Nuffnang ad

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Cheesy, Guilty Pleasure?

You want fries with that mess-waiting-to-happen?
(Courtesy of

Seeing this ad, the first question I had was how are consumers supposed to eat that?

If you say with a knife and spoon, it defeats the purpose of what a sandwich is supposed to be. Unless it's meant to be treated as an open faced sandwich, which it's not since there's also half a bun on top.

If you say "with lots of tissue paper!" then the cheese topping will get "wiped off" and the intent of having a cheesy, gooey mess coating your fingers would be lost. Not to mention an unfriendly environmental tactic, unless there is a tie-up with napkin companies, as hinted by one commentator.

I won't even go into the subject of calorie counting - this is a country that eats lechon kawali and chicharon with pride so this cheese laden concoction from KFC is hardly a blip in the "evil foods" scale that is available in the local market. (I will have to say, though, that as an American Council on Exercise certified professional, there is a plethora of healthier options available. One of KFC's competitors in the chicken sandwich department featured a roasted chicken fillet in barbecue sauce. Ehem.)

It's a free country, we have free will, you choose what you want to load up on. As a liberal at heart, I always leave it up to people what they want to consume, as long as they are aware of the repercussions of their choices.

In this case, it looks like an unmitigated (but cheesy) mess on your fingers. I can't help but see the words Guilty Pleasure written all over the new KFC sandwich.

She's 6. She Needs Heels.

That, apparently, is what Michael Kors wants to say to parents.

And here I thought people always complain about how "kids are growing up too fast".

(Both photos courtesy of

In his defense, he isn't the only one making these heeled shoes for kids who aren't even in elementary school. Kenneth Cole and Jessica Simpson have their own offerings for the same age group.


Health experts have cautioned that shoes like these would shorten the calf muscle and affect posture. But a buck is a buck, eh, Michael?

Time for parenting - the responsible kind - to come to the rescue.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is Ruffa Serious?

One reason I love Facebook is because I get news feeds of articles that my friends find interesting, and by extension of having the same interests, I would find the same way, too. Browsing this morning's feed, I saw 2 news posts about Ruffa Gutierrez, actress, beauty queen and media personality, walking out of her showbiz talk show.

The muse of intrigue?
(Courtesy of

Let the collective eye rolling begin.

Apparently, for her birthday celebration, she would be placed on the "hot seat" in a segment of the show called "Bulong Ng Palad" (Whisper of Fate?), where the other co-hosts would ask her questions of a "sensitive" or "controversial" nature.

In other words, a roast.

(See for more.)

Ruffa's subsequent "reactions" stemmed from the fact that these highly-charged questions were asked:
(1) when she brought her children on the set
(2) a representative of her commercial sponsor was in the audience
(3) she felt "disrespected"

Teka lang, Ruffa.

You've been a host for this show for quite some time, right? (I really don't follow showbiz shows as a general rule, it's time I can't take back.) Why are you now feigning "surprise" at the type of questions asked of you during a segment you have been part of many, many times in the past? Should the rules be changed just because you are now the "askee" instead of being the interviewer?

The questions they asked were of your past romantic liaisons. In fact, one of the interviewers, Zoren Legaspi, was one of those "linked" to you in the past. These things are a matter of public record - if I was to be blunt, you actually paraded these relationships for maximum exposure at the height of their, uh, sizzle. Why are you now acting as if everyone should now treat you with kid gloves about them, when you wringed out so much publicity from them at the time that you were "in love" with this guy and that guy?

Isn't that the whole point of showbiz?

Aren't your entire careers built on the amount of buzz and interest that you can supposedly generate? That once an artista is laos na, that means no more film offers, no more commercials, no more TV series, no more hosting gigs? That some of you actually wail at how fickle and harsh the industry can be - whilst being silent about this facet of the industry you chose to be in when fame and fortune and attention were so easily bestowed upon you?

I don't get the hand-wringing. Or is this - as many social commenters have noted - an attempt to revive a sagging career where you have to compete with the hottest stars of today, who happen to be young enough to be your children?

You brought your own kids to the show. I will not question your parental authority, that is your prerogative, if you think it is proper to expose them to your workplace, that is your call. But you can't expect the world to stop turning - for you - on account of your kids. The protection of their minds from what you deem "unsavory" is also your responsibility. Showbiz is about intrigue, and if you brought your kids to a set that celebrates this fact with pride, I really don't get the "my kids are with me" card you pulled out.

