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)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Love Hurts

For 44 years, I was single since birth. When I was in my late-20s and early 30s, I was desperate for a partner. But after going out every weekend night to Makati and Malate bars, seeking out guys in websites like G4M, Downelink, and Connexion, meeting strangers in dark moviehouses, alleys, and parks, and repeatedly falling for guys that were unavailable or uninterested, I turned cynical before resigned and then philosophical about love. I knew that my biggest stumbling block was my fear of rejection and failure.

But then in one night at a party, I met D. A month or so of dating and a year and 10 months later, we’re still together. What surprises me is what happened that made me decide that: [1] I should just take a chance; and [2] D’s the one I want to take a chance with. Up to now I still am not too sure why I did what I did, how I go over my fears, what gave me the courage to just take a leap, and what made me choose D over others.

Then I read this NY Times essay by Jonathan Franzen, best-selling author, whose link was being passed around on Facebook by my friends. The essay was adapted from a commencement speech he delivered at Kenyon College. Unfortunately, his essay relates how technology encourages liking instead of the harder work of loving. However, what he discusses about love really hit me hard. And for once someone had articulated in clear, precise prose, some of the reasons behind my decisions which led me to having a partner.

Being the editor that I am, I decided to just pick out the passages from Mr. Franzen’s essay and tweak the words a bit so that the said passages strung together still read like a complete article.

I also like to dedicate the following essay to my friend Araw. For the longest time he was running scared. Araw, it’s time for you to face pain. You can never completely run away from it.

(For those who want to read Jonathan Franzen’s NY Times article in full, click HERE.)

* * * * *

Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.
Original text by JONATHAN FRANZEN
Edited and tweaked by JOEL McVIE

Imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist — a person who can’t tolerate the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likable.

If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are. And if you succeed in manipulating other people into liking you, it will be hard not to feel, at some level, contempt for those people, because they’ve fallen for your shtick. You may find yourself becoming depressed, or alcoholic, or, if you’re Donald Trump, running for president (and then quitting).

My aim here is mainly to set up a contrast between the narcissistic tendencies of liking and the problem of actual love. My friend Alice Sebold likes to talk about “getting down in the pit and loving somebody.” She has in mind the dirt that love inevitably splatters on the mirror of our self-regard.

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.
Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of.

This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.

The big risk here, of course, is rejection. We can all handle being disliked now and then, because there’s such an infinitely big pool of potential likers. But to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful. The prospect of pain generally, the pain of loss, of breakup, of death, is what makes it so tempting to avoid love and stay safely in the world of liking.

And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill. When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s” is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer.

The fundamental fact about all of us is that we’re alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it.

When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.

And who knows what might happen to you then?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anthems: Lyrical Life Lessons

Whenever I write about things like Life and Love, I noticed that I often have a couple or more songs whose lyrics I associate with the lessons learned. If many guys I know look to movies and books as their sources of Life Lessons, then I look to lyrics. Maybe because I grew up with pop music all my life. I was exposed to a lot of music at an early age; music was a lot more accessible than movies (movies cost more to watch either in a movie house or via video rental) and books (it was uncommon to borrow books from a library after graduation).

What were the anthems of my life? Here I attempt to list them all down, but I’m sure I’ve left out a lot more due to memory loss and a lack of free files to download. You will also notice that certain artists have numerous songs in my list. That’s no accident. That’s why they are some of my favorite artists.


“You’re In My Heart” by Rod Stewart - This was one of the earliest love songs I fell in love with. It was in the 70s, and my tiny transistor radio could only receive AM stations. I loved its innocence and simplicity, although my innocent mind at that time didn’t comprehend that the singer was an unfaithful lover who, after so many other lovers, would still go back to one. And the reason is beautiful in its simplicity.

You are my lover, you’re my best friend,
You’re in my soul.

You’re a rhapsody, a comedy,
You’re a symphony and a play.
You’re every love song ever written
But honey, what do you see in me?

And there have been many affairs,
Many times I’ve thought to leave.
But I bite my lip and turn around,
‘Cause you’re the warmest thing I’ve ever found.

“Weekend In New England” by Barry Manilow - Mr. Manilow’s ballads are very dramatic; notice the constant chord change in his songs as they crescendo towards the end? This particular ballad haunted me because it encapsulated perfectly, in music and lyrics, that strong yearning one gets when one’s desperate for love. Especially when one’s a grade schooler who sees love all over the television and the movies but wonders what it’s like to have someone to love and who’ll love him back.

And tell me, when will our eyes meet?
When can I touch you?
When will this strong yearning end?
And when will I hold you again?

“Ships” by Barry Manilow - This Manilow ballad meant a lot to me because it talked about a father-and-son relationship that was complicated and mournful. I was always closer to my mom. I loved my dad, but growing up I felt his love was a distant, functional kind. It was only years later, when the whole family went home to Bohol to bury the last of your grandparents, that I finally made peace with my dad. He did love us, just not in the way those ideal dads portrayed in old television series did.

We walked to the sea.
Just my father and me.
And the dogs played around on the sand.

I said, love’s easier when it’s far away.
We sat and watched a distant light.
We’re two ships that pass in the night.
We both smile, and we say it’s alright.
We’re still here.
It’s just that we’re out of sight.
Like those ships that pass in the night.

