Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear God...

I talked to Tatay yesterday and he told me that things are not getting better for him.

It was almost two years ago when we found out that he has cancer. Since then, we have been praying for healing and complete recovery. His doctor told him that he has a few months left and You have blessed him to be alive until now.

In those months of treatment and medications, You have taught us more about the meaning of family, of relationships and of life. You taught us that above all things, the love that binds us as a family is far greater than the collective achievements that we have as a family. You have showed us how you blessed our parents' vows with compassion amidst all the trials they have to go through. You have blessed us to bond together in places we never imagined of reaching. In your perfect timing, you gave us hope when it was needed most. You showered us with financial blessings to keep us afloat through all these. You have given my mother strength to go through all these things.

You made me realize that I am so blessed with my parents. You made me realize that I am so blessed with my father.

You have healed my father in so many ways. And you have healed this family too.

And I thank you. Thank you for each day that you have given to my dad. Thank you for my mother who stood by her "in sickness and in health" vow. Thank you for giving her strength and I pray that You continue to bless her steadfastness and fortitude.

Lord, I pray that you give my father resilience. Lord, soothe his body and comfort him in each day. And if indeed his time comes to meet You on that beautiful shore, I pray that You take him with You in peace and without pain.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, May 01, 2008



Pretty much like the islands of Cuyo, Ploning is one quiet movie. A story of a young man in search for his past pegged at a 30-year old spinster named Ploning, who in turn, has her own story to tell. Around Ploning, are stories of a cripple mother, a dying father, a city girl who tries to look for her life being due in giving one, a hermit wife left by her husband, a strong-willed mother who, just like salt melts down in the rain, and a young boy, with his fragile memory lapses, weaves the entire plot. All set in a picturesque island somewhere in the Sulu Sea where Taiwanese fishermen would often illegally fare. Just like Cuyo, Ploning is a visual feast. An excusable indulgence, I would say,  how can you possibly not put postcard worthy scenes if your location is such a place?

Ploning, the character as portrayed by Judy Ann Santos parallels with the first scenes of the mysterious 'Malena'- beautiful and quiet, making everyone ask and later on, pass judgments. Admittedly, in as much as you want to think Ploning is mysterious, it is a bit difficult to rub Judy Ann Santos (the star) off the character. Yet her being such impales you to your seat to be more curious about the entire story. She is crisp and fresh and unpolluted. Eugene Domingo who portrayed the cripple mother to the young Digo, outshone everyone with her poignant comic timing. Very controlled at her finest moment though it became a bit indulgent at the very end of the scene. Still, she already mastered in giving one an emotional roller coaster ride. Another noteworthy actor is the young Cedric Amit. He exuded innocence with a bit of guilt. A character of perfect young boy, curious and clingy, Amit's presence was apt to be put side by side with the named actors in the movie. Meryl Soriano's Alma is understated and sympathetic while Ces Quesada (as Nieves) is as 'natural' as the island itself. 

It is commendable that the movie employed Cuyun-on almost half the time. And mixing it with Tagalog is not distracting at all. Admittedly, a few of the actors fell short in mastering the language but generally, they succeeded in pinching the Cuyun-on/Kiniray-a/Hiligaynon speaking audience's heart. It was a bit disturbing though that Ilonggo was inserted while Meryl Soriano showed only a hint of the intonation amidst the trite 'guid' suffixed to almost all of her sentences. 

Together with the language, the story on traditions and customs abound the island are scattered in the segmented plot. Keeping it just above the surface, the ati-ati, the baile, the can of lychee tell so much of the people in such locality. For me, this was the director's (Garcia) finest moments. To tell such story, one has to experience it at least once in his life. To capture it in film, one has to live it. 

'Ploning' is a breath of fresh air. A quiet movie which is intelligent and a bit indulgent. Practically, what this industry needs nowadays.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thank you...

September of 2006 marked the start of trying times in our family. It happened when all spirits were high and things are going well then we found out that my father has hepa B and liver cancer. The news tore my mom apart.  I can still remember that very morning my sister told me about it. I can still remember my mom breaking down at the corridor of St. Luke's. I have blogged it several times. 

Amidst all that, we (my eldest sister most especially) sought all avenues and means to 'do something' about my dad's illness. While all these are happening, my mom, who is fervent in her faith, continued to sing her Psalms and brought her petitions to the Great Healer. We all did. 

It was eighteen months ago. Eighteen months after his first doctor told him that he has an estimated six months left to live. 

Last week, we celebrated my dad's 68th birthday. 

I just can't help but sing my Psalms in silence. Fervently. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

moving out---moving in

The last week was short of a trauma for me. No amount of work/projects/rakets can compete with 'moving houses'.

Thankfully, there's Lyn-lyn, my new ward. She stayed with me until five in the morning just trying to arrange and clean everything that was left from my already edited household stuff. There's Zaki and the boys of my contractor to transfer my furniture pieces and appliances making use of the trolley that Ricci sold me half the price. 

Thankfully, Nanay and Tatay, and Mama Son got dragged to aid my already ailing finances. 

Here's a glimpse of the house. It is not done yet. My table is still not here and so is my drop-light. I still dream of a flat TV though the wall for it is already done. There is no turning back now...

Dining area. Still using my old table which will be converted to a study when the base of my dining table arrives. 

The bedroom. The bed is a gift from my contractor. Headboard is made of scrap hardwood. 

The living area with the toille paded wall. At the far end is my work station. And yes, it is a view to behold.

Friday, February 29, 2008


It was last September when I opened an account with Banco de Oro, Megamall (one beside National Bookstore). It was one of those desperate times when I needed to buy dollars and BDO can sell me at least a thousand only if I have an account with them. It was a no brainer really since BDO is one of the most reputable banks in the country in terms of stability and customer service.

I was wrong.

