Sunday, June 26, 2005

Behind the funny story...

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's Christmas Party. Jack is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He doesn't even remember how he got home from the party.

As bad as he is feeling, he wonders if he did something wrong. Jack has to force himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose! Jack sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house. He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror. Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick:

"Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go get groceries to make you your favorite dinner tonight. I love you, darling! Love, Jillian"

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and the morning newspaper. His son is also at the table, eating. Jack asks, "Son... what happened last night?"

"Well, you came home after 3 AM, drunk and out of your mind. You fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door."

Confused, he asked his son, "So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"

"His son replies, "Oh THAT! Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, "Leave me alone, lady, I'm married!"

Broken Coffee Table $39.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Saying the right thing, at the right time, priceless.

And that is a truly priceless answer, from the viewpoint of the wife. I received this e-mail last week and was laughing over the whole story. I read the story again tonight, and then fell into musing.

Marriage is a sacrament, which both parties should take seriously. Partners should love their partner and be faithful to them. This is no easy thing to accomplish, as old and weathered married ones would tell you. In this story, I immediately understood the premise, which was:

Married man attends party;
Married man arrives home drunk;
Wife secretly worries about passionate attachment;
Wife then finds out happy truth that Married man has stayed faithful.

As soon as I read about the part where Jack has a wife, it hit me that this was going to turn into the age-old story on being faithful. And sure enough, it was.

For children of popular culture, they too would find it easy to guess the premise without finishing the whole story. And this, for me, is where it gets interesting. Why should we be so attuned to the fact that a husband would (most) probably cheat on his wife in the most cliched of parties, the office Christmas party? Is it in the stories that we hear and read, the shows and moveis that we watch? How is it that we automatically know? Or better yet, how is it that we automatically assume such a thing?

Perhaps other people would say that it's part of our social programming today, that we just get used to the fact that a man would most probably cheat on his wife, and that the wife would probably have that fact in the back of her head as well. For why would the wife go to such lengths for the husband after she has found out that he remained pure? Is it a reward of sorts, that the man gets pampered just for doing what he promised to do at the altar? Why should the wife do all that? Is it because she doesn't trust the environment, her husband, or both?

If I had been the wife, I would have been pleased with his reply. But in the morning, Jack would find this note in the mirror:

Broken Coffee Table $39.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Coming home drunk at 3 AM in the morning, you clean up your own bloody mess.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is what you should be reading.

There's no use for me to comment on what's raging in the political arena. Others have said it more eloquently and with more critical analysis besides. I settle for bombarding El Presidente with questions and engaging in friendly arguments about it.

Go to these blogs and read their take on the Gloriagate issue. Aren't they illuminating?

The Sassy Lawyer's various analysis;
The La Vida Lawyer with Sun Tzu complements;
Punzi's Corner Blog and his lessons on law (quite useful);
The Unlawyer with his opinions on Gloriagate (I got Gloriagate from him, by the way)
Torn and his take on Philippine politics;
PCIJ's blog, which is still the best source for information about Gloriagate.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A letter to the Mother and the Father in Singapore.

Hello Mother,

How’s your trip so far? Take lots of nice pictures, and remember there are separate settings on the camera, so don’t forget to adjust whenever needed.

We had the electricity checked out last night. The guy was a friend of Kuya Dick’s, and he said that there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with our electricity. That grounding he was talking about, it might have come from the next door neighbor’s electric wires, not ours. If it came from ours, then the inside of the house would have burned first, and you and Tay wouldn’t have a home to come to at all. =D

It was volte face, actually. Quite ironic, if you count the number of times I had thought that the house was being robbed or burning down while I was out of it. The one time I went to Z’s to sleep at her house (after French Music Festival; details below), there had to be a small fire at the back. Only Ate G, J, and their friend were at the house, and they were scared of what had happened. I felt guilty all the time sleeping over at Z’s, and then I came home to realize that my nightmares had almost come true.


I went to the annual French Music Festival at Ortigas last Saturday night. Ugh. Thousands upon thousands of people, not all of them smelling good. Tons of teenage rocker wannabes, and lots of goodlooking guys actually, but they were pitifully outnumbered. The stink, oh the stink. Egads.