“It’s Only Love” by The Beatles - Growing up, I thought falling in love is easy but loving someone is hard. John Lennon dissed this song, saying it had lousy lyrics. Paul McCartney said he and John didn’t bother to fight over the lyrics of this song because they felt it was just an album filler. But what was a throwaway for them hit me hard.

It’s only love and that is all,
Why should I feel the way I do?
It’s only love, and that is all,
But it’s so hard loving you.

“So Lonely” by The Police - Ah, high school! Hormones raging, but dammit, I was in an all-boys school! Yes, I had my share of school crushes. Mostly they were the cute ones who often get the lead role in the grade school theater productions, but I also eyed some of the varsity jocks. But they were all impossible dreams, and this dreamer was left to mope.

Now no one’s knocked upon my door

For a thousand years or more.

All made up and nowhere to go.

Welcome to this one man show!

Just take a seat they’re always free,

No surprise no mystery.

In this theatre that I call my soul,

I always play the starring role.

So lonely.

“Message In A Bottle” by The Police - Sting was a master in describing loneliness. His early songs with The Police were often about heartbreak and isolation. For a closeted gay kid who was afraid of his growing feelings for his fellow men, Sting’s songs were strangely comforting. Someone out there understood me.

Love can mend your life,
But love can break your heart.

I’ll send an SOS to the world!
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle, yeah.

Walked out this morning,
Don’t believe what I saw.
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on a shore.
Seems I’m not alone at being alone.
A hundred billion castaways,
Lookin’ for a home.

“Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles - A classic anthem on loneliness, made even bleaker when producer George Martin had The Beatles ditch their usual electric guitars and drums. The arrangement of violins and cellos over haunting lyrics made the song all the more mournful.

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been;
Lives in a dream.
Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear.
No one comes near.

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name;
Nobody came.
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave;
No one was saved.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

“Left To My Own Devices” by Pet Shop Boys - The Boys started their career writing songs with an arch observations on love. Most of their love songs were always troubled ones; it was as if they never were lucky in love. And that spoke volumes to me. (That they were fey and affected was something I took note of, but didn’t really mind. So what if they’re gay? I was in love with the 80s electronic sound.)

I could leave you, say goodbye.
Or I could love you, if I try.
And I could.
And left to my own devices, I probably would.

“So Hard” by Pet Shop Boys - Another proof that love is hard. Faithfulness and trust are issues that will become important to me despite sheer lack of experience.

If you give up your affairs forever,
I will give up mine.
But it’s hard,
So hard.

I’m always hoping you’ll be faithful
But you’re not, I suppose.
We’ve both given up smoking ‘cause it’s fatal.
So whose matches are those?

Tell me why don’t we try
Not to break our hearts and make it so hard for ourselves?

“Jealousy” by Pet Shop Boys - Continuing with the trust issues, here’s a song whose lyrics were quite familiar to me, even though I never experienced them firsthand. Most of my friends had personally experienced cheating or being cheated on. And I was jealous of them.

Where’ve you been?
Who’ve you seen?
You didn’t phone when you said you would!
Do you lie?
Do you try
To keep in touch? You know you could.
I’ve tried to see your point of view,
But could not hear or see
For jealousy.

I never knew ‘till I met you.

“Rent” by Pet Shop Boys - To give and to count the cost. I was beginning to get disillusioned with Love as pure and Disney-white. Love is not only hard, it’s messy as well. And one’s motives aren’t always honorable.

We never, ever argue, we never calculate
The currency we’ve spent.
I love you, you pay my rent

I’m your puppet, I love it.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. - Aside from having a kick-ass music video, this song is also a reassuring anthem for all those times that I cried inside because I was heartbroken. (And take note, all of my heartaches were the unrequited ones. Pathetic.) I especially appreciated the “take comfort in your friends” line; they chose friends instead of family, which I think is more astute. Often the ones who can and do hurt you are your family.

Everybody hurts.
Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts.
Don’t throw your hand, oh no.
If you feel like you’re alone,
No, no, no, you are not alone.

“1999” by Prince - On the flip side, after I’ve indulged myself in feeling sorry for myself, this Prince song is my pick-upper. Yeah, yeah, it’s sooo dated, sooo 1999. But what’s timeless is Prince’s call to party-til-we-drop. And one of the reasons why I was often in Malate during weekends was to heed his call.

But life is just a party
And parties weren't meant to last.
Everybody’s got a bomb,
We could all die any day.
But before I let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away.

Oh, they say two thousand-zero-zero
Party over, oops! Out of time!
So tonight I’m gonna party
Like it’s 1999!

“Miserablism” by Pet Shop Boys - This was the Boys’ response to a growing pop music sensibility in the late 80s and early 90s, a kind of nihilistic, “I don’t care” attitude that’s best embodied by Morrissey and his band The Smiths. I actually liked Morrissey, but what the Boys did was to take their argument one step further. So maybe Life favors misery. But what if it actually doesn’t? So Love is a second-hand emotion; but what if it’s not?

Deny that happiness is open as an option,
And disappointment disappears over night.
Say that love is an impossible dream,
Face the facts, that's what it's always been.

Meanwhile your life is still directed as a drama,
With realism on the sparsest of sets.
Every performance tends to reach the same conclusion:
No happy endings, but a message to depress.
Saying life is an impossible scheme;
That’s the point of this philosophy.

Miserablism: is is and isn’t isn’t.