They gave me a 'temporary' ATM card without my name in it. I was made to believe that I will get my card two weeks after. It was ok, I will be out of Manila for about a month. Then come December, I went to the branch to get my card- the one with my name on it. They told me that I did not apply for a replacement card so they have nothing to give me. The one who told me that I will get my ATM card after two weeks already resigned. So it was pointless for me to actually rant about it. Still, not being able to help myself, I told them that I was not informed of the procedure. If I was told earlier, then I could have applied for the new card way back September. Having said that, I signed the application form for the replacement card. And paid a hundred pesos for a piece of new plastic.

That was last December. This afternoon, I went back to BDO to get my card. Then there was this flushed face in front of me, same expression as the last time when I was applying. And after running to and fro, trying to talk to her boss without me hearing or seeing them, she came back telling me that my card is not with them anymore. It has lapsed its maturity period of sixty days. 

Trying to be sunny about it, I asked her, "So, what do we do?" 

She then answered me, "Kayo sir, kayo po ang bahala." 

What the f.3.?!? 

First, I have no idea about that maturity thing. I was told that I can get it after two weeks. I was never informed that it should be not later than sixty days. 

Second, this is not the first time that I am confronted with this dilemma. It's deja vu! She then told me to re-apply and pay another hundred bucks. As if the damage is not yet enough!

Third, going to Megamall, No, parking in Megamall is no walk in the park. I have already told them that I don't go there often. I would, before, when I used to walk from Galleria to Mega but now that I drive, it's just too much hassle especially that there is this endless construction going on.

It was such a cloudy day that my sunny disposition led me out of the bank to actually vent the tempest out to my friend who referred me to that specific branch. He then told me that he can't do anything about it so he suggests that I'll just do what they said. 

It was unacceptable. 

I hurriedly went back inside the mall and was suddenly stopped by the guard saying that the bank is about to close. I told him that my passbook is still inside. He made me wait for fifteen minutes outside then the girl went out carrying my passbook, whining, "Ano na sir? Kayo po, anong balak niyo?"

It was a cloudy day. I told her, "Huwag mong ibalik sa akin ang problema, if you have informed me beforehand, this will not happen. Ikaw yung naka-usap ko before, and you exacty know how exasperated I was and now... Oh well, nevermind. I'll close my account next week."

Got my passbook and left. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Idol Niya si Rizal"

With due apologies, I am again reposting my sister's blog here (again, without her consent...)

photo from

For four days now, my husband and I had devoured the local news. As a result, as the events of this week unfolded, I became awashed not just with feelings of disgust (for the despicable Arroyo government), empathy (for Jun Lozada and family), and grief (for our beloved Philippines). On top of all these mixed emotions, nostalgia crept in, especially as I look at our 2-year old daughter.

I was younger than our little girl when martial law was declared. I did not have any recollection of the events, but my parents would remind me quite often that among the first phrases I said as a child was the slogan “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” 

What I remembered clearly though was how it was growing in NPA-infested Panay in the 70’s and 80’s. And how in the early 80’s I would often hear my father saying that Marcos was the number one recruiter of the NPA’s as by oppressing people, he (Marcos) had actually forced them (the people) to go the hills. I also remembered my mother packing things during those days - land titles, document, then, clothes. And how she was silently weeping. And not so silently whenever the song "Bayan Ko" was played. This was around those days after Ninoy was shot. 

As my father seethed in anger over the political situation at that time, my mother sought refuge in prayer. She would spend day after day in church just to pray for the country. But she also prepared, that’s why she packed.

I would later learn that during those tumultuous days, the one option my parents had considered was going to the hills, as we were warned early on that my father will be re-assigned to an island because of his political views. 

My eyes well up with tears as I recalled those days. Devoid of other options, what indeed will parents do instead? 

As we watched Jun Lozada say the things he was saying, we feel for him and his family. For who indeed will want to be in the situation he is currently in? What husband/father would want to put his family in this type of a predicament? Hindi naman siguro dahil idol niya lang si Rizal? 

Lozada had wanted to give something back to the country. Ugh! That had hit a nerve. Honestly, if I were on his shoes, I would just have left the country. But recalling what he had said, what would you have gained (by doing something cowardly) if you lose your soul? What indeed? 

“Idol nga niya si Rizal”. May God hold men like these in His keeping. 

And may the Lord heal our land.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My sister who is a doctor wrote this in another site. I couldn't help but copy and paste it here as I have exactly the same sentiments...

November 17th marked the first month of my father's first intake of 800 mg of brivanib alanate - a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is not yet available commercially - in the hope that it will somehow stop or retard the progression of his liver cancer, the way another drug of a similar class - sorafenib - showed the much-touted promise in another clinical trial published 4 months ago.

Asymptomatic that he was/is, we chanced upon father's liver tumors first week of September last year. By the last week of the same month, we had the diagnosis of liver cancer confirmed by histopath/biopsy. This is not happy news, especially in the light of the treatment option given - none.  Even then, I was already advised by colleagues (ophthalmologists) to look for clinical trials and enrol father in one. 

Before he was discharged during the biopsy, the hepatologist had a change of heart. (I could only guess why.) She suggested radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Father was readmitted for the procedure. This time the admitting diagnosis was hepatocellular carcinoma, and he was for RFA and percutaneous ethanol injection (PIE). The prognosis though was still guarded. Both procedures work for tumors of a certain size only. And although, Papa was not symptomatic, I knew that his biggest tumor was already bigger than the cut-off.

Another round of RFA was suggested to be done 3 months after, but only when the intestines clear out of the way. I remembered asking the hepatologist if father needed an oncologic referral. The reply was in negative. I believed her. And so we waited for the intestines to clear out of my father's right lobe. They never did.

During one of this hepatologic consult, Papa asked his doctor his life expectancy in the light of his medical condition. Without batting an eyelash, the hepatologist told him "6 months". I could kick my father at that time, in asking that question of someone whose "people skills" need a lot of improvement.

I remembered the advice I got at the outset of this battle. Our pursuit of the unconventional brought us abroad, only to find our answer  back home, specifically, while queueing at a bakeshop.  This couldn't just be serendipity. 

