Friday, April 27, 2012

Surprise Attack: Avengers 2012 Father Daughter Date

Wednesday started out like any other. When I woke up that morning, there was no indication that it would be a special day. There was no gut feeling, not even a sign. Little did I know that something wonderful was about to fall right into my lap.

My first class didn’t have a meeting, so I didn’t have a class until 11 am, and I got to sleep an hour longer. I had a bunch of weird dreams that were enrollment related, I think, and I had a full eight hours of invigorating sleep, so my own body clock woke me, fifteen minutes ahead of my 8 am alarm. If you know me, the first thing I always do upon getting up and making my bed, is the Hip Hop Abs Last Minute Abs routine to wake up my sleepy limbs and get my blood pumping. It’s a fast-paced, five minute routine that really gets you moving, like up and at ‘em. And I’m the rise and shine type, if I don’t start my morning right, my mood can be bitch fit mode. But not today. After exercising, I checked my e-mail like usual, and then I headed down for breakfast. I’ve been having oatmeal for breakfast, the last two months, I think, and maybe normal people would get fed up with eating oatmeal day in and day out, but I still look forward to making myself a bowl of oatmeal every morning. I don’t think I could ever get sick of having oatmeal, tea, and fruit for breakfast. It might have something to do with the fact that I mix Nesquik and condensed milk into my oatmeal and it goes from bland to awesome. Hey, I need my sugar fix in the morning, and fiber plus chocolaty goodness, is a pretty good compromise in my book.

After breakfast, I had some free time, so I thought I’d catch up on the reading assignment that I didn’t get to finish the night before. It was so long and I was so sleepy that I would nod off in the middle of a paragraph, and have to start over again. Since I wasn’t getting anywhere, and I was so tired I couldn’t understand anything I was reading, I decided to call it a night. So after eating, I continued where I left off, and I would occasionally browse the internet after finishing a few pages. I was pretty absent-minded, and a thought occurred to me, that I wanted to watch The Avengers at the soonest possible time. I am an action girl, plain and simple. I don’t do romantic comedies or dramas, and to my mind, the only movies worth spending on at cinemas are action or epic flicks that you can only appreciate on a wide screen. I love the car chases, the explosions, the big burly men with ripped abs and their excess of testosterone. So I watched Thor and Captain America last year and I have been waiting since then for The Avengers to come out because of the teasers after the credits. If only school and my limited finances weren’t in the way. I resigned myself to the long wait, and to slowly scrimping and saving my Summer allowance so that I would have the money by the time the movie finally came out.

Turns out I didn’t have to! If you’ll recall my post about PLDT myDSL’s Great Payday Sale, that was in a bid to win a contest hosted by Nuffnang and PLDT myDSL, with tickets to a special screening of The Avengers at stake! The first seventy bloggers to register their entries would get two tickets each. That was around a week ago, I think. I knew it was a longshot, and to be honest, I really didn’t know how to go about it at first, but I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went for it. And it just so happened that we recently switched from a different internet service provider to PLDT myDSL and I could honestly and sincerely vouch for it from my own experience, and also, I was just as much pleased with the upgrade that was made available to existing subscribers. Anyway, the day that the contest officially opened, was a school day, and the mechanics specifically stated, the first seventy, so I literally rushed from my class to go to the Main Library where there’s Wi-Fi to register my entry. It opened at noon, and though my class was from 11-1, luckily we were dismissed early, and I made it at 12:30-ish. I knew that the thirty minutes I was behind really hurt my chances, but I wasn’t dissuaded. How could I not take that chance, even if the odds were against a newcomer like me? This is Avengers we’re talking about! And besides, I figured, it couldn’t hurt to try. You never know, after all. 

So I left the rest to luck, and waited for the announcement of the winners. I was holding my breath the whole time and always checking my e-mail and Nuffnang’s website. I really got my hopes up. I’ve joined a lot of blog giveaways in the past, and I would always get disappointed when I didn’t win, but I really felt good about it this time. I didn’t get any e-mail. And then I saw the list of winners on Nuffnang’s website, and my name wasn’t there. I felt bad, but then I wasn’t too hard on myself because I knew I gave it my best shot. Life goes on. So I moved on and thought, better luck next time, and really there was no use dwelling on it.

Which is why, while going through my reading assignment, I was so stunned, when I took a break to check my e-mail and saw this! I felt disbelief, amazement, giddiness, and joy all at once! I actually couldn’t process it at first and I read it twice or thrice and I even double checked to see if it was a legit e-mail and not one of those spam or scam e-mails.


HCapture2ere are my actual Tweets on that fateful day. My reading assignment was pretty boring, and I was daydreaming about wanting to watch The Avengers. I was planning to watch it over the weekend and I couldn’t wait for the school week to be over, even though it was just Wednesday. I had no idea that in just a short while after thinking and Tweeting that I would receive such welcome news! It’s my first time to win anything, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to react, and I was just so dumbstruck. And I don’t usually get lucky, so I’m usually pragmatic about stuff, so the first thing I did was to verify it out of doubt, it was too good to be true. It was just so incredible! And when it did sink in, I was this hyper mess, like a ball of excitement, and I rushed to send my RSVP. And my e-mail also attests to my state of mind.


I suspected that maybe I really wasn’t part of the first 70 people, but maybe after getting notified, some of the winners backed out, or couldn’t make it, freeing up slots. I mean, I received the e-mail on Wednesday, and the RSVP was due by noon of that same day. I sent it twice for good measure because I’ve had issues with my e-mail in the past, that the recipients didn’t get anything even if it was sent “successfully” from my end. Better safe than sorry, when it comes to things like these. Sigurista, in Filipino. So that was around 9:30 and while waiting for a response, I even looked up the Nuffnang representative on FB and Twitter, how makulit (insistent) of me, I know, and I Tweeted Nuffnang to let them know I sent my RSVP and I was hoping for confirmation from them. It totally slipped my mind that I still had an 11 am class. I was driven to the point of distraction!

I was so frantic that I showered in record time and didn’t put on any makeup on, just sun block and translucent powder! Egad! But I didn’t care if my hair was a mess, and I didn’t even bother to dress up, just shorts and a plain T-shirt and slippers, full on pambahay (house clothes) mode that UP Diliman is so well known for. I didn’t care at all. All that was on my mind was that I won free tickets to see The Avengers, when I had already given up hope. This continued in class, I was pretty much spaced out the whole time, I might as well have not been there at all since I was physically present, but mentally absent. Thankfully class ended mercifully quick, and I went home after that.

When I got home, there was another pleasant surprise waiting for me in the mail!Photo0326 The postcard I made as part of my Geog 173 field work output had finally arrived! After I submitted it to the professor, he said he would actually send them once he had graded them. I’ve never tried sending letters the old fashioned way myself, because e-mail became mainstream as I was growing up. Anyway, I sent it to Papa, only because our address was the only one I knew for sure. But that was back in February and I thought maybe it had gotten lost on its way, or it was just living up to its snail-mail reputation. So I was really glad to see it had made it back home, in a sense, it was returned to the sender!

Which brings me to breaking the news to my family. Everything had happened in a blur, and I couldn’t tell them yet because I went to school. When I got home, they were still out, and I wanted to share my good news with them in person. So I sent them cryptic text messages instead to come home right away because I something to tell them. When they finally arrived, they were all really curious about it! Mama thought I got a scholarship or something, and my sister thought maybe I got a Summer job! I was really cryptic in my text message to them and I said good news, so maybe what they had in mind was really big time, I guess. But a good thing like free movie tickets has never happened to me before, so that was what I meant with “good'” news.

I really thought they’d be happy for me and would share in my excitement, but instead all I got was “so who are you taking with you?” Well, my family is business like, after all. I had given it some thought, and I wanted to take Papa with me. Mama and my youngest sister are both lame movie companions. But between Papa and my younger sister, I chose Papa because I just saw Hunger Games with her, and I’ve never treated Papa to a movie before. Granted the tickets were free, but still they were from me, and I wanted a father daughter movie date, and bonding shiz.

