random inventory of a not-quite-a-technophobe’s pocket

contents of Your Loyal Blogger's pocket, note the patriotic screensaver on China-made celfone :) neatness optional.

contents of Your Loyal Blogger’s pocket, note the patriotic screensaver on China-made celfone 🙂 neatness optional.

[ Note : prayers and concern for our kabayan stricken by Typhoon Pablo, especially in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and the rest of Mindanao and Visayas, may the government and kind hearts move swiftly to alleviate their misfortune this Christmas season. ]

I ONLY had a few moments before the bigwigs from Auckland would come by for a visit, the new equipment installed had made certain of that.  Tall as a two-storey house and worth a good chunk of the entire annual budget for our site, one of the two new packers just being broken in were going to streamline production, get us ready for 24/7 operations and hopefully keep the company in the black.

Eventually as it turned out the suits got delayed at the airport, by a certain movie premiere that tied up half the city in snags and knots, but at the time nobody at our site knew, so there was an air of anticipation for hopefully a seal of good housekeeping and stewardship of our (comparatively) provincial resources.

But back to my few moments.  I had pockets so bulky that they looked like they had half of my worldly belongings with me, and considering that, besides my happy meal toy and running sneaker collection, I possess a rather austere set of possessions, my accessories looked anomalous for a hi-tech holdout of the late 20th century that grew up with black-and-white TV, windup watches and toys, rotary telephones and, nostalgically, manual tak-tak-tak typewriters.

To look a bit more presentable and to forestall the obvious, that technically I was flouting the basic rule that no metal objects (save maybe a ball-point pen and a screwdriver) were to be carried on your person in the production area, I had (what I then thought was) literally minutes before 9 am, when late-model rentals  would come blazing into the executives’ carpark.

So I won’t miss anything, I’ll just give you a short commentary of each item you see on the picture above.

Cell phone – (white, generic China-made with double-sim feature) a hand-me-down from esposa hermosa who of course recently got a flashy phone.  Ordinarily I don’t fancy having a phone with me at work, especially since it’s frowned upon, but the last few days I’d seen so little of either esposa or Ganda and Bunso that any kind of communication from them would make my day go a little faster, and because thoughtful SMS texts about reminders to wear hi-viz jackets biking home, funny characters encountered at their sushi place / burger counter / library (regular haunts of the three) and updates are regularly issued by them, keeping the phone handy was a treat for me.  But not, obviously, for the frayed pouch of my workpants.

Remote electronic gate-opener (white, rectangular) and door key (black, coin-shaped, attached to key ring/chain) –  I pair these together as they perform the same functions, keep pesky visitors out and inmates in.  Ever since the company adopted a more-or-less serious security policy, it’s become standard to issue staff with keys, but theoretically only shift workers get issued gate openers.  The gadgets (does anyone still use that word?) all look flashy and make the possessor feel exclusive / important until you realize the so-called “restricted area” has multiple side-doors that anyone can open and use, and the site gate guards a porous location that can be accessed via adjacent factories, low fences and empty lots at the back.

USB flash drive/s (black, by itself, and black, attached to key ring/chain) – Today I happen to have two of these, one for document files and another for movies from persons I may “accidentally” bump into and mooch movies from.  I don’t ask where they got them from and they don’t tell me, that way I enjoy plausible deniability if the movie sources are questioned.  I know I’m dodgy that way but I’m also a loyal member of the video rental near the mall so it balances out naman, I hope. 😉  Anytime I need to have an important document scanned on a remote site, flash drives are the handiest things to have around, it’s like having a thick suitcase full of folders and papers that you can access (almost) anytime.