The most trying time came with the intake of brivanib, as like in any anti-VEGF, it caused my father's blood pressure to go sky high.  His 800mg-dose also sent him to liver failure, Papa had to be admitted.  But it was his high BP that almost crippled him.

All these have come to past now.

Two days ago, without his doctors' knowledge my father, with mother and Tim, hopped on a plane to go home (I could just imagine the number of strings my brother had to pull to get him a plane ticket).  When they landed in Iloilo, I got a real chirpy phone call from him.  He was so happy, you can almost feel his elation, it instantly erased my guilt in aiding him escape.

Today I'm just grateful.

Grateful that something is being done for his tumors; Grateful for his sassy, smart, sexy doctors; Grateful that they have the nerve to tell him, "Aba Dad, gusto niyo bang mabuhay o mamatay?  Kasi kung gusto niyong mamatay, wala na tayong pag-usapan, wag na natin pahabain to."

Grateful for the family and friends who truly care for him.  One suggested pranic healing, another went to Lourdes, France and included Papa in her intentions, still another wanted to give him holy water.  Instead of saying "duh!" and be exasprated, I/we said "thank you".  They do care for him.

But you see, the only one who can heal father is the Great Physician.  Direct to Him, no go-betweens.  The minute we lose focus of Christ as the center of our lives and everything that is happening, good or bad, things will not be right anymore.  I'm grateful we have Him in our lives, and in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Cancer or no cancer.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

'nice' journey to the woods...

Into the Woods is a two-dimensional musical of characters we were told when we were kids. Combining these characters in one story and giving them a bit of heart, then it unfolds and webs as they journey to the woods. And after having their wishes granted, major glitches surfaced. I first watched the recorded broadway musical when I was in college and kept a copy until now. The characters, or rather caricatures are so distinct from each other and each has their own agenda to fulfill. Watching the dvd was like reading a graphic novel until they entered the woods where everything became three dimensional.

Maybe it was a mistake that I got to watch the filmed stage version of Into the Woods before I got to watch the stage version of New Voice. Then again, who can actually resist Bernadette Peters? Lyn Sherman's version of the much coveted role of the Witch was a breath of fresh air. Although I sure do hope she does get a lot of it (air, I mean) before singing the difficult lines of Sondheim. One crisp singer would be Crisel Consunji as the hooded little girl. Im just not sure about the height though, she seemed taller than the baker's wife Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, who in the other hand shone on the second act. Bits and units all cut and chopped perfectly. 
Amazingly, this is one company of tall people, Cinderella is not cinder at all. Despite that fact, Cathy Azansa managed to be this wishful ingenue who grew 20 years older in the second act. Remarkable performances would be Juaqui Valdez who was able to put humanity in the two dimensional character Jack (as in Jack and the Beanstalk) and Tommy Abuel who on the other hand, sans the singing, remained to be as mysterious as his role's name yet truthful and most intense among the rest. Remarkable  improvement is needed for the Grandmother who can do some exercise in enunciation as understanding her lines seated from the audience area is reduced to nil. Also, I am not sure if the very 'Filipino' (translated to-- Lucita Soriano) attack on the role of Jack's mother worked making the whole thing 3D. Generally, I will not call the the performance fantastic as it can still be pushed to the edge because you know that there is a wealth of talent in the cast. 

A friend warned me about the set. The warning was apt. Minimal and austere, the woods became a printed tarp on a wall with doors. The play opened with this claustrophobic feeling that the actors might just bump into each other in the first scene. The thrill to the journey did not become as exciting as the stage did not change into this magical forest. But as I said, I was aptly warned. I was not disappointed. It was with the costumes that I was not warned. I was not sure if they are scrimping on budget or they just want to use what they already have in their closets. Unforgivably, the lights, however minimal with no special effects, were not seamlessly cued. 

Into the Woods is a social satire equipped with splotches of wit. It brings one questioning about what was read to us and about our lives right now. It is a reaction to stories we have memorized (especially our generation) and telling the story after the 'everafter'. Exposing the gore and the uncouth with desires to point out the flaws of these children stories, and yes, about the flaws that we do have after we go out of the theatre. New Voice Company's Into the Woods is not free from flaws. In fact, there is quite a number of them that even none-theatre goers can see immediately. Yet, the musical is still worth seeing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

casting cares

I was in Paris when my sister told me that my father got enrolled in a program which might be able to help him with his liver cancer. It is a clinical trial program conducted by this drug company in the US. We prayed for it to happen and it was an apt birthday gift for my mom. 

My dad started to take the meds right away. Medicines that are still on its final testing stage before it goes out of the market with approved claims. Three days later, he went back to the hospital with his complaints. I really don't know the reasons but he was advised to stop taking it momentarily until his test results will be ok. It was yesterday when he started to take the tablets again, in smaller dosage. This, accompanied by a cocktail of tablets to counter the other effects. It was last night when he again felt ill and weak again. 

I have known my dad to be this invincible principal of the elementary school where I attended. Robust and authoritative, everybody respected him.  I feared him during those times. As I grew up, I have always been my mother's son. My two sisters look like him and I look like my mom. My going to college was his greatest test for me. And my not graduating college was his biggest disappointment. I have been told that I'm never like my sisters who are achievers. I don't have the letters after my name. And he would constantly remind me of that for several years. And for several years, I detested the fact. At the back of my mind, I would tell myself that the day will come when he will actually be proud of me. 

It was last night that he told me that I should take care of my mom when he's gone. I told him that we are doing something about his illness so he better not think about it and just be well. He answered me that he wants to be out of the program as he may not be able to take the side effects of the meds. I was dumbfounded. I told my mom about it in front of my sister and my mom was just quiet. She tried to keep her emotions and went into their room. Midway going up the stairs, she bursted into tears. I know my hug was not enough to console her. As I pray for healing for my dad, and strength for my mom, I have to doubly pray for guidance for all of these. 

He told me that I should take care of my mom. I know that he is proud of me as his son. Yet, I can only pray the set-up is different. 