I was only able to listen to a couple of bands, and I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, as tons of people crowding inside the bars and in the outside area as well. I got TV time, though, saying hi to my friends on GMA’s TEXTTUBE. Your daughter, she’s famous. Along with D and T. The greeting will air on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sigh. Would have enjoyed said festival, if not for the volume of people crowding place. As it happened, we decided to get out early, around one in the morning (believe me, that was early). We hitched with C, a friend of ours, and goodness, we couldn’t even drive out of the stupid place, as it was packed.

Made ourselves feel better by lowering window and shouting as if drunk, “Yung mga Tatay niyo, batiin niyo! Father’s Day ngayon! Of course, we shouted that only after we made sure that the road was clear of any obstacles that would bar us from burning rubber. We didn’t want to be in the middle of a rumble. Too many jologs, so few of us.

So many kids, Mom. You couldn’t imagine the volume of the crowd that night. It was like everyone in the Greater Manila Area decided to crash. It was pretty wild, and not in a good way. The crush of people was too much, and everyone was jostling for one breath of air, preferably without the mingling of smoke, beer, and err, some other drugs that couldn’t be bought over the counter. Fortunately, we found an oasis at the underground parking. We spent a lot of time there, you could tell.

The experience depressed me a bit, so maybe I might not go next year. Why is it when things grow popular, it also grows a bit needless? The next time I want to listen to music, I just might swing over to a jazz bar in Makati.

I will conveniently rag John about your instructions and continue to be irritating older sister to the pasaway one.

Love you guys!

The Not so Proverbial Daughter,

Friday, June 17, 2005

That's when they say that too many calories are bad for you.

"How many calories are you supposed to eat if you're on a diet?" he said.
"About a thousand. Well, I usually aim for a thousand and come in at about fifteen hundred," I said, realizing as I said it that the last bit wasn't strictly true.
"A thousand?" said Tom, incredulously. "But I thought you needed two thousand just to survive."

- the hilarious Bridget Jones's Diary

It's becoming increasingly common for people to watch their calorie intake these days and strive for a healthier lifestyle. With all the fad diets that have been going all around the world (South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Scarsdale Diet, The 3-Day Diet, The Seven-Day All You Can Eat Diet, etc.), it's easy to just pick and choose from among them.

I'm all for healthy eating, although in the Philippines that'll be more of a challenge. Vendors line up on the sidewalks hawking their street food, McDonald's and Jollibee seem to be expanding at a record rate, and if you haven't noticed, your suki sari-sari stores carry a lot of junk food. If you do want to eat healthy, you'll have to cough up some cash, from 100-250 PHP. Per meal, mind you.

The local chain food stores, such as the abovementioned, have now made it part of their mission to offer to the public more healthier alternatives, such as salads, on their menu. In the US, they're also doing the same thing. McDonald's, for example, has deli sandwiches and more salads with variety. Surely that's a good thing?

At first look, it is. A quick look at the web quickly dispels the notion that these new additions are "healthier alternatives". The McDonald's Leaning Tower Italian Toasted Deli Sandwich packs in a whopping 610 calories, 30 grams of fat and 2060mg of sodium (including the sauce and cheese) (scroll down the page) and to reiterate, that's just one sandwich.

Your favorite Starbucks coffee/beverage isn't safe either. If you're currently on a diet and wondering why you're not losing weight as fast as you should, it's likely you're forgetting to exclude your favorite drinks.

In this January 2005 ABC news article, it says that

Beverages are a significant, if little recognized, source of calories. Many dieters make the mistake of thinking they're doing everything right but are still not losing weight, because they ignore the calories they drink, said nutritionist Dr. David Katz. He calls these liquid calories "renegade" calories.

For instance, when you're drinking that Starbucks Frappuccino, you're drinking three cheeseburgers worth of calories.

You also may be drinking more calories than you realize in other drinks, such as a small mocha latte from Dunkin' Donuts.

"If you think about the 290 calories in it, then compare it to a small order of french fries from McDonald's," he said.

I think, for that many calories, I'd rather eat the three McDonald's hamburgers, but then that's just me. Plus, it's probably cheaper.

In Ontario, Canada, they've developed a program called "Eat Smart". If you and your family want to eat out at somewhere with healthier menu choices, look for the Eat Smart symbol. The symbol guarantees healthier food choices on the menu and by request, exceptional standards in food safety, and 100 percent smoke-free seating.

