look better, in our eyes, is the day we start to die.

To be perfectly honest, PCTM, the way you look now is as good as it gets.  My unsolicited advice is savor it , because as much as you’re eye candy material now, it’s all downhill from here 🙂

Thanks for reading !

Why I’m not destined 2 B a Facebook person

He lets me visit his page but won't accept my friend request 😦

NOW THAT’S pretty hypocritical as hypocritical gets (the title above), if you ask Your Loyal Blogger.  I mean, I use FB everyday that the Lord has made, depend on it for the messages that mean most to me as if my life depended on it (and it does), get updates from friends, friends of friends and relatives, not to mention people I’m interested in ( stalker alert ! :p ) and lastest but not the leastest, rely on FB for the two current loves of my sedentary life, Tri-Peaks Solitaire and Egyptian Pyramid Solitaire, I’m red-faced to admit.

In short, I’m starting to be one of those people who consult their Facebook pages morning noon and night, use it for almost every aspect of their lives, are as comfortable in the virtual world as they are in the real, can’t imagine how they existed before it, and are part of the unnerving demographic who would readily give up alcohol, showers and SEX (caps mine) rather than go without the internet.

That last group, of lifers that go without a life, has so floored me that I’m reproducing the money shot of the short report below :

New research suggests many people would rather give up alcohol, showers or sex than go without the internet. More than one in five men and women would become celibate to remain online.  10 percent would give up their car, while seven percent would rather give up showers for a year.

Like the DJ who alerted my attention to it says, it’s the last two categories of hermits that we can all do without, but what about that first huh?  Methinks that group was prepared to go without the nasty anyways, and surfing eBay, Google, imdb and mugglenet 24/7 were just added incentives.  But to each his own.

I love keeping tabs on my friends’ latest pets adorable tricks, or the most recent milestones of my contemporaries’ kids, but my voyeur-exhibitionist balance isn’t quite 50-50.  Don’t get me wrong, if ever I’ve done something to be proud of, passed an exam, lost some weight or finished an endurance festival, you’d be the first to know and I’ll satiate you with dozens of pics popping up on your screen.

But everyday pictures of how thoroughly I brushed my teeth (not all the time), what I do at the mall (groceries and picking up leftover sushi from esposa hermosa, shhh) and what’s left for me to do when superbored (rearrange my toy collection, run around the block again, sigh) aren’t exactly compelling details and must-see viewing for the YouTube addicts out there.  So they will remain unchronicled and unvideoed, to my everlasting regret. 🙂

Additional reasons for not being a compulsive FB post-er and page-clutterer:

I don’t want to fill up your page more than it is already.  It’s already filled up with good causes, cute videos and timely reminders from well-meaning people.  Well, well-meaning and good intentioned is fine with me, as long as I don’t have to do it all the time.  And you remember what they said about the road to hell right?

I already blog so much it’s not funny anymore.  Sorry for that, but it’s become a regular thing for me now.  The wordpress and facebook sites are connected, and each time I post a blog, it comes out on my FB page, a necessary evil offered up to the altar of interconnectedness and social networking without which we could not thrive in today’s universe.  So if I add anything beyond the blogs, sobra na po.  But thanks for bearing with me.

I’m on a low broadband plan.  If you’ll believe it, there are no TelstraClear cables around where I reside, and the explanation I got from the Pasig call center sounding helpdesker is that while they’re striving to extend their coverage, for my particular area they’re “riding” on their friendly competitor, Telecom NZ.  That means the usual 60-gigabyte plan I’m on has been down to 25, which is the maximum allowed (there are limits on how much you want to help your business rival, after all).  For my compulsive blogging alone, that’s stretching it, and there is the usage of other people in my cave to consider.  Don’t forget Yahoo!, chikka and all the other strings that attach me to the Philippines and wherever home is, sniff sniff!

I don’t know what your definition is of a Facebook person.  For all I know I may already be one.  But as far as I’m concerned, my Facebook activity has already reached the upper limit, and if I should reciprocate what I see on other people’s pages, I think I have to respectfully decline.  I hope that doesn’t stop you though from doing what you’re doing, cuz I love visiting your Facebook page !