I'll continue on praying.

Friday, October 26, 2007

going home

I was gone for 25 days. Almost totally abandoning every single work back home. I have not computed the total amount I have spent, I’m quite afraid of doing so. For 25 days, a lot of places were seen, been to, a lot of things were done. A lot of questions asked, a lot of answers, a lot of puzzles solved and a lot created. 

From London to the south of France, to the old central Italy, to lower Germany, to the capital of the land below sea level and to the city of lights, one can reflect what we don’t have back home and yes, what we do have that they don’t anymore. As a friend would say, “Manila is like London a hundred years ago,” and another,  “there are no fishes anymore in the mediterranean.” 

Comes with development is the fact that something has to be lost. Comes with urbanization is the rape of what has been fertile and natural. Europe is a perfect example. But yes, the sensibility to preserve the salvageable (natural and most especially, man-made) is strongly felt and encouraged. It is with utmost efforts that these places or what is left of it, be preserved. Something that needs a lot of support back home. 

One thing also that was most disturbing was the treatment of our kind abroad- treatment from the ones coming from the arian race and from our own kind. Yes, it is possible that a Filipino can actually go to such region just as a tourist if one perseveres and yes, it is possible that to some of us, it is still better to work in the country of our birth, regardless. It was in my train ride to Amsterdam coming from Munich that I strongly felt the discrimination. I was with a Korean whom I met in the train when we were stopped by border officials to check our passports. We were on our way to get coffee at the first class canteen. It took them ten seconds to check the Korean’s passport and mine for ten minutes and only after a series of questions, they gave me my passport. The inevitable question coming from the Korean asking what’s wrong right after was asked. I know the answer but it was very painful to explain. Brings me back to the questions asked in London, “Saang hospital ka?” “May balak kang mag-TNT dito no?” “Di talaga, nagbabakasyon ka lang?” My friend in Italy suffered the same, being a student in music. Stereotyped by stereotypes. 

On the other side of things, I want to ask why am I born in my country? Having to carry the green passport with all the disadvantages that go with it. Why am I born to a country where my concept of money can actually be translated to just pence and pennies? Why am I born to a country which can boast of almost nothing to the field where I am working? And I actually don’t know the answer. Or maybe we can rephrase the questions into statements- I can be proud of my passport regardless. I can earn more than these people earning in pounds and euros if I try harder. I can work where I am most familiar with, with what we already have. 

It is easy saying it actually. Well, its easier saying it now than before. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

europe dyaris 6


Unlike London, Paris is more carefree and young. Unlike London, Paris is more fashionable in the middle of the cold fall. Unlike London, Paris speaks french and loving it. It was very hard the first few days until I got the hang of it. Eating in a restaurant tasting the so called 'french cuisine' is a challenge whether the waiter would actually understand me, more often than not, they did, much to my delight. 

Walking the streets of Paris is like browsing through the pages of History of Western Architecture. Almost every single street in the city has a story to tell. Almost every corner is a monument standing that is hundreds of years old. And whatever carving or architectural detail we have in Manila combined, it will not match a single monument in this city. And we are just talking about the streets. Entering the Louvre is another story. You will not need books on art movements, just enter the Louvre. And it is true what they say, a day is not enough to tour the entire museum. And it is not the only museum in the city, and yes, not only the museums but also the cemeteries, about fifty percent of what you read is buried in this city. Ok I'll stop because I'm getting obvious that I'm actually overwhelmed. 

I thought I will have the same feeling when I saw the Eiffel. In daylight, from afar, the Tour Eiffel looked like a paper weight. It becomes different when you see it at night. Now, I know why it is called the City of Lights. 

It's my last night in Paris and I just finished checking-in online in Haven't packed yet but that one will be fast. I was expecting I can do some shopping in the city of lights but to my dismay, I have been to other places where the same items are sold a lot cheaper (Manila, for example) I decided not to. Besides, I really don't have the money to splurge. I'm  here in europe for the photos really, and that's about it. It was twenty five days of worthwhile experience. Went to museums, parks, the typical tourist attractions, bought post cards, ref magnets and yeah, ate the food where it is best served. Cheese and wine in Provence, ragu bolognese and pizza in Bologna, fresh milk in Amsterdam, cappuccino along the grand canal in Venice, beer in Munich, crepe in Paris (better if it was in Normandy though), fish and chips (eww!!) in London. The baguette and saucisson survived me during my train rides, and yeah I still miss rice. I miss lucky me, I miss the tinola of Bebing, I miss my family. 

Glad that I'm going home to the Philippines tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

europe dyaris 5

Munchen and Amsterdam

Im in my room in Paris and I can’t help but think about home. Im going back to Manila tomorrow. I’m way lagged behind this diary and there are just so many things to write about. It’s ten in the morning and I don’t have the drive to get out of my room. My last day in Paris- as of this trip is concerned. 

After Bologna, I took the night train to Munich. Originally, to buy a Samsonite bag. Im going to Germany just to buy a Samsonite bag. But my cheap bag did not reach Germany. I bought the bag in Bologna. Luckily, when I went to Munich, they have the same price. I smiled to myself, at least I was not duped in Bologna. 

Munich, the capital of Oktoberfest. I arrived there two days after the last day of the beer festival. It was pretty quiet. Just like the rest of Europe, it boasts of it’s old buildings. The picturesque riverbanks and on a far distance, the Alps. Not like the rest of Europe, this city is terribly chilly. Coming from the south, I was warned by my friend to be ready for it. I thought I was (even with my thermals on). 

From Munich, I took the night train again to Amsterdam. Arrived in Amsterdam at about nine in the morning the following day. I met a couple of friends (whom I don’t think I will ever see) on the train. 

First one was this English lady who escaped her German husband and went to Italy. She was on her way back to Munich to settle the legal papers for her children so they can have the money to go back to England. Next was this old lady on the train station who half the time I can barely understand and the third one was this Korean guy in the train. He was the only one who talked in english during that trip so we got along well the entire trip. It was in Amsterdam that he doesn’t want to let go of my hands when we said our good byes. 


