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)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prawn Crackers, Anyone?

Even from the trailer, District 9 is clearly an allegory about racial discrimination and the injustice of segregation, ironically set in the home of apartheid, South Africa. It’s just set in a way cooler milieu of science fiction; here the disenfranchised is not just a race, it’s a species.

In previous movies the message is driven home when someone from the Establishment gets immersed in the world of the Outsiders (usually on the run because he’s falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit). His and the audiences’ eyes are opened to the humanity of the Outsiders, and the message “They’re not much different from us” is hammered home. But what if the Outsiders are literally aliens?

Happily this movie produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neil Bloomkamp is not just an allegory, but also a cracking summer movie. Even when the movie reveals the aliens to have human characteristics and values despite their cockroach-meets-shrimp exoskeletons and their clicking-and-computer-choppy-sounding voices, this message isn’t hammered into our heads. Instead, it’s tucked in with your edge-of-your-seat action sequences, bad-ass weaponry and a Terminator-like baddie. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the movie’s insight that humans can be the more cruel species; rather, the movie’s triumph is to weave that seamlessly within the summer movie framework.

And what a visceral movie! Those with faint of heart may look away at certain scenes involving organic projectiles and flying body parts both human and non-human. But the action and suspense are first-rate, and several times I was wriggling in my seat.

A few minor quibbles I had: the transition for “live footage” to documentary style hand-held camera work was pretty seamless, but it did pull me out of the experience of the movie for a few seconds. When the camera became a third-person omnipotent POV, certain narrative devices became too obvious (for example, how coincidental that Wikus, played brilliantly by the soon-to-cease-to-be-an-unknown Sharlto Copley, should “stumble” upon that all-important shack).

And I wonder what kind of movie it would have been if the Prawns (the derogatory term for the aliens) were really alien even in their objectives? That they motivations were even more inscrutable? That they didn’t have noble human values? But that’s something for another set of filmmakers to make.

Meanwhile, go watch District 9, but make sure you don’t go in on a full stomach. And don’t eat crustaceans afterwards.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday Bedlam With K And E

“Hey, join us in Bed,” Chronicles of E invited me over YM. I knew why; Kane is in the middle of a painful break-up, and a night of friendly counseling capped by dancing seemed like the thing to do on a Friday evening.

As always I arrived earlier than they did. I’ve always known K to arrive in Bed no earlier than 3am, so I wasn’t surprised. This particular Friday crowd, always a little sparser compared to Saturdays, had a lot more pamhin; or was it that there fewer pa-girls? But I wasn’t on the prowl; I gave that up a long time ago. I was there to dance.

And to tell E that Tristan Tales said hi and requested a kiss from him—preferably on the lips. Yes, I tweeted my plans for the evening and Tristan requested for that kiss and to dance in his usual place on the ledge: front and center.

* * * * *

It was past 1am when the two arrived, but by that time the music stopped to make way for the Bed Bodies competition. So we stepped out to drink and chat at Che’lu (which was located on a temporary venue along the same street while their place was being renovated).

While we were chatting over bottles of San Mig Lite, E spotted a familiar face in the crowd. “Tita Malou!” he called out to her and went over to a thin, friendly-looking woman in the crowd. After exchanging pleasantries, he dragged her over to meet me.

“This is Tita Malou of the Social Hygiene Clinic,” he said as I shook her hand. “They’re conducting free HIV testing right now here! Gusto mo magpa-test?”

“Huh?!” I was thrown off-guard by the suddenness of it all. But after a pause, I said, “Sure!”

I have always wanted to have myself tested again. It has been years since I last had a test, and truth be told, while I’d like to think that I’ve been practicing safe sex, one can never be too sure. It’s very difficult to be coldly careful and logical in the heat of sex.

And so on a Friday evening, on a makeshift stand along Orosa Street, in the presence of passing vendors, street urchins, mendicants and party-people, I found myself clenching my fist as a volunteer sprayed something on my forearm and pointed a needle at my vein. Usually when I get injected I look away at the last minute so that I don’t anticipate when the needle pierces the skin. But for some weird reason, maybe because it was being done so out in the open, I decided to look straight at the needle as the volunteer plunged it into the vein. And I kept looking at it as she extracted my blood slowly.

I was given a code number and a date when I could call them, give my number, and they’ll tell me the results. Highly confidential—they never even asked me my name. It will take them several days before they get the results; for 100% accuracy, they took a lot of blood because they will run several tests to check and counter-check the results.