MP4 playerpink, so cheap thieves leave it alone, which I appreciate. I can’t afford a smartphone, I lost the charger of my iPod Shuffle (outdated anyway) and I need to listen to something while biking and running, otherwise I feel flat and tire easily.  This is why the player above, despite the fact that it needs to be recharged twice a day, carries barely two dozen songs (for now Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes which are helpful for a moderate jogging pace, and Side A and Rivermaya standards for my sentimental moods) and keeps conking out on me, the MP4 is a constant companion.  It also uses those tacky graphics and Taiwanese video prompts but the latter two features are bearable, just wanted you to know.  It serves a purpose that makes routine nearly pleasurable, which is to serve comfort music when you’re all alone except for the wind, the road and your bike and/or running shoes.

inhaler (blue, filled with salbutamol vial) – This is a remnant of a recent bout with asthma, from which I suffer occasionally but which has become rarer in recent years and especially after I stopped smoking and started exercising regularly.  It’s more like a security blanket for me because as far as I can tell, I’ve only used it once in Wellington, and as any patient with respiratory issues will tell you, it works like magic.  However, it’s not very wise to be found with it at checkpoints and random searches, as you have to convince the inspector / searcher that you’re not using it for anything else.

rimless glasses (plastic, extremely lightweight) – you may be wondering, particularly since my pockets are filled enough, why this is a pocket item.  Well, it’s not, usually, but because it’s not progressive lens, I take it off from time to time, like when I read or view things up close.  Not very convenient, and given a choice, the next time I go home to the Philippines, it will be one of the first things I’ll purchase, a necessary luxury for me.

There, those are the contents cluttering my pockets, not to mention my notebook, small tools and pen.  To repeat, I have resisted technology aggressively and have only grudgingly conceded its creature comforts against the inevitable victory of Age and Time.  But some watchamacallits you pick up here and there, and you wonder how you ever got along without them.  One, a few or all of the items on the list here you will probably share with me, and for those technogeeks and gadgetmasters who use the latest devices as soon as they’re available on the market, I’m happy for you and all that, but I’ll just catch up after coffee, don’t wait up!

who will watch the watchers?

IF YOU think getting up for Monday shift with a hangover, saying sorry to someone who doesn’t deserve it, or changing funky diapers is hard, try coming up with an original idea.  If ever, I haven’t had one since I thought of writing love letters for a living (ala Love in The Time of Cholera in the 1980s, look where it got me), it’s hard as sticking a needle through your soft spots or cutting your nails to the quick, and even less fun.

In place of an original idea, cleverer creatures try putting parts of two original ideas (swiped off other brains, of course) and linking them together, try turning original ideas inside out (e.g., if A = B, B = C, and A = C, then most of the time if A =B and B = C, then A = C; sorry but the strikethrough is the closest thing I could get to an “unequal” sign) or even use original ideas specific to one field of study and try it in a totally different field, then bask in the admiration of ooohs and aaahs.  That’s how hard it is to come up with original ideas.

So much so that until the 18th century, Wikipedia lectured me that it was common practice to copy wholesale from the classics, and the closer you were to the original works, the better.  Even original thinking was discouraged, until reason prevailed, in the form of if you use someone else’s original work, at least acknowledge somewhere in the same work.

There’s still one bailout clause if you still can’t come up with an original idea, and that’s when you come up with your opinion.  And your opinion is given at least a semblance of credibility when (1) your opinion attempts to disagree with government, big business, or organized religion, (2) attempts to correct an outrageous error, unfairness or injustice, or (3) attempts to organize or mobilize genuine change, however nebulous a concept that may be.

[ Note that all the above, as well as the below, heh heh, is just my opinion, get it? 😉 ]

This is why Filipino opinion-makers, aided by mass media (print, radio, TV and recently the internet), are commonly held in high regard by the rest of society, and given a cachet that only the very rich, the very powerful, and the very beautiful traditionally possess.  Because of their quixotic mission of going against establishment, doctrine, naked power and authority, at the very least people are willing to, at face value, give them the time of day and listen to their rants and raves, and certainly get more than their five minutes of fame, as long as they do their job, which is give their opinion.

Those last three words assume that such idea, original or not, are theirs, meaning for the moment, it belongs to them from conception to communication, from the brain to the mouth, in the form of utterances, the printed word, audio, or gestures aided by video.

Let’s admit it : because of the hurly-burly nature of our work-a-day lives, we rely heavily on specialists to break apart and explain to us the nuts and bolts of the issues that matter to us, literally the life-and-death topics that affect us to our core.  By our belief (in the form of readership, listenership or viewership) and support (in the form of advertising and/or awards) we substitute these opinion-makers’ critical thinking for ours, and we repose in them a huge chunk of our trust, to challenge government, big business and other power blocs of society to be honest, on their toes, and to never shortchange us on our purchase of their expertise.