But if is wasn’t, and isn’t were?
You can’t be sure, but you might find ecstasy.
(Oh no.)

“Liberation” by Pet Shop Boys - The Boys started out with a not-so-rosy view on Love; perhaps, like me, they were unlucky growing up. But eventually they grew older and wiser; strangely enough, they started featuring love songs that were actually hopeful. They had a particularly chirpy love song, “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing,” but this is a more subtle take.

Take my hand,
I’ve changed my mind again.
Really, I believed it true,
That all who fell in love were foolish.
But I was wrong,
I’ve learned that lesson well.
All the way back home at midnight,
You were sleeping on my shoulder.

To free in me,
The trust I never dared.
I always thought the risk’s too great.
But suddenly, I don’t hesitate, so...

Take my hand,
Don’t think of complications.
Now, right now,
Your love is liberation.

“You Choose” by Pet Shop Boys - For me, the wisest take on Love and personal responsibility so far. I now believe that someone who has a fair amount of self-awareness and self-control can never fall in love by accident. The feelings may come as a surprise; but one’s actions are still a matter of choice.

Lick your wounds,
Buy your booze;
You won’t get drunk by accident,
You’ll choose.
Don’t blame him
for refusing your bid.
He didn’t decide to love,
You did.

“Gumboots” by Paul Simon - Ah, the better half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. I especially find his lyrics poetic. I like how he states observations in a spare yet quirky manner. This track from his groundbreaking album Graceland made me appreciate how persistence in love can be fun.

I said, hey Senorita, that’s astute!
I said, why don’t we get together
And call ourselves an institute?

You don’t feel you could love me
But I feel you could.

“Graceland” by Paul Simon - I loved how Paul Simon captured the feeling of falling in and out of love. It’s giddy, it’s messy, it’s total. But there is a saving grace at the end of the roller coaster ride.

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline.
And sometimes when I’m falling, flying,
Or tumbling in turmoil I say,
“Oh! So this is what she means.”
She means we’re bouncing into Graceland.

And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart.
Everybody sees you’re blown apart.
Everybody feels the wind blow.

“Being Boring” by Pet Shop Boys - I see this song as an oblique reference to gay life and love. It’s also about growing old and trying to matter.

Now I sit with different faces
In rented rooms and foreign places.
All the people I was kissing,
Some are here and some are missing
In the nineteen-nineties.
I never dreamt that I would get to be
The creature that I always meant to be.
But I thought in spite of dreams,
You’d be sitting somewhere here with me.

“Outrageous” by Paul Simon - As the years pile up, I connect more and more with songs about growing old. It’s great that there’s someone who’s more advanced and more observant than me.

I’m tired, tired, anybody care what I say? NO!
Painting my hair the color of mud.

Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?
Tell me, who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?

“Sure Don’t Feel Like Love” by Paul Simon - It’s the distillation of a tear drop and its role in sadness that gets to me. (That, and rhyming “salt” and “fault.”) In four lines, Paul Simon succinctly breaks down the anatomy of being wrong and feeling like a fool.

A tear drop consists of electrolytes and salt.

The chemistry of crying is not concerned with blame or fault.
So, who’s that conscience sticking on the sole of my shoe?
‘Cuz it sure don’t feel like love.

“Wartime Prayers” by Paul Simon - What affects me in this song is his attempt at becoming better than who he is. Paul Simon will turn 71 this October. I still have a long, long way to go.

Because you cannot walk with the holy,
If you’re just a halfway decent man.
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan.

I’m trying to tap into some wisdom,
Even a little drop would do.
I want to rid my heart of envy,
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I’m through.

“Across The Universe” by The Beatles - Forget deciphering the lyrics, and instead concentrate on what they evoke. For me, the genius of this song is how it seems to give us a Big Picture yet puts our world in perspective. How small, how insignificant we are! And yet, we are thankful for it.

Limitless undying love, which
Shines around me like a million suns;
It calls me on and on across the universe.

Jai Guru Deva Ohm.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.

“The End” by The Beatles - I would like this on my epitaph. (Not that I want it to happen anytime soon though.)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.

If my life were a musical.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Titanic Temptation

The M2M Titanic is docked on shore, waiting to shove off on its maiden voyage. Her special passengers include the finalists for the Miss Manila Sunshine Beauty Pageant. Passengers already on board are waving to the people on the dock, who also wave back. Suddenly two cars, horns honking, make their way through the crowd. The cars stop at the edge of the dock, and their passengers alight. There’s Rose (a Miss Manila Sunshine finalist), her mom Ruth, her fiance Cal, and his bodyguard Spicer.

(bored) Humph. I don’t see what’s so great about this ship.

(aghast) You can be blasé about a lot of things, Rose, but not the Titanic! It’s indestructible. They say even God Himself cannot sink it.

(under his breath) Rub-a-dub-dub! Two bitches in a tub.

They proceed to the plank to board the ship. Cal turns to Spicer.

Sabihin mo kay Vicente na ihanda ang Mercedes na charcoal gray... dadalhin natin sa barko.

The charcoal gray Mercedes is hoisted onto the deck of the Titanic. Meanwhile on a bar at the pier, Jack and Fabrizio win a card game and tickets to the Titanic. They rush to the ship, which is already pulling out the planks. They plead to be let in, showing their tickets. Grudgingly the officer allow them inside. Jack turns to Fabrizio.

