Monday, October 29, 2012

Hollow Ween

So for the first time in what - 3 years? - I found myself in town and unhampered by anything work-related on a Black Party night. Of course, what's known as the Malate Black Party is a relatively new phenomenon: a 3-year-old cash grab, essentially, that reduced what was once a rambunctious, giddy, open Halloween street party into a gated, bouncer-guarded, pay-per-entry abomination.

Sure, there was a loud hue and cry at the time, but like other holocausts that preceded the Appropriation of the Malate Halloween, once the cries died down all that was left was to dispose of the bodies - figuratively, of course.

It was like the Rape of the Sabines - only screechier.

I've been a Malate denizen far longer than I care to remember, and perhaps it was nostalgia that goaded me to attend last Saturday's event, despite three friends bailing on me for various reasons.* ("I'm suddenly sick because we drank till 4 in the morning", "I'm boycotting those evil greedy motherfuckers", "I saw dead people in your house while we were dressing up and now I'm not in a party mood anymore.")

Wisdom, as usual, is a function of hindsight.

From where my date and I were seated, we could not see the two shrieking banshees that were drafted in from some ancient nightmare as the evening's "hosts." Perhaps I've been away for too long, but I did not realize street parties had any need of "hosts." Unfortunately, while our location spared us from the sight of the duo, our ears were still within reach of their fingernails-across-chalkboard voices, and the constant stream of babbling stupidity backing up out of their mouths.

This is how I pictured the evening's hosts -
but without the entertainment value.

There followed a couple of "games" worthy of your local baranggay fiesta - that is, if your baranggay was sponsored by Jack Daniels or Jose Cuervo instead of Ginebra - then some well-meaning AVP about HIV or something that I'm sure enraptured the crowd the way a complex algebraic equation would delight a roomful of ADD kids.

I think I was on my second bucket of San Mig Light when Sweet-Mother-of-God-what-IS-that Lapuz ascended the stage. His voice was as silken as sandpaper on cactus lightly dusted with glass shards, his personality as charming as a government clerk five minutes before lunch break, and the entire exchange onstage as sincere and authentic as a Nigerian prince promising riches for a small favor in your Inbox.

I don't really know what the heck that queen and those two jesters were prattling on about at that point, because I, an obstinate relic from the Old Kingdom, was busy staring ruefully at the oddly-lifeless denizens of the New Queendom, feeling all the futility of Ozymandias.**

My baleful Sauron gaze then turned from the gathered Orcs to my companion: a handsome young heterosexual colt, just recently turned 21, in his first-ever Malate Halloween. A lean moreno yin to my out-of-shape yang, the wide-eyed ange to my jaded démon.  I had persuaded this young man to attend this Halloween party in costume, promising him that it was going to be fun and that he would be enjoying himself immensely.

I see dead people.

Little did I know we were both in for a schooling.

Despite wearing a mask to hide his identity, he was sheepish and awkward at all the attention being showered upon him by people - both gay, straight, and anything in-between - asking to have their picture taken with him all night long. Being the veteran and ex-camwhore, I was the one who had to gently prod him to be game and smile for the nice souvenir snappers.

Presently I yanked the boy through the oxymoronically-thin crowd - curiously bereft of costumed revelers - and made a beeline for the old sanctuary: Bed. But once in front of its new portals, I suddenly paused. Like a seasoned wizard who actually knew the password to the Mines of Moria - and prescient to the horrors lying in wait deep within - I changed my mind and steered my young charge, with occasional interruptions from more people wanting pictures, back to the bar from whence we came.

I guess we shall not pass, young Hobbit.

From that perch, I drowned my disappointments and sorrows in drink.

And came to the night's epiphanies.

The old Malate of yore is dead. No nostalgic pilgrimage will resurrect it. Its corps has been dismembered and scattered to the four winds, lost to age and death and other journeys, and its esprit...well, perhaps it's taken on a new form.

A reincarnation that I no longer recognize.