And about the milk sponsor, I'm sure they have factored your past in when they decided to ask you to be their model. You are now more known as a mother with two kids - that should have been the card you played when you were asked questions you found "sensitive". No matter how your co-hosts cajoled and needled you for "juicy" details of past relationships - does anyone not see the irony of this situation? - you could have always put your foot down, as a mother and the birthday celebrator, on account of your daughters. I would expect no less from any parent who does what they do for the sake of their children.

And apparently, you also took to Twitter after your show with a slew of statements detailing your sentiments about the whole she-bang. And announcing your "resignation" there instead of professionally telling the management of your decision - how can you stop people from thinking that this isn't some exposure stunt?

So, do you want publicity or not?

Ano ba talaga,Ruffa?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Pushed Me To Enter Uniqlo

I am not a clotheshorse. I count until the last centavo when I need to go shopping for clothes; I was never into clothes "for fashion", I view them purely for utility purposes. (They call me Batman at work for having practically the same outfit, day in and out. If you thought that comes across as a derisive comment, you're wasting your time: I take pride in being able to save my money for something more...fulfilling.)

So, when Uniqlo, dubbed as Japan's most famous clothes store decided to open a branch in SM Mall Of Asia (MOA), I was nonplussed, to say the least. Just another clothes shop, and probably overpriced, it being from Japan. (Does Tokyo still hold the record for the most expensive city to live in? It has to be in the top 5, at the very least.)

Like a virgin, Uniqlo'd for the very first time.
(Courtesy of

Fast forward to today.

(1) I had to go to the Port Area in Manila for work.
(2) I didn't have breakfast, I rushed to the area first thing to escape the traffic. (Too late.)
(3) I was passing by MOA on my way back to Makati.

And last, but not the least:

(4) Uniqlo's opening promo: Jeans - ONLY 590 PESOS. (Read it online.)

That's the story of how I finally de-virginized my feet and entered Uniqlo. I have to say, the jeans are very, very cool looking (silver/gray and olive green/khaki crosses). I decided to buy a pair each for Art and myself (practically the same size, anyway - instant double wardrobe!) And I remember the last time I went to the department store to get a new pair of jeans - the one I settled for (given my un-propensity for fashion, take note) cost me 1,259 pesos. So getting 2 new pairs for less than the price of the last pair I bought was a no-brainer.

Now to test the quality. (And the way I use jeans, it will be tested.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kowtowing To Religion

That is what "Chiz" Escudero, Philippine Senator, is doing.

Religious considerations outweigh politics - for this senator.
(Courtesy of

In a recent forum, the senator, who is separated from his wife, declared that he is not in favor of divorce. As has been noted many times, the Philippines - apart from the Catholic Dreamland known as Vatican City - is the only country in the world that does not have a divorce law.


It is a rather odd stance for someone who did not have a successful marital relationship to be the first to oppose divorce. But, listening to his reason, it becomes clear that the Senator does not understand the separation clause of our Constitution.

"In my view, there is a serious disagreement between the government, Congress and the (Catholic) Church (emphasis mine), so this is not the right time to exacerbate this (rift)."

Say what?

Since when did the Catholic Church become part and parcel of making laws?

Have these facts occurred to the senator?

(1) You can have a civil marriage, legal and binding, without going to any church.
(2) A church wedding isn't legal/binding until the parties sign a civil contract.

I have been consistent in arguing for secularization where our secular, democratic laws are concerned. My stance is hinged on the irrefutable fact that in a democracy, RELIGION IS A CHOICE. Why is the Catholic Church now considered a stakeholder in the discussions regarding bills like Reproductive Health and divorce?

If the argument is that "they have the highest number of adherents in the country", that becomes a gateway for our democracy to be turned into a Catholic theocracy. It should not matter how many "believers" a certain faith has, it still does not give that religion the right to dictate what is to be inscribed into our secular laws, for the very simple reason that by doing so, it negates the concept of having the right to choose your own religion under a democracy, and would force people who choose another faith to follow the tenets of the "most adherents" religion, which presently is the Catholic Church.

Yes, the "presently" is deliberate, because Escudero, in all probability, has not read the following articles.

The last link, on a site called Catholic News Agency, has for its' title Don't Leave The Church, an outright admission that Catholics are, indeed, leaving the faith.

I expected Escudero, being an elected representative of the people, to be especially wary of intermingling politics and religion, and be the very first to contest any religious interference in the making of our laws, that being his principal duty as a public official.