Conversely, when four different supposedly leading opinion makers (in the form of newspaper columnists) make the same, almost identical opinion, and use throughout their columns similar words, modifiers and phrases describing one person, event and issue, then their credibility as said opinion-makers is jeopardized and their usefulness to society erodes.

The situation, reported excellently in the rappler blog and reposted by an alert FB friend is revealing not just in the insidious reach of big business on mass media, but on how susceptible even the supposedly incorruptible of our columnists are to influence.

The four columns in question are almost unanimous in their description of inefficiency of a senior legislative official, resulting in a position that, coincidentally favors the giant, monolithic tobacco industry that the official’s legislative committee is trying to regulate via new tax law.  It may be true that the convergence of intentions happens to be happenstance, but when this convergence favors the very moneyed few, what conclusion/s can a reasonable person arrive at?

That the opinion pieces use very similar language and make reference to exact observations, even when the writers of these pieces weren’t present during the event reported on, makes the conclusion almost inescapable : that four writers had reasons other than professional in writing the way they did.  No matter what these writers received in return for writing their columns, the damage to their professional reputations will hound them to the day they retire.  Sorry to sound so brutally frank, but intellectual (and professional) dishonesty is the worst kind there is.

Thanks for reading !

candid haphazard & post-apocalyptic zombie thoughts before leaving for work

can't go to work without the bike, and can't bike without helmet and hi-viz jacket. 🙂

IT’S BECOMING progressively harder to jump out of bed these days, at 46 and a half.  Adding to hacking out of throat and lungs the congestion of the previous night, which tends to accumulate while you sleep (which is probably why it’s called congestion, duh), particularly during the cold, cold months, is a couple of inflammed joints almost once a week now, sometimes in the fingers, sometimes in the knees or ankles.  Used to be I thought it was because of alcohol, seafood, certain types of vegetables (specifically legumes) and lamang-luob, which I tend to avoid almost entirely now.

the gouty combination : beer and seafood, thanks and acknowledgment to localyte.com 🙂

But lately it seems I’ve been suffering from these comical but painful situations (think mascots hands and fat ankles and knees) more and more.  Usually they subside later into the day, but I don’t always have the luxury of coaxing them into functionality.  Unless I imagine it, my eyes prefer to stay defocused and languid the first hour of the day,which is probably not too uncommon for most of us at this delicate age, and these are signs I need to have eyes rechecked, and new spectacles prescribed.

Depending on what I ate the previous 24 hours, I also have to be accountable to my digestive system, and if it was a workday like most days, I manage to be more or less responsible with food intake, not too much, food groups in order, and the result is I don’t spend too much time in the bathroom (belated TMI alert, sorry!).

If however, like today, I just woke up from a (n ANZAC) holiday, there is usually hell to pay.  A glass plus of cheap Merlot to help me get to bed, a dish of ice cream which I eat on the sly (quite a feat, considering that esposa hermosa and I share a tiny flat with almost no one else for company; our flatmate and Panganay largely keep to themselves), a glass plus of Coke Zero vintage last week (which I stubbornly drink despite the mortal dangers of dark fizzy), miscellaneous chichirya of local and international origin, and whatever my omnivorous snout picks up from all over the four corners of the flat.  And that’s just shortly before turning in.

You can expect the messy results the next day, when I earnestly strive to purge myself of all poisons ingested and resolve to avoid similar behavior, which I happily forget the next evening before a free day or weekend.

Before I forget, I had a good reason for spreading a mini-feast of junk food/sinful food before beddy-bye time, and I’ll spell it out in four words : Walking Dead, season finale.

Our Walking Dead heroes pretend they're zombies, but who knows what'll happen in Seasonn 3? Abangan!

I wasn’t an instant fan, in the jaded way we all perceive post-apocalyptic zombie thrillers spiced with love-triangle and whacko-killing-fields subplots (at least the gory killing sprees are not gratuitous, you need to kill zombies indiscriminately, and the ratio of mindless zombie to tasty human is about 100:1, conservatively).  But because esposa hermosa is so seldom drawn to Kiwi TV fare and this was attracting her like funny cigs to Cheech and Chong (pardon the eighties reference), I found myself watching whenever shift work permitted every creepy Wednesday night.