On a night calculated to preempt the actual All Hallows' Eve in the name of commerce, it was cruel poetry, in the end, to dance on the grave of a beloved, now forever lost in time.

Then again, perhaps it's for the best.

Because we all know what happens when you try to bring back the dead.

And it ain't pretty.

Shokot akesh.


*All apparently true.

**I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half-sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survived, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- Ozymandias, Percy Blythe Shelley

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday the 26th

I see your terrible ad/On the cinema screen/
And i'm like/ Fahgget you

What makes you go mad?

Looking at a certain abrasive gay "comedian's" mug 40 feet high on the silver screen trying to be the unholy love child of Effie Trinket and Chi Chi LaRue while pimping out Halloween fills me with such inexplicable rage I feel like a kindred spirit to apoplectic homophobes everywhere.

As in my thought balloon bursts with a single thought: "Fagsfagsyoufuckingfags."

Scream, you screaming queen.

Also, getting long impassioned pleas on FB for financial assistance from grips I'm not even close with. Grips to whom I already gave - not lent - a couple thousand bucks, ostensibly for their ailing grandmothers.

Even though I already protested that I'm neither the BVM, Toni Rose Gayda's mother, nor what the great atheist Christopher Hitchens derisively dismissed as "a thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf," apparently I'm still mistaken for Cielito "Mahal" del Mundo. 

In the interest of public service, let it be known that that's an "L" on my forehead, not a fucking red cross. So call Princess Punzalan's ex-husband or the good Mrs. Villar or any other politician/political wannabe who needs a photo-op for your sob stories, geeeeeez.

Here's your mother of mercy, you (^*#^@%%*(!!!

Oh, hello. Have we met?

I'm Stabby McStabberson.

And yes.

We all go a little mad sometimes.

I'm not crazy. I'm just a little unwell.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Glory Be

This being a Sunday, here's a Missouri pastor thundering on about gay rights going 

"...against the plain truth of the word of God. As one preacher warns, Man, in overstepping the boundary lines God has drawn by making special rights for gays and lesbians, has taken another step in the direction of inviting the judgment of God upon our land. This step of gay rights is but another stepping-stone toward the immorality and lawlessness that'll be characteristic of the last days. This ordinance represents a denial of all that we believe in and no one should force it on us.

It's not that we don't care about homosexuals, but it's that our rights will be taken away, and un-Christian views will be forced on us and our children, for we'll be forced to go against our personal morals. Outside government agents are endeavoring to disturb God's established order; it is not in line with the Bible. Do not let people lead you astray. The liberals leading this movement do not believe the Bible any longer but every good, substantial, Bible-believing intelligent Orthodox Christian can read the word of God and know what is happening is not of God. 

When you run into conflict with God's established order, you have trouble. You do not produce harmony. You produce destruction and trouble, and our city is in the greatest danger that it has ever been in in its history. The reason is that we have gotten away from the Bible of our forefathers."

And now that you're frothing at the mouth, be sure to watch until the end of the speech for the surprising twist.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The last time I glanced at the mirror, I didn't look anything like this:

Mother of Helping Perps, all right.

Or this:

There will be blood, Mama Rose.

Or heaven forbid, this:

Sweet Charity is a musical, Mutha- T.

So why is it that in the span of two consecutive days, I have been besieged with entreaties for succor - particularly of the financial kind?

First was a plea for assistance from Chris, one of our grips, who work on a per-project basis. Which means they work irregularly, while bills, as we all know, are as regular as a monthly menstrual flow. 

A bloody heavy flow. 

Chris caught me on FB and private messaged me, the lack of an Invisible option proving once and for all that Zuckerberg is the devil.

"Ser, hihingi po sana ako ng tulong. Mag-aapply po sana ako sa coffee shop, kailangan ko po sana ng pera pambayad sa mga requirement."

I had given this guy a small loan before, which he has yet to pay back.

"May utang ka pa sa kin, Chris."

"Opo alam ko po yun, pero alanganin po kasi tanggap sa shooting, ser. Kaya mag-aapply na lang po ako uli sa coffee shop. Sige na po, ser, kawawa naman po ang anak ko."