And the parents had news of their own, Papa’s leaving on Saturday. You can read more about this in my previous post. So I guess everything was falling into place. I won those tickets for a reason, Papa was leaving and it was my chance to have him to myself. My sister was bummed that I didn’t pick her, but God, grow up. It was decided. After school, we would all go to Shang and have dinner as a family, and then Papa and I would watch The Avengers and the rest would see about catching the movie in another cinema, or just go around the mall and wait for us to finish.

I thought it was all good, nothing would get in the way of me enjoying my good luck. I thought wrong.

I woke up on Thursday with a bit of a runny nose and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I was just looking forward to that night and I only had a 9-11 class because this time my 11-1 was the one without a meeting, so I thought I’d be in and out of school without a fuss. That was mostly true, except I drove like I was possessed, my head was just: Avengers, Avengers, Avengers, that I was zoning out on the road and in class. I got home and tried to take a nap, because we’d probably get home late and it was a school night, and I still had an early morning after that, but I was so excited I couldn’t fall asleep. So I moved up my workout, to make room for dinner out, and then I started getting ready.

IMG_0957It was my first “event” so I wanted to dress up and look my best, even if I was suffering from acne breakouts on my forehead. I picked out my outfit the night before and I even borrowed my sister’s heels. My sister’s shoe size is bigger than mine, but the IMG_0958straps are adjustable so they were a bit loose, but I could walk in them just fine. I put my hair in rollers to get some volume and I took more time and care in doing my makeup and concealing my blemishes. I had to wear my glasses though because one of my contact lenses got torn the other day and I didn’t have a spare pair.

But drama ensued. My sister’s class was until 4 pm and my parents were supposed to pick her up and they would all freshen up a bit and we would leave the house together to go to Shang at around 5. Mama called me that they would run a bit late, they were coming from Mama’s clinic and Papa’s office and they would pick up my sister between 4:30 and 5, and would be home 5:15, to 5:30 at the latest. I thought, no problem. But they got home at 6 pm and my sister was pissed off from waiting in school so long that she didn’t want to go out anymore and we had our respective hissy fits. This was the one time something good was happening for me, and they were possibly going to cause me to miss it or be late. I told Mama she should’ve told me they were going to be that late, then I would have picked my sister up myself. And it turned into a screaming match and blame game of how she shouldn’t have to ask me at all, and I should’ve just done it, no questions asked. And this is such utter bullshit. She was the one who called me and told me what time they’d get there, and like a fool, I believed my mother, and I went about getting ready. If she had been up front and just told me that she even suspected they would run so much later than expected, then I wouldn’t have minded taking the car and going back to UP for my sister. That’s how I work. If you tell me you’ll be there at that time, I’ll expect you to be there and act accordingly. But no, apparently it’s my fault my mother always says she’s fifteen minutes away when in reality it’s thirty! It’s my fault I took her word for it instead of seizing the reins and picking up my sister from school myself! When I had no idea! I’m no mind reader! I’m not clairvoyant! And that’s also the reason my sister was in a foul mood, because Mama told her she would be there. It’s not the waiting, as much as the knowing. Because she said she’d be there at that time, my sister waited outside like another dumbass believing in Mama and her sense of time. If from the start my sister knew they’d get there past 5:30 then she needn’t have stood there with no idea she had been taken for a fool. That’s what was most infuriating for me, that we were taken for fools. You can’t control the traffic, but you can control what you tell your children. And we were in the dark and believed she would keep her word! Whenever we tell her when we’ll be home, we’re always forthcoming about it. When we’re late, we own up to it and take responsibility. But no, not Mama. She always finds a way to turn things around and make it our fault.

I was fuming mad that I was in tears! It was my night with Papa, my one win, and she had ruined it. I ranted on Twitter about this, and I don’t really care to repeat what I said here. If not for waterproof mascara, I’d have had black streaks running down my face. I was so angry, and I felt so helpless against Mama’s disregard for my sister and me. She could’ve just been honest and we would have understood, and instead we could’ve have found a way to help each other. Instead she had yet again covered her own ass. It was so unfair and it was a black stain on an otherwise great movie night.

Papa, bless him and his patience, convinced my sister to come along, but we left the house past 6:30 already. I was still livid, and all the while I was thinking I never should have told them, and I should’ve gotten directions for Ortigas (I’m a Quezon City only driver) or taken a taxi and just gone alone. Sometimes I think Papa’s the only reason I haven’t run away. If there’s such a thing as going stir-crazy, there must be all-girls crazy from living in a house with Mama and my two sisters. It’s so dysfunctional and sometimes I think we’d all be better off living apart, because there’s so much friction and just too much estrogen under one roof! But for the love of Papa, I’d have up and gone AWOL a long time ago. So the drive to Shang was spent in stony silence, the air heavy with my rage.

The registration was at 7:30 and the movie at 8:50, but with moderate traffic, and looking for parking, we got there at 8. Once we were there, I resolved to put Mama out of my mind, since I’d be spending quality time with Papa without her, and she wasn’t worth getting worked up over. I wasn’t so familiar with Shang, so it took some time finding the way, but when I saw the line at a table with Nuffnang and PLDT myDSL tarps set up, I knew I had made it. I fell in line with Papa while Mama and my sisters bought their own tickets at a separate cinema because Cinema 2 was exclusive for the Nuffnang and PLDT myDSL event. While I was standing in line, I saw all these well-dressed, fashionable people, and photographers going around. There was even a photo booth next to the registration table. I felt somewhat out of place. Take note, my family doesn’t actually know I have a blog, and I only told them I won an online contest. I’m not trying to hide my blog, or keep it a secret, because if you Google me, it’ll surely turn up, but I haven’t told them about it because they are so nosy and they’d make a big deal out of it and I just didn’t want any more complications. Also, I haven’t quite come to terms with blogging myself. I wouldn’t really call myself a blogger. I have a blog, yes, but it’s a hobby, as I’ve said in my first post, and while I was standing there in line, I was in awe of the big time bloggers. There were some pretty familiar faces, but I didn’t know anybody. In short I was a nobody, and I felt in awe because I had no idea what I was doing, or what to expect.

IMG_0967My turn finally came, and among the Nuffnang people manning the registration table, was the representative who e-mailed me my invite. She looked pretty busy so I didn’t introduce myself anymore, but it was nice, and she was so pretty. My bad mood just about dissolved when I saw my name on the list. I was number 69, out of 70! That confirmed my initial suspicion that I was a back up, and I barely made the cut, so I thanked my lucky stars and claimed my tickets. It was already past 8, so by that time, the only seats left were in the front or very last row, so I picked front row.

I also got a PLDT myDSL goodie bag with a notebook, pen, lanyard, and pin. Papa actually kidded the lady handing out the bags if he would get one too, and she laughed, saying only one per blogger. Me, a blogger. Just imagine. And there was also a free cupcake! It came in a cute red box, and it was Red Velvet! I gave it to my sister as a peace offering, and she said it tasted really good.IMG_0962 We learned that that movie wouldn’t start until 9, IMG_0963so we still had time to have a quick dinner. We all headed down to California Pizza Kitchen where one of my cousins works, so we got a discount. We were all really hungry by then, and I don’t remember the names of the dishes we ordered. There were shrimp rolls for the rest (I don’t eat shrimp) for an appetizer, a spicy pasta dish with beans and peppers, brIMG_0973eaded chicken with some greens on top, and a typical pizza with your regular toppings. It was pretty good. I have to say, food bloggers are really commendable for having the restraint to take picture of their food first. All I have to show for are empty plates and platters because from the moment the food was served, we just ate our fill. The service was quick, the waiters were polite, and the food was good. Just one thing, they all gave us two forks, but no spoons. I know, California Pizza Kitchen is a foreign-based restaurant, but still, I wish they would provide spoons to cater to Filipino needs. Just saying.