The acting was good, the plot crisp and credible (in the way having zombies roam a post-epidemic Earth was credible), and I discovered a truth about my young wife : she is as fearless as any modern Pinay, but can’t go to sleep by herself after a ghost/vampire/zombie flick, yet loves to watch the wretched things.

Just a final comment about season finales : don’t you just hate it when as regards resolving plots and consumating climaxes, season finales are anything but satisfying?  They are mini-contradictions in themselves : They are supposed to tie up in neat (although bloody) little packages the story arcs of the season, yet are designed to be hanging just enough to hook you into waiting for, and watching the next season !  Now, how annoying is that?  It’s an ending, but not really an ending !

The added disadvantage Noel and his little wife suffered was that we had naively prepared to view a two-hour gorefest (there are surprisingly few scenes of zombies munching on human drumsticks, the producers apparently had their fill during the first and a half seasons) that would be the definitive end of the season, and the only possibilities by way of credible ending/s I saw (without sharing such with my companion, who was up to here [point to neck] in stressful viewing) were (1) everybody becoming zombie fiesta handaan, or (2) other survivors or government forces rescuing all our bida (protagonists).

Who would’ve known that in his little group, Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) would declare martial law, and that most of the group (around a dozen) would actually survive the zombie raid on their redoubt ?  In short, almost nothing is resolved in the finale, except the scuttling of Shane (the main rival of Rick, in leadership and in romance), almost surely to keep us on tenterhooks for Season 3.  Argh.

And that’s why I ate too much, slept too little, woke up with the blahs, and trying to finish this before hurrying to afternoon shift.  Even when (maybe especially when) TV entertainment is at its best, there is usually hell to pay the morning after.

Thanks for reading!

saying goodbye 2 part of Pinoy childhood, in a strange land

Your Loyal Blogger with Papa Stormtrooper and Baby Stormtrooper, outside their Death Star cottage. Mama Stormtrooper took the pic. 🙂

[ Note : I’ve never, ever ever done a photo blog especially in the way my esteemed bro Jude does, but it would be an eminent waste of pics and shots if we just chucked these into the recycle bin, even with my disposable camera, some of the pics feature a bit of eye candy! thanks for reading/viewing ! ]

TO BE brutally frank about it, some of the toys and collectibles sold, though flashy and gaudy, might be found cheaper elsewhere, the autograph signers were hardly household names, and sad to say there was B.O. in nearly every other corner.

But an event like this happens only once a year, and I’ll probably be too old to attend it in the next year or two, if not long ago.

If you can identify which anime or gaming character she was trying to copy, then goodie ! She was a hottie too 1 🙂

I refer to Armageddon 2012 held in Wellington, a pop culture expo that features comics, toys, Japanese anime and cosplay costume competitions, sci-fi and fantasy premieres, and autograph signings from actors, directors, artists in the TV, film and gaming genres.

they were already tired by the time I asked if I could take their picture, another anime inspired pair of costumes

In short, everything a geek would consider interesting, this event showcases.  If you’re still at a loss on what I’m referring to, think Star Wars, Star Trek (and all its variants), Stargate, the DC and Marvel universes, the monolithic multiverse of Japanese anime and manga comics, and anything else that appeals to Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Rajesh’s eclectic tastes in The Big Bang Theory.

Ah, I'm almost sure these were World of Warcraft inspired. They also wouldn't have worked if they didn't have the, uhm, figures for the costumes.

I definitely don’t have the IQ of a nerd, but I grew up enjoying comics, sci-fi books, and later in life enjoyed Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, whose popularity overlapped nerd and mainstream worlds of devotees.  I discovered that in my temporary adopted land, there was an umbrella event that allowed enthusiasts of all interactive media (think comics, books, TV, movies and all gaming platforms) to show off their rabid devotion to whatever drew them to sci-fi, horror or fantasy.

how could I not include Supergirl in this pic collection? The stuff of my dreams !

Truth to tell, there is no way to define what can and cannot be considered part of Armageddon, described as a pop culture expo, that I was lucky enough to attend in Auckland in 2009 but missed last year and the year before.  As long as its a product of the imagination, it can be admitted.

for effort alone, we give this anime other-worlder an A 🙂

And of course, the first to take advantage are the film distributors (Avengers posters and streamers all around), toy companies (action figures, costumes and toy weapons are extremely popular), comic and other print media outfits (not just the establishment DC and Marvel but anime and independent companies).