I also expected him to be especially sensitive to the needs of couples whose marriages did not work, not being successful in his own marriage. No, I'm not being "judgemental" , this is a statement of fact.

Are these particularly high expectations?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kuh Ledesma: Artist...Censor?

That's the thought bubble I had hearing the latest utterance from Kuh Ledesma, one of OPM's (Original Pilipino Music) stalwarts in a recent news item.

Nationalism. The Kuh way.
(Courtesy of

"Kung ako ang tatanungin, kung ako ang president, dapat limitado talaga. Kasi, nakikita ko talaga na kapag sinuportahan natin ang mga Pilipino, talagang lalawak ang bayan natin." (If I will be asked, if I was the president, it should be limited. What I see is that when we support our own, our country will really improve.)

(See more here:  )

In case you're wondering what it is she thinks should be "limited", it is to curb the entry of foreign musical acts into the country (presumably to perform in concerts and sell their records), for the sake of, and in the service of some version of "nationalism".

The oddest thing about this situation is that I would think that an artist, of all professions, would be abhorrent and unequivocally against the idea of censorship: So the solution she proposed is to simply ban foreign acts?

Where does it end?

Should we also stop Korea-novelas - not the "best" representative of a stellar foreign example of art, but they are being devoured by local consumers as evidenced by their ubiquitousness - as well from being shown on TV, since they prevent locally produced shows - such as they are - from being more malawak? (have more reach)

Should Indian restaurants be closed down because they threaten to overshadow Filipino cuisine? (Side note: Andrew Zimmern, host of a food/travel show, thinks our cuisine is the Next Big Thing. Should America stop him from saying that, because it may impede the spread of American fast food world wide?)

Should we ban a sculpture, a painting, a piece of literature, produced elsewhere but the Philippines?

Again, where does it end? This has always been the problem of censorship. It opens the floodgates for more disturbing scenarios, than the one it purportedly wants to "save".

How would our local performers feel, if they applied to foreign productions or films, and were rebuffed not on the basis of lack of talent, but after showing so much of it, would simply be told "Sorry, we can't get someone from another know, for nationalism reasons"? (In the same link to the news item, Isay Alvarez defends her stint in Miss Saigon. And in spectacularly laughable fashion.)

Should they have banned Lea as well?
(Courtesy of

Besides, we have seen this so-called "nationalism" take place: one week in December, all residents of this country have no choice but to pay a local movie producer if they want to watch a movie in a theatre. It's called the Metro Manila Film Festival, an attempt to supposedly shore up support for the local film industry by snuffing out foreign competition.

Yes, it achieves that purpose, it really lines up the coffers of local film outfits, because people have no choice. Other than not going to a movie.

Let's make an example of last year's topgrosser: a film by present-day Senator Bong Revilla. (A senator with another job - something I will tackle in a future post.)

He acted (and I understand also produced) in a film that was fantasy-action in genre. It bragged about its "special effects" - which was roundly ridiculed in cyberspace for one stark reason: the graphics of the fantasy monsters and characters seemed to be "lifted" from a foreign film of the same genre, Clash Of The Titans.

This is our best response?
(Courtesy of

That makes a mockery of the entire "point" of holding the festival: you are given a week to sell to people the idea that our local films can stand on their own, and the best we can do is to copy a rehashed concept from a foreign film, using the exact same character/costume/idea?

This is an increasingly smaller world because of the myriad of ways we can now connect and share information with practically everyone else on the planet. We should not fight the future, unless we are prepared to live with the consequences of obstinately clinging to misguided forms of "patriotism" that shut out ideas instead of welcoming them, instead of using them in ways that enhance our own art, food and our very lives.

In the marketplace of ideas that are free-wheeling and free-flowing, the test of an idea's appeal and longevity is whether it can stand scrutiny in the face of other competing ideas. No one wins when the solution becomes to prevent other ideas - or performances - from seeing the light of day, or showing up in our concert venues.

We're not even discussing how this proposal infringes on one's personal preferences or tastes.

I'm not prepared to have Anne Curtis on endless loop in my music player.

Why The Iwa Moto "Rampage" Is Noteworthy

Not being a follower of local showbiz, I only know of the name Iwa Moto because I still go to book stores (something of a dying breed?) and I remember seeing this particular "entertainer" on the cover of a "men's magazine" practically wearing nothing. The thought bubble I had at the time was, if you added some letters and spaces, her name would read as Iwanan Mo To (leave this body/person).