A male volunteer approached me: “Sir, may questionnaire lang po kami.” Apparently the number of HIV+ cases among men who have sex with other men was on an alarmingly steep rise, and they wanted to gather as much data as they can. I agreed, and he held up a voluminous questionnaire that, if each question was judiciously asked, would take 15 to 20 minutes for a respondent to finish answering—and that’s with the aid of an interviewer!

Lucky for them I was in a very chatty mood. The volunteer told me, “Sir, I’ll just ask you the important questions, we’ll just skip the others cuz it’ll take too long,” but I replied, “Bring it on!”

Ten minutes later (he decided to skip questions anyway), I was done.

K wanted to go back to Bed, so we bade Tita Malou and her crew adieu.

* * * * *

Inside the party was in full swing. The ledge was already full of people (though not as crowded, it being a Friday). I spotted EM, a former officemate of mine, in the crowd; the last time I’ve seen him was almost half a year ago. “Joeeeeeeeeeeeeeel!” he squealed and hugged me tight. Then he yelled to my face, “Let’s daaaaaance!” and dragged me up the ledge. Front and center, just as Tristan wanted.

“When Love Takes Over,” “Boom Boom Pow,” and “Hush Hush” came and went in quick succession. I was getting lost in the music. I saw K and E bopping just in front of the ledge. The whole place was rockin’ to the beat. But then Mariah Carey’s “Stay In Love” came on.

Baby, baby, I stay in love with you….

I saw K looking sheepishly at E as he fell into emo mode. But since E was there I knew K was in good hands, so I stayed dancing on the ledge.

And then Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” boomed from the speakers: Remember all the things we wanted….

“Oh my god!” I yelled at K. “Number na natin ‘toh! Hahaha!” and I gave in to the music and lost myself in the dance.

But I want you to move on, so I’m already gone… already gone….

I glanced again and again at K. He wasn’t snapping out of his emo mode. Uh-oh. Okay, I’ll be selfish and just finish this song, I said to myself. It’s got a bitchin’ beat I didn’t want to waste. So I grooved and danced for the both of us, as if shimmying would shake the blues away.

So I’m already gone.

I jumped off the ledge and asked Karl, “Wanna go now?” and he quietly nodded. I turned to E and said, “And we’re gone.”

* * * * *

As we dropped off E at EDSA, I turned to face him and said, “Hey, you have a kiss from Tristan!” I had told him about it earlier, but that was before four bottles of beer; his reaction that time was just an embarrassed “Ay ganoon?” followed by a laugh and a flattered grin from ear to ear.

Ay, oo nga!” He had opened the back door to step out, but he leaned in again and planted a smack on my lips. “Bye! Ingat!” he said as he stepped out and slammed the door shut.

O ayan Tristan, may sayaw ka na, may kiss ka pa.

* * * * *

(For those interested to get tested for HIV, please contact Ms. Malou Tan of the SOCIAL HYGIENE CLINIC at 711-6942.

And P.S. – Yes, ruff nurse-du-jour, I was the one in the gray t-shirt making a fool of myself on the ledge. Yes, you should have introduced yourself. ☺)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Letters To Js

Dear J,

I sincerely apologize for lashing out on you last night. What I did was quite unfair and you didn’t deserve it. I was being stupid and vulnerable, and I allowed my human side to rear its ugly head. Maybe my friends were onto something; maybe I should just remain icy cold on the inside.

Regardless, thank you for putting me in my proper place.

Domo origato,

Mister Roboto

P.S. – Forgive me for borrowing your format too.

* * * * *

Dear J,

I apologize for dumping on you; it was insensitive of me considering I know (to a certain extent) what you went through. I was just thinking too much of myself and not of you. Fate may be ungrateful, but I am grateful you still gave me your time of day.

Next time just slap me silly.

Your maderpaker,


* * * * *

Dear J,

Feeling sorry for yourself has repercussions: you now have to say sorry to others.

My bad.


* * * * *

Dear viewers,

Tragic-comic has never been my style. This is but a glitch, some “technical difficulties” on the set of The McVie Show. We will be back to regular programming.

Yours truly,


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What’s Up With That?!

Okay, so what’s wrong with this picture?

You see how the number “6” looks like the letter “G”? It’s so easy to mistake one for the other, especially since “6” is the lowest in that column of buttons. I’ve made that mistake three f**kin’ times already while going down from the tenth floor, and I had to wait (twice in embarrassment since there were others with me!) while the elevator made a pitstop on the sixth.


McMantra: I’m Discerning, I’m Deserving

Someone quite dear to me recently called me “Mr. Cynical” while someone else described me as an ice queen. Before I’d have proudly worn those labels. But now they just sadden me.

