Sunday, June 25, 2006

on kids and flying

As I am writing this, I still haven't decided whether to actually post it or not. A friend once told me that having a blog is making your life open for public view and scrutiny. Good thing that I am living in anonymity (as I still firmly believe that my name has no recall) as compared to that friend (apparently living as an icon already). So far, I think this will be the most private entry in this blog and hopefully, the last.

I have said before that I am going back to my province for good. That turn of events has bothered me for the longest time until I decided to write my parents a letter.

abridged and edited....

Dear Tatay and Nanay,

It has been a long time since I have written you anything of this kind actually. Don't worry Tay, my writing skills never developed really. I am still not as good as my sisters' when it comes to command in the english language. I'm sorry, when you said that when I was still in highschool, it got stuck to me. That probably became my driving force to strive to actually work in the print media. Until now, it has been my source of insecurity. I shouldn't have said this anymore, it's just that, I have to let it out as to prove a point and to free myself from this burden. At the end of the day, with no pun intended, I would like to thank you for that. I would have never reached this far if not for that statement.

When you summoned me to go back to the province and take care of whatever we
have there, it opened so many questions to my very existence. Suddenly, I have to look at myself in the mirror. Suddenly, I have to examine myself and evaluate what have I done already and where I have gone. Questions I have been trying to avoid for a long time.

As I constantly sail through life, I wanted to believe that I have held my mast
quite firmly and point it to the direction where I want to go. While this is happening, correct me if I'm wrong, you have always thought that all that I have is a sailboat and I do need a ship to sail through life. Admittedly, you have a point in thinking that way. I don't have an M.D. or an Ll.B. that goes with my name. I can't blame you for thinking that way. You have brought me up to a community where decent living would mean having a respectable family by means of living honestly, sending your children to decent schools and eventually earn a number of titles that can be posted in one of your walls. A decent source of income would mean having a business of your own, be a bank or a government employee or work abroad. I am neither in any of these.

Then there is this fact- I don't really have a choice but to go back there. My two sisters have packed their bags and will move abroad in the next few months. Nobody is going to be available but me as I opted to stay in the country. Before I even got to ask myself, "Why me?" The answer was there already, "because there's no one else." My little brother is too little.

As it is in my nature not saying no when asked, you already have my answer. I
will go back there next year. When I came here 15 years ago. I barely know what I really like to do. I went on, studying as expected. There were glitches along the way. Major glitches actually that broke your heart. Then I told myself, I should shape up and move to the direction that I really like. And this is where I am now. It's not exactly the position that I wanted to be in but who says life is not full of compromises? Still I can say that I am in a better position than a lot of my peers. I'm in a job that gives me the freedom to express myself and earning from it. It allows me to do a lot of other things that makes me whole as a person. The best part of this job really is, though financially, all it does is to keep me afloat, it builds my name. The thing that I was trying to build for the past eight years when I started to finally walk the straight path. Finally, I can say, I do have a career.

Many a time I would complain that I am tired. But I have accepted the fact that
life is really a rat race. I moved slow at the start of the game, and yes, I am still moving slow now but going somewhere. Tay, remember when we had that argument when I was in highschool? Life is a series of stairs and ladders with pedestals in between. Only one can fit in each pedestal, if I decide to stay and not move up, I'll end up being kicked and fall. I have been climbing for the past 8 years.

Reality here is: yes, I am financially unstable but coping, and I am doing
something about it; yes, my career is going somewhere; and no, my career is maybe not in your list of stable careers but ours is flourishing.

Four years ago, 2 years after I graduated from PSID, I have to almost sell myself just to get a project. Right now, I have to say No to some because I will be killing myself if I accept all of it. Modesty aside, among my batch in PSID, I am basically one of the very few who ended in a better position in the world of design. I hit two birds in one stone- interior design is basically posting your name everywhere so that it will have a recall and working in the magazine is basically doing it. Its just now that I am starting to actually reap what I have worked for in the past eight years.

Now, why am I saying this? Since I already gave you an answer. Going home and
settling in Antique would actually putting all of these aside and live a new life. What I have worked for for eight years will eventually be forgotten. You can always say that I can still accept projects here and there. The reality behind it is I will only have those projects if I am visible here. So I take it that these projects will eventually trickle down to nil because I won't be visible. That is how the market goes.

The other side of it, it has been almost two years that I am actually enjoying my independence. Its almost two years that I am actually going home to my house. I grew up trying to adjust to the rules of other people-- being the youngest (or used to be). It's just now that I can actually feel that I am on my own. in a lot of times, I would be in dire need of help but I tried to solve it on my own and a lot of times too, I did. And it made me feel better... and complete. Of course, when I get there, things will go back to what they were when I was a kid. I live in your house, so I must abide with your rules. This freedom I will lose in exchange for a wealthier life. It's actually a tough decision.