He's just waiting for the sequel now, you never know if a casting agent is around. The director by the way owns a farm in NZ, and may just drop by

But the most popular and cherished part of Armageddon are the cosplay or dress-up competitions, in which you get to prettify yourself in your favorite anime, comic book, sci-fi franchise or TV character, what have you.

Even Grandma Wonder Woman wanted to get a piece of the action 🙂

Expectedly, I was drawn to Star Wars costumes and memorabilia from the same era, probably because of my age.  But there were many, many other enthusiasts all decked out in costumes of their imaginary heroes, in what were obviously a labor of love.

Sailor Moon? Card captor Sakura? Whatever, her Asian-ness lends oodles of authenticity to her costume, and the Kiwi girls are envious!

I think I’ve said enough, here are the rest of the pics.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

you could tell she dug deep in her daughter's bureau for this ensemble 🙂

she INSISTED that i take a full-body pose of her, and who was I to refuse?

“My Seinfeld Addiction” as told by Bong V.

My Seinfeld Addiction.

A friend from university and I have indepndently discovered one of the true joys of life : Seinfeld reruns.  I once thought of expounding on the beauty of this irresistible sitcom in a blog, but then I saw Mr Valarao’s version and said to myself, well there’s everything you wanted to say about it ! Please take a look at his thoughts thanks !

Easily one of the top 10 situation comedies of all time.

Bro Appreciation Day : Happy Birthday Jude !

his job allows him to meet many interesting people...

Laugh hard, live truly, kiss slowly and NEVER regret a moment in life that ever makes you smile !

JUST came across this quote somewhere on the internet, and it reminds me a lot of my brother Jude, who celebrates his birthday this Friday.  It’s not so much the literal application of the saying, although I’m sure he’s done those things mentioned, but the fact that he savors to the max all the simple joys that life offers, and celebrates unapologetically every moment of life as if it were his last.
And because of the uncomplicated nature of my brother, how could I expect our relationship to be anything but?  We have none of the brother-brother / brother-sister angst that defines many sibling relationships, often marked by awkwardness and unexpressed emotions of a lifetime. I love him a lot, and I expect ( hopefully ) that he does likewise.
It helps that we share a little more than a passing interest in sports, TV and cinema, but it’s nice that we can talk about almost anything under the sun with little self-consciousness or inhibition, TMI alerts notwithstanding.
If I had to describe him using an everyday product of modern living without which life would be pretty much pointless, he would probably agree on my choice : Regular Coke.  None of the pompous tastelessness of Diet Coke, the half-strength of Coke Zero, or the artful cluelessness of Cherry Coke.  Just pure original full-strength pleasure that you expect on the business end of a soda can, that’s Jude.
His shutter eye and trigger  finger are unmatched as a fotojourno gunslinger, and he will probably crown his career with a couple of coffee-table folios that, through killer pics and slambang text will relive history before your very eyes.
I’m most grateful for the bonding that we do through memories and e-mails, his uncompromising presence in Ganda”s and Bunso’s lives back home, and his just being there for Mom and Dad.
Happy birthday bro, you are one in a million.  I love you always !

Kuya NOel
PS.  You can view and subscribe to Jude’s wordpress site at www.judebautista.wordpress.com

Baby Fat Slash Asian Fat Slash Happy Fat

A bowl containing rice grains (Long).

Image via Wikipedia

Dear kabatch, schoolmates, brods, kabayan, officemates, Huttmates & friends :

EATING BEHAVIOR that is a surefire recipe ( pun intended ) for what are now known as eating disorders were as recently as half a generation ago considered perfectly normal or near-normal in our childhood. I discovered this when I realized how difficult it was to lose weight after confronted with a choice facing many kabatch, brods, kabayan, schoolmates and co-travellers in parallel timelines of life : lose weight or expect to get sick with lifestyle diseases ( sooner ).

By lifestyle disease I’m fairly sure you know whereof I speak : hypertension, cardiovascular ailments ( not the least of which are hardening of the arteries, enlargement of the heart, etc ), arthritis, back problems, gout ( which I already have ), enlarged prostate and related problems, and of course, that big unwieldy family loosely termed cancers, tumors and related stuff.