Woo-hoooo! Late entrance, early exit! Yan ang dramatic!

Later that day, the M2M Titanic stops to allow Mrs. Molly Brown and her entourage to climb aboard the ship. The aristocratic mother of Rose is aghast at both the arrival of the noveau-riche American woman and the delay in the trip, and turns to address Mrs. Brown.

(with one raised eyebrow) Late comer? Sa gitna ng dagat? Eh, anong sinakyan mo... taxi?

Molly tries to ignore Ruth by walking away, but Ruth trips her.


Darling, ‘di ko sinasadya. Hindi kita napansin.

It must have been failing eyesight.

Really now, 20/20 yata ang vision ko.

Sorry ha. I thought that was your bust line.

(under his breath, again) Rub-a-dub-dub! Two bitches in a tub.

During dinner, Rose has an epiphany. She can never be free from her life. It will always be an endless stream of cotillions and dinners and social gatherings and beauty contest Q&A’s. And all because her family has no more money. She turns to her mom.

Mommy, handa na ba ang wedding cake?

Handa na. Goldilocks na lang imbes na Costa Brava.

Hah? Eh ang gown?

Rajo imbes na Pitoy.

Ano?! Mama, bakit ganoon?!

(whispers) Hija, wala tayong budget....

Sus! Budget! Mommy naman, panay budget! Mas importante pa yata ang budget kesa birthday ko! Diyos ko, last year tatlong kombo tumugtog sa birthday ko, ngayon tape recorder na lang!

Rose runs out. She heads for the stern. Jack sees her climb onto the railing.

Miss, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Get back! Get back, I say! Or I’ll jump!

If you do, I have no choice. I’ll have to jump in with you. And that water’s freezing cold.

Sino ka ba?!

Ako’y isang waiter lamang. High school lamang inabot ko. Pero ikaw, isa kang beauty queen.

Flattered, Rose allows Jack to pull her off the railing. Cal and bodyguard Spicer arrive with the ship’s crew.

(points to Jack) Arrest that man!

He was just helping me! I... I was just... I was leaning over the edge and... I leaned too close... and he pulled me back.

Oh really? Then I guess we owe him an apology... and an invitation to dinner. Young man, please do join us at our table tomorrow night.

Cal drags Rose away. As he passes by Spicer, he mutters.

This should be interesting.

After Cal and Rose leave, Spicer walks slowly towards Jack. He looks him up and down.

Oh yes. You’re a stowaway. Oh, come on, I wasn’t born yesterday. All I have to do is look at your big brown eyes at nababasa ko na sa ‘yo ang nasa isip mo.


SPICER: You see, I’m a crook... and a damn good crook! And I can tell another crook when I see one. Tulad mo! An exciting and adventurous young one.

Well, I’m sure we’ll get along fine, tulad nga ng kasabihang birds of the same feathers flock together.

Jack raises an eyebrow at Spicer and leaves. At dinner the next night. Jack comes in wearing a tuxedo lent by Mrs. Brown. He is astounded at the lovely sight of Rose walking down the stairs. He takes her by her arm and leads her to the dining hall. As they proceed towards their table, Spicer moves within earshot of Jack.

(whispering to Jack) Mukha kang waiter sa suot mong yan. Once a waiter, always a waiter.

Spicer walks away. At the table, Rose sits beside Jack. Cal is flanked by Ruth and Molly Brown. Spicer is standing a few feet away. Molly is animatedly telling a story about she and her husband. Ruth decides to embarrass her.

Let’s face it! Kayo talagang mga noveau riche, mahilig mangolekta. Mahilig mangolekta ng records, mga antiques at ikaw mahilig mangolekta ng mga lalake. Poor, proletariat, indigent men.

It’s simple, darling. I’m just trying to make up for the things that I didn’t have.

You’re trying to make up for the things that you never had.


(not bothering to mutter) Rub-a-dub-dub! Two bitches in a tub.

(while looking at Molly) What are bitches for? But to bitch around with fellow bitches.

Maraming klaseng puta. May big time. May small time. Pwes, big time ako!

Oo, big. Literally!

The next morning, Jack and Rose take a walk around the first class deck.

I want to thank you for saving me last night.

I told you, I’m already involved. If you jump, then I jump.

(stops and faces Jack) Jack, you’re my friend, you’re a good friend. Iniligtas mo nga buhay ko eh. And I’m grateful for that. Ako rin kaibigan mo. That’s all you have to be responsible for. That’s all we both have to be responsible for. That’s all. Jack.

Ruth, her Countess friend, and Molly bump into Jack and Rose.

Rose, why are you out here in the sun? You should stay inside.

Ahem! Rose begins her day with a healthy stroll, basking under the sun, like I do!

Eh ba’t ka naka-hat?!

(ignoring Molly) As I was saying, this is a bright sunny day. A day in the light of the sun’s rays. This is how I begin my day. An hour of tender loving care in the eight o’clock sunshine! ‘Yan ang sikreto ng aking youthful complexion, parang nasa tabi lang tayo ng swimming pool.

O baka naman na-sun stroke ka lang?

It’s Ms. Manila Sunshine, not Ms. Manila Sun Stroke!

(whispers to Rose) Wanna practice your long-distance spitting on your mom?

Later that night Jack takes Rose to go partying at the lower decks. The poor, proletariat indigents are singing and dancing vigorously. Rose is fascinated by all the Irish tunes and dances.