My other fear is that, since I am a novice in the field where you are putting
me, what if I fail? What if end up a failure in managing that business? I won't really know what to do. Where will I be? Going back to Manila and start at the bottom again? Knowing very well that it is not really the thing that I wanted to do. But in this age, only a few of us only get to do what they really want. I can say I am lucky right now.

As of now.
I am just pouring my cares because you are my parents and somehow, you would know where I am coming from. I am sorry if this letter will make you feel bad but I have to say my peace somehow...

I love you both.

your son,


Three days later, I receive this e-mail from my mom.

abridged and edited....

Dearest Toto,

I just got your email to us. Even though you have agreed to be with us in the province to take over the business after two years as you told me, (we) I don't really demand for you to stay here nor impose to you to be with us. Where you are happy it will be okay for us. If you want to be in Manila to continue your present work go ahead wara kami Anak nagadili kanimo (we are not stopping you do do so). Indi pagdibdiba (don't take it too hard) when I told you to come home to be with us. Your Pops and I are very proud of you and will always be. WE know you have already found yourself. We only want you to be with us once in a while, if not always. Ikaw lang ang nabilin kanamon (You're the only one left to us here). But you can go ahead with your plans for your future indi kami mamalabag kanimo (we will not hinder you). I print your letter for your Pops to read, he told me to let you know he is very proud of you!!! Forget the past nalobong ron to (that was long buried) what you are now is a different person. Don't worry we are enjoying our business! Remember we love you our dear children and will always be proud of you. We dont want to compare you to your sisters because you are different from them. You are not like them nor they will be like you, you are your self as you will be to me and to your Pops.

We love you anak!

Nanay & Tatay

After an hour, she called. She told me that she's sorry for imposing those things. She panicked that her two daughters are leaving the country and I, too will be next. It was a good talk, I felt like I lost twenty pounds.

Moments later, I wondered how is it being parents- watching your kids grow-up, trying to tell them which path to make, being hurt when they choose the ones you hardly know, seeing them go. Amidst all that, you are trying to struggle against old age.

I remember when I was young, there was this baby sparrow on a broken nest which landed on our backyard after the storm. The other baby sparrows died already and he was the one left. Already covered with feathers, this one can barely fly, much more to find his food. I took him inside the house and build a psuedo nest. Fed him everyday with cooked rice and fruit bits or whatever is left during meals until finally he got to learn how to fly. Every meal time, he would pester me for food. After feeding him, he would fly back and forth inside the house. Until such time he would find his own food in the kitchen. Sometimes, the food was not intended for him but for us, before mealtime. That is when I realized I have to let him fly outside our screened windows.

It was hard letting him go.

I can only imagine how my parents feel right now.

Guess, I just gained back the twenty pounds.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

designer's angst #2

I am about to close this contract with a client. The job that is left is purely styling and accessorizing.

A friend once told me that the work of an interior designer includes entering a very delicate area called privacy. He is right. How can you possibly design a bedroom without knowing what your client's bedroom activities? Technically, you very well can, but don't expect the bedroom to be personalized. How much more for a bathroom?

When I was not living alone, I would often be out till the its too late you can call it early. By the time I get home, I go straight to bed. The following day, by the time I get up, I go straight to the bath and dress-up and leave. I would spend a lot in coffee shops and bars. Now that I'm living on my own. In a house that I decorated, I rather go home right after work. A home is a sanctuary for a lot of us. Having someone plan it for you is entrusting your future activities to that person you get to pay. That is where privacy gets in the way.

Usually, the getting-to-know-the-client is the main agenda of the first meeting. You ask them about what type of interiors they like, then the types that they don't like. Little by little, you gain their confidence. By the fourth or fifth meeting, they will tell you why they want a house that will look like what you have discussed. And on the seventh meeting, they will tell you that they have problems with their marriage, or their in-laws or that their son has ADD. These things are small details that can somehow be one of the major factors in the design. Then they become your friends.

With friendship, comes the almost pro bono fee. But you get to empathize with a lot of them so with them, you dream of a beautiful house. A beautiful home. While your pocket suffers. And then they will ask you from fabric down to birthday gifts for their inaanak. From seven in the morning to one in the morning. Yet, being friends, it is ok. While your pocket suffers. And as the contract goes on, their pocket suffers too. As a designer friend, you go to great lengths to look for the cheapest material to get the look that is in the design. As a friend, short-changing your clients is unthinkable.