Before, I didn’t mind being single. Well, not true. I did mind, for a while. Then I stopped minding and concentrated on my career (how very showbiz—“Karir muna, Tito Boy!”). Then I minded again. The waiting was getting to me. Cupid turned into Godot, so I turned to the cynic route. But the wait became longer. And longer. And longer. Cynicism turned to anger, then resignation, then petulant defiance. I actually said to myself several times in the past, “If Love approaches, I’d run the other way—screaming.” But like a lot of things here in The McVie Show, those pronouncements were mostly for show.

Unfortunately, I bought into my own press release.

And unfortunately I had no idea how to play the waiting game at that time.

Eventually I realized that there are two kinds of waiting—passive and active. With the former, your life is put on hold; with the latter, your life continues to move on. Before, I chose the former path and suffered much for it. But the good thing that came out of it is that I learned eventually how to move on and to let go. And from there, I realized that there’s an active kind of waiting. A waiting that allows you to discern, yet is kind on yourself and allows you your own space and growth. So that the hope is that, maybe, the other will be as ready for you as you are for him.

You cannot be selfish. And you must learn to let go. A wise man once sung, “If you love someone, set them free.”

And that includes me.

I, single at 43, am also worth the wait.

* * * * *

Cynical still? I leave that to my audience.

Ice queen? Hmmm… I’m still cool with that, hahaha.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Moving On Really Expensive?

Not if you’re in installment, bwhahahaha!

Please welcome, MacProVie! (Yeah, yeah, I know, his name sounds like an ingredient for shampoo. Inggit lang kayo. Yes it’s pay-to-own, so I will eventually own it.)

* * * * *

I have a new mantra: I’m discerning, I’m deserving. Yeap, I’m worth the wait.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Show Stopper

Pardon me, but I was in Baguio with the family this long weekend. I’ll be back, with a vengeance. Like die hard, but pink.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Death Scenes

When I was in high school, I started imagined my own death scenes. At first those were literally movie scenes—we were shooting a movie and my character was dying. Usually I’d have no dialogue; I’d be gasping for breath while my co-actor (often a hot one from Hollywood—hey, it’s my daydream, hm’kay?!) in that scene would be the one with the declarations of love (usually masked in manly hetero-acceptable speech) and loss over me.

But as I grew older, real life scenarios replaced the movie scenes and real people replaced the actors. More than once I’d end up saving my crush from, say, getting crushed by an oncoming 10-wheeler—but I’d get fatally sideswiped. Yes, I have seen many a cheesy dramatic movie in my childhood.

What was the point of all that? After all, death was always the ultimate goodbye scene. I knew I got a kick out of imagining who would be gathered around me as I died, and what those people would say to me. It was my ultimate fantasy question: did I matter to anyone at all, and how?

Nowadays I don’t bother with the death scenes, because sometimes, even while living, I catch myself wondering: do I matter at all to anyone? And while my mind always says yes, there’s always a pinch of fear somewhere deep in my heart, somewhere where it’s cold and scared. I thought it was shoved way deep inside so no one, not even I, can feel it; but I was wrong.

* * * * *

I’m not being emo now, okay? One quick quip from Jamiedavinci is like being slapped silly, and I snapped out of it. All that muay thai kicking of his definitely has paid off.

Your mother thanks you, dear daughter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kiiiimmy, Dora O-Oh! Music Video

Lyrics by Emman dela Cruz
Music by Christian Martinez
Performed by Ricci Chan
Starring Kimmy and Dora Go Dong Hae with the Cardioboys!
Directed by Chris Martinez

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Lovelife? Just Love Life

A chat over instant messaging between my friend K and I. K’s relationship just ended in an intense and painful way. We discussed that at length first, and then the topic shifted.

* * * * *

K: Joel, i’m turning 30 next year and talagang naisip ko
K: OMG, ilang heatbreak ang meron sa dekadang iyon?
K: ayoko na
K: as iN!!!
K: i can’t imagine repeating the heartaches i had this decade in the next

mcvie: hahahahahha
mcvie: PASALAMAT KA may heart kang na-be-break
mcvie: ako yata, hanggang pa-tulong-tulong na lang sa ibang tao eh

K: you have a heart

mcvie: i think i'll just become the Mother Teresa of the Lovelorn
mcvie: hahahahahahaha
mcvie: “Come to me, all ye who are loveless and hopeless!”