Got this snapshot with Papa while waiting for our food.IMG_0972 After eating, we went our separate ways. Their movie wasn’t until 9:30 so they strolled for a bit, while we went to Cinema 2 and waited for them to open the doors. We noticed that the line at the photo booth was gone, so we had a picture taken. The shots were so fast, it was 4,3,2,1, snap, then again, and again, and we barely had time to put on the accessories, so our pictures are all wacky. I like the first one most, because Papa looks like a gangster with the pink hat. The flash was really strong though, so I got washed out like a paper white ghost.

deposit slip

Finally, they opened the doors and we found our seats. It was really close to the screen. Normally we sit in the third or fourth row, generally we like to sit closer to the screen, but this was really up close. There was a short program with a host, whose name I forgot, thanking the sponsor, and of course reiterating PLDT myDSL’s Great Payday Sale promo, and they had a question and answer  portion with more prizes up for grabs! They were related to the details of the promo, and I knew about it, of course, having blogged about it, and I didn’t hesitate to yell my answer, since the catch was you had to be the first and the loudest to answer correctly. And I won another thing! A nifty little USB! By then I got my wind back in my sails, Mama drama or no, and I went to claim my prize from him, and when he asked me if I was a blogger, I proudly declared, “Of course I am, that’s why I’m here!” and that’s the moment when I knew it for myself!

The movie started right after that, and the whole cinema was packed, it was really a full house, with not just the winners, but also Nuffnang representatives, and there were people sitting along the aisles already. Since we were in the very front row we had to lean our heads back to see, and the picture was so crisp and clear. I’ve watched digital and in 3D at SM, but this was my first time to watch a movie at Shang (yes, really, because I frequent malls closer to home), and it was so much nicer. And more expensive, of course, in our ticket it said 2D and it was worth PhP 230 per ticket. So that was a minimum of PhP460, for Papa and me, not to mention all the freebies I got. Winning the contest was such a god-send! In spite of Mama, it was a blessing in disguise within a blessing in disguise. Blessings-ception!

Well anyway, the movie was mind-blowing, as expected! I mean, all my favorite macho men were there, including Papa, HAHA! And the cinema  was far superior to any I’ve ever been to, it was so clear, I could see the pores of Loki’s nose and Pepper Potts’ every freckle, down to the smallest of details! I didn’t feel the time fly by at all, because I was on the edge of my seat at every fight scene, with guns blazing, arrows flying, and with hammer throwing and lightning strikes. I really liked Scarlett Johansson kicking butt, and Christ Hemsworth’s biceps actually look larger in Avengers than in Thor! And I was totally drooling over Chris Evans’ (Captain America) butt while he was pummeling a punching bag. I’m really easy to please, just give me good action and wisecracks every now and then in the dialogue and I’m golden, and The Avengers had that in abundance. The whole audience was laughing when Thor said, “He’s adopted.” There were all these other witty lines and situations with double-entendre, but I’ll not spoil anything here, for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s a super hero movie, so of course it deals with having to save the world, nothing new there, but what’s changed the game for me, is the coming together of different action heroes with their own backgrounds so to speak. It’s a volatile mix. Tony Stark (Iron Man) isn’t a team player, Captain America’s an old-school dude, Thor is a demi-God with his own agenda, and The Hulk, is well, The Hulk. I might be weird, but I really liked Loki here. I guess I’ve always been a fan of the misunderstood villain type. All in all, it was a great experience, and I was glad I shared it with Papa. He always has my back. Though he fell asleep in some parts and I had to nudge him with my elbow. 

After the movie, we waited up for Mama and the sisters for about fifteen minutes, and the mall and all the shops were already closed, since it was the last full show. It looked creepy empty with just the security guards doing checks, and the janitors cleaning up and doing maintenance work.








Finally, they came out and we went home. It was already past midnight and all of us still had things to do the next morning. I was just exhausted at the end of it all. Physically and emotionally. The past two days was a roller-coaster ride of extreme highs and lows, happiness, then anger and pain. It was just too much to take and I got home drained and too tired to feel anything. I barely registered taking my makeup off and brushing my teeth and it was lights out before I knew it.

I woke up today still feeling the aftermath of emotional outbursts. I woke up spent, that is. And school was a tedious affair. I still had hard feelings at Mama, but I’d rather focus on the good that came out of it. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to take part in an event as a blogger, and I finally got to see The Avengers, which I waited so long for. But most of all, I got to spend time with Papa, and that’s what matters most. I got to share my happiness with Papa, and for once it was on me!

For that I can’t thank Nuffnang and PLDT myDSL enough.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Separation Anxiety

It’s that time again. All OFW kids know what I’m talking about, the inevitable parting, when a parent has to go abroad again. Whenever Papa comes home, I know that it’s not permanent, I accepted long ago that he has to go away. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. And we all have our coping mechanisms in the family, mine is to deny it until I’m blue in the face because I want to act normal and be happy with Papa for as long as I can. Because if I keep thinking about him leaving, I just get sad. I don’t ask questions about how long he’s staying or until when, being the denial queen I am. If I broach the subject, then it becomes real, and it’s so painful and I can’t deal with it. So even when I know it’s coming, I don’t want to acknowledge it because I want to hold onto Papa just a little longer.

It starts out innocently enough. Papa goes about the house tinkering, fixing, cleaning. He tightens bolts, replaces light bulbs, fixes creaking hinges, that sort of thing. He rearranges furniture and tidies up clutter. And that’s when I begin to suspect. He’s the only man of the house and he doesn’t like leaving us to our feminine devices with carpentry, plumbing, electrical work. He always makes sure that everything is in order before he leaves because it will be months before he comes home and there won’t be anyone to take care of household repairs when he’s away. And then my suspicion turns to certainty when Papa goes to the office for meetings and he attends to paperwork, like renewing his passport and visas and other documents. And then Mama buys him vitamins and maintenance medication by the bulk. Then in a casual conversation they drop the bomb and tell us Papa might be leaving in a week’s time, or possibly two days from now. Every time, it still comes as a blow, still leaves me stunned when I find out the end is near. But then since it’s already there, I just have to face it. Not a minute sooner though. I can’t take the knowing. That’s for Mama to bear. I can’t do it.

Papa might have to leave on Saturday. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it will be tomorrow. This has happened before, really short notice. Actually even Mama was reeling. We all thought we’d have more time. Papa came home in January, so this time we’ve had him for just a little over three months. On average, Papa’s vacations are usually four to five months long, and his contracts six to nine months. We’re all in public schools now, two of us in UP Diliman, and the youngest is in Philippine Science, so tuition is less of a burden, than when we were all in private school. It used to be that Papa’s contracts would last eleven months to over a year. But for Papa’s latest departure, they’ve planned it so he’ll be home for my graduation next year. It’s a strange combination, sorrow at parting, and the pressure to graduate without any delays. It’s as if it’s hinging on me.

But that’s my own future. That’s nothing next to going to sea for months on end and being on your own, away from family. In the media, it’s almost always the side of the family left behind that gets represented, and the OFW side gets less exposure. There are less accounts of the sacrifices, the thankless work, homesickness. Most of the time, it’s the hardship of those who are left, yet media is barely able to scratch the surface of the pain of those who have to leave. Of course we as a family miss him, but at least we’re all together and we have each other for support. But what about Papa, he’s all alone? He’s a rock, and he’s been a seaman long before he and Mama got married, and it’s the only thing we know as a family. Papa’s always been a bread winner, a provider, and I’ve never heard him complain. Not once. He’s that kind of man, dutiful and selfless. Generous and gallant to a fault, even. I used to wish that Papa and Mama would think more about themselves sometimes, but then I guess you don’t have that luxury as a parent. One day I hope to do them proud.

If you’ve seen the Vilma Santos film Anak, it shows how the children went astray and ruined their lives because they didn’t have the guidance and presence of their mother, but our family isn’t like that. We’re the other OFW family stereotype, the over-achieving children type. But then I believe that’s because Mama and Papa taught us to always do our best. Even if Mama’s a single-parent, and Papa’s an absentee father, they’ve always compensated. I don’t feel like I lacked anything, growing up. Technology has certainly played a big factor in helping us stay connected and to help us feel each other’s presence. When I was younger, we would use radio, and we would say “Over” when we finished taking our turn talking. There were prepaid phone cards, and satellite calls. There were letters and cards for my birthday. One time, Papa sent me a pair of shoes, but they weren’t my size. Then e-mails and video chat came along. Last year, when Japan had a tsunami, Papa’s ship was on its way to Japan and we were all distraught until we heard from Papa. They were in the Pacific Ocean, but thankfully, too far to be affected.