The sex capital of the world. The pot capital. The flower capital. The gay capital. The city of bikes.  A lot has been attributed to this small city in the province of Holland. Surrounded by canals and lying below sea level, this city reminds me of the story we read in grade five - A leak in the Dike. Now, I got to understand why the leak should be stopped.

I found my hotel in Amsterdam fast. I took the taxi. It’s a charming B&B just outside the perimeter street on the central part of the city. I have to say, the owners are as charming as well.

Walking around the city gives you this feeling of being trampled by their leaning buildings. Now, unlike the rest of Europe, Amsterdam is more funky when it comes to interiors while their exteriors are of Housseman  era. There are Museums everywhere you go, from Van Gogh to the Sex Museum. 

Probably the next thing that they should make into a museum is their red light district. Mainly because of many of those in their windows are already of museum quality. 

I was supped to leave Amsterdam 19th of October but because of of so many things, my train left me. I got stuck there for another night. And finally, after so many train stops, I got to Paris the following day.

europe dyaris 4


I am still here in my room in Paris. My first night in the city of lights and my room indeed has one bare warm white power saver compact flourescent. My first night here was almost a disaster. I was supposed to arrive yesterday but because of the strike of the rail workers in France and the traffic in Amsterdam, I missed my train. I left Amsterdam this lunch and and after two train transfers (Antwerpen, Belgium and Lille, France) I finally reached Paris. Only to find out that my hotel cancelled my reservations because I was a no show yesterday. I tried to call them. 

Pretty much unlike in Italy. The visit to Bologna was unplanned yet came out to be one of the most endearing. Rica was a friend way back in the musical Elias at Salome way back in 1996. A few year after that I never got a word from her only to find out that she was already in Italy in my friendster eleven years later. unlike most Filipinos in Italy, she is a student. To make it more unlikely, a student of music. And yes, she can pass for a tourist guide. 

Bologna means nothing for me except for Bolognese. That spaghettini with a lot of tomato sauce and meat. Basically the one most popularly bastardized by a lot of us. It was that morning when we walked around the city that I found out that Bologna is one of the centers of education in Italy (if not the world). They have the first university that started in the year 300, a library with an extensive collection of manuscripts and records from the medieval era, fully modernized archival system and a lobby with glass flooring underneath of which is a museum of the pre-roman city ruins, and yes, Einstein launched his theories here and Guilelmo Marconi is from this city too. Bologna is also the city of Porticos, they invented this structure.  

They say, this is one of the old Italian cities. I can’t help but agree with them. Especially after tasting the Ragu Bolognese prepared for me for my last dinner there.

europe dyaris 3


I’m back in Paris. I should have written this a long time ago but did not have the time or the  space (in the train) to do so. The last one was when I was on my way back to this city just to run (literally with my 600-peso bag with a 24 kilo load) to the other station to catch another train going to Venezia (forgive me for using their original names, you just have to so that you won’t get confused when you’re looking at train schedules).

My cousin Jinny told me to enjoy TGV because they are the best trains in Europe. She was right. The train I got to Venice was an experience. Being very tired did help. I was asleep the whole time and when I woke up, I was alone in the cabin of six and I can smell the mediterranean from the open window by the aisle of the train. 

The plan was to meet Rica in Bologna but after much changes, we decided to meet in Venezia, deposit my bag, walk the whole day then catch the last train to Bologna for the night. Exactly what we did except that we caught the second to the last train.

Venice is not Italy. You can very well say it has it’s own architecture, it has its own culture, it has it’s own world. Its not even part of this world. From the gate of the station, you can see the grand canal. From there, you have the option to either walk, or take the public ferry  or take the taxi boat. For the experience, you can hire the popular gondola with it’s legendary rate of 95 euros an hour. I was very tempted to try it but I was stopped by Rica saying it’s not worth it (imagine if you’re alone paying for it?). Well, almost everything in this group of small islands is expensive. Regular coffee is 4 euros 50- convert that into peso. Sans the tourist, hoards and hoards of tourists, Venezia is one place I can truly say -- BEAUTIFUL. 

I waited for Rica for about fifteen minutes. An hour of walking and we found ourselves sipping coffee along the banks of the grand canal. Quite pricey for 4.50 euros a cup but the experience is priceless. Walking along the narrow streets of Venice is like being transported to some medieval flea market (translated to divisoria really, if you think about it) with murano glass scattered from all directions. 

The structures are hybrid of European and upper African architecture. The mosaic work of the Basilica di San Marco (and yes, Mark, of the New Testament, is buried inside) is amazing. The piazza, the porticos around the piazza, the small alleys and the canals are picturesque. And yes, Venezia is all about it. It’s hideously commercialized and it will be pointless to spend the night there. By the time that we are about to leave, almost all of the shops are already closed. Maybe during the spring carnival where everybody is donning their venetian masks and revelry is all night long (as they say, it’s better than the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro). 

Maybe I will come back just for that. 

Thursday, October 18, 2007

europe dyaris 2

Trying to read something that you can’t really understand is an exercise of intuition. Pictograms help. A lot of times, I would like to think that the international language really are illustrations (to refute my grade five music teacher). 

From Rossy Charles de Gaulle, I took Air France Bus #4 because I read it somewhere that this bus will bring me to Gare de Lyon. It did. I was in the train station trying to figure out what to do with my Eurail Pass and when I finally had the courage to approach the ticket guy, I was told that I should go to other windows because he can’t validate my ticket. I went to the other side of the hall and went to a window. I had no clue that ‘firme’ means close yet I tried my luck anyway. The kind french woman in her 40’s (or 30’s?) validated my pass and gave me my ticket.

Apol picked me up from Gare de Montpellier at about midnight. There were students loitering around the station. I was already outside and she came from inside the station . We reached their place about thirty minutes later. Somehow, a hundred kilometres in this part of the world is not far at all. 