Given our culture, way of life and physical proclivities, we will earn these merit badges sooner or later. Getting them when you’re otherwise fit and strong ( a contradiction in terms ) in my view is already beating them but I’m veering off the sidewalk.

It’s so hard to lose weight not just because of age, so little free time and so many distractions. The things we’ve been brought up with since childhood, what we’ve been led to believe, our sedentary way of life, and manufactured processed food all conspire to make it so hard to slim down. Here are just a few :

Finish your food / Clean your plate. In the 60s 70s and 80s, I don’t know how many times I was told to finish all the food on my plate, rice, dish and all, never mind that I’ve loaded myself to the brim, my stomach’s distended till Tuesday after next, or that the food doesn’t agree with me.

The mindset of finish-your-food-at-all-costs is a product of the wartime years, the food shortage crises, the ( reasonable ) fear of being deprived and just the social blight of wastage and excess in an otherwise modest household. I don’t know how many variations I’ve heard on this theme/s. “The rice grains you leave (uneaten) on your plate are equivalent to the pockmarks / pimples on your future spouse’s face” ( so un-PC and so hard on the less-than-perfect complexions ); OR do you know how many starving children in Africa / Asia / Mindanao ( just choose your favorite economically depressed area ) would be so grateful for those table scraps you’re so sinfully leaving on your plate?

Years later, I realized that this mentality had unfortunately extended to eating other people’s excess food: scraping off all the tira-tira of your kids; polishing off a seatmates’s smorgasbord platter so you had a companion returning to the eat-all-you-can sushi bar; and finishing off the party buffet for fear of offending the celebrant. Guilty on all charges.

Rice and sugar : Kissing cousins of comfort eating. I’ve heard from a former officemate, Ms Cora V Rosales, that rice is chemically and molecularly identical to sugar, just that you can’t gorge on the white crystal without throwing up. However, you CAN eat yourself to kingdom come on plates and plates of rice, as long as you like the companion dishes and you have a typical Pinoy appetite, which accommodates rice on phenomenal levels.

But Pinoys are not the only guilty parties when it comes to rice ( over ) consumption. Across East Asia, people are known to be a spartan, uncomplaining lot, eating anything from dried fish to mung beans ( mongo ) as long as there is hot, fragrant rice. Take that away, and you have an uprising on your hands.

The trouble is, as people age, and their physical activities decline, their appetites and eating capacities do not, particularly the magnitude of rice eating. Again, on a personal level, I’m facing difficulties in this area on a daily basis, the fortitude demanded from me is formidable.

The fiesta / lauriat mentality. Again, sorry to sound like a skipping CD, but this is related to the previous reason. The extended family system, unexpected visitors dropping by, boarders / students from the province, and all other diners crashing by behoove not only extra provisions available every meal but also the variety and number of items on the menu, all the more to keep everyone happy and avoid alienating the picky eaters.

A typical dinner years ago, when no one cared about diets and health, were three or four dishes for everybody, a fishhead soup from my maternal grandmother when she was alive ( she lived nearer the big market and had better access to seafood ), Chinese takeaway from an eatery an uncle managed, and a dish or two just for my dad, who had less tolerance for spicy cuisine that was standard fare for everybody else.

This didn’t happen all the time, but there they were all of us five hungry omnivorous boys, cousins from all over the Islands, and extended family who also worked in our dad’s printing press and mom’s baked ham business. As long as you were young and active, eating a lot, often and everyday wasn’t going to be a problem. But by then the bad eating habits had left their mark on you, from then till now.

** ** ** ** **

By this time, you’ve probably gotten a more-or-less clear idea of how hard it is for me to consistently stay on the straight path of reaching my ideal weight. The bargain seems to be in exchange for a moderately healthy next three or four decades, I need to give up three-quarters of all the bad eating habits I’ve picked up from the previous four-and-a-half. It’s simplistic, but reduced to the lowest terms, it’s giving up a bit of Happiness for a little more of Health. Get back to me in 10 years and I’ll tell you how well ( or badly ) I’ve done.

Thanks for reading !








Filial birthday thoughts for an awesome mom

A photograph of a 2 month old human infant, hi...