Thanks for reading !

Frugal Juan + Thrifty Pedro = 2 Pinoy flatmates

Love it!

ALL THE urban legends and unsolicited tips and tricks you hear about flatmates and flatting are true, realistic and interesting. This is because they are all anecdotal (or situational), they each have a grain of truth in them, and are all based on human nature, which as you know is never consistent, follow no rules except self-interest and what’s good for one may be bad for another.

Of course there’s the good-old pakisama meaning we should all respect each other’s space, do our regular chores for the overall good, pay it forward and it will come back to you karma drama, and the golden rule, which translates to do unto others what you’d want them to do unto you.

Some of the more popular things I’ve heard about flatmates and roommates are : it’s not particularly wise to choose a best mate, pal or buddy to be your roommate or flatmate (for brevity and despite different words used in different territories, i’ll for the moment stick to flatmate OK?) as one or both will unreasonably expect the other to do reasonable things that flatmates not being close friends will expect, this might later degenerate into petty quarrels, spats or worse, and you might be better off just being friends rather than flatmates.

Another observation about flatmate hunting, the converse of the one above, is that it’s advisable to start off being just acquaintances or even strangers (as long as neither of you are kooky or a serial killer) because the contempt of familiarity has not set in, you will be quite conscientious about observing common courtesies around the house, and you will end up ideal co-inhabitants of a very small space. This is quite a feat, for those who have never learned to live with people who are not your family.

Still another tip I’ve heard about flatting, and this is a bit sensitive here, is that if you’re doing it for the first time and a bit unsure on how to conduct yourself, it’s probably on the safe side to select person or persons with whom you share the same kind of upbringing, culture and yes, race. (PC alert here).

Let’s backtrack a bit. If you’re the cosmopolitan, dorm student type who’s lived in a United Colors of Benetton showroom forever, then please ignore the previous paragraph. On the other hand, if you’re used to eating, breathing and living among a very small slice of humanity, the type you’ve lived with most of your life, then you should start flatting very conservatively, meaning those you’re comfy with. And that means those quite similar to you.

Not my personal opinion, and this is obviously subject to refinements, but overall I’ve heard that Filipinos being the laisezz faire, live-and-let-live citizens of the world that they are, make for middling to high-average flatmates. Meaning, if you don’t mind living with the perennial wafting aroma of salted fish, spicy cooking and coconut milk (gata) as a constant presence in the kitchen, as well as visitors and relatives coming in and out of the flat on a regular basis, then you won’t mind having Pinoys for flatmates. But because almost everywhere in the world, there are growing Filipino migrant communities, we often prefer our own, as Chinese go for fellow Chinese and Indians look for their Indian countrymen.

There are practical reasons for this as well. You eat the same stuff, go for the same sort of entertainment, and with little exception speak the same languages and dialects, so it makes sense that you will get along with your own, right? This last question will always remain an open question, as there are infinite preferences, just as there are infinite flatmate arrangements.

***               ***               ***               ***               ***

On a personal note, I recently ended a flatting arrangement with a fellow Pinoy for more than three and a half years, almost all of which were marked by happiness and respect for each other’s space. We each had our quirks and shortcomings but on the whole we learned to live with each other, not unlike the way people who are related to each other do when for economics and practicality they are convenient and useful to each other, if only for a short time.

We left as friends do, with a mixture of regret and relief, regret that we could’ve done better and made each other a bit less miserable, but on the whole relieved that each had gotten away from the marriage of convenience none the worse for wear.

Less than a month later, someone from the other major city of the realm came calling, via a Yahoo! e-group, asking about living arrangements, details on how close or far we were from the bus stop, the mall and downtown. We didn’t mind that he asked a few polite questions about how quiet the neighborhood was (tomblike), how many people in the household (three), whether there were kids (zero, unless you counted Your Loyal Blogger and a mop-haired Naruto addict who moonlighted as a Hobbit extra), and interestingly enough, if there were safe running routes around.

He was born in Obando Bulacan but lived most of his life in San Pedro Laguna, before moving to Wellington via Auckland.