K: funny thing is, oo nga no
K: you’re out there naman
K: hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
K: nakakapagtaka nga naman
K: pero alam mo, naniniwala ako at ito yung hope na alam mong hindi lang optimism, na merong magmamahal at meron kang mamahalin
K: it can be a very rewarding experience.

mcvie: i also think so
mcvie: pero more and more parang it's beginning to look like
mcvie: hindi siya yung "jowa" in the traditional sense
mcvie: baka nga MGA different guys eh
mcvie: AAAAYYYY! orgy?! hahahaha
mcvie: hay naku, ewan ko ba kung kelan ko siya (o sila) mami-meet
mcvie: bahala na
mcvie: basta, live life na lang!

K: iba ka!!!


K: minsan ba , when you’re about to sleep, tinatanong mo yan kay God?

mcvie: nope
mcvie: i've stopped asking God about my lovelife
mcvie: i feel it's something i shouldn't even bother Him with
mcvie: that there are more important, bigger issues to address Him
mcvie: and that a lovelife is something that is, in the larger scheme of things, a little bit of a selfish interest :-D
mcvie: i feel elevating it to God is too much
mcvie: parang dapat hanggang guardian angel-level lang
mcvie: hahahahahaha!
mcvie: you won't wanna bother the CEO or the Owner of the Company with trivial matters, right?
mcvie: hahahahahaha

K: hahahahaa
K: ako i will
K: hahahhaaa

mcvie: iba ako mag-isip, ano?

K: yeah

mcvie: well, siguro mas personal yung relationship mo with God
mcvie: so you can go up to Him and "bother" Him about that :-D

K: i tell him, “God why?”
K: i fight with him
K: i make deals
K: i bargain, and barter
K: hahahaha

mcvie: hahaha
mcvie: i wouldn't wanna do those things with Him
mcvie: takot ko lang, hahaha

K: hahahaa
K: God is my friend
K: hahahahaa
K: BFF ko siya

mcvie: well then there you go :-)
mcvie: ako, He's my CEO
mcvie: hahahaha

K: hahahahahaa

An Online Petition

ArchieMD and JAG left the following in my comments page.

* * * * *

To: My Fellow Filipinos and Artists

Many of us in the artists community were shocked and appalled that Carlo J. Caparas was named National Artist for Visual Arts and Film on July 2009. Although we recognize the work and accomplishments of Caparas within the comic book industry as well as television and film, we strongly believe that his body of work does not live up to the tradition of excellence the title of National Artist entails.

It is appalling to us that someone who has made a living exploiting the lowest common denominator in films such as "The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!)", "The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2 - God Have Mercy on Us", "Lipa Arandia Massacre (Lord Deliver Us from Evil)", and "The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust!" shall now be placed in the same league as Manuel Conde and Lino Brocka, the greatest filmmakers in the Philippines responsible for our greatest movies as "Ghengis Khan" and "Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag" respectively.

However, if one is looking for an objective reason for this protest, it would be this:

It is clear that "Visual Arts" and "Film" are two different categories. Therefore, "Visual Arts" refer to Caparas' work in comics. Caparas is a writer. He has never illustrated any of his comics stories, least of all his most popular ones. Panday and Pieta? They were illustrated by Steve Gan. Bakekang? It was illustrated by Mar Santana. Kroko? Illustrated by Hal Santiago. Totoy Bato? Illustrated by Tor Infante.

In the guidelines for selection of National Artist for Visual Artists, the category clearly covers:

"Visual Arts – painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation art, mixed media works, illustration, graphic arts, performance art and/or imaging;"

How can someone who is not an illustrator, therefore *NOT* a visual artist ever be named National Artist for Visual Arts? If Carlo should ever be given this title, the title should be shared with all the artists he collaborated with, for that is the nature of comics. It is a collaborative medium as Carlo himself points out many times during his talks.

If not, then this title should be removed, as it is not factually descriptive of who he is. In short, Carlo J. Caparas is NOT qualified to be National Artist. The guidelines unarguably point this fact out.

Our objection and resolve are strengthened by news that have recently come to light that Carlo J. Caparas did not go through the rigorous selection and assessment process of the National Artists voting board. Carlo J. Caparas is a SNAG, or "Singit National Artist ni Gloria". It is through this Presidential insertion process that a person who is not qualified to be National Artist manages to be one.

As Philippine artists and concerned citizens who feel that our artistic legacy as a nation is compromised by these events, we strongly and vehemently put forward this protest.


ArchieMD and JAG

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Break Time

Before, my idea of a good vacation is one where activities are non-stop and our itinerary fully-booked to within a second. It’s youth’s idea of time not wasted—every second is maximized with things to do and places to see.