Image via Wikipedia







        [ Note from NOel : Yesterday First Brother probably treated Honorable Mother to a sumptuous birthday dinner; Second Brother ( a physician ) examined her and pronounced her fit as a 30 year old maiden ; Fourth Brother sent wondrous gifts from across the sea, and Fifth Brother ably served as her chauffeur and aide-de-camp on her day of note. For our part, via humble e-mail, we pay tribute to one of the most formidable mothers we have known, our own…]      


Dear batchmates, schoolmates, officemates, kabayan and friends :




PARTICULARLY on the subject of their offspring, mothers are known to be irrepressibly intuitive, preternaturally psychic, or creepily clairvoyant.


 Of my own mother I never thought as enjoying any of those gifts, but now that you mention it, everything she warned me about myself, had I been more prudent, I could have avoided.


 The ones that stand out : Your gifts are prone to misuse, and unless you are careful they will be your undoing.  

What you earn, you will squander / What you learn you will forget / What you love you will regret, unless you respect the value of all.
It sounds like a fortuneteller’s words, but I’m just dramatizing for effect. But through my elementary, adolescent and young adult years she harped on these themes, and as is the custom of wild, impetuous youth, I hardly cared for such advice.

 ( The one person she could not save me from was myself, an enemy she could not, despite her best efforts, vanquish. )

 Another of her fateful predictions : Others may be equally gifted , but hard work will carry the day for you. Remember that, and you’ll come out ahead every which way.


I dont know what possessed me to deny it then, but she was right. Proving the reverse of her theory, I found out too late that walking the extra mile was the last (and most important) ingredient for the success recipe. 

Don’t know if your mom was like mine, but she suffered split personality dramas whenever it came to her sons’ fortunes : hope for the best, but expect the worst. Do whatever you can to make your child draw aces, but rush to his side if or when he falters.

Don’t know if there’s anything more selfless than a mother’s lot in life : You use every fiber of your body into bringing another human into this world, use all your resources and energies into raising that human being right, and empty your vessel of knowledge and experience into this new human being, and still not be satisfied until you see the results.

But it doesn’t end there. However others might view the ignominy of the situation, should her child fail, and fail miserably, who should rush to pick up the pieces of failure but Mom herself?

She never hesitates to do so, and single-mindedly refuses to accept failure on behalf of her baby, restart the engine of inspiration in Junior or Ate, until the sun shines anew .

Such heroism would remain the stuff of legend and fable, had I not experienced this in my own mother, who celebrated her birthday yesterday.

Among the innumerable acts and gestures of kindness, altruism, and compassion, the apex of her life’s work, we are proud to declare, are her five grateful sons, seven wonderful grandchildren, and dozens of future great-grandchildren on whom the lessons of her world-class motherhood will never be lost.

Belated happy birthday, and thank you for being our mom.

Love always







Never Late, Never Absent


Our vampiric hours prevented us from viewing awesome sunrises like this, photo courtesy of Ms Luna Zamudio 🙂

[ Note : Don’t let that title above fool you, it was a golden ideal with which we flirted throughout our so-called life but which remained an unreachable norm, but it never hurts to dream right? ]

Dear batchmates kabayan & friends :

30 MINUTES. That’s all it took me to get ready for school, an eternity ago. And I’m not talking about getting ready, less the morning rituals, number 1’s (and 2’s), victuals and other pre-journey stuff. I mean, from the time I got up, to rushing the final 100 meters by half-past, I almost never set aside more than half an hour to attend Hogwarts daily.

Trouble was (as is usually the case), reality has a way of seriously cramping the elegance of your theory. First, we’re assuming I didn’t go back to sleep, get tempted to catch a more than a few bites of breakfast; second, the driver wasn’t late himself, in which case it became a madcap bus & jeepney adventure for me, and finally that the weather cooperated and I remembered to bring some (climate) protection.

Otherwise, as you might imagine, I was usually on the wrong end of the Gates of Mordor come 7:30, and on the business end of 20 push-ups in Camp Gelido, never mind that overlord Fr Tchou was in the background giving all late-comers the Evil Eye for good measure.