In short, a red, blue and yellow, rice-eating Filipino with bagoong running through his veins.

I could tell, I was gonna like this potential flatmate.

Thanks for reading !

happy birthday Boss Tim Bautista !

OF COURSE I’m biased, but I’ve never seen anyone who (1) thinks so many moves ahead in anything he plans in life, and (2) has done so well in anything he has tried his hand at.  But then I’m only the brother of one of the most remarkable persons I know, Mr Timothy “Tim” Bautista.

Thinking of him on the eve of his birthday, I can readily think of one basis for Number One above.  He has acquired the discipline by playing one of his lifelong loves, chess, where thinking at least two or three moves ahead of your opponent is the name of the game.

In fact, the grandmasters of elite tournaments are known to map out thousands of possible game combinations (each from start to finish) in their head, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuya Tim has done this in his chess wars, as he is good enough to play at club level.  ( In fact, in our extended family, I know of only one other person who can compete with him at his level, at that’s our other bro George, who I also blogged about in Jan.)

He has from way back applied gigabyte thinking derived from chess to the real world of entrepreneurship, human resources and corporate brinksmanship.  He has combined this with an engaging manner, an ability to lead and motivate people with effortless charm, and an uncanny success with managing teams and organizations.  And that explains Number Two, whether it be in school, his career, and especially his family.

In De La Salle U, he not only graduated with honors but did so an academic year early, giving him multiple options regarding the jobs that struck his fancy.  He has been a senior executive in different industries and has earned the respect of his peers.  Best of all, as you can see above, he has provided his unico hijo JY (pictured with him above) a superior university education in the US, where the latter repeated history by also graduating with honors.

I’ve never been able to pry out of him his lifelong philosophy but it seems to be, looking at his achievements and convictions, to find out early what you’re good at, keep at it, until you become the best at it.  The trouble is, because he’s excelled in everything he’s done, I don’t  know what that is, exactly !

I’m happy to say that, outside his allergy to failure, I’ve a few things in common with him :  he loves the word game Text Twist and the Sudoku puzzle (as do I, woo-hoo!), one of his all-time favorite sit-coms is Frasier, as it is mine, and our sons were born in April 1988, less than two weeks apart.

He has always been a model panganay, has been an ultra-devoted son to our parents, who are undoubtedly proud of him, a gold-standard husband and dad, and world-class boss to the many employees he has led.

He is one of my real-life heroes, and to be his brother has been and will always be an honor.

Happy birthday Kuya Tim, mabuhay ka!

Love always


PS.  Here’s a video of one of his favorite songs, Baby Come Back by Player 🙂


Happy birthday kabatch Ricky Cheng !

I'm not sure, but is this pretty lass he's with his daughter? 🙂

I’ve known Ricky forever, since we were in elementary (primary) school in shorts and playing habulan and dodgeball all day.

Ricky was always the easy-going sort, enjoyed being part of the group, never short on laughs and never afraid of hard work.

In high school, he usually organized the Sunday basketball games, always volunteered to be the fifth guy on the last game even though he was dead tired like everybody else, just so the latecomers would have a chance to play.

He was one of the clever workers that we loved hanging around in Practical Arts and electronics, and he had few peers in the workshop.

Later after graduation, he was a regular on the batch association, not just as an officer and board member but as a volunteer ready to help out in whatever activity the batch pursued.

Together with his pretty wife Rosemarie, they were a constant presence whether or not it was requested, in gatherings, parties, outreach events or fundraisers.  As long as help was needed or any kind of logistics was required, Ricky and Rose were there.

Not many were aware, but a semi-serious fire damaged their property a few years ago, a setback that would have been a good reason for most to focus on themselves for a while.  But not Ricky and Rose.  If anything, they strengthened their resolve to help others, the batch group being only one of many, and blessings have undoubtedly returned to them in many forms.

Hey bro, you bring back great memories of yesterday and you continue to bless me, just by being yourself.  Thanks for being my kabatch, and thanks for the memories !

Happy birthday, regards to Rosemarie and kids, and many happy returns !