I was given my trailer. It’s my first time to actually enter one. Apol and her husband live at the other trailer a few steps from mine. And I got excited to sleep in such.

The following morning was very relaxed. Just as I expected. As compared to the other country across the English Channel, France down south is relaxed and child like. Amidst the preserved architecture are windows and doors in high color. They spell fun in caps. By some pleasant coincidence, I arrived in Aigues Mortes just in time for their fete. “Pumunta akong France para mamista!” Now, spell fun in bold.

I am in my seat right now in a train en route to paris to get to my overnight train to Venice. From where I’m seated, chateaus and villages cling to hillsides amidst the vast fields.  

Provence has this reputation back home of one of the most inspiring places to visit in Europe. Maybe because Van Gogh had his Sunflowers grow from this place. The region boasts of dry flat lands with communes older than the Philippine Republic. One particular area is the walled Aigues Mortes. Let’s talk about Intramuros. Make the walls lime (or was it sandstone?) and triple the height. Now, remove the moss, make the gates gothic, and add towers every one hundred meters. And yes, make the walls seamless and poke spear holes on the lower part and add teethlike finish on the upper part. I was told Intramuros is a fortress. I want to bring that person to Aigues Mortes and show him a fortress. Around the area is a landscape thats dry and raw. Pretty much like the people. Very simple and pure. 

I was introduced to Jeanette, Apol’s mother-in-law, a very pleasant lady who brought us to this brunch with the entire town. She has this very pronounced sense of pride about her town and about Provence in general. She invited me to her house and almost every single piece has a story. Of course, to say that the house has some character is an understatement. I can’t really say that designers would automatically love her place but sure it can charm anybody’s innocent fantasy. But that's beside the point, the house wreaks of symbols and objects endemic to Provence and that alone is admirable. Such characteristic is almost extinct back home. 

Jeannette is not alone. Apol brought me to this market in Camargue the products are screaming of culture- raw and pure. There is warmth in this community and even if you can’t understand what they are saying, you would know you are in good company.

Pierre brought me to the station this afternoon. Made sure I get my ticket before actually leaving me for their climb today that I was supposed to join. I am glad, I was in good company.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Europe dyaris... 1

It started with Apol telling me to visit her in Provence. Admittedly, I had a very vague idea where Provence is. They said, it is the provincial France, specifically located on the southern part. I contemplated on the idea, tried to do some math vis-a-vis my finances. It was impossible.

I told Apol, “Maybe next year...” not being sure of everything. Then I tried telling my friends about it. They got more excited more than I. It was when I got to be introduced to my travel agent a few months after that the plan became more concrete, at least the expenses. It was that time that I started doing feelers to my mom. Good thing that we, as a family started traveling together in and outside of the country.

You see, travel in my parents vocabulary when we were young is as vague as latin. It was never part of life. To actually think about it is totally absurd. My dad would often say, it is just a waste of money.

I hope to see the Eiffel from where I sit while writing this- First class TGV to Montpellier. Mont... what? I bought this Eurail pass from my agent before I left Manila. As advised by a friend whom I’m meeting when I go back to Paris before I fly back to Manila.

Way back in Manila, when I was still in UP (where I willingly flunked my French 10), I would see photos of paintings and architecture period styles and just wonder how they are built and made. Studying them and forcing yourself to actually appreciate and master each style with just pictures was doubly hard. I would only wish I can touch them or see them in real life so my memory won’t fail me.

It was last January that I told myself, I will not only visit Apol but make the most of the trip. After all, airfare to Europe is not cheap. The original plan was June. It was moved to August. I tried to make it August but the British Embassy did not allow me. They had my passport on hostage for two months making me almost lose hope. It was when my Schengen visa was given by the French Embassy that I decided to push thru with it regardless of my fluctuating finances.

As birthday gift, my aunt gave me a considerable amount for my pocket money. And my mom agreed to sponsor my airfare. With those on my sleeve, I’m ready to go. Except that I still have responsibilities to finish. And it reached the end of September for work to be done. To be honest, they are still not done but I don’t want to reschedule my ticket.

I arrived in London October 2 at six in the morning. The stories are true, London is cold and wet. My friend picked me up from Heathrow then we took the train to the nearest station where he lives. The initial sight of London did not disappoint me. Brick Victorian homes with remnants of Neo-classic adobe and the far too old Tudor. Then the train went underground.It was when we got off and took the stairs that I got awed by the city. The first thing I saw in central London was the Parliament, full in it’s Gothic revival grandeur. I almost bump into some Japanese tourists primarily because I can’t seem to remove my eyes from it. My friend’s place is just across the bridge over Thames. I told myself, “I’m the luckiest tourist in town!”

London. Aside from being cold and wet, and expensive!, the city boasts of the finer things in life- the height of urban living. It is a city that treasures it’s age while enjoying what modernism can give. The city that stands contented yet operating like a fully lubed clock.

The city of townhouses. In the central part particularly Westminster City is filled with multilevel thin houses built side by side with each other. On the ground level are mostly commercial establishments. If you look closer, There is either a gap between the pavements and the buildings (with rails) or the walkway is lined with glass blocks, just enough to provide natural light to the basement. Basements abode the city. Simply goes to show how old the place is. Maybe, once upon a time, the ground level was way lower than where it is now.

The train system is complicated. It carries the entire city from underneath. On the ground is a vast systematized routes for buses. Needless to say, you don’t really need a car to get you around the city. Taxi rides remain to be a luxury. And yes, who wouldn’t want to walk on old narrow cobblestone roads? With the cold weather, anybody from Manila would know what I mean.

One thing about the city that struck me was the existence of theatre as an industry. Shows are being watched by walk-ins and well appreciated. Tickets are sold everywhere, posters and streamers are all over the city. To be a stage actor in this city is actually a legitimate job. Maybe paying better than others. I was told that once upon a time, Manila was like that. Before the advent of the now deteriorating movie industry. If only for that reason, I would want to live in London. Now, stage plays in Manila are nothing but required field trips to high school students.