When I was younger I actually thought Papa was in the navy because he had a uniform with epaulets, and I thought he was a soldier. But in a sense, Papa is a soldier, and he’s going away for a tour of duty, to serve his family and give us a good future and security. And on our part, we have to be strong and to hold down the fort, so to speak. We can’t fall apart when he’s gone, is what I’m saying. In the movies they always portray those tearful scenes at the airport, but our family isn’t like that at all. We’re so used to it, it’s practically a way of life, that we comport ourselves, and bid Papa farewell, with the promise of return. I personally hate hysterics and waterworks because I want to keep faith in Papa coming home safe and sound. Crying and bawling is just not my style, and it sends a message that we’re not going to see each other ever again, and that is out of the question. I don’t ever want to entertain that possibility, so when we see him off, I put the thought of reunion in my heart.

It’s the only way I can carry on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weekend

I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy and science fiction as genres. I mean I dig dystopian futures, like in The Matrix, but not so much magic and aliens. Apart from the Harry Potter series, I’ve hardly forayed into the mystical deep or the recesses of space, so to speak. So it came as a surprise, even to me, when I felt like having a Star Wars and Lord of the Rings marathon over the weekend. I didn’t have anything better to do, and I was happy for any excuse to put my homework off, to be honest, so I didn’t make much of it at the time, however uncharacteristic of me it was. At any rate, I thought it’d be good fun.

Anyway, as I’ve said, except Harry Potter, I’ve never held any serious interest for the two genres of fantasy and science fiction. I think I made an exception for Harry Potter because it’s a product of my generation as a nineties baby, and I grew up reading all the books and seeing all the film adaptations. In a way, as the characters of Harry Potter underwent their coming of age, so did I, and Harry Potter was a rite of passage for me. But of course, don’t get me wrong, I was never that into the fandom to the point of the lore. So while I had a relationship with Harry Potter from childhood, my exploration into fantasy worlds was limited, or pretty casual.

Going back to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, when I saw these, I was too young, and had too short an attention span to understand. Of course the first three film installments of Star Wars came out in the seventies and eighties, so I didn’t really get much exposure to it, apart from catching bits and parts on cable and hearing my parents’ jokes about Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt, so I chalk that up to a huge generation gap. Read: I wasn’t born yet. And as for Lord of the Rings trilogy, though the films came out in the early years of 2000, I was engrossed in Harry Potter and other things to give hobbits and The Shire a chance. That, and as a kid, I didn’t have much patience for really long movies that were heavy on not too kid friendly jargon and strange names for even stranger creatures. In Harry Potter, I discovered the wonders of magic right along with Harry, but in Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, you plunge right into unfamiliar alternative universes and mythology, so it’s literally a huge space to fill.

Which brings me to the present. I had no prior knowledge of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I mean, they’re both such huge pop culture references and icons, and they’ve influenced so many and have followings, so I at least had a vague idea of what they were all about, but I felt mostly left out. While I’d heard and seen various imitations and parodies of Darth Vader’s breathing and the “Luke, I’m your father” moment, I didn’t quite get it because they didn’t mean anything to me, at the time. But recently, I’ve been positively hooked on 9GAG and internet memes, and there are so many memes and jokes with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references, and I felt out of the loop, or that I was missing out on some kind of inside joke. For example, the “Run, you fools;” or “One does not simply walk in Mordor;" and “You were my brother, I loved you;” “It’s a trap!” Best of all, “You shall not pass!”

So I thought it was about time I closed the gap, because I really felt like, even if I wasn’t particularly drawn to either fantasy or sci-fi as genres, that Star Wars and Lord of the Rings were too important in pop culture to remain ignorant! They’re fundamental to a well-rounded journey in pop culture, and as a student of media, not just a mass media consumer, I didn’t want to stay in the dark. And that was when the game changed.

Last Friday night, I downloaded the complete Star Wars saga, and our internet was so ridiculously fast, I left it overnight, and when I woke up the next morning, all six movies, Episodes I through VI were all done! So I spent my entire Saturday having a Star Wars movie marathon, and while I was watching, I had started downloading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, multi-tasking like a boss! Yet again, even our internet had conspired in my favor to get me to finally watch the two series, because my internet speed was through the roof! I don’t download the GB-sized films because I only watch them on my computer anyway, and not on a huge television screen, so I only downloaded the lower resolution, but in the case of Star Wars, all six movies were two hours long, and that around 500+ MB, and if I recall correctly, the torrent was larger than 3GB and it took less half a day to download, and that’s saying something on a basic residential internet connection. And as for Lord of the Rings, there were torrents of the complete trilogy, but they were all so big, I downloaded the movies one by one, and they’re all three hours long, so they were well over 600 MB each, but I think the three only took a couple of hours to finish, and this is during the daytime!

But then, of course, I watched them in real time, so however fast my downloads went, the movies really ate up the entire weekend. Seriously, I spent the weekend holed up in my room, only leaving to pee and bathe and for mealtimes. And of course, I would pause to work out. Not even epic movies can get in the way of my health and fitness. But yes, the films were nothing short of epic. Epic in scale, narrative, visual design, and that is especially evident in fantasy and sci-fi, because whole new worlds, universes, and realities are created, woven out of the fabric of imagination! And I know the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is based on books, so I can’t even begin to fathom how rich the source materials were for the films to be so grand. But that’s my next project, to read the books. I don’t know how it’ll change my point of view though, seeing the films before reading the books, how they will compare. But then that’s never been too much of a problem for me, because I always treat films and books differently, as films have an audio-visual language, and how I imagine things out of words is never quite the same. Like in Harry Potter, a lot of die-hards and hardcore fans complain that the films fall short, or aren’t faithful to details, but cramming volume-length books into a film of reasonable length is a tall order, and they have to consider how audiences will sit through long films. That’s why I never expect it from film adaptations, and I just like to enjoy how my favorite books and stories have been interpreted.

But yeah, I think the main weakness of the Harry Potter film franchise, is that the series of books was still ongoing when the films were produced, and they were done without any idea of the complete picture yet, so from film to film, there’s a sense of discontinuity or inconsistency, and that’s really obvious when you watch in a marathon, not only is there a feeling that the films change hands, where there should be a common thread holding the film series together, because the films didn’t have a common goal or ending as a framework right off the bat. That, from the first Harry Potter film, there wasn’t a a seventh book yet, so the movie wasn’t filmed with that in mind. Whereas, in Lord of the Rings, the books were written long before film adaptations, so in conceptualizing the films, they could be crafted to be more climactic, and make the most of the full potential of the books, and there was a natural progression, because they already knew where they were going. And though Star Wars isn’t based on a book, the linear quality is especially true for Star Wars, because even if the Original Trilogy was done in the late seventies up to early eighties, and the Prequel Trilogy starting more than a decade later, it doesn’t skip a beat and they tie so well to each other, which makes them all the more impressive. Though the technology had made so many advances, the storytelling remained fluid, even if it was done backwards and with over a decade in between. And in Lord of the Rings, the films were cliff-hangers, yes, but they were just conclusive enough to get you itching for the next one.

So on Saturday, I spent a gripping twelve hours watching Star Wars. I had seen a meme with the recommended viewing order for Star Wars, but I decided to watch it conventionally, meaning, in chronological release order, the original, before the prequel. And I was really amazed, that even in the seventies, the special effects are still passable, good even, by today’s standards. George Lucas had such foresight, or just really great  prowess that what was done in the seventies, is still futuristic today! That to me is the most important thing, that’s it’s believable and convincing, and when I’m watching, I get immersed or drawn into it and I get to experience through film a reality far from my own, transporting me to another place and time, to galaxies far away and unknown. That sounds escapist, but isn’t that the point?