Rose, maybe we should have dinner first.

Naku, malamang tapos na ang dinner.

Paano ngayon yan, Rose?

Walang tubig, walang pagkain. Eh ‘di magsayaw na lang tayo!

They dance. Afterwards, Jack and Rose have sex inside the charcoal gray Mercedes. They fall asleep. Suddenly Rose wakes up because of a gigantic shudder. The M2M Titanic has hit an iceberg. She wakes up Jack.

Kukuruku! Umaga na! Good morning! What did I have for breakfast? Eggs jack benedict!

Jack and Rose find out about the iceberg, and that the ship will sink. They run back to Rose’s cabin. But at the instructions of Cal, Spicer sets up Jack to be falsely accused of stealing the Heart Of The Ocean, a blue diamond set on a necklace. Jack is arrested and handcuffed in a cabin way below deck. As the Titanic sinks, Jack is left alone to drown. Rose runs down to the lower decks and finds him still handcuffed.

Rose, quickly! You got to get me out of here!

But I can’t find the key! There must be something else we can use to get you out of those cuffs!

I know! Take off your panties and tie them to the cuffs. Maybe we can pull the cuffs off!

Shut up! Mag-alis ka ng panty kung gusto mo, but my panty stays right where it is!

Rose gets an axe instead and frees Jack. They rush upstairs to the deck. They bump into Fabrizio.

Fabrizio! Where have you been? I’ve not seen you since our first scene!

Brod, nagmamadali ako eh!

Brod? Ganyan ka naman eh. Paminsan-minsan lumilitaw ka, pagkatapos bigla-biglang nawawala, pagkatapos lumilitaw na naman. Are you trying to put me on?!

They run towards the lifeboats. Suddenly the door opens and out comes the ship’s string quartet.

Puro tubig, walang lifeboat. Eh ‘di tumugtog na lang tayo!

They start playing, “Rock The Boat” by The Hues Corporation. Jack, Rose, and Fabrizio stop to listen.

Walang lifeboat, walang lifevests. Eh ‘di sumayaw na lang tayo!

The three start to dance to the disco beat. Suddenly gunshots are heard. Cal is firing at them! They run.

(screaming) Cal! Cal! Don’t! Mahaba-haba pa ang pelikulang ito! Mukhang tatagal pa tayo sa barkong ‘to, tatagal pa! Habang-buhay pa, so please, alang-alang kay Jack, alang-alang sa ‘ting lahat, let’s all be friends!

If you choose him, you can all go to hell! Even your mother!

Leave my mother out of this!

Palibhasa mga magulang mo taga-bundok! Kaya walang laman ‘yang utak mo kundi kamoteng kahoy!

‘Wag niyo naman ho sila idamay dito.

Shit silang lahat! Pati ninuno mo... shit!

They run around the deck. They pass by the string quartet again, which by this time is playing, “Sit Down, Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat.” Suddenly one of the four gigantic stacks falls on Jack, Rose, Fabrizio, and Cal, killing all of them instantly.

The string quartet starts playing, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.

End credits roll.

* * * * *

(And credit goes to Dalumat and friends for suggesting this mash-up of Temptation Island and Titanic after watching the latter in 3D. The spoofs will go on and on....)

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Feelings And Choices

My previous post dealt with how it’s really difficult to detach one’s self from unrequited love. But I have another friend with an opposite problem. He’s in a hurry to get over someone he loved for almost a year.

Let’s call my friend Araw. He called me several nights ago, asking me for advice. I’ve known Aarw as someone who doesn’t get attached too deeply, and who can disengage painlessly from guys. He claims the reason why he’s wired that way goes back to his grade school days, when he fell head-over-heels in love with this male classmate of his. As childhood crushes go, he fell really hard; he would often cry by himself because he can’t make any headway with the object of his affection. And like any child who’s been greatly disappointed, he vowed to himself that he will never, ever cry over another guy that way.

The major irony here is that Araw has a longtime boyfriend of 15 years. They met when they were already working, two professionals trying to make their mark in the world. After a decade, the two have settled in on their careers. Unfortunately the two have also grown steadily apart. For several years now, though they lived under one roof they never engage the other in conversation (their communication with one another has been reduced to day-to-day concerns), and they’ve not had sex with each other for years. Araw has had sexual encounters with other guys, and he assumes his BF also does. Without telling his partner, Araw got himself a condo unit so that he had an alternative place to go to if he didn’t feel like coming home. They never discuss splitting up. Araw doesn’t feel the need to initiate a separation; he finds the whole idea too tedious for him. Only if his BF initiates the split will he quietly agree.

About a year ago Araw met Buwan, a guy almost in his mid-20s. Buwan was different from all the previous male encounters. For the first time Araw met someone whom the interest was mutual and the attraction more than physical. He convinced Buwan to stay at his condo, and Araw spent more time at the condo than in his house.

To cut a long story short, Araw developed deeper feelings for Buwan, and he had let Buwan into his soul. And to further cut the story shorter, the two broke up recently, and now Araw wants to move on as quickly as possible. Hence the call for help from him several nights ago.

After making sure that a clean split was what he really wanted, I told him that his problem, reduced to its essence, was really simple: how to get rid of his feelings for Buwan. They’re the ones holding him back; without those feelings, Araw can easily and painlessly move on. (To help him put things in perspective, I told him to sing to himself this song: “Feelings, nothing more than feelings! Trying to forget my feelings of love!”)

