Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sense And Senselessness

It’s useless to make sense of the senseless. Best if we can just graciously accept something that is beyond our control and comprehension. Yet we still try to, if only to trigger some kind of closure.

The bus fell off the cliff on a Friday. I was in a shoot outside the office when I got a call from my colleague and a close friend of Bam. There was worry and panic in his voice; earlier they had called Bam’s cellphone, and it was the police who answered. I remember telling him not to think of the worst yet, that so long as there’s no confirmation, there’s hope. But I knew better, and readied myself for the other shoe to drop. And it did, at first slowly as details trickled in via SMS, then with a thudding finality from my colleague: “sir wala na si bam.”

I’m no stranger to death. Even before we lost our friend and fellow Fabcaster AJ, I had buried relatives, friends, and colleagues. I said farewell to my 4-year old brother and my 69-year old dad. And yet over the weekend D noticed there was something wrong with me. I was masungit and tahimik. Initially I thought I was emotionally affected by this Korean drama that we were watching (yes, I’m actually quite hooked on it). But when I attended the wake on Sunday evening, I realised it was Bam’s loss that shook me deeply.

Of all people, why him? For me, he exemplified the phrase mabait na tao. I’m sure he had a mischievous side, even a naughty one. And I’m sure he has a pasaway side to him. But in the office, he was a gentle soul who didn’t put himself above his team. In fact he preferred to fade quietly in the background, and let his work speak for itself. He was friendly to everyone in his own quiet way. It was next to impossible to get mad at him, let alone hold a grudge against him. He was too much of a gentleman.

So why him? His wife had just given birth to his second child. He was getting ready to move her and the kids from Bicol to Cavite, where he had a house built. He had big, exciting plans for the channel. He was only 32 years old.

Senseless. Sometimes that’s the only thing that makes sense.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Storm After The Storm

Phrases like “lack of leadership,” “no evidence of organisation,” and “no government presence” are so easy to toss around, like galvanised steel flung by gale winds. But for every story of looting, desperation, and no sense of control, there are also other stories: of soldiers going hungry because they opened their military commissary to feed civilians, of local authorities who attempt to put order despite suffering losses themselves, of survivors helping one another.

It’s easy to overlook that the first line of response from the local government were also victims themselves. It’s easy to point fingers instead of lifting a hand to help. It’s easy to forget that just before Yolanda there was the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol, and the stand-off in Zamboanga. It’s easy to disregard the fact that despite pre-storm warnings, no one, not even storm experts, had any idea of the magnitude and severity of Yolanda’s fury.

There are more sides to a story, with each side unfolding and evolving. It’s tempting to report only what can be seen up front. Stating a fact is one thing, but understanding needs the bigger picture.

There are those who seek to storm Malacañang at this time, blaming the ineptitude of the president for the slow response. I just wish that our collective energies in the coming days have a more constructive agenda. Because that’s what we do after a storm—we rise up and rebuild.  But I guess solidarity and sobriety may be too much to ask from others.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

That Which We Call A Rose By Any Other Name Would Wither And Die

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose—” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ..”

“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

* * * * *

Pardon me dear fox, little prince, and the rose, but that’s not always true. Men eventually figure out that responsibilities have limits, often imposed by others.

What is essential is invisible to the eye; sometimes, we are blind to it. And the time that we waste may ultimately be just a waste of time, and the rose was never tamed.

When kids become adults and princes become kings, this is what they do. They get real. They grow up. They move on. They live in the present, instead of wallowing in the past or wishing for an uncertain future. They learn to decide and to choose.

Growing up isn’t sad. Growing up can lead to finding peace, something which children achieve only when they’re asleep.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I feel numb.

Specifically, my lower left quadrant of my mouth is numb. That includes the left side of my lower lip and the left side of my tongue. It feels like that part of my mouth is swollen, but when I look in the mirror, everything is as they are.

I had a root canal back in the early 2000s. Early this year the cap came off, but I had it placed back on. Two weeks ago, it fell again, this time with a portion of the remaining tooth. During the two weeks that the space between teeth was cap-less, the gums moved into the place where the chipped part used to be. To replace the cap this time, the dentist had to cauterize part of the gum; thus, the need to inject local anesthesia.

The dentist was a fairly young woman; she looked like she was still in her 20s. I didn’t like it, but she was the one assigned to me. I asked her a lot of questions, and gauged her manner of answering them. She was fairly confident with her answers, and was able to explain thoroughly my “Why?” questions.

And she liked to err on the cautious side. “This will hurt,” she said. “Like how much?” I asked. “Like a small insect bite,” she replied, before putting the x-ray sheet inside my mouth. Afterwards I told her, “It’s not painful, just uncomfortable.”

I guess that’s why she didn’t bother to whisper or use a code when she told her assistant, “Get me the LONG needle.” And she held the injection where I can see it. Omigod, it is a long needle!

She injected me four times. Thankfully over the years I’ve learned how to take injections in stride. They weren’t painful at all.

But now I’m numb.

When I got back to the office, I told my boss how silly I felt, speaking with a quarter of my mouth sedated. She pointed to my mouth and said, “That’s painful.”

I though she was referring to the procedure. “Not when there’s anesthesia,” I said.

“Oh wait ‘til it wears off,” she warned, laughing.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What’s In A Name?

Graham Norton is a favorite British host/comedian of mine. His talk show, like most, depends on the quality of his guests. This particular episode, he had with him three of my favorite actors—two from Star Trek: Into Darkness, and one from Sex And The City. I particularly loved this exchange from the English host, the American, the British-Canadian, and the Englishman.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013