Okay, and I don’t deny the appeal was largely due to a dashing young Harrison Ford as Hans Solo; and Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Hayden Christensen as Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker, respectively. But even as I always love action, big fight scenes and high speed chases whether in present day cities or outer space, I love how Star Wars has all these profound themes, such as the notion of the Force and the Dark Side, good versus evil, and fighting for what you believe in. Star Wars is both triumphant and tragic in that, yes Luke Skywalker reconciled his father back to the light side of the Force, in the end, but then in the first place, Anakin Skywalker lost everything he loved by giving into his fear, that fear turning into anger, anger into hatred, and hatred into pain and suffering, he just self-destructed, and emerged a shell of his former self, as Darth Vader. Though there was redemption for him in the end, it was such a loss, when he held so much promise. And it’s no so much the whole father son thing, because Luke hardly knew his father as Anakin Skywalker, so there was no love lost there. That’s nothing next to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s heartbreak as his master, teacher, and friend. Obi-Wan believed in him, put his faith in him, and mentored him in Qui-Gon’s stead, yet Anakin betrayed that trust, and forced Obi-Wan to maim Anakin, and later live in obscurity, like a wanted fugitive. And it was all Anakin’s fault really, he was so full of himself, and had so much hubris, that he misconstrued the Jedi Masters teaching him patience and wisdom as holding him back, curbing him. It’s a dark day indeed when the Master, that took Anakin under his wing, must fight his own beloved student, to keep him from harming others. But more than anything else, even adventure, I think Star Wars is all about friendship. Not about from freedom from tyranny, no I don’t think so. Not even the Force, defeating evil, or overcoming your inner demons, and rising above hatred and anger to find compassion. This is just me, but I think Star Wars is ultimately about friendship so deep that you would rather see your friend dead than have him turn his back on all that was good in him, and in the process destroying the lives of others. Rather than stand by and watch him turn into a monster, Obi-Wan left Anakin for dead, no matter how much it pained him. I think perhaps that’s what makes Star Wars so enduring, because of the universal value of friendship. That and its unforgettable theme music. Not kidding.

Moving onto Lord of the Rings, I spent most of Sunday watching the trilogy (that’s nine hours!) back to back. Lately I’ve been drawn to Medieval fantasy types of settings in shows and movies, much more the Medieval, than the fantasy part. I love Kings and castles, swords, armor, and warfare. And Lord of the Rings did not disappoint in that respect, because I feasted my eyes on just about every kind of landscape, from imposing fortresses, to underground lairs, from enchanted forests to craggy mountains. The production design was just orgasmic. All the intricate sets and costumes! My dream is to work on a project of that scale, someday. To achieve that kind of vision and make fantasy into reality!

But anyway, Lord of the Rings, felt like I was on the arduous and perilous journey with the whole Fellowship. Because each film was around three hours long, I was along for the whole ride, through hell and high water, literally. When watching average films, at the one hour mark more or less everything’s starting to fall into place, but with Lord of the Rings, an hour into any of the films, and it’s only just begun! Even in the last thirty minutes there are still so many surprises in store! And I’m the type of person who loves spoilers, at that. Spoilers, for me, don’t spoil the ending, but actually make me even more eager to find out how it all plays out! I know what to expect, but I don’t know how it’ll all happen, if you get my drift. I mean, when I read a synopsis for anything, it tells you what’s going to happen, but then it doesn’t account for the mise-en-scène, nothing of the aesthetic, and besides knowing how it’s going to end doesn’t change the way I feel about it. Oh well, that’s me. Back to the point. I loved how the Lord of the Rings didn’t just revolve around Frodo, and all the rich characters had their chance to shine and hold the spotlight. While Frodo was inching his way to Mordor, the rest of the characters were off fighting their own battles, and you don’t get bored. I mean if it were only about Frodo, and it took him three movies to complete his mission at that, then, that’s pretty stale. Yes, that was the main story line, but each character had sub-quests to keep them busy, and more importantly, me entertained!

But at the end of the day, after nine hours straight, I was really dismayed when Frodo succumbed to the ring. I mean, he came all that way, and went through so much hardship, but he proved no match for the ring. And that says something about the nature of power. It’s so intoxicating, that before you know it, you’ve been corrupted by it. You might even mean well, but absolute power is just not meant to be wielded by any one person. It was a valiant effort by Frodo, he bore that burden for so long, but when it came time to dispose of the ring, he too was taken over by it, weakened and unable to resist it any longer. But what was most striking, was Sam’s devotion to Frodo, he was by Frodo’s side through it all—unwavering, unfaltering, and constant. But I sometimes wonder about sidekicks and their motivations. I don’t understand it because I’m not that type of self-sacrificing person, but I’ve always admired it. I don’t think I have that kind of capacity, so when I witness it in others, I ask myself what they have that I don’t, and then I remember how I once chose self-preservation over love and friendship. But that’s a story best told another day.

In a nutshell, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are both so well executed, that when they ended, I felt fulfilled and satisfied. It ran its course and I have no regrets whatsoever. I didn’t quite get that feeling from Harry Potter, though. It’s as if not everything had been said and done yet, and I was sorry when it came to and end. But then you can’t always have it all…

Epic movies are epic!

Avengers, SOON!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fierce Friday

There’s a certain policy that I abide by, and that is Strictly No Homework on Fridays, meaning all my assignments can wait until Saturday, but Friday, afterschool, is exclusively Me Time. Unless of course I’m having an exceptionally hellish hell week, that’s the only time that rule doesn’t apply anymore, and the last semester that happened with alarming frequency, much to my chagrin, and it felt like my academic load, was holding my weekends hostage, and I was captive to never-ending tasks the whole semester. Thankfully, that’s not (yet) the case this weekend, with one week of Summer classes officially behind me. Right now I’m still semi-carefree, but I’m sure, without fail, my school work will pile up before long, so I’m really just enjoying the calm before the storm, in a manner of speaking.

Anyway, I’m not really an outgoing person, so I prefer relaxing on Fridays to nights out and parties with friends. In short I just like to forget all about the school week that passed and all the work I have to get to, even if it’s only for a short while, so I can have some quiet or peace of mind and not worry about the coming week. Occasionally I go out to the movies, and I have been wanting to watch Titanic 3D, but the miser in me isn’t willing to blow PhP300 all in one go, when I’ve already seen it before, besides the much awaited Avengers is showing soon and I’d rather save the money for then. But I feel a bit bad about missing out on Titanic, I bet the experience is way different on the big screen, and in 3D at that. I was still a little kid when it first came out in cinemas, and I only watched it when I was a little bit older, on TV, so that pales in comparison to a movie theater. But between Titanic and Avengers, I’d still choose Avengers, no matter how that pains me. Oh, Jack. My mind was made up, so I went home after my classes and stayed home today. Maybe other people need more excitement and fun, but I’m content with that.

Before I go on, I’ll just go over how my day went, and also touch a little bit on Wednesday and Thursday, because I missed blogging on those days. They weren’t really eventful, but it’s better to round off the week. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps after Tuesday, and I didn’t really feel any better on Wednesday and Thursday. Don’t get me wrong, my classes are actually fun and I like my professors, but I’m still hung up on this Summer and I haven’t quite wrapped my head around going to school Monday to Friday, when I could be frolicking, instead of studying. I’ve tried to rationalize it away to avoid my own drama, but it’s hard to do when the heat about takes away my zest for life. It’s not so bad, at this rate, because my classes are from 9 am to 1 pm and it’s still tolerable with my one air-conditioned classroom, but it only gets even hotter after that, and it just saps me of all my energy. Though I’ve tried compensating by wearing the skimpiest or thinnest and least clothes I can get away with, short of indecency, and by drinking more water, my throat always feels dry and parched, and it always feels like I’m melting and sweating away whatever spirit I have. If that doesn’t dampen anybody’s enthusiasm, literally, I don’t know anymore.