"Wag mo isali anak mo sa usapang ito. Haaay."

"Sige na po, ser, kahit magkano lang po."

"Chris, last time na to, ha? Pasensya na, pero nanggaling na ko sa ganito at pasong-paso na ako sa kalalabasan nito."

"Opo ser, puede pong padala na lang sa Lhuiller o sa LBC?"

"HA?!?!?!? LBCI?I Di ako marunong nyan. Bakit, di mo puede kunin dito yang hinihingi mo?"

"Nasa Malabon pa po kasi ako."

"Problema ko pa ba yan?"

To make a long story short, I acquiesced and agreed to have my maid go and wire him some money. For his coffee shop job application.

"Salamat po, ser. Puede po ba makuha uli number ninyo? Nawala na po celfone ko kasi."

"Wag mo na ako i-text."


"Ok po."


The next morning, my redoubtable tech and erstwhile friend and moocher Miguel texts me asking if he could borrow P3k. He'd never asked to borrow money before and the request piqued my curiosity while simultaneously setting off my irritation :

"Can I borrow 3k from you? Subtract it na lang from the next several times you need troubleshooting on your PC."

"What for?"


"Quit your fucking drug use."

"It's for my asthma."

"You have asthma and you smoke. Why is this my problem?"

"Oy, I'm down from one pack a day to one stick a day na. Minsan nga wala pa if I'm not feeling well."


"Blahblahblahblah insulin blahblahblah inhaler blahblah."

"I just handed you 1k yesterday for like, three hours' work. Get a job."

"I am applying for a job."

"And you'll lose it again the way you did the others by making St. Luke's your private Shangri-La right after you become regularized and entitled to healthcare benefits."




"Bukas na yan. You will live till tomorrow, won't you?"


Nothing quite ruins my day when people asking for money is the first thing that greets me in the morning. And proving that it was once again one of those days, right after Miguel's irksome exchange, I get another text. 

It was from Ardee, an ex-employee and young unmarried father. Ardee is one of SM's legions of exploited contractuals and, while he's been lucky to have repeated contract renewals, understandably a store clerk's paycheck doesn't go very far. To augment his income as well as to discourage outright handouts, I often help Ardee by casting him as an extra in commercials, whenever possible.

Normally he texts to ask about any upcoming projects. But this time, his query was a little more direct. 

You guessed it .

And for exactly the same amount Miguel asked, too.

"Bos, patulong naman po. Naputulan kami ng tubig. Dalawang buwan na kami di nakabayad."

"Ba't pinabayaan ninyo?"

"Inuuna po namin ilaw eh"

"Eh, magkano naman kailangan mo?"

"3k po, bos"

" 3K?!?!? Ba't ang laki ng bill ninyo sa tubig?!? P3k eh dalawang buwan lang kayo paso?!?"

"Sige na po, bos, parang awa niyo na po. Wala na po kasi akong ibang malapitan, eh."

That last line was the clincher, and brought back many memories.

Bad memories.

Bad, baaaaaddddd memories.

I exploded the way Yellowstone will one day before wiping out mankind and all its requests for financial assistance once and for all.

"FUCK YOU, that elf, that dwarf, that Dunedain, 
that human, and those four midgets you rode in on!"

"Pasensya na po, bos, talaga pong gipit kasi kami at wala na po akong ibang malapitan."

"Ardee, may utang ka pa sa 'king P10k, naaalala mo?"

"Opo, di ko po nakakalimutan yun. Di pa po kasi kami nababayaran nung bumili ng lupa."

"Ang tagal niyo nang binenta yang lupa na yan, baka pinaglololoko lang kayo ng buyer ninyo."

"Pasensya na po bos, sige na po."

"Pano mo ko babayaran kaya dito?"

"Susubukan ko po talagang bayaran kayo, bos. Pasensya na po talaga."

