Friday, May 27, 2011

Dancing Queens

I'd gladly take the MRT/LRT if this happened here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spawn and Serendipity

I had just finished reading Sean's latest entry about dogs being surrogate children to some of his pals, so I figured that was my cue to relate a curious thing that happened a couple of weeks back.

Now, thanks to my liberal guilt and the vestiges of my bleeding heart, I'm no stranger to strangers (and the estranged) showing up unannounced. From the ragtag detritus of my ex-bff's once-impressive coterie of hangers-on, to random acquaintances and unwanted distant relatives, people often materialize like wraiths from the past, refusing to die and fade away into oblivion.

"Dammit, don't you get it? I don't WANT you anymore!"

Hence, I wasn't too surprised one drunken night as I stumbled home at 3:00 a.m. (well, sitting woozily in a cab, if you want to be precise about it) when the night guard informed me that someone had been at the gate looking for me. I assumed it was yet another of my ex-bff's stragglers - the collateral damage of a misspent life and fortune - come to beg for mercy, assistance, and/or money (not necessarily in that order).

No, what caused a twelve-beer hangover to dissipate instantly was when the guard went on to say that the people looking for me were claiming to be relatives of my children.

Oh yes. 


Not just a singular unhappy accident, but plural.

And the icing on this cake of whatthefuckery was that they were still in the blue FX parked on the street outside my gated compound.

Bursting with fruity whatthefuckery.

Like any red-blooded male confronted with living evidence of his virility, I naturally instructed the guard to tell the intruders that I had been abducted by hostile aliens a scant week earlier and that they were doing unspeakable things to me in a galaxy far, far away, and thus might be a tad unavailable for a nice chitchat with my long-lost offspring.

I also told him to tell them that goddammit I have no children. At least none that have come forward yet and lived to tell the tale.

The next morning, I was ready to assume it had been a bad, baaaaaaad alcoholic dream. But as she handed me my morning java, my maid cheerily informed me that indeed, a trio of adults - one man, a woman, and an older woman - had inquired after me that day. The guard had summoned her to the gate because the strangers had been insistent that I show myself to them and demanded that I accept responsibility for the two young girls they had thoughtfully dragged along for this farce.

My God. I had daughters.

Mis hijas.

I considered the gravity of the situation and, upon giving the matter some deep thought, asked my maid a tremendously important question:

"Ano'ng hitsura nung mga bata?" I queried.

"Ay, magaganda, ser!" she enthusiastically exclaimed.

"Mabuti naman," I replied, deadpan.

I mean, goddammit. I value my dogs on their good looks. What more some potential - and more sentient - drains on my finances?

I grilled my maid like a cheese sandwich and got the following tidbits:

1. My "daughters" looked like young Marian Riveras.

2. They came from Cavite, like the real Marian Rivera.

3. The woman who introduced herself as the yaya got her act busted when the younger of the girls, at one point, burst out with the oh-so-telenovelaic-line "Ma, gusto ko nang makita ang daddy namin! Ang tagal-tagal ko na siyang gustong makilala!"

4. The older woman - possibly the fake yaya's mother - played the bad cop in this comedy duo and, when refused entry into my compound, drew herself up in a huff and announced "Hindi niyo ba ako kilala? Kabit ako ni Bulaong!" Which was hilarious in and of itself, but triply so because one, I actually know Bulaong, and two, he would never have a mistress over the age of 30, much less this imperious crone.

La madre de mis hijas.

To my maid's credit, Hitler would've had a better chance of getting into Jewish Heaven than this five-ring circus getting into my compound. She impressed me by asking them if they knew my full name.

Unfortunately, they did.

Fortunately, they got my middle name wrong. So there.

My Gestapo maid also asked if they had a picture of me, whereupon the erstwhile yaya triumphantly pulled out a photo of Bigfoot.

Well, not really Bigfoot, but from my maid's description of the hapless man in the pic, he might as well have been. Either that, or it was Joaquin Fajardo.

Bitch, please. I'm hairy, but not that hairy.

"My God, can't anyone enjoy some private nudie time anymore?!?"

I was the scandale du jour of the compound for a couple of days afterward. A couple of days I also spent wondering if the party of five would return to demand that I man up and do my fictional children right by sending them money and educating them and introducing them to my mother who would probably swoon like a saint in the throes of divine rapture.

But nah. They haven't bothered me again.