I watched four shows in London from the planned six. Not bad I thought, considering the ticket prices. Thanks to Rob who shouldered almost everything.

I reached Montpelier midnight as scheduled. I will be writing more about France soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

nangungulila ako

matulin ang takbo ng mga sasakyan
singbilis ng tinatahak kong buhay
na minsa'y nagnais na guminhawa
magnamnam ng paligid

sa radyo
patuloy na tumutugtog
ang kanta ng syudad,
ang pook kung saan ako nadala
ng aking mga kamay.

mabilis ang takbo ng buhay
natulak ng urbanindad
ang payak kong kaluluwa
nagnanais na bumalik sa tahimik kong bayan.

sa kandungan ng aking mga magulang.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Make-overdosed... con't.

I woke-up this evening with a text message,

"Evryone was amazd s trnsfrmtn hngng opis ko dala me un mag... U wer rly a blssing 4 us..."

It was from Grace, the home-owner of RL's grand make-over winner. The same make-over that I was whining about a few weeks back. I called my boss after that. She asked me if indeed, the whole thing was worth it. I can't help but agree with her. It was worth it.

Admittedly, it took me some time to decode the message, but surely, it is making me smile right now.

Buy your copy of the september issue of Real Living Magazine and you'll see why.

Here's a preview...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

the other blog...

It was not so long ago when I got my account on that site. I totally forgot about it because I would rather doodle something here in Somehow, I feel more at home with this site to write anything. I refuse to write a blog in either primarily because the people there got to know me first before they got to read me. And there are just a lot of them in my list. Blogspot however gave me this false shroud of anonymity, no matter how false, it still is a shroud.

Anyway, it was my sister that reminded me of multiply dot com. She was creating an account and thinking of inviting me in her network when I was having dinner in their house. That did it. A few days later, it became a family reunion of sorts. My mother, of all people is part of my network. My mother to my nieces. 

When the pictures were uploaded and posted, our network became a family album. Until the blogs came. It was then the very core of our relations are tackled and observed. Reading each blog and comments made me think what a complex family my mother has. Each has their own opinion on things. Each has the capacity to pierce but would rather use it to heal. 

It was different when we were just kids. When all we care was to go to the beach as a group then walk through the nyugan (which is now gone and converted into a public market), tell Inggo to get us all the buko to quench everyone's craving, then spend the afternoons climbing sineguelas and mangga. Our only problem during that time was one of our aunts- she had the temper of a stereotyped spinster and by virtue of being single, she was our all time guardian, or better call that a security guard. 

And now, we are actually as old as she was during that time. Each possessing a trait similar. Quite interesting and yes, the story has just started. I really don't know where this leads to.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

this is not a movie review... ratatouille

Admittedly, I am not a food junkie except maybe for it's function to the human body- to nourish (and yes, for work, when I'm styling edible materials for Yummy magazine...)

Having lunch or dinner can only be taken on a table if I am with somebody, or else it will just be one of those 'to go' meals I can eat inside a cab or while watching TV. I don't  cook unless necessity calls for it. My kitchen is already converted into a stockroom. 

It was this evening when we watched Ratatouille and of all creatures, it was a rat that made me re-think the purpose of the kitchen in my house. To know the taste and smell of each ingredient made me remember my dad trying to name each item added to the Binakol when we were eating in Iloilo some years ago. To know the flavor of each and trying to combine them to form one experience made me realize that more than just the food, it is the sensation that goes with it that makes the cook an artist, a master, a god. 

It made me realize that preparing something to nourish the body is not just done for the sake of its purpose. It made me realize that the kitchen is one big studio to create an experience.

image from Disney

But Ratatouille is more than just that. One character that struck me most is Peter O'Toole's Anton Ego. In his critique voice over, 

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risked something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new."

When I was in design school, I would always say, "I'm a better critic than a designer." It made me re-think on passing judgements on other people's work. Thank goodness, I have not earned the reputation of being such. Or have I? 

Saturday, July 28, 2007

blast from the past!

Looking for two books that I borrowed from a friend a few years back, I stumbled upon an envelope filled with photos when I was still active in theatre many years and about forty pounds ago...

midsummer night's dream
university theatre, up diliman
role: robin goodfellow (a.k.a. the goblin puck)
The cast of Midsummer Night's Dream that almost became a nightmare of a show. Obviously it was an all-male cast following the tradition of elizabethan dramas. I just can't connect the fact that the direction and nuances were all modern.

all's well that ends well
romulo theatre, pcib, makati
role: second lord 
Shown here with Mona Katigbak, this play was done in neo-classic fashion. The costumes were recycled from Merchant of Venice where I played the Prince of Aragon and Mona played Portia (yes, with the same costumes for both of us). Twelfth Night never came to past... We were supposed to play the twins.

the women/the we-men
guerrero theatre, up diliman
role:miriam vanities aarons-fowler
This is where everybody had fun in the midst of tyranny. Originally staged as a reunion for a group of girls who belonged to the same batch under Tony Mabesa, but the director later suggested to stage it in two versions- an all-female in english and an all-male in Filipino. My counterpart in the english version left before it's closing week run so I have to take her place in the all-female cast. It was bizarre as my co-actors were not taller than five feet six inches and I stood six feet three inches with my gold heels.

By the way, I never got to find the books... bog!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Finally, it's done. 

Some months ago, I told my editor if I can do the make-over for the September issue of Real Living and she gladly agreed. Came June, I was a bit hesitant of taking the project primarily because I am not sure of when I am leaving for my month-long vacation. While waiting for my visa (which by the way is taking toooo long and requires a a blog entry, can you imagine, I applied way before this whole make-over thing started! Whew!), I told our managing ed that maybe,  I can do it.

It was two weeks of sleep and eating disorder, irritatingly huge acne, rashes, and high strung hands-on construction work. I got to introduce the monster in me to the carpenters that even the contractor tried to avoid seeing me until now. It took two of his assistants to pacify my head-tone-nagging-session with eight of his carpenters working on a 15-square meter space.