Maybe in the Philippines we can implement the same program or come up with something of our own. We may not rival the US in obesity, but there's no harm in giving people healthier alternatives, right? Surely our health should be a priority?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

And that's why local tourism should continue to thrive.

I was out in Bohol for the long weekend, along with other members of our company. We were excited about seeing the Chocolate Hills and especially the world's smallest living primate, the tarsiers.

R. had told us beforehand about the impending trip, although I made the mistake of blurting out "Wow, Bacolod? I've never been there," only to have myself laughed at. These Philippine provinces, they confuse me.

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All smiles (almost) at 7.30 in the morning

The flight was mercifully uneventful, for which I, who normally abhor this, was thankful. That, and being sandwiched between R. and D., who thoughtfully exchanged stories about pilots flirting with pretty stewardesses which resulted in dying passengers, and stories about the National Geographic show Aircrash Investigation. I actually told a story about the latter. It was a proud moment.

After a somewhat smooth flight (I never classify flights as smooth unless I become high on my meds), we landed on Bohol soil for the first time and took our ride to our resort. Along the way, we glimpsed clean, blue-green water, houses built on water, a lot of SMART and GLOBE e-load posters, and signs like this:

Guinadili ang pangihi... (I can't remember the whole phrase, sorry)

Personally, I liked the first one. Succinct and to the point.

When we arrived at the resort, we learned that only one room was ready for occupancy, the other three being occupied until 12 noon, their checkout time. We chucked all our luggage in that room, rushed to the bathroom to change, and went immediately to...

the swimming pool. The beach was a second choice, seeing that it was full of lumot. We decided to lounge first by the pool area and unwind there. As we frolicked in the water, R. remarked with a laugh, "Sa pool lang pala tayo dederecho. Dapat nag-Laguna na lang tayo, hot springs."

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The beach at its prettiest, on Monday morning

Lunch was at a nearby place, with chicken and tuna and parrotfish and other staples of beach food. Who said that we weren't hungry? We were ravenous. I could show you our attacking of the poor, helpless food...but maybe not. I'll just show you these pictures, which R. took when we stopped to take pictures of the monument of the famous Blood Compact the next day.

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The view from the top

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In good company and then some

On our first night, we were sitting in the pool bar, wondering what games to play as a group. D. suggested we play "modified truth or dare", a suggestion that probably would have been good had it seen any light. In retrospect, it was a source for a lot of laughter. A lot.

In the end, we decided to play a version of "Trip to America", where the theme was "describing the person seated beside you", whether it be the clothes they wore, or the unique things about them. It was sedate at first, but then it got a bit smart. Without giving anyone away, here were some of the descriptions:

Kung makakapunta ako sa America, magdadala ako ng Merman!
Makakapunta ako sa America kapag...magpapatapyas ako ng boobs!
Can I go to America if I like tequila rose?
Makakapunta ako sa America kung magpapa-manicure at pedicure ako! (this coming from a guy)

There's more, but I don't want to be any more boring than I have been already. So henceforth, I will describe the sights and sounds and everything around.

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Enjoying the view on the river cruise

Our second day was busy. We were going on a river cruise, visit the tarsiers, and see the Chocolate Hills! After a delicious (burrp) lunch at one of the restaurants beside the river, we then clambered on a boat that would take us around the river. And boy, was the scenery just gorgeous. The whole expanse was full of trees and greenery, and the river was calm, glassy, and inviting. Local boys would jump out of the coconut trees and into the water. Deep down I'm sure they were gloating at their good fortune and secretly mocking us for not being able to swim with them.

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Isn't the Philippines beautiful?

After enjoying the cruise, we then went on to the next item on our agenda, the tarsiers. Although we weren't able to visit them in their natural habitat, we nevertheless still saw the little creatures in a DENR protected area. They were so small we couldn't find them in their trees, but eventually we caught sight of the sleepy little animals.

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Could literally fit in the palm of your hand

As we were fawning over the tarsiers, more and more people came up to look at them, and pet them too, despite the explicit sign "No handling of the tarsiers". Pinoys, you can't beat them at anything. The tarsiers were getting sleepier by the minute, because they were nocturnal animals, so we tried coaxing them into opening their eyes. It worked sometimes, but not all the times.

After that, it was off to the Chocolate Hills. First, though, was the ride through a lush and beautiful road full of trees and greenery on both ends. With the sunlight dappling on the leaves and filtering through the branches, everyone was quite hushed. We went back after our trip to the Hills and took a group picture, with everyone scampering off the road right after the flash of the camera.