I break a sweat even before I’m out the door, and just getting into my car, which about halves the little patience I have, if any, to begin with. My sister knows this best, and combined with Manila traffic, I bark curses, honk my horn without restraint, I refuse to yield to other motorists, and I drive pretty aggressively. She has an earlier class so Mama and Papa drive her to school and I take my own car later, so she can’t always keep an eye on me and keep my road rage-tendencies in check. I pose more of a danger to myself than to other motorists when I’m angry, because I seriously will not give way, not even to a bus, if the driver doesn’t have the right of way, and that sort of thing. I sometimes have these urges to put motorcyles in their place, but I know better and I just leave them alone. My sister is my passenger most of the time, but she’s also my built in traffic enforcer, chiding me for violations of safe driving. But even if she’s not with me, she was thoughtful enough to burn a CD for me to play in the car while driving to help me stay cool.

I don’t like listening to the radio when I drive because it can be distracting when the DJ’s talk, so I play CD’s and music. For the longest time I’ve just been alternating between Sitti and Nina. They’re both local artists, OPM, and they used to keep me mellow, but over months of repetition, they’re not effective anymore, and my sister’s been wanting to introduce me to an up and coming band, called One Direction, so she prepared a CD for me. At first I wasn’t really interested, I’d heard of them before, but I’m not really up to date on musical acts and bands. But nonetheless, I was touched that she was sharing it with me. We don’t really have interests in common, so it’s nice to meet in the middle like that. But as it turns out, One Direction is actually good car listening! In fairness, the bubblegum pop and teenybopper, feel good music and the pubescent sounding voices reminiscent of Backstreet Boys and A1 (I feel so old) gave me good vibes! It’s not normally my type of music, but as far as keeping me from turning into a devil behind the wheel, how can you lose your temper even if you’re stuck in traffic, when there are all these upbeat and cute voices? No joke! Thanks, darling sissy-poo! It’s good LSS (Last Song Syndrome) material when you’re sandwiched between cars in bumper to bumper traffic, that I’ve been experiencing the past two days at Tandang Sora flyover.

In any case, my driving mood notwithstanding, half-day morning classes are still a drag because of the heat. And I’m hungry all the time! Having breakfast at seven and class until one totally throws off my ideal lunch hour between 11 and 12. I bring small snacks for lunch just to get through my classes, but then I end up gorging myself come merienda time! Tsk tsk tsk. That means my workouts are payback time! I thought it was hard having classes the whole day, then having homework, and working out regularly, but that wasn’t in this summer heat! Even if my classes are only half-day, I get home really, really tired. Not to mention, leaving the car parked out in the sun for four hours turns the steering wheel and the seat-belt burning hot to the touch and I have to turn the air-conditioning on for a while before I can drive off.

My summer prospects are a bit bleak if the heat continues like this, however, things are starting to look up somewhat. Willing or not, I’m falling back into a school rhythm, and today being Friday, I was in a better mood, in anticipation of the weekend and I just tried to channel zen and whatnot so my classes would go by faster. Sometimes all it takes is an attitude adjustment to have a smooth day. I would know, I am a queen among drama queens. Going back, the last few nights I’ve been sleeping way earlier to recover from the strain of the hot days, and I have to say it’s been a big help! I woke this morning feeling really light after my late night Hip Hop Abs workout. I went through my usual morning rituals and cam-whored a little before going to school.

IMG_0833Here’s a little face of the day, which isn’t out of the ordinary, but today I used Nyx Round Lipstick in Thalia. My undereyes are a bit puffy, but oh well, that’s life. I’m glad that the pimple I had above my left eyebrow has begun to dry up, but another has taken its place on the left side of my nose. Nothing a little makeup can’t take care of, so no problem. ByIMG_0834 the way, this is how my hair looks because I don’t wash my hair in the mornings to save time (I do it at night, and it doesn’t get dirty when you sleep after all), and when I shower in the morning I twist my hair up in a bun so it won’t get wet, and it gets wavy when I let it down afterwards. It gets limp as the day goes on though, but I took this picture before leaving to show you how much volume I can give my hair with just tying it. And for my outfit of the day, like IMG_0835I said, my clothes are getting shorter by the day, so today I wore a yellow shirt, a denim mini skirt, and my trusty sandals. I bought this skirt in first year and even then it barely fit, but now I have wiggle room! I love short skirts. In the case of skirts, I admit to flaunting my legs, but more than that, they help keep me cool. It’s so refreshing to feel the wind in your legs. I’m so glad UP doesn’t have a dress code. Back in high school our skirts had to go down to our ankles, almost, and the fabric was so thick and hot and stuffy!



Alright, Speech 111 and PI 100 were both really fun and not too heavy today. My professors were also in the mood for the weekend and didn’t keep me. I love how my Speech 111 professor is prone to going off topic when she remembers something in connection to the lesson and goes off into funny anecdotes and she lapses into thoughtful pauses only to share amusing stories. It kept things light and it was nice, in between vocal exercises to laugh. My PI 100 class was also pretty casual, our professor being hip and cool. I like his approach of humanizing Rizal for us to better understand him as a person, as a man, as a boy. In high school, my teacher just put him on a pedestal and reduced studying Rizal’s life to insignificant trivia, like memorizing his whole name, when there’s so much more than can be said of Rizal’s childhood and background than just his entire family tree and his full name! Our professor wants to debunk the myth of Rizal to show us Rizal as just a man. I like it so much more that way, unconventional and interesting.

Well, that was that, I hurried home, Friday was all mine after that! Another thing I was looking forward to was the hot lunch waiting for me at home, since it was market day, and that only means sinigang na baboy, corn, and fresh fruits! I got home, even with barely any traffic, a little bit past 1, and the homefolks had gone ahead without me and by the time I got back the sinigang and the rice weren't as piping hot as I would have liked, but it was still so delicious and hearty.

IMG_0844IMG_0852After lunch, I let my hair down, both figuratively and literally because I put it up. Here’s a shot of my makeup after classes. Some shine, but otherwise, it held up nicely in the heat. Thanks, mineral makeup!





So, my activity for the afternoon was to watch old Filipino movies! The day before, I watched Ishmael Bernal’s Manila By Night, and today I watched Lino Brocka’s Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag. I looked for a copy of Bayaning Third World for my PI 100 class, and while searching for it, I stumbled onto channels on YouTube with lots of old Filipino movies that I’ve wanted to watch for a long time. We’ve discussed those two Manila films in Film 100 and in my other majors, but I hadn’t seen them until now. I knew what to expect since I already had an idea of what they were all about, but still there’s nothing like the real deal. Bernal and Brocka have such nuanced visual story-telling, and coupled with twisted plots, dark themes, and a stellar cast! Oh, how I wish there were directors in the same league as them, right now, to produce quality films of old. But then everything’s so homogeneous, it’s all boils down to formula love stories between look-alike actors and actresses, a dime a dozen. You don’t find actors and actresses that have distinct looks anymore, it’s all carbon copies. Bea Alonzo and Angel Locsin combined are nowhere near as beautiful as Lorna Tolentino, Rio Locsin, and Alma Moreno. And not even John Lloyd Cruz can best Bembol Roco when he still had hair! Okay, so both Manila By Night and Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag were tragic, or didn’t have happy endings, but it’s just what I needed. I’d been feeling disillusioned and jaded lately and a dose of social realism was just what the doctor ordered. Happy endings would have only made me feel all the more at odds with myself.


IMG_0855IMG_0856While watching, I had a tall glass of Rocky Road and Double Dutch ice cream for merienda. Remember my avocado dirty ice cream on Tuesday? Well, I told the story to my parents and yesterday they brought home a gallon tub of Selecta ice cream. In the past, a half-gallon was just for me. I could bulldoze it in one sitting. I am not exaggerating. Now, however, I still consume that same amount, but over two days, and not just in one fell swoop. And then I pay a high price for it by working out IMG_0860extra hard! But it’s all worth it, because the ice cream was just so divine. It gives me a greater sense of purpose when I work out. I work out so I can enjoy my food without any guilt. Do these lips look guilty? That’s how I love my ice cream, right down to every lip-smacking spoonful. Chocolate lipstick and all.




IMG_0861Speaking of working out, after finishing the movie, I removed all of my makeup with my ever reliable Pond’s cold cream and then I washed off any residue with Pond’s Antibacterial Facial Scrub to get ready to wok out. Say hello to my squeaky clean, makeup free face!