Happy birthday kabatch Jocelyn Chan !

It’s not the clearest memory I have of her, but it’s probably one of the most flattering.

I mentioned it before on our own batch Yahoo!group, but never on this site, and since it’s her special day tomorrow I thought I’d mention it.  Grade Six Music class in 1978, more than 30 years ago didn’t always inspire us to showcase our talents, but it did require us to sing, at least once in the schoolyear, a song of our choice in front of the class.

Not only did it test our musical aptitude, the exercise also challenged our fortitude in baring our soul before 50 other nervous would-be singers.  It was therefore business as usual when our classmate Jocelyn “Asan” Chan took the stage for her turn to sing.

It was however anything but usual to hear her sing, Katie Irving’s “I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me” (or something like that) popularized by the movie “Carrie” and one of the anthem songs of the 1970s.

Remember this was before the era of Karaoke and Singalong, when only the most inspired and ably-voiced could approach singing like the radio artists.  But Jocelyn sang with such beauty in her voice and confidence that the rest of the class could only stop whatever it was we were doing and burst into applause after her last note.  Even our teacher was pleasantly surprised that Jocelyn sang so well.

Years and years later, Jocelyn still brings back fond memories, especially whenever she engages in good-natured repartee with equally witty schoolmates, but that one memory I have of her, in Music class so many years ago, will never change.

Thanks for the memories Jo, warmest regards to the family, and many happy returns !

Feeding my (Pinoy) addiction

[Note : The video above has little to do with our topic today, save perhaps for the 1980s movie clips of movies I grew up watching.  It’s also one of the funniest and creative videos I’ve seen!  Advance happy birthdays to a cherished 6-Eer, Ms Jocelyn Chan, and my awesomely great bro, Mr Tim Bautista !  Woo-hoo! ]

SPONTANEOUS blogging is sometimes unnerving.  Once you post, you can’t go back and do a second take, or decide you weren’t really that comfy talking about yesterday’s lonely battles, lost causes and unrequited loves as much as you were that night you downed five shots of rum-and-coke, with MagicSing, old friends and compatriots on the first night of a long weekend.

If you’ve read the correct blend of blogs here and there on this dysfunctional site, you’ll know that I’ve led a more-or-less colorful life, and not much to show for it except love handles, missing teeth and kids who would go tsk-tsk-tsk not again Papa at me regularly if they (1) weren’t more understanding, (2) weren’t preoccupied with thier own dramas or (3) didn’t know that their Tita H (esposa hermosa to me) is around to rein me in and brew my favorite poisons to keep me sedated and agreeable. (woo-hoo!)

For posterity’s sake, it occurred to me that I’m obligated to scrawl with my blood on the book of life the late (and present) addictions of my life, as I remember them and as they come back to me during the painful process of remembering ( hopefully without primal scream or talk therapy 🙂 ) and incidentally laughing at the wasting excess of youth :

Chocolate bars, especially nutty, almondy and nougaty ones,& all other sweet things.  Like many kids growing up postwar and to middle-class folk, I grew up exposed to the taste of chocolate, both the imported kind and the poor imitations (let’s admit it, Serg’s and Goya didn’t distinguish themselves trying to be Hershey Milk Chocolate  and Nestle Crunch taste-a-likes).  We are all born as a soupy (but intelligent) mix of enzymes, tissues and acid-base compounds trying to compete for proteins and sugars, and we have a built-in desire for sustenance.  But our elders, instead of seeing through our base desires for anything fattening and obesity-inducing, sometimes found it amusing for little blobs like us begging for more and more sweets until we reached a diabetic stupor that would be a signature of our pre-teens and sedentary childhood.

Nestles, Cadbury, Hersheys, all the great brands, oooooh...I knew all the hiding places of my mom, whether it was the Danish biscuits, Snickers bars, sweetened pili nuts from the province or local delights like kakanin and sickly-sweet pastries full of whipped cream and food coloring.  I never discriminated against food, as long as it was sweet and swoon-inducing.  Everytime an indulging aunt allowed me to tag along with her in Quiapo for some window shopping, I would imply in no uncertain terms that the trip would end best with a visit to her favorite halo-halo counter that served it with all the trimmings like sweet munggo, pinipig, sago, nata de coco, coconut strips, crushed ice and milk, topped of course by dirty ice cream.