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Frodo is hiding somewhere in this forest

A longing glance at the beautiful trees and then we were off to the Chocolate Hills. At the foot of the lookout point, there was a sign that said there were 214 steps going up. T. and I brazenly decided to count the steps to see if there really were 214 steps all in all. By the 100th step, we were barely breathing and wheezing like old geezers. Out of shape, that's us, by the way.

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They're not really made of chocolate

These hills have been a source of constant bafflement to scientists, because they just seemd to appear magically out of the ground. They don't know what caused these hills to rise. Whatever the reason, it will never detract from its beauty.

Bohol was an adventure, in more ways than I could tell you. There will be something to look forward to in more trips to the provinces. The allure can never be hidden.

*A happy thanks to N., A., and R. who arranged this trip. Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Smite them, please.

I happened to pick up a copy of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" at Powerbooks Glorietta 3 last Friday. In the first pages of the book, Diamond asks several engaging questions: Why isn't it that Africa conquered Europe, instead of the other way around? Why is it that Eurasia commanded most of the guns, germs, and steel instead of the other continents (Africa, Australia)? If you want to know his answers, well, do grab a copy of his work...when you have the extra cash to spare. *cough, splutter*

I took the liberty of tweaking the question a little. It now reads as: Why are we attracted to gossipy TV shows replete with innuendos and more gossip, instead of intelligent shows? What is it within the Filipino psyche that is indubitably attracted to it? And how come the spirituality factor is so strong?

The Sister-brat and I caught some footage of "The S-Files" while on our way to church yesterday. It described, in delicious detail, that Dino Guevarra and Kim de los Santos had now broken up and were in the process of annulling their marriage. It then showed shots of the two, with Dino looking sullen and Kim looking droopy. During the ride the clips we watched were intermittent, due to the snowy nature of the TV reception, but I was able to hear parts of Dino's justification, and Kim's as well.

*"Kung magiging happy ako, ba't niya ako pipigilan? At kung happy naman siya, ba't ko siya pipigilan?" (If I'm happy, why would she stop me? And if she's happy, why would I stop her?) asked Dino, in that blend of whine, self-justification, and retort that seemingly entrances millions.

Kim apparently sent a text message to S-Files, which they showed on screen. I think parts were read out loud as well.

**"Alam ko naman, si Lord, aalagaan niya ako..." (I know the Lord will take care of me.) read some of the text. At that moment I couldn't concentrate, so great was my fury (okay, I was miffed. A little bit.). I don't pretend not to judge people because of what they say and do (I tend to do that a lot, even if I like to think I'm the opposite), but what is it with people who say that their lives are in God's hands, when before, in their heights of splendor and fame and wealth, they wouldn't give a damn to what He thought? Or that, just because they're in squalor and in the pits of their hell, that God is suddenly on their side? What gives them the right to do so?

What, you think that you could walk outside His presence and then waltz right back in? What are you, a brat? Not everyone is a Prodigal Son or Daughter.

Before you admonish me and say that I'm being way too harsh, I'm specifically training the gun at those Janus-faced celebrities and politicians you see on television the whole day. Kim acts as a trigger.

You've seen them all and read them all: ex-presidents, current presidents, ex-generals, current generals, ex-celebrity couples, current celebrity couples, all those who smile bravely at the camera and say "Si Lord, siya ang mag-aalaga samin" (The Lord will take care of us) plus a thousand variations upon that phrase, when their run of good fortune deserts them, forcing them to sell their cars and their houses just to survive.

There must be some exact mix that television producers know that will hold the attention of almost any viewer: gossip + spirituality. It's an irony that sells millions.

Going to church doesn't equal to belief. Hearing Mass doesn't equal to faith. So what is it within our psyche that just clutches to the Lord even when we probably know that He ain't gonna clutch back?

I know people will attack this because of course I don't know celebrities' inner lives; I don't know what they think and what they believe in. It's unfair and very judgmental, to say the least. But when you're tired of reading and hearing people use the Lord's name to save face, when they use the Lord's name as a last result, it gets insulting.

When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" Celebrities, politicians, celebrity-politican hybrids, robber barons, consider that another good question to ask.

*I don't remember Dino's exact response, and this is as close as I can remember.
**Ditto on that with Kim's.