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 !


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