But after several years of being in the workplace (and in an industry that’s so not 9-5), I realized that a vacation is more of a break from the usual. And if the usual is a flurry of activities, then a vacation is a cessation of wall-to-wall activities. Nowadays I spell vacation as R-E-S-T.

I realized that when my friend Leigh and I went to Baguio for a weekend getaway back when we were still in Basic Advertising. We did nothing but eat, sleep, read and listen to our respective Discmans (okay, full disclosure: this was back in the early 90s). We ignored one another throughout the day except during meal times (we’d just pop open a can of spicy tuna and bring out crackers) and when we took photos of each other (we brought our respective cameras; her roll of film was full of pictures of me, and vise versa). In the evening we’d go out to Session Road, have a modest dinner, then we’d plunk our arses down in one of the bars and just drink and talk the night away.

Those were darn good times. Even now that Bagio retreat counts as one of my best vacations ever.

Minimum fuss, maximum food trip, and no sense of time or urgency—that for me is a luxury I can rarely afford these days. Having one right now is bliss.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Q&A Portion

Last night I got a text-in question: “Do you know the feeling that you’re wishing you could be like other hot guys—like models or ballet dancers—or that you’re wishing you could date them? How do I deal with these feelings?” (Guys, yes the question-sender is quite young, so sheath your bitch-claws, okay?)

Since I knew my answer would be too long for a text message, I just decided to answer it here. Let’s break it down into several chunks.

Do you know the feeling that you’re wishing you could be like other hot guys—like models or ballet dancers?

Yes, I do know the feeling. I used to wish I were like a Hollywood star: as testosterone-oozing as Erik Estrada in C.H.I.P.S, as romantically tortured as the sole surviving mere-man Patrick Duffy in Man From Atlantis, as dashing as Pierce Brosnan in Remington Steele, as witty as Bruce Willis in Moonlighting, as this, as that.

Nowadays one can change oneself so that one can look like his idols. Of course, the amount of change should fall within the range of the possible. For example, a gorgeous, perfectly symmetrical face is usually a gift of Mother Nature and your parents’ genes; Belo, Ellen, Calayan and their ilk can only do so much renovation. But a hot, trim body is something that most people can achieve, given time and effort of course. If you want a ballet dancer’s body, then take up ballet—provided that you are still young enough to take it. That’s one art form that’s cruel to the aged.

However these changes are at best temporary in their physicality (age will always undo the body). The more crucial change is also the hardest, because it doesn’t involve changing one’s features. Rather it is changing one’s mind-set and attitude towards one’s self image. When you learn to love yourself, then whatever changes small or big that you do to your appearance are done out of self-love and not self-loath.

I admit that once in a while I still sigh inwards and long to look like a hot male model who can appear wearing only the skimpiest underwear in a huge billboard. Then I tell myself: “Joel, get real.”

Do you know the feeling that you’re wishing you could date hot guys—like models or ballet dancers?

Again, yes. Every time I go to Bed or the bathhouse, or when I’m in a party full of gay people, part of me always wishes that I’m not in the middle of the Bell Curve of Beauty.

Because sometimes I still catch myself wishing I could snag a gorgeous prince who will sweep me off my feet (preferably in a Ferrari or a Jag, I’m not too choosy) and give me that fairly tale happily ever after. But then that wishful thinking happens for approximately 0.5 seconds (a lot shorter that it took for me to write the previous sentence), then my brain kicks in and tells me: “Joel, get real.”

But you can always try and ask a Prince Charming out on a date. Who knows, he just might say yes. But it’s best if you’re immune to rejection before going up to them. And not all princes end up charming; some turn out to be toads underneath it all.

How do I deal with these feelings?

Okay, here’s the shortcut version. Repeat after me: Get real.

Here’s the idea behind that. There’s a prayer that goes, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Well, I’m still working on the wisdom part.

I suggest you start working on it too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shaking Up The CCP

For some reason I got to reminisce about the July 1990 earthquake which leveled Baguio and Dagupan, and shocked Metro Manila residents.

Where was I when the quake hit? At that time I was working as a staff assistant at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Our office was located on the fourth floor of the CCP main building. It was late afternoon, and our office was unusually quiet. Our office consisted of 5 regular and 4 contractual employees, but for some reason it was just our lone secretary Chona (such a secretarial name, “Chona”) and I who were in the office.