And then I readied my gear. I laid out my mat and prepared my water bottles for the downpour of sweat that I knew was going to come. Besides, the heat wasn’t letting up and my electric fan was aimed at my laptop where I follow the exercise video from on top of my desk, to keep it from overheating, so I would go without any cool air.


IMG_0867I changed into my workout attire after that. I’m into my third week of the Hip Hop Abs program and it’s gotten more and more intense! I’ve actually seen a difference already. My arms and legs feel leaner and tighter, and my oblique's have gotten more defined. I haven’t bulked up at all, but my muscles have gotten firmer! Today’s workout was particularly ferocious! I was practically a boneless heap on my mat when I was done! My whole body was crying out in surrender after a full hour of torture! And my sweat was phenomenal. I could feel the fat droplets rolling down my back, my arms, my chest. Beads of sweat just cascading down my body. I was soaked, I had bathed in my sweat, in the fire of my limbs! My rosacea was on high alert too!
















All for the greater glory of this temple. Friday is for kicking butt!IMG_0898

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shoestring Tuesday

Today was a dull day. My two classes have both picked up the pace and gotten down to business, but my heart just wasn’t in it today. My mind and body were present, but my heart was someplace else, thinking of summer. The only distinct impression I have from today is the heat, on and on, the heat.

I woke up fifteen minutes ahead of my alarm clock, sometimes that happens, my body somehow senses it’s time to wake up, and I beat my own alarm clock to the punch. But I stayed in bed and waited for it to ring anyway before getting up because I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I was wide awake and that there was no escaping the hamster wheel, the daily grind. But of course it was inevitable and I got ready to face another day.

I drove to school with my sister and we were barely out of Batasan on our way to Commonwealth and there was already a traffic bottleneck and cars alternated between being at a standstill or moving jerkily. There were supposed to be three lanes, but Filipinos being Filipinos, the rightmost lane is used for parking by the establishments along it, leaving cars with just two lanes. Only the tricycles and motorcycles could zip in and out and between cars. I hate it when they do that, it’s like they’re just asking for it, like they have a death wish, because you don’t even see them coming, only when they’re already right next to you and about to squeeze in front of you, and you nearly clip them! They just fly by my peripheral vision! And also, they insist on staying in the middle of the lane and moving slower, impeding me! My sister was watching me like a hawk the whole time, to keep me from flying off my handle and going berserk.

We made it to school, and thanks to the car’s air-conditioning, I kept my head more or less cool. The moment I stepped out though, that was a different story. I couldn’t even make it to my classroom without feeling beads of sweat starting to form. Luckily, my room was air-conditioned, so that was a joy. But even if we had a small room and there were only a few of us in class, it didn’t really get cold. You wouldn’t be hot anymore, but the air-conditioning was at the maximum setting at that, so just think how much hotter it was outside!

Class went fine. We covered a lot in two hours, and I rushed to my next class. I actually bumped into my professor for my next class going down the stairs, because he was coming from his office at the Faculty Center and on his way to class too, so we walked together and chatted a bit. It was just a little awkward though, that he saw I was also on my way to our class. I’m used to being early, so having consecutive classes and being just on time is a weird feeling.

Anyway, we started discussing about what our notions of heroes were and compared traditional and post-modern views, and a lot of points were brought up. I tried to participate actively, and so did a few of the others, but I think we’re all still trying to get a feel for each other. During regular semesters, the first week we get to warm up to each other, but during Summer, everything’s on a fast track, so it’s hard to find your footing in class automatically and just snap into discussion mode. But on a high note, the obnoxious guys from yesterday were gone. I don’t know if they were just absent today or if they’ve dropped out of the class. I hope it’s for good because our other classmates could use the seats, rather than those waste of space jerks!

The professor let us out about thirty minutes early and as I was walking back to the parking lot, I spotted the dirty ice cream cart and I gravitated to it. It was so very hot and the oatmeal cookies and raisins I scarfed down earlier in class really didn’t make for a very satisfying lunch. I normally pack a more substantial lunch, but considering how my classes are one after another, anything I bring needs to be on the go food, like biscuits and crackers and bite-size things that don’t require utensils. There’s always food waiting at home, but even if I get out of class before one, the travel time is still a factor, and I really have to eat by noon or else I start trembling and shaking.

Going back to the ice cream, I asked what flavors were available: avocado, mango, and cheese. I don’t like cheese flavored desserts, and when I eat ensaymada, I remove the cheese, so I was torn between mango and avocado. I mean you can ask for two flavors, but I didn’t want to mix the two, so I went with avocado, because I can eat fresh mangoes all the time, but avocado isn’t always in season. I asked the vendor for 20 pesos’ worth. I was surprised when he started scooping ice cream into the second to the largest size of cone, and I was sad and disappointed to learn that there had been a price increase. For the longest time, 20 pesos could get you the largest, and thickest and crunchiest waffle cone, and I just assumed it was still the same. I thought wrong. Now the larges cone was for 25 pesos.

IMG_0757I paid the vendor and walked to my car and really ate my ice cream in a hurry because even a short distance under the sun was causing it to melt rapidly. My car was less than two minutes away and it was dripping by the time I got in my car and turned up my air-conditioning full blast. It was so light and refreshing, but the price increase left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. I could afford to add another five pesos, but it’s the principle that matters to me, that I can’t even enjoy a simple treat I used to because everything’s gotten more and more expensive.

There’s a local Selecta Cornetto commercial with a tagline that goes, “Hanggang saan aabot ang bente pesos mo?” Loosely translated into English, it means, what can you buy with twenty pesos? And supposedly the Cornetto cone is that much, meaning you can afford at least the simplest pleasure of ice cream on a hot day. But actually in groceries, they charge more than twenty pesos, and have a markup price. And in the case of dirty ice cream, I thought my twenty pesos was enough to buy me the large cone, but apparently, because of rising prices, I got less than that. My twenty pesos wasn’t worth the same amount of ice cream. Even my favorite ice cream is now more expensive. It was really disheartening.

I pondered while I drove home. It might seem insignificant, it’s just ice cream, after all, but it’s like the time that the price of instant noodles on campus increased by one peso when Styrofoam was banned and they switched to paper plates. It used to be fifteen pesos, but became sixteen pesos. It’s one peso, and while I could certainly spare one peso more (back when I still ate instant noodles on a regular basis), I felt violated by the very idea that this was instant noodles, with barely any nutritional value, and you ate it because it was cheap, fast, and inexpensive, and they had found a way to take that away too.

Maybe the heat has gotten to me and put me into a foul mood, but there a few things on this earth I hold dear, and one of them is ice cream. It’s so screwed up. It’s a cruel world indeed when even dirty ice cream, which is supposed to be a heavenly ice cold delight on a shoestring budget, is now farther from reach.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Blues

My car’s number coding is on Monday, so today I had to ride along with my sister, and it just so happens that I only had classes today from 11-1 and hers are from 9-4, so I had to go to school early and later wait for her to finish up, to save on gas from back and forth trips. I totally get it, gas is expensive, and if I have to wait, so be it. Of course I wasn’t happy about it, but I at least made productive use of the time and didn’t just sit around idling away. I blogged, and I met my PI 100 professor, had some laughs, but I have mixed feelings about how today went.

This morning, I woke up feeling generally well-rested, after my workout last night, I fell asleep right away, but of course waking up at 7, who can avoid feeling groggy? I know I dreamed some pretty weird stuff, but I forgot it already, and to be honest, doing the Last Minute Abs routine straight out of bed doesn’t really help retain dream fragments because I was busy concentrating on getting a good warm-up. Anyway, I went about my morning routine like any other day, and off to school, I went with my sister.

I asked to be dropped off at CMC to get my ID validated so I could go to the Main Library later, and I wrapped up a blog entry I started the night before there, right outside the BC Department, and I took advantage of the Journalism Department’s internet connection. Too bad they block Twitter and Facebook, but at least the connection was a lot more steady than Dilnet. I haven’t tried YouTube though, but I guess that’s pushing my luck. At any rate I got some work done, and it’s kind of a longshot, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. Cryptic for now, let’s see how this develops and then I’ll tell.