I told him that feelings and emotions are fleeting and never permanent. No one stays sad or happy or agitated for hours; after a while, the body will calm itself down. So the best thing to do is to ride those emotional outbursts out. How? There are several ways.

I find it important to first acknowledge the emotions. Never deny they exist. Never push them aside and say to yourself, “No, I’m not unhappy. See? See? I’m smiling!” Denial never solves anything and just postpones the inevitable. Acknowledge and embrace the feelings of sadness and of missing him. Don’t worry, those emotions will decrease over time, whether you like it or not.

When you acknowledge them, it’s natural for you to have a physical manifestation of your emotion. You may end up crying. Or you can have a really mournful expression. Be mindful of that. If you’re in the office and you deem it inappropriate to have a breakdown there, you can quietly step out and hide in one of the toilet cubicles. Or go to a fire escape.

Emotional outbursts are a manifestation of feelings boiling inside. Let them out in a safe and controlled way. How? That’s where friends and confidants matter. They’re your safe dumping grounds. But choose them wisely too. There are those who are woefully unprepared when it comes to lending a sympathetic ear and dishing out advise. If you don’t have many friends, you may have money to spare. So go see a shrink. Don’t underestimate the value of shrinks, or nuns, or priests (the last two are for those who cannot afford the former).

Physical exertion is also a cheap alternative to letting out steam. Run for an hour. (Do not jog; it allows your mind to wander.) Take up boxing. Skip rope non-stop for 20 minutes. After strenuous physical activity, your sadness will be no match for that body ache.

After a while you’ll learn to immediately catch yourself when you start to feel all emo and melancholy. But how to prolong keeping your emotions in check? Distract yourself. Keep your mind and body busy. Plan a faraway trip, and then take it. Take up a time-and-effort-intensive hobby, like solving quantum equations (what, you think Sodoku is enough?!) and crocheting.

Finally, confront yourself. Admit to yourself that feelings are just feelings. What’s more important are your actions, what you decide to do. Do you act on your feelings and call him up when you miss him? Or do you choose to keep your phone away from you and instead pick up that macrame tablecloth you’ve been working on?

I think one of the mistakes people in love often make is to think that Love is an emotion that demands to be acted upon without thinking. Romantic novels and movies bombard us with stories of Love pursued against all odds, as if Love will automatically trump the odds stacked against them. Get real. Sometimes Love just ain’t enough.

Go ahead, feel those emotions. But it’s the actions you choose to do that will define who you are as a person. So you say you couldn’t help yourself from falling in love with him. Okay, fine. But just because you fell in love with him doesn’t mean you have to pursue him. Mistresses often forget that line of logic.

In the end, it’s about taking responsibility for our choices, our actions, our lives. One of my most favorite Pet Shop Boys song is entitled, “You Choose.” In fact, I’ve already blogged about it twice already, I think. But it deserves to be mentioned here again, with matching emphasis by me. Maybe the third time’s the charm.

He’s gone,
you’ve lost.
Stay behind
and count the cost.
You try,
you lose.
You don’t fall in love by chance,
you choose.

It’s a decision made over time.
Should you take a risk and start to climb
the steepest hill, only to find
halfway there you’ve been left behind?
Choosing to love is risking a lot,
and trying to change and to give all you’ve got.
But don't pretend it comes out of the blue.
You take a chance and see it through,
and if it’s refused, what can you do?
Continue hopefully? Start anew?

Lick your wounds,
buy your booze.
You won’t get drunk by accident,
you’ll choose.
Don’t blame him
for refusing your bid.
He didn’t decide to love,
you did.

Learn the lesson.
Take the blows.
You didn’t fall in love by chance,
you chose.
Play the sad songs.
Sing the blues.
You don’t fall in love by chance,
you choose.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cruel To Be Kind

Here’s the scenario. You like this guy, and he tells you he likes you too. What’s more, after going out with him several times, he reveals that he has fallen hard for you. But after getting to know each other more, the two of you realize that, despite the obvious and genuine attraction to one another, you two cannot be boyfriends. So the two of you agree that you’re better off as friends.

Now here’s the question. You know the other guy is so into you. Will you continue to see him and engage him in activities? Or will you, of your own volition, step back and give him the space he needs?

Speaking from painful but earned experience, I have been in the position of “the other guy” for so many times in the past, I’ve actually turned unrequited love into an art form. My mind was helpless once my heart took over. The option of moving on was unthinkable, so my mind made creative logic leaps to justify hanging on. Believe me, the mind is great at making sensible the impractical. (After all, Love is not practical.) So I knew what it was like to be the one carrying the torch. And I was so skilled in finding ways to keep the fire burning. It took me years to realize was that I was the one being consumed by the flames.

So when I graduated from being the unrequited lover-slash-fool that I was, I vowed that I would learn detachment. The back-to-back-to-back deaths of my grandmother, my younger brother, and my best friend from grade school helped instill in me the value of letting go.

As for me, it only happened once before that I was in the position of rejecting someone. (I’m not that desirable, so sue me.) I went out with someone who lived all the way somewhere down South. I slept over at his place almost every other weekend for about 2 or so months. But when it became clear to me that I was more in love with the travel and the provincial air than him, I knew it was time to lower the boom. I made it as definitive as I could. One can’t make it painless, but one can lessen the pain by being more decisive. That way, the other can see that you’ve made up your mind and is moving on without him. The clearer it is for him, the earlier he’ll be forced to accept the facts and move on.