When the first wave hit, Chona and I looked at each other, puzzled. Then the swaying increased, and it dawned on us at the same time. “Earthquake!” she announced in a very calm voice. Now you see, Chona was as mild-mannered as her name implied. Her facial expressions of shock, anger, sadness and happiness were almost identical except for the direction in which her eyebrows would point. I could describe her as “unflappable” but that would be inaccurate; “limited range” would be more precise but harsher too.


The realization hit us, but instead of doing what we were supposed to do in such cases, we did quite the opposite. We went near a window (a no-no, since windows could shatter during a quake, hitting us with shards) to look out at the then-Philsite Building (to become Star City a year or two later). “Look!” Chona blurted out. She managed to sound excited and unperturbed—an amazing feat, really. “The people are running out of the building!” she continued. One could replace her words with, “They’re lighting the birthday candle on the cake!” and her tone of delivery would have been just as fitting.

Then I remembered the things they drilled into our heads in case of an earthquake. “Chona, I think we need to go under our tables,” I said in a calm voice. So we ducked under the nearest ones and waited.

But the shaking didn’t stop. It did ease up a bit, but I could still feel a bit of swaying—or was it just me? Just then our boss, theater director extraordinaire and visual artist Nonon Padilla, calmly walked into our office. Now Nonon is someone who is truly and genuinely unflappable. In the three years I worked in the CCP I never saw him angry or unperturbed. He announced, in a rather bored-sounding monotone that’s actually his default delivery, “O, let’s evacuate. Don’t panic, don’t panic.” And although I’ve never ever seen Nonon move faster than a lazy stroll, I swear I saw a slight spring in his step and an extra swish-and-sway in his hips.

The power was already down by then so we took the red-carpeted grand staircase leading down to the main lobby. Above us the gigantic capiz-clustered chandeliers of Imelda Marcos were swaying like bejeweled ballerinas. I remembered a lot of squealing and shouting, but there was also a lot of giggling. In a highly creative environment filled with many artists and creative people, expect the unusual reaction or two.

We wanted to stay on the sweeping driveway ramp leading up to the entrance of the main theater lobby, but wiser heads insisted we get off the ramp in case it breaks off; the fall would have been at least 20 feet. We all ended up in the side entrance of the CCP, shaking and shaken but thankful to be in one piece. And the reclaimed area that housed the CCP, Folk Arts Theater, PICC, Film Center and the former Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel didn’t break off and plunge into the Manila Bay as pundits feared.

Back in 1990 the symbolic bastion of Philippine arts and culture survived Mother Nature’s wrath. But in 2009, with the furor over the National Artist Awards still burning up the headlines, Philippine arts and culture may suffer a worse fate under another, albeit mortal, woman’s hands.

Or do we let her?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Imagine What A Jock Itch Would Be Like If….

Because Joaqui Miguel wanted to cement his status as an “extra virgin” (a title no one believes anyway), he asked us what crabs were.

Gibbs said, “Crabs is basically pubic lice.”

I chimed in, “They make you itch down there. Very itchy.”

Gibbs added, “If you wear white underwear and you see those little spots, that’s a sign that you have crabs. But they’re easy to get rid of, just use Qwell. It’s an anti-lice shampoo.”

“Well you can shave,” I said. “But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get rid of them all. You can try using tweezers and get them one by one, hahaha! I mean, they’re small but you can still see them.”

JohnStan, who also claims to be a virgin sans the “extra” label, and who was quiet the whole time (in a bid for consistency of behavior that sadly did not convince any of us at all), asked, “So if you’re not wearing white underwear, you won’t see the spots?”

“Well, just wear white underwear to spot them!” Gibbs replied.

“Are crabs considered STD?” Joaqui asked.

Gibbs paused. “Well, they’re not a disease per se,” he answered. “But they are passed on during sex.”

“The lice can just jump from pubic hair to pubic hair,” I explained.

“But they’re not a disease,” Gibbs reiterated. “So I guess they’re sexually transmitted, uhm, insects?”

“Aaay, STI?! Hahahaha!”

“Sexually transmitted organisms?” Gibbs said with a smile.

I took a crack as it. “How about sexually transmitted creatures?”

Gibbs: “Sexually transmitted beasts?” Then a silly idea dawned on him. “What if they’re actual crabs, noh? As in the crustacean ones?”

“Hahaha!” JohnStan burst out laughing. “They’d be painful not itchy.”

“What if they’re actually elephants?” I wondered out loud. “Sexually transmitted elephants! They’ll be so big, you can’t miss ‘em.”

“Hahaha! How about sexually transmitted emus?”

“Hahaha! How about sexually transmitted walrus?”

“Hahaha! How about sexually transmitted platypus?”