It is with this passion that most houses are completed. It is with being a designer and a friend, mountains are moved and storms are calmed. The professionalism in such relationship is often blurred. Where breaking privacy is not a hindrance but a means to make everybody happy.

I'm styling this house of a friend tomorrow. I am actually excited to see it finished and done. Another project ending. Another reason for me to smile and celebrate.

While my pocket suffers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

i love the nightlife, i used to boogy!

I was first introduced to Malate when I was 18. The senior members UP Tropa ETC brought me first to Penguin then Library then Cafe Adriatico. It was called an exposure trip. Weeks later, we went to Quiapo. We arrived there at about eleven in the evening, went to a bar (sleazy is too clean a term), ate lugaw in front of the church then rode the jeep to Luneta and waited for the sunrise there.

After that, I experienced a lot of sunrises before going to bed. It was not Malate that I got exposed to but to "going outs," gimmicks, ganap, lakad, rampa, "one for the road," and basically the life that would start when the sun sets. Talk about the 80's movie.

Far from the 80's movie, Manila by Night, mine was not that rugged and gritty. After Malate, during the the last days of the artsy fartsy of Insomia, Blue, and the three old faithfulls, came Makati. Glorietta 3 had Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe. There was the occasional Euphoria and Mars. Other crowds would prefer the much quieter Greenhills (S Tower and Music Hall) during the hey days of band shows. During weeknights, there was the College of Law Malcolm Hall and CSWCD (tip: buy manong guard three bottles of red horse and you can drink there all night).

True to climbing the social ladder, came Giraffe, Studebaker, Fashion Cafe and Zu. It was the time when my weekends start Thursday and end up Sunday morning at North Park. Weeknights became Sam's Diner then later, Sanfo Cafe.

Amidst all these, I was not doing anything. Pretending to study yet not so. Having odd jobs here and there eventually becoming a professional bum. Yet lived very eventfull life from sundown to dawn. The stories of each night end just before sunrise. And so goes my life, living for every single line of those stories- segmented and episodic. It did not carry a single thread that can continue for the next day. It became true with my jobs during that time. They were jobs yet I couldn't be too sure if I am actually developing a career. I was into plays, events and internet shops.

Then I decided that I will study design. Hoping that I will actually find my place under the sun. And actually stay there. As this was happening, the bars I mentioned earlier, one by one, closed down. And new ones opened. The birth of coffee shops, from the classic figaro to the (according to a friend-) newest pick-up non-alcoholic fast-coffee place popularized by Rustans-Starbucks brought sober nights to new heights.

Now, you have Greenbelt 2 and 3, two malls that majorly sells night life (I hope Alicia Bridges can actually see it to give "I love the Nightlife" a deeper meaning). The other side of Makati is the used-to-be-military-base converted into a hub where socialites and social climbers (whew! my kind!) meet. The other conversion is the Power Plant, named after what it really was. Then you have the isolated bars in the middle of somewhere scattered. Malate become more segregated, you have Nakpil area with school-allowance-money-buying-power, the Remedios Circle are with the last breath of the artsy fartsy Malate and you have the vibrant Orosa, plagued with queers and the moneyed... well, queers.

I barely go out these days. But yeah, somehow, I like to keep myself updated.

The difference now is that I am still in design and yes, I still see the sunrise now, though not from those places but my home.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

taking my leave...

I wish I can just fly away...

I would often hear the line "I'll take my leave" in english movies in the sixties. For me it's the most proper way of saying good-bye.

As I became a member of the working class a.k.a. employee, when one says "I'll take my leave", it means he is going to be gone for awhile but definitely going to return some time. I have worked for a little more than three years in the company where I am at and (aside from the yearly Christmas break) this is my first time to actually formally file a leave.

I told my boss that I was planning to be on leave for one month soon. Apparently, I am only allowed six days. That started last Tuesday and will end Friday. The wednesday of which I was required to work because of a shoot which I, apparently was only informed the day before the leave took effect. Trying to maximize the said 'vacation', I slept until the wee hours of the afternoon telling myself not to worry of the next day's work because I am 'on leave'.

I am going back to work Tuesday. Thank goodness that Monday is a holiday. I got too preoccupied with the idea that I'm on vacation, I hardly had the time to actually enjoy it. Amidst all that, I was reminded all the time that we do have a deadline. Today is Saturday and I will be working for a project tomorrow. The said vacation was actually two days of sleeping and frantic work for the coming weeks. Somehow, I am just glad my face does show that I have rested.

At the end of it, I hope I can actually say the phrase as they say it in the movies.