So for those of you who have to break-it-to-him-gently, gentleness is a firm “No.” And part of that is allowing physical and emotional space between you two. How to achieve physical space will depend on your circumstances; that’s why there’s a saying, “Never shit in your own yard.”

How to achieve emotional space is a little trickier. The key is to air out all the issues between the two of you so that both of you can achieve emotional closure. But in practical terms, airing out the issues will take time, and the other person may continue to return and dwell on an issue even after it’s been discussed to death. A firm decision, wrapped in patience and kindness, will help you get through the process of emotional closure.

If he pleads and begs that you don’t leave him, that he want the two of you to be friends, tell him: “It’s not possible to be friends while you still have feelings for me. Come back to me when you’re over me, then we’ll see.” Of course there’s a possibility that you two will end up as just acquaintances, and that’s okay. You already have friends.

Remember this: You have the upper hand. You are not as emotionally invested (and hooked) as the other guy. Until he’s over you, you are more in control of things than he is; in fact, he has effectively turned over the controls of his life to you. So you have to be the one to decide for the both of you. You have to be the mature one. More importantly, you have to be the kind one. Because you two are in this tangled weave together, but you are in a much better position to untangle one another. If you can’t (or you won’t), well, then,  good luck to the both of you.

Nick Lowe’s song goes, “You got to be / cruel to be kind / in the right measure.” What is cruelty in the eyes of the other is kindness to you. What is cruelty now is kindness in the future, when the dust has finally settled.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adele-light-ful Cover

More than the inventive swapping of instruments, I think it’s the ukulele catch (twice!) that gets me the most. Fun, fun, fun cover! If Adele’s original drips heavy with much pain, anguish and poignancy, this cover makes heartache seem so light, like a joyful walk in the park. “Give me a break... up, now na!”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Watch, Like, Vote

Tired of chasing Ken, Paul meets him one last time before leaving on a journey to Europe in search for a better place to dream and love. “Nessun Dorma” is a Filipino entry to the Asia-Europe Foundation Short Film Contest.

“Nessun Dorma” is a Filipino entry to the Short Film Contest organized by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), in partnership with the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia and National Library Board Singapore. Creators are invited to express in 3-minute films their views about Asia and Europe’s relations and interactions through cultures, the arts, environment, education or individual relationships.

5 winners selected by the Jury and special online public voting will compete for the awards: a 2-day filmmaking international workshop at New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore, and SGD5,000.

* * * * * 

Watch the 3-minute film here, and if you like it, click the “Like” button. If not, oh what the heck, click the button just the same! Hehehe. 

The Ex-Men Fabcast, Part 4

The Fabcasters and the peanut gallery tackle Kuya Law’s eleventh-hour question: “Do you still believe in forever?” There is some discussion as to the definition of forever. It’s also interesting to note the different opinions and views of the group.

And JOWA ALERT! This is the first time that a new couple is officially, if not formally, introduced.

Listen and enjoy the fourth and last part.

Music credits:
“Only Time” by Enya
“Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko” by The Hotdogs
“Love And Mercy” by Brian Wilson

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Ex-Men Fabcast, Part 3

The discussion continues on having sex with an ex. And on whether love continues even after you break up with them—do you really love them for who they are now, or for who they were before?

The group also tackles more questions. Is there someone whom you loved in the past that, if he comes back into your life, you’d want to give him another try? And would you want to consider getting back with your ex? Is love lovelier the second time around?

Listen and enjoy.

Music credits:
“Can We Still Be Friends?” by Todd Rundgren
“The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry
“Anak” by Freddie Aguilar
“Ever After” by Bonnie Bailey

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Ex-Men Fabcast, Part 2

After a brief interruption with someone’s arrival, the Fabcasters continue to tackle the question: Can ex-lovers be friends after the break-up?

CC continues the story of his ex, followed by Migs then Gibbs. Of course, one of Gibbs’ ex is actually a fellow Fabcaster. Then the Fabcasters and the peanut gallery talk about having sex with an ex.

Listen and enjoy.

Music credits:
“Never Ever” by All Saints
“The Way We Were” by Rico J. Puno
“For Good” from the musical Wicked, performed by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel
“Still Thrives This Love” by k.d. lang

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Growing up, I never had a television in my room. In fact I never had my own room, until my older brother got married and moved out of the house. When I first started renting my own space, I didn’t feel the need to buy a television for my room. That is, until last December, when I bought from Gibbs the LED TV set (with free DVD player thrown in to boot!) that he had won in their company Christmas party raffle.

Thanks to cable and an occasional DVD, I now end up sleeping past 1am every day. Thank god my office is just 20 minutes away, traffic and all.

Here are the following shows that keep me awake at night.

The Big C
Laura Linney is terrific in her award-winning portrayal of a mother with stage-4 cancer. What attracts me to this series is that her character isn’t always sympathetic. Upon discovery of her disease, she hides the fact from her loved ones. This leads to certain actions and behavior of hers that puzzle all those around her. Sometimes Linney and the series writers actually go out of their way to make her character infuriatingly conflicted at times. The other characters are also as flawed as they come. This unflinching and often humorous look at how people act in the face of imminent death lifts the show from the usual disease-of-the-week specials.