“Hahaha! How about sexually transmitted pandaca pygmaea?”

“Hahaha! How about sexually transmitted tarsiers?”

“Ahahaha! They’ll be hanging on to your pubic hair like this.” And Gibbs pretended he was the world’s smallest marsupial clinging onto a branch.

Thank god we’re not Gods during creation, thinking of ways to make Man’s stay on earth a little more inconvenient.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Hahaha, so this explains why dogs instinctively cower when I approach them, flowers wilt as I pass by, and the temperature drops dramatically when I enter a room.

Because of that, I will need this:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Of Boom And Zoom

Two things still always reduce me to being a kid again: fireworks and airplanes taking off.

I grew up knowing only the simple fireworks of New Year’s day in our neighborhood. That would be labintador, kuwitis, watusi and the pitiful baby rockets. I knew that fireworks in the skies were a lot grander in the US, given the Fourth of July pictures and occasional scenes in movies and television. The first time I saw live something close to as grand as those Times Square pyrotechnics was when Enchanted Kingdom opened (okay, so not as grand as the Times Square one, but beggars can’t be choosers). I still get a giddy thrill and a silly grin on my face every time I witness fireworks up close and live. And I wish I could see in person such grand displays as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, or the New Year countdowns in major cities. But for now I will just have to be contented with TV coverage and the occasional trip to SM Mall of Asia on Saturday evenings.

I’ve always loooved watching planes take off. Yes, you got that right. It’s planes leaving, not arriving. There’s something romantic about departures, and planes always mean trips of considerable distances. I love riding planes, despite knowing that the most dangerous moments of a plane ride are the take off and landing. To appreciate a successful take off is to marvel at the technological feats of man that made it possible to fly with birds.

Notice that both fireworks and flying airplanes involve looking up. When I was growing up, movie theaters were divided into three (orchestra, lodge and balcony). I preferred watching in the orchestra section because that meant I’d be looking up at the big screen. I wanted the images to overwhelm and be larger-than-life.

The physical movement of tilting my head back evokes the movements I made back when I was a child, when everything and everyone else were larger, more overwhelming and more powerful. It brings me back to a time when my parents were never wrong, movies held the answers and the heavens listened to my prayers.

Today, thanks to airplanes and the Internet, the world seems a lot smaller, and the movies can easily be broken down to their component parts and analyzed mercilessly. Yet one glimpse of the heavens lighting up or a screaming jet taking off, and the world is once again awesome, magical and mysterious.

Succession Watch: The Kimmy Dora Special News Report Part 2

After five days of Cory, we need a new Ina ng Bayan. Will it be Kimmy or Dora? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Kris’ Speech Therapy

It was classic Kris: heartfelt and sincere, at turns too truthfully so, with slips of tactlessness and revelations that were highly personal or too self-focused that they’re cringe inducing. Especially when she started running down from one family member to another; part of me wasn’t sure if Ballsy, Viel, Noynoy and Pinky were crying because of sadness or sheer embarrassment. Or both.

Yet we all know that she’s just speaking both her mind and her heart out. Yet we all know that she’s always let the public in on her private life. Yet we all know Kris was just being Kris.

In the end she was both a public figure basking in the attention and a private daughter who had just lost her mother and her family’s pillar of strength. And I can’t help my eyes well up as her capacious tears flowed, their sparkles competing for attention with the conspicuous Chanel diamond earrings she was wearing. Damn, every gay guy couldn’t help but notice them.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

This Made My Night

Okay, so we all know Manuel Quezon III, but when I showed the other re-tweet to my young junior copywriter, her reaction was, “Who’s Arnold Gamboa?!”

Apat Na Sikat. Dondon Nakar, Winnie Santos, Lala Aunor and Arnold Gamboa. Yup, he’s the cute one on the right.

Man, blast from my freakin’ 70s past! I remember watching that show, though I don’t remember anything specific, neither sight nor sound. All I remember are the names of the child stars.

Now I’m sure he was following MLQ3, not me, on Twitter. Still, there was a surreal second or two. And, in fairness, cute pa rin siya.

Play Coldplay

And here’s the official video of “Strawberry Swing,” one of my favorite Coldplay songs in their album Viva La Vida. It’s mesmerizing to watch:

And to find out how it was done, here to read the interview.

* * * * *

But waaay before Coldplay, there was the groundbreaking “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, which won a slew of awards at the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards.