While I was sitting outside the department, I caught a glimpse of my program adviser Ma’am Jane, and I think my heart leapt for joy into my throat. She’s been gone on leave for a semester and I got handed off to the next available adviser. She’s been my adviser since my freshman days, and I kind of got separation anxiety, or curriculum anxiety, because if you don’t have rapport or if your adviser doesn’t know you, it can be a real pain trying to defend your subject choices. Ma’am Jane always grilled me, but not to give me a hard time, only for me to be more decisive, and to stand by my decisions. I love that about her, she’s hands-on, but at the same time she let’s you go to find your own way. I miss her and our BC 104 days. I really hope she’ll offer BC 124 next semester. So I thought I’d say hi and maybe sneak in a consultation, but she was busy, but it can wait until first semester. I was just glad to see her again. She said I looked good too. Woot! Woot!

IMG_0738IMG_0739Speaking of, before I headed out of CMC for AS at 10 am, I freshened up in the lavatory, just sitting around and using Wi-Fi out in the hallway was really hot and humid, I tell you! And I was wearing a pink mini skirt and a loose shirt at that! On another note, I didn’t realize how loose the shirt’s gotten on me. It just felt comfortable and I put it on, I didn’t think it’d look like a sack. Oh, well, I bought that back when I was still really thick, now it just hangs on my broad shoulders and does nothing for my waist. As for my face of the day, I’m still on the red side after going swimming yesterday, and my eyebags are dreadful, but I’m wearing Nyx Round Lipstick Orange Soda here. I put my hair up in a low and loose side ponytail because buns tug too much and I end up losing hair.

So after camwhoring, I left the building. Literally. And I stepped out into an oven. No, a kiln! Not even my double-sided umbrella could shield me from the sun! I didn’t want to take a jeepney to AS out of miserliness, and also because I was in a skirt, so I was walking in the direction of the Lagoon to take a shortcut, when my eye caught the sunflowers over University Avenue, and I figured I would go around the Oval anyway, why not make a small stop? So even in that heat, for the love of sunflowers, I trudged on over there. I wanted a closer look and I was hoping for inspiration and clarity. Sunflowers just face the sun and they do it beautifully, and I want to know what I’m supposed to do, and to do it beautifully. Maybe that’s kind of a farfetched analogy since I’m a person and certainly life’s a lot more complicated than just sticking to what you do best, but I want to be more purposeful. But yeah, aren’t they pretty? 









And then I saw that one of the flowers had a gift tag attached to it! It was a really sweet message, and it warmed my heart. I don’t know who it was addressed to, but I’m really happy for her. The sunflower is a symbol of the fruition or realization of dreams and hard work. Godspeed!







After that, I walked to AS with some lightness in my heart, even if it was boiling outside! No joke. The fabric of my shirt was so thin, my sweat just about soaked through it by the time I made it to AS. And when I got there, I was still too early for my 11 am class, even though I’d about walked as slow as my legs would allow, normally a brisk walking type. It was good exercise, nonetheless. In class, I sat there wondering if my PI 100 professor would show and I was torn between wishing he wouldn’t so I wouldn’t have anything PI 100 related to do yet, and wishing he would because then going to school on Monday would’ve been in vain!

But before I go onto how our meeting went, there were these two guys sitting in front of me and they were so obnoxious and loud! Before the professor arrived, I overheard them talking about trying to convince the professor they were Korean and couldn’t understand Filipino so he would have to speak in English! I mean I would get it if they were fresh from the conyo-land high school they came from, I was like that too before, but this is UP for goodness’ sake! I was (and still am) ashamed when I don’t understand deep Tagalog when I’m a Filipino and I really try hard because it’s supposed to be my native language, but those guys weren’t even making an effort! So I sat there feeling disgusted at them, and then a man showed up and got everything in order and started to call the roll, but realized he brought a wrong class list or something, so he told us he would be right back, and he left. We were waiting for him, when another man entered the room, a different man and introduced himself as our teacher! What just happened! We all had that flabbergasted look on our faces, but the man settled in and introduced himself and it turns out he was our teacher, after all. Maybe the first man mixed up classes, but it was just the strangest thing!

It was all in all very bizarre, and we had a brief orientation on how our professor would handle our PI 100. He seemed very laidback and he joked a lot, but he had the sharpest wit. When the two guys requested he speak in English and he asked them why and they said they were Chinese, he told them they should’ve gone to La Salle, that way they’d be with their crowd and they wouldn’t be having that conversation. And one point just went to the professor for that. It was so annoying how he spoke to them in Filipino, and they answered in English, meaning they understood perfectly well, but didn’t make the effort to communicate! I had a classmate like that before, she wasn’t Chinese though, she was just a conyo kid through and through and I made it a point to address her in straight Filipino, and always, always, without fail, she would answer me back in English! I don’t mean to discriminate against Chinese or conyo kids, but I know plenty of people who were brought up speaking English, but if you talk to them in Filipino, even if their Filipino’s awkward and stilted, they’ll make the effort, and they don’t expect other people to adjust to them. Meaning, isn’t it so absurd we’re all in the Philippines and yet the lingua franca is English! I’m not saying Tagalog or Filipino isn’t without its issues as a national language, but those guys acted like it was beneath them or something! When we went to Ilocos, I wished I could speak Ilocano so I could understand them, when we went to Cebu, I wished I knew Cebuano. I wanted to be able to reach out to them and relate to them, and not expect them to relate to me or adjust to me.

Then our teacher asked them if they knew any Chinese heroes or if they knew the role of the Chinese in the resistance effort during the Japanese Occupation and they just shrugged, so arguing you can’t understand Filipino because you’re Chinese, but knowing nothing about their own legacy is so invalid! And then our professor made a point, that it’s hard being Filipino Chinese because it’s neither fully Filipino, but neither is it Chinese either, kind of a middle ground where those jerks just insist being Chinese exempts them from using Filipino, but not knowing any local Chinese history. Three points to the professor already!

But then the professor asked us if we knew about any local heroes in our respective provinces, and my province-less-ness cropped up again. He said it was sad not having a province and knowing only Metro Manila, where there’s no real culture, and I agree. I’ve explored this in my Batad entry, but it’s all the more true when I think on how Manila doesn’t mean anything to me, historically/heroically, or otherwise. I don’t feel the sense of belonging or owning that I would know about Manila as my place for over twenty years. He also asked us if we’d read any works by heroes and he was really disappointed that we couldn’t name any, because our generation doesn’t read anymore. I recited about Amado V. Hernandez’s Mga Ibong Mandaragit, but I was really tentative about it. It got his attention though.

So, going back to Rizal, he asked us what we knew about Jose Rizal, and what else we wanted to learn about him, because even though so much has been said, to this day, Jose Rizal is still an enigma. I totally agree, and I’m curious to see how he’ll paint Rizal for us, because I didn’t really get to appreciate Rizal in high school because of a lousy teacher who didn’t know how to teach and who just assigned chapters of Noli and El Fili to class reporters. How can anyone be engaged by that? I’m really hoping this time around will be more interesting. Fingers crossed. Well how can anything be boring with a fictionist?

The professor also went on about how sad it is that the best and brightest all want to leave for greener pastures, what would become of the country then, with a fractured sense of nationalism or patriotism and heroism? And it’s because we hardly know anything about ourselves as a country that we don’t think twice to leave it. I’ve been thinking on that since class was dismissed and I really don’t have an answer. It’s kind of a conundrum to me. Even now that I’m getting sleepy while writing this, my mind is still furiously trying to figure it out. Maybe tomorrow will shed some light on the matter at hand, when we tackle ideas about heroes.

After class, I spent the rest of my time waiting at the Main Library and it’s such a comfort, being in the presence of books, all that peace and quiet. Not to mention it was way cooler in the library than anywhere else! I tried to take my mind off of things by just browsing the web and catching up on blogging, but at the back of my mind, it was all still there.








I still don’t know what to make of today, it was such a mixed bag. Some laughs, a lot of thought provoking insights, some contemplation, some brooding. I really hope tomorrow will be brighter.