"Paano kayo matututo, Ardee, kung puro pasensya na lang ang kinakain ko? Pasensya na rin, inubos na ni (ex-jowa) ang pasensya ko, eh, lalo na pagdating sa mga bagay na yan."

"Pasensya na po, bos."



Three guesses, folks.

People say I'm "mabait."

People say I'm a generous person.

People don't know what the goddamn hell they're talking about.

Sure, like anyone else, I can be capable of generosity. Hell, I just recently splurged on two consecutive Broadway musicals, for the love of Lloyd-Webber, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and a certain genteel make-up artist called Ayen.

And those weren't for the effin' nosebleeds, either.

But like everyone else, mostly I'm a selfish fucking bastard.

It dawned on me rather late in life that what seem like acts of selflessness can actually be very selfish and self-serving indeed.

Why do people help other people, anyway ? The reasons are as myriad as the reasons people ask for help. 

Viva la fundación para mis niños simpaticós !

Some do it because helping makes them feel like they're good, decent people. Some do it out of a sense of obligation, drummed in by religious indoctrination. And some perform good works to improve their social standing and reputation, by being haloed as generous and kind benefactors.

Or pick some other ulterior motive, conscious or not, well-meaning or otherwise.

Thing is, the self-validation we get from helping others is, at the end of the day, selfish. 

The "good" feeling we get from helping others is, at the heart of it, selfish. 

The expiation of the guilt of not helping is, at its very essence, selfish.

Even though the by-product is, admittedly, helpful to others.


So why do people keep thinking I'll help them out in a pinch?

Because for all the vitriol I spew in the process, I often end up handing over the money, anyway. Grumbling and grudgingly, like the all-day sucker I am. But I hand it over, and that's what frickin' matters, doesn't it?

And why?

Because refusing to help the needy - especially when asked -  makes me feel fucking guilty, even though I had no hand in the creation of their miseries.

And while I'm not some filthy billionaire, the ugly truth is, there are plenty of people less fortunate than I.

Or you, for that matter.

"Let's face it - who isn't?"

Not to say the rich aren't selfish, themselves; a common misconception. Many people expect the wealthy to be paragons of generosity, but I've known enough millionaires to know that Scrooge isn't just some literary invention. 

Then again, there are also miserly paupers.

I don't think it matters how much or how little money people have. 

We're all selfish at heart.

Because survival is self-preservation, and nothing can be more selfish than that.


And to cap off La Diá de Caridad, at 10 p.m. I get yet another text - this time from Rico, another ex-employee and, like Ardee, a fellow SM drone.

Rico's endo was yesterday, and his birthday is coming up next week.

"Good evening, sir, musta na po kayo?"

"Mmm Rico ano na"

"Heto sir, endo na po ako. Mag-aapply po sana ako sa iba."

Here it comes.

"Sir, kakapalan ko na po mukha ko, baka puede po makautang pang apply, bayaran ko na lang po pag nakuha ko na bckpay ko kung ok lng po."


"Sir pasangla na lang po pala ng ATM ko, may darating pa naman po yun na bckpay hehe kung ok lang po."

"Ha pano yun?"

"Ahm bale 22busin ko na lng po pag may  bckpay na ako."


If I still believed in a god, I'd say he/it helps those who help themselves.

But while waiting for incontrovertible ontological proof of the deity's existence, in the meantime, they text me instead.

Soy yo.

El Nuestro Señor de Remedios Y Ayuda Perpetua.

Humans. Wat are you doing? Humans. STAHHHHHP!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cats Vs. Dogs

A short intermission between Broadway, death, and general annoyance posts.

Despite the recent, irritating trend of long-term bloggers shuttering or, even more vexingly, simply neglecting their online homes without at least the decency of burning them to the ground, there remain some encouraging developments. Renowned and veteran blogger gillboard, for instance, recently created a new blog called  The Puppy Diarist , that aims to chronicle undoubtedly-amusing and heartwarming* tales of how he plays father to two new dogs.

A comment expressing sympathies for his self-imposed calvary shortly appeared in his Comments Section.