But I can't help thinking of my poor, poor daughters. These evil people were so, so cruel. To almost let us be reunited, only to wrench them away from my loving arms again. To give me hope of a normal life, only to murder these dreams with an axe.

Ah, bueno, que sera, sera.

Damn scammers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stormy Weather

I’m not an overly sentimental fellow and consequently often forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, and such, but for the past three weeks, my brother had persistently reminded me about my father’s grand 75th birthday celebration. My luck being as it is, the date fell on the very same date I had to be in Bangkok on work. I tried to adjust the work dates but there was simply no other available slot if we were to make our deadlines. I consoled myself with the thought that my peripatetic sister was also going to miss Papa’s Big Birthday Bash, still roaming as she was somewhere in the great plains of the USA with my niece.

Papa, don't preach.

And yet, a nagging voice in the back of my head said I was going to regret missing Pop’s 75th someday. I just had no idea how close someday might have been.

I texted the birthday boy as soon as I awoke in my hotel room early on his birthday, expressing my best wishes and my regrets for being unable to attend. My mother responded 8 hours later on his behalf, saying Pop ran out of load and was relaying his thanks to me. In hindsight, it’s not far-fetched that he was actually making tampo and was therefore not deigning to text me, his prodigal Bangkok-loving firstborn who couldn’t be bothered to delegate work to someone else in order to attend his 75th and enjoy a long evening of grilling from all his well-meaning, meddlesome siblings, who at this late date still demand grand-nephews from me.


It’s not like I’m going to inherit a kingdom or anything that I have any pressing needs for heirs.


But I digress.

I rationalized my unconscionable absence from this grand fete by recalling how I barely knew my father while I was growing up, thanks to his absences that sometimes ran for years on end. Like myself nowadays, he, too, was often away on business back then. I’ve long stopped blaming him for being an absentee father, thanks in part to a screeching flock of harpies I called aunts, who would denounce me as an ungrateful wretch for demanding my father’s presence while he was away in foreign, exotic lands making moolah and, presumably, some whoopee as well.

Hi, tita.

Fast-forward, and kettle, thou art black.

At any rate, we were flying into bad weather coming into Manila last Sunday, Mother’s Day. I had heard on the news in my hotel room earlier that morning that a storm was headed towards the Philippines, and, as icing on the cake, that a plane had crashed while attempting to land in Indonesia, killing all 27 passengers aboard.

Comforting thoughts to have when one is about to spend three hours strapped onto a metal tube hurtling at high speeds 37,000 feet above the earth.

And because I can be morbid, fleeting thoughts in my addled brain ran along the lines of “What a terrible Mother’s Day present it would be if, you know, the plane crashed.” And while the air lanes between Bangkok and Manila have certain areas of turbulence, the flight back was especially bumpy. I’ve long gotten used to turbulence but our approach to Manila was zero-visibility, blanketed in nothing but gloomy gray clouds. It was surreal and discomfiting to look outside the windows and see a fast-moving wall of gray-white mist and nothing else. At any moment I thought we would be joining the cast of Lost and I’d have to spend the rest of my life on that wretched island.

Well, maybe not all that wretched.

I only managed to heave a sigh of relief once we broke cloud cover and Manila’s city lights finally came into view, twinkling like little beacons of hope miles below. The aircraft made its approach and I felt we were about to do a crosswind landing – it just felt the craft was not making a direct approach but rather was swerving from right to left approaching the runway. We landed with a thud and the aircraft lurched as a Pinoy seaman started to clap, only to promptly stop when no one else joined in.

I left Manila in sweltering 37 degree heat, and returned in the eye of a deluge.

It took Centennial Airport close to an hour to unload our baggage, with three flights eventually sharing the single - and empty - baggage carousel. Given the bumpy ride, I was uncharacteristically resigned to the hold-up – it wasn’t like I was so eager to get back to the Tartarus I currently call home, anyway.

It wasn’t until the next day that I learned that lightning had struck the aircraft we had just disembarked from minutes earlier, injuring 9 ground crewmen. Hence, the delay in unloading our baggage. Interestingly, there was no exceptional commotion among the Centennial staff in the Arrivals area regarding the incident; the P.A. system merely apologized to us for the delay, citing “technical problems.”

"This is the fucking last time you lose my luggage!"

I would’ve felt so guilty had I groused about the delay while Storm was zapping the bejesus out of some PAL personnel.

And tonight, this is the first story I read on CNN.