Now that it's done, I am not sure if I made the right choice. Maybe I did. Just for the reason that I helped in making a family smile can be enough reason. Or maybe, at least the carpenters has seen the worst in me now. After all, we will still be working together for a long time for other projects.

The issue will coming out last week of August so I am still not allowed to post the photos. As of now, I take liberty in posting how it looked like before... 

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bad on not good enoughs...

As the song goes, "I did my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough..."

And yes, I am not referring to relationships.

I have said before, that we sometimes are caught in a situation where we can't just escape pero kailangan panindigan na lang. A lot of times, instead of putting on arms to facilitate our inadequacies, we put on a vest for defense. In the process of doing such, have we actually asked ourselves - WHY?!

There are situations that require us to examine the reasons why we are actually there. There are responsibilities that are beyond our capabilities (or the lack of it) and before others get to ask if we can do it well (or at least, just finishing it), we ourselves should be our own devil's advocate. 

In recent years, I have been my most active cynic. Religiously asking myself if I will be able to do the job well or not. And when I get my answers, ask the same questions all over again. Most often (in most recent times), I will get a different answer and I will eventually drop the job. 

This is not true to a lot of people I know. Truth is, it is a very painful reality.  

Accepting ones shortcomings is an easy task, especially if the person who has these (kakulangan) has accepted his (or should I say, hers?). It becomes a different story when you are aware of these shortcomings coming from the other end and that end is still moving heaven and earth trying to conceal it.

Sarap bigyan ng magic sing! At least, pamukpok para magising na...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

standing on the cliff

I was in a niagara streak yesterday-- anything that can cause tears makes a downpour. It was unstoppable and surreal and well, tiring. Trying to relax myself, I watched Independence Day on GMA 7, it was of no help. I was in tears the whole time. At the end of the night, I ended up looking like garfield.

One thing very disturbing about it is that in anything I see on TV, I ended up criticizing- the couch, the lamp, or whatever object there is. Come the advertisement, I would imagine designing the set for it on how to make it better. Then I would stop and take hold of whatever I have left for my old self and yes... cry.

My friends told me I need a break from work. Maybe I should. Admittedly, I need it but reality meaning my bills, rent, mortgage etcetera etcetera will not allow me to. To continue working for at least four more years is what's required of me to do. Now, I have said before quoting from Wicked, "There are bridges you cross you didn't know you cross until you cross." What is this bridge that I have just crossed?

On the other side of it, I sure want to just drop everything and be on recluse for at least a year. Go back to my parents' house and live as quietly as I can. But of course, that is totally going against every single grain of my character. I was never like that even at the lowest point of my life.

Maybe a break is what I just need. Break meaning I will be working for an equivalent of two months compressed to one so a can take the next month's off.

Now, that will bring me to a breakdown.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

bionic eye... bionic man

When I was a kid, I had this wish of wanting to see more than what the others can see. Blame Superman's x-ray vision, it gave me the idea. This continued until now. Maybe its just plain voyeurism or something else. Or maybe the idea of being empowered just being able to see what others can't. Actually, maybe the idea of being ahead all the time. The desire to have an ace on your sleeve than just playing it fair and square.

"Hindi ako lalaban ng patas..." I would always declare.

If there is one thing about what playing chess has taught me, it's thinking at least three moves ahead your opponent. In life, I guess it will always be like that- thinking ahead of everybody else. Especially in the industry where I am. Life afterall is one big chessboard. Although a lot of my friends would call it- beauty contest.

And a few would call it- plain and simple- life. I wish I can be like that. Just calling it as it is. I'm getting tired. Yet, admitedly, it is fun a lot of times. I think I can still be part of the game...

"...kaya ko pa. Di ko naman sinabi na lalaban ako ng patas eh..."

Friday, June 01, 2007

yahoo messenger

Had this conversation from some stranger in the net last night. I have no idea what I have been up to or maybe I was just doing a Blanch DuBois--- seeking comfort in the company of strangers...

(I'm zlickker in YM)

Read on...

what are you up to??
friends...... possible partner...
oh ok...
have you been dating?
lately no.....
why so?
the last time i went on a date.... walng ngyari......
for about 5 months now
my dinadate ka na for 5 months??
cool..... pero parang ang tgal naman ng dating period nyo....??
wala lang... cant commit eh
the other person cant
umm, ...with somebody else
what are you doing???
waste of time..... waste of emotions....
better give it to someone else....
... there are bridges you cross you did not know you cross until you cross...
im quite ok with the set-up now... quite...
its complicated as it is... and besides... i cant afford to give plenty of time for a relationship now... my work does not allow me to...
im sorry to disappoint you
dissapoint me on what???? i mean its your choice....just be prepared to suffer whatever consequences that your choices might bring you at the end...
im good... been to hell and back.
i sure can afford to step on fire with one foot again... and yeah.. too old for emotional dramas... sure there are other things more financially rewarding than just that....
damn.. i sure sound jaded
and yeah.. im not hurting the other party (i mean, the boyfriend). he is with his wife and kids...
welll i guess you are really okay with the set up that you and your hopefully special someone have.....
im not hoping really...

im not even sure if ill ever find that perfect one for me...
how can you find that someone perfect for you??? you allow yourself to be stuck in a situation you know at the end you'll lose....
its the point in my life that im pretty comfortable where i am (alone) and i have so many things to do and as long as im not inconvenienced, im ok.
not looking forward on how its going to end... im enjoying the moment as of now. tom will worry about itself
and yes... i only think about tomorrow when it comes to work... to which im really married to
true filipino........BAHALA NA SYSTEM......
all other attached to me except for work and family are but extra-marital affairs

im sorry... i know you disagree with me in so many ways.. and i cant understand why im pouring my heart to you right now... a stranger i dont even know...
please accept my apologies
hahaha...... no need for apologies....

---end of conversation