Not mine, unfortunately.

While I am, as my About Me section has stated for the past three years, a "harassed father to (a fluctuating number of) psychotic dogs" and now, two kittens, I tend to share the common opinion that cats are indeed smarter than dogs.

As the following video so scientifically, definitively, and hilariously points out.

If you love either smart cats or stupid dogs, do give the video a chance and watch it. I almost died at "...while here a cat who has just enjoyed an amuse-bouche and a snow pea gratin is fascinated by the dinner conversation about Habermas' Dialectic of Enlightenment."

Alas, the video doesn't go into why they're so smug and snooty. 

Aside from evil.

Which, I suppose, is just as well.


*Update : Make that "heartbreak" as well. As of this writing, his latest entry is about the loss of his famous parrot - the one in his avatar and the one I threatened to pluck alive years ago.

For more details, go to his blog and read on.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Drive

The roads were open wide as my brother and I took a leisurely afternoon drive.

It had been a trying week and I think we both needed to get out of the house - and nothing like the wide open spaces of Sundays to take our thoughts elsewhere.

The open road slowed to a crawl as we reached an intersection. There was an excited crowd milling about - mostly a lot of youths hanging around the mini-park near where whatever it was that was causing the buildup happened.

"Away?" I asked, craning my neck.

"Nah," replied my brother. "Looks like an accident."

Neither of us could see what was really going on because oncoming jeepneys predictably slowed down to gawk at the scene and blocked our view.

I still thought there had been a brawl and, while mumbling about the rubberneckers slowing down traffic, nevertheless readied my own phone to snap a shot of whatever it was.

We inched closer to ground zero, and  whatever it was slowly started to come into view.

And then there it was.

A white taxi.

An overturned bicycle.

And still entangled in the bicycle, what I thought was a young man.

He lay very still on the street where he fell. There was no blood. He must've broken his neck instantly on the concrete after the cab struck his bicycle.

The cab can't have been going very fast, for the bicycle was just lying right in front of the fender.

I gasped at the realization that I was looking at a corpse, where just moments ago there had been a living, breathing man. A man with a wife, possibly - a family, even. Family members who, at that moment, still had no idea what had befallen their loved one, while strangers like us gawked and gaped at his fate.

I had seen the remains of vehicular accident victims before, the most gruesome of which was a motorcyclist who had gotten entangled in the wheels of a ten-wheeler and consequently had his intestines paving a good red stretch of the highway.

I had flinched briefly then, but morbid curiosity won over and I took some shots.

We passed the scene - the empty white taxi as still as its victim, both seemingly frozen in time on the road - and went on our way.

My phone was still in my hand.

I had no need for a picture.

Monday, October 1, 2012

For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

So my nephew flew all the way to Norway to finally meet his infant son and take part in the preparations for his upcoming christening.

He wore a black suit as he waited for his father and grandfather to take him to the airport. I remember thinking black was a rather severe color - one more suited for a pallbearer than a joyful new father on a journey to a white land, for an event filled with the innocence of baptismal lace and a future of hopeful promises.

This morning he and his girlfriend woke up to find that their baby - the latest bid for our DNA's immortality, third in line to my father's throne, and my grand-nephew - was dead.

So now the preparations for the christening will be ones for a funeral.

No parent should ever have to bury their child, and no parent as young as my nephew should ever have to drink from this most bitter of cups. Few things break a heart as hardened as mine, but his incoherent sobbing over a midnight call just threw into stark relief just how much he himself is but a boy. I wanted to reach my arms over the thousands of miles separating us and hug him tight.

But all I could do was listen to his grief and offer few words of consolation. After all, at times like this, words are often empty. What do you say? What can you say?

Despite our family's disapproval and my personal misgivings , I would've wanted to meet you, little one. And over the years, hear news of how you've grown. And, if we were going to go by the potency of our line thus far, to witness the birth of your own sons.

And now all that shall never come to pass.

Grand-nephew, goodnight.

Goodbye and godspeed.