[ Note: we mean no disrespect to Fr Tchou, bless his soul, it’s just that it was the way things were those days, instant punishment for even minor transgressions, justice swift is justice done, and with impunity too ]

My talent for extra slumber and creative procrastination assured that I would get “times tardy” in the high 20’s (for the year) and exasperated snorts from whoever owned First Period, usually Mrs Zaballero of Trigo, Mr Aluning of Physics, or Ke Lau Shi in Chinese History. Yes, quite a lovely way to start the day, too.

I lived for the weekends. Then I could sleep to my heart’s content, in double-digit hours, miss breakfast lunch and merienda all in the name of zzz’s. Presciently and prophetically, Mother said that my somnolence and indolence would never amount to anything, but grimly I soldiered on, determined to surpass the limits of my inactivity.

In university i was so apathetic to my own cause that once my watch disclosed that I was more than a quarter hour late for my first class, I quickly abandoned plans to head for school, an hour’s commute away. What was the use?

Attitude and perspective took a dramatic 180 degree turn after I bumped rather unceremoniously into fatherhood, needing to unlearn my lethargic way of life and reinvent myself. In so many words, I had to find work, imbibe a new work ethic (for reference, pls read above e-mail title) not only to keep body and soul together but to support 3 mouths including my own, and a creature that was growing before our very eyes.

After years of drowsy, easy brunch-mornings, dragging your body out of bed in time to greet the crack of dawn was literally an awakening. Air is cooler / mind is clearer / soul is purer. You redefine yourself with the rebirth of each new day.

** ** ** ** **

A few reincarnations later, things had improved a bit when I joined a gig as a paralegal at one of those monolithic Makati law firms, a shallow notch above rank-and-file. It was then and there when we saw all the stenographers, pool secretaries, typists and legal assistants coming to work on our old log-in time, ika-pito at kalahati ng umaga (n.u.) or chit tiam pua to beloved kabatch of Fujianese extraction, and we cast a wistful eye on the beeline for the bundy, and recalled braving early morning showers, and crisp dawn chill just to beat the clock. I had gone half circle, on my way to full, and my body clock was set indefinitely to a 6:00 alarm. My daybreak calluses had not yet begun to soften.

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

Catching the first FX to Makati from Taytay didn’t do much for me though. For one thing, it was one of the busier hours of FX tulisan, holduppers, and assorted baddies plying their trade (your money/celfone or your life) on the artery linking Imperial Manila and the outlying satellite towns on Rizal, Laguna and elsewhere.

Another point, it didn’t earn any pogi points from anyone, least of all lawyers who were pulling in all-nighters and staff who wanted the office all to themselves. In fact, such a consistent and early-bird

Home of the call center, although Alabang and QC are sprouting their own.

Ortigas Center at night

regimen only made the change more radical and dramatic when I signed up for red-eye and graveyard shifts at one of the larger call centers in Ortigas Center.

Instead of evacuating the catacombs at the crack of dawn, I now had to recalibrate my springs and locks so that my workday would end at the cock’s 3rd crow, just when most sleepyheads were getting up. Coupled with constant reminders to meet our call quotas, near-freezing temperature and resorting to unending cigarette breaks, it was an episode in our proletarian life that we would rather not revisit in the near future.

 But if waking and turning in at ungodly hours at different times in my life prepared me for anything, I wasn’t to know about it until I tried my luck overseas, by accident rather than by design. An extended vacation became an invitation to become an indentured First World slave, something I contemplated from time to time, what with the Caucasian universe made virtual and near via Hollywood, TV and DVD.

** ** ** ** **

To repeat, I’ve been at times a slacker, an early riser, a ghoulish nite owl, sweaty paper-pusher, coffee swiller and back to nine-to-fiver. This was as good a preparation as I could get for rotating shifts in a mill that ran 120 hour workweeks. Squash your circadian rhythm, roll with the chameleons and morph between rooster and owl, and zip around the 24 hour clock every week of the month, NOel.

Now, if we could only pick up the work ethic needed to make all of this work.

We can’t very well say we’ve gone full circle ; life is still full of surprises, and we could be back home in the wink of an eye. But we’ve learned enough to say that work completes you, work legitimizes you, and work makes it possible to fill your tastes and color your dreams. Without the pride and the attitude, your talent and energy will keep work available, but for how long?

Never late, never absent is hard, but worth chasing.

Thanks for reading !