The Good Wife
Here’s another drama starring another multi-award winner, Julianna Margulies. But her co-stars are equally riveting, including Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Chris Noth, and Alan Cumming. The wife of a disgraced politician now finds herself living a new life as a lawyer, away from the shadow of her husband. While her personal dramas are also interesting, I also love the drama that comes from their line of work. Scenes sizzle in the hands of top-notch actors and actresses. It is the good cast that makes The Good Wife so watchable.

I started watching the series on DVD as part of my work (our channels are now airing the series). I was only going to watch the first two or three episodes just so I get the feel of the series, but I got hooked on it. The series puts a dark modern twist on the Grimm brothers’ tales. It’s about a police investigator who discovers that he comes from a long line of Grimms, individuals blessed with the ability to see monsters hiding amongst men, and tasked with hunting them down. The series takes itself just a little too seriously, and although they have a yoga-practicing vegetarian werewolf as a sidekick and comic relief, it still is not enough. If they can become more tongue-in-cheek and less grim and determined in tone, I think the series can be fiendishly fun.

I wasn’t really a big fan of this series until D started watching it. Pretty soon I got hooked. House is the medical equivalent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Morriarty rolled into one. More than the mysterious illness of the week, it was the drama between the regular characters that got me interested. So even if House’s tirades against his staff and his last-minute saves grow weary after a while, I continued to watch it. I especially liked the suicide of a major character, and how House realized there are some things in his world that defy diagnosis.

Law & Order
There are already several spin-offs to what I think is the longest running procedural and legal drama franchise on air. But I still have a soft spot for the original series, especially with District Attorney Jack McCoy (played by Sam Waterston). What also distinguishes it from the other series in the franchise is its primary focus on the case, not on the characters. Viewers only get a glimpse or hint of the personal lives of the cops and the attorneys who are involved in the case. Unlike House, L&O’s predictable police-to-court structure actually gives the series a stickiness that I appreciate. Maybe because it’s two genres rolled into an hour. Before you get tired of one genre, they shift to the other genre. I especially liked one season ender where they turned the formula on its head. No crime, no case; the whole hour was a character study on each of the leads. And in the end, one of them gets killed in a car accident.

Raising Hope
This half-hour sitcom is about a guy who raises his child alone after the mother (who was a convicted serial killer) abandons them and dies. Helping him are his former hippie parents and his senile grandmother during her occasional bouts of lucidity. The sitcom actually grew on me. It helps that the dad, played by Garret Dillahunt, is a yummy hunky daddy who likes taking his t-shirt off (his character is a pool cleaner). Gratuitous? I sure hope so!

This Spielberg produced series is personally intriguing for me because it deals with the backstage drama (and comedy) of the theater, specifically mounting a musical about Marilyn Monroe on Broadway. The draw of the first season is simple: who will get to play Marilyn? (Actually I feel neither of the two actresses deserve the role, hahaha!) The other subplots range from ho-hum to ooh-wow, and I like how certain characters aren’t what they appear to be. Another minor beef of mine against the series is its uneven musical numbers. They are great when they happen within the context of the making of the musical. But sometimes they come out of nowhere, and Smash turns into Glee: The After-College Years. 

The premise actually sounds hokey and logic holes big enough to stuff a whole season in them. Hotshot lawyer in a high-profile firm hires a hotshot non-lawyer to be his assistant because the latter has a photographic memory and a desire to become a lawyer. This fact he hides from his partners, his senior managing partner, and his clients. But the series plays out fast and loose; the snappy pace and smart dialogue makes it enjoyable to watch. As a legal drama, do not look for intricate cases that delve deeply into the law. The plot’s not the thing; the characters are. And with two good-looking male leads and a brewing bromance between their characters, who am I to argue? I rest my case.

A series that plays around with the ultimate bromance—the two lead male characters are literally brothers! Much fan-made literature has been made wherein there’s a romantic (and sexual) component to the brothers’ relationship with one another. Horrors, you say? It may sound icky, but the producers are well aware of the show’s appeal and at times give a winking nod to it. Meanwhile I enjoy the great eye candy dished out every week. The demons they dispatch every week aren’t as compelling to me as the question, “I wonder how far the producers will push the envelope with their bromance?”


American Horror Story – Admitted, I saw the season ender first before getting interested. It’s like reading a book after peeking at the ending first. I watch it out of curiosity.

Glee – I only watch when I catch it on TV; otherwise, I’m not compelled to seek it out. The series’ appeal has diminished for me. Again, the only reason why I watch it is out of curiosity.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Ex-Men Fabcast, Part 1

Ah, the joys of falling out of love! Yes folks, if people can have boyfriends, then they can also have exes. How does one deal with the ex-boyfriend after the break-up? Are you still friends with them? Or do you cut them off from your life? Or are they the ones who cut you off?

The Fabcasters and their fabulous peanut gallery discuss this in part one of this four-part Fabcast.

We chose that topic because the other Fabcasters didn’t want to discuss what was historically significant at the time of the recording—for the first time, all 5 Fabcasters were in a relationship! So instead of talking about that, we talked about our exes. (Well, they did. I don’t have an ex, hehehe.)

Click below and enjoy!

Music credits:
“The Love I Lost” by West End (featuring Sybil)
“Pause” by Pitbull