Wonder ‘Bots

I find this video strangely mesmerizing, especially since I’m sort of familiar with the choreography of the Wonder Girls. Even the hand coming in on 1:08 I found unexpectedly quaint. Clearly someone has too much time—and toys—on his hands.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Of Goodbyes

Saying goodbye has never been easy, even for me. That’s why I’ve made it a point to learn how to let go. It’s not easy, but it’s very liberating. Especially when I realized that letting go is not about putting me first, but putting the other person first.

For loves lost, or never were:

“Your heart is not open, so I must go
The spell has been broken—I loved you so….
There's nothing left to lose
There's no more heart to bruise
There's no greater power than the power of good-bye.”

For Tita Cory:

“Mio sole tu sei qui con me,
con me, con me, con me.”
(“My sun, you are here with me
with me, with me, with me.”)

For a bittersweet ending:

“Don't run off in the pouring rain.
Don't call me as they call your plane.
Take the hurt out of all the pain.
Take me to a park that's covered with trees,
Tell me on a Sunday, please.”

For an extra-bitter bite:

“Don't you love farce? My fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want—sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns!
Don't bother, they're here.”

(*Thanks to Daniel Palma Tayoma’s post for reminding me of the last two songs.)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Graceful Exit

The first president I ever voted for was Cory Aquino.

I grew up during martial law. Ferdinand Marcos was the first president I ever knew. My parents believed in him; they said he was a brilliant president. So I believed them. But I was too young to vote when Ninoy Aquino ran against him for the presidency. As the years progressed and the stories against Marcos grew, my parents slowly and quietly changed their minds about the strongman. Their turning point was on 21 August 1983, when Ninoy was gunned down in cold blood.

I was of legal age to vote when Marcos declared snap elections to be held in February 1986. The very first candidate I voted for in my entire life lost in the highly controversial elections, which saw several members of the Comelec walking out of the counting process in protest. I supported Cory in her call for a boycott of companies headed by Marcos cronies; imagine, we were ready to give up drinking San Miguel beer and Coke! But then EDSA happened.

From the start Cory proclaimed she was woefully unprepared to be the president of a country saddled with billions of dollars in debt, poverty, rising insurgency problems, and a political system twisted to accommodate a dictatorship. But still she sacrificed six years of her life to lead the country in turning it around. I had fond feelings for Cory, but I was wary of her capabilities. The tasks were daunting; her husband himself famously said that he pitied the one who would follow after Marcos.

I wasn’t too fond of certain decisions she made during her stint as president. The coup attempts didn’t help her or the country either. Her heart was in the right place, but at times it looked and felt like she was the one in the wrong place.

To her credit she remained steadfast in her beliefs and in her priorities—fixing the basic institutions of democracy. The interim constitution that she fashioned was to ensure that the Philippines would never experience another Marcos. And when her 6-year term was up, despite cries from people asking her to continue on, she kept her word. By handing over the country to Fidel Ramos in a peaceful transition of power, she made a graceful exit from the presidency.

Through the years she remained a voice of calm, decency and reason. But she reserved her comments to mostly the bigger issues, and allowed each president after her to lead on their own. She became the default moral conscience of Philippine politics, despite many politicians blatantly contradicting her, ordinary citizens disagreeing with her, and a youngest daughter that continued to exemplify all that Cory wasn’t.

And she remains the icon of People Power—of peaceful, non-violent protest—all over the world.

If I were to assess her contribution to the country, I’d be hard-pressed to say she was a good president, or even an efficient one. (For me, it’s still Fidel Ramos—not the best, not the cleanest, but Steady Eddie actually made me believe things were really going to get better.) But Cory was the necessary president. Given the six years after Marcos left, only someone who was not of a presidentiable character could have stepped into Malacañang. Otherwise he/she would have been mired in politics; only a Cory could rise above politics.

Only time will tell if her efforts at a transition to a real and working democracy were the right ones; right now even questions of “Is it really democracy that the Philippines needs?” are still being asked. But no one can dispute the amount of effort she has put in and personal sacrifice she has endured through the years out of her love for our country. She has definitely deserved her rest.

When the yellow ribbons started appearing in Twitter and all over the metro, I refused to join the bandwagon. Some just wanted to show support, but others were praying for her recovery. What for? Why pray for a miracle when clearly she was at peace (albeit in pain) with her fate? At last she was going to be reunited with her beloved Ninoy and her Creator; why ask her back? What more could we ask of her? Haven’t we already asked enough?

On 01 August 2009, she made her one last, most graceful exit. Bravo, Cory Aquino.

* * * * *

PLUS: Putting Cory Aquino’s legacy in perspective: Eric Gamalinda’s blog entry.