Years later I would pay for all my sugar addiction, suffering from energy gaps and walking in a daze unless I received my regular fix of sugar, only it would be in the more boring form of sugared coffee, sugared tea, sugared juice and whatever sweets happened to be available.  It would be years and years before I weaned myself from the stuff through green tea, exercise and the universal purgative, tap water.  May I daresay to all budding parents, parents of toddlers and those not yet in the hypnotic orbit of sugar, I can tell you without hyperbole that it is as addictive as sex ( so I’m told 😉 ), tobacco smoking and alcohol.  Mieux vaut prevenir que guerir .

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this is getting to be a depressing site at the cancer wards; remember it's mostly PREVENTABLE >:(Quit smoking or die trying. Because of a dare and wanting to be cool like my bros (both situations rooted in a combination of immaturity and stupidity) as a teenager, I ended up, 10 years later, a half-pack a day smoker.  I had smoked greater and lesser amounts, but had leveled off to around 10 sticks a day.  It wasn’t too bad, but my lungs were constantly hacking off phlegm, couldn’t run at a decent pace for more than 10 minutes (forget about playing basketball with younger guys), and had diminished senses of taste and smell.  What more did you need, as good reasons, to quit?

Evidently I was hard-headed as granite, as it took quite a few more years, smoking-related deaths among relatives, and my own deteriorating fitness, before I extinguished my last cigarette butt.  I’ve had quite a few relapses since then (November 17 2007), but on the whole God has been good to me, refusing to let me slide back into probably one of the nastiest habits Modern Man has ever devised, tobacco smoking.

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had enough Duff?Di po ako lashing.  Common knowledge with most sociable adults is a lot of recreational drugs release both endorphins and dopamine, which cloud pain and produces a sense of satisfaction.  Some substances also slow the release of GABAs and glutamate, which regulates the transmission of messages between the brain and nerves, the latter causing us to say and do things we later regret.

What a lot of us may not realize is that alcohol and alcohol drinking does BOTH of these, and therefore rightly deserves the appellation the most dangerous drug, because of the aforementioned, and also because alcohol drinking, at least in small amounts, is socially acceptable; even regular and reckless drinking takes some time before it is acted upon.  I’ve never been an alcoholic or even a drinker dependent on regular alcohol consumption, but it wouldn’t take much for me to hit the bottle for any reason and any occasion.  Especially in the Philippines, drinking particularly among the menfolk is accepted, sometimes even encouraged as a rite of passage, after work, during festive occasions, and any other event.

I was lucky, because I’m not genetically disposed to alcoholism, nobody close to me was particularly fond of alcohol, and I was always ready to throw up after five or six drinks.  It kept me from winning any drinking contests, but it also avoided killing any of my brain cells at an early age, and any time you’ve got your brain intact along with the rest of your body, reasonably healthy and in the prime of your life, you’re in a good place, fingers crossed.

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A one-time Cheech & Chong fan who DID inhale.  A short period of my life, a college pal smoked funny cigarets at least once a week, and I’m not ashamed to admit sometimes I was right there with him, and of course he shared a few puffs with me.  What I am embarrassed to admit is I think I enjoyed it too much at times, distracted myself from my duties and my obligations.  Thankfully, it remained what it should have been, a part of wasted, misguided youth that our elders overlooked until we became more responsible men.

Some days though I fear irreparable damage may have been done.  Memory, reaction time and lapses in judgment are all gray areas of our mental faculties and who knows if those slices of indiscretion, however momentary in the continuing saga of my life, have affected me permanently?  The nice part is I’ll never know, and that is the beauty of the crapshoot that is Life.

I’m not justifying them, but I did have my addictions at various times in my life, for better or for worse.  It may or may not have affected me permanently, but it helped me to realize that once you fall into a hole, the best person to help you get out ASAP is yourself.  It’s also the best way to avoid falling into a similar hole again.

Thanks for reading !