Leaving nothing for imagination. Nothing at all.
(Courtesy of

Her name is now trending over Twitter because of a supposed "war" with another local actress, Jodi Sta. Maria (who I know as a milk commercial actress, not being particularly knowledgeable about her filmography). Arthur also posted a news link about the topic on his Facebook Wall - if news outfits consider this newsworthy, we are in deep doo-doo - and I find pop culture fascinating so I decided to read what coverage there is about the feud.

After reading through a lot of "news", this "battle" is noteworthy (as opposed to being newsworthy) from a pop culture perspective because of the insights it provides about media consumers and as an inkblot of what we now consider as acceptable.

1. Convolutions of the telenovela type will sell.

This is how the plotlines of local drama series known as telenovelas get their mileage: the mother of the main character happens to be the best friend of the daughter of the man who raped the main character, and is now in love with the man's estranged son, who also happens to be the son of her own mother from a dalliance she had with the man who raped the main character.

Get it?

While I don't, here's how I understand the Iwa thing.

Iwa and Jodi aren't friends or talk to each other. Iwa used to have a boyfriend, a father named Mickey. Jodi used to be married to Pampi Lacson, with whom they have a son Thirdy. (I remember the name of the kid from the milk commercial.) Iwa claims that Jodi had an affair with her then boyfriend Mickey while she was already married to Pampi, and while Mickey admitted the affair, Jodi denied it. Fast forward to last week, when Iwa posted a picture of herself with Pampi and Thirdy, and then gets accused of being a "homewrecker", so Iwa comes out to say that she was in no way the cause of the separation of Jodi and Pampi, that she loves taking care of Thirdy, and she has the truth on her side while she makes kwento about Jodi's past affair, and why Jodi can't supposedly sue her for libel while she is free to sell her side of the story.

Get it?

2. Politics and Showbiz are partners.

While I have not heard of Pampi as a candidate for anything, his last name is certainly a bell-ringer: his father is Sen. Panfilo Lacson, one of the more well-known senators of the country, who was recently MIA because of certain, uh, things, but has now resurfaced, and also recently, a judge in Corona's impeachment trial.

Iwa (someone invested in local showbiz tells me) got her break from some reality contest talent search, took on some bit roles, resorted to skimpy clothing when her career wasn't really going anywhere, and is now moving to another station, so the timing of her "pasabog" is seen as an attention-getter to announce her change of employment address.

These two getting together is really part of a long line of couples who have come from each of the respective worlds of politics and showbiz.

3. Legal separation is not a requirement.

So you have a kid. So you're still legally married. So what? No one can stop the crackling flames of passion that singes and burns, at least not according to the gospel of the Book of Iwa.

Apparently, this is how people read a separation. I personally know of at least 10 women who are seeing men still legally married to their wives, or are themselves still legally married to their husbands, who are dating other people because hiwalay naman na kami, eh. (We are already separated)

Does a marriage contract mean absolutely NOTHING? When I hear about these Iwa-like situations, it makes me laugh to hear homophobes accusing gay people of trying to ruin the "sanctity of marriage" who just want the right to marry. What sanctity?!? You're not even legally separated or annulled - and with kids yet! - but you jump to the next man/woman/bed and can't keep it in your pants until the annulment is final!

And you even flaunt it in our faces...Kesyo it's true love. It's real this time. You just know when it feels right. They have long been separated in heart and mind, it's just too expensive to have the annulment. And so on and so forth.

It doesn't change the fact that you're carrying on with someone else's husband or wife.

If any lawyers can send inputs here, please do.

4. The Rise Of The Mistress

Time was when you spoke of mistresses in hushed tones. Time was when it was considered "shameful" that you had a part to play in breaking up someone's marriage - or preventing a broken marriage from healing because of your presence. I'm not speaking from a religious perspective, but from a point of decency and allowing legally married people a chance to get their act together, seek therapy if needed, and to legally call it an end if all avenues have been exhausted.

That time is no more.

Mistresses today actually flaunt how much bags, shoes, or property their "partners" have bought them as opposed to the pittance he spends on their actual wives. They are seen in photo-ops with their politically powerful partners. They are the ones who take the children from the legal marriage to school.

If you are carrying on with someone who is not legally separated, then that makes you a mistress, period. (And in case you're thinking I'm being sexist by harping on the woman and not on the man, my reason is simple: the guy doesn't flaunt it - usually - but the woman, like in this instance, Iwa, tries to paint it as a "good thing" and verbally and vocally parades this perception of hers.)

5. Carry Yourself. Well.

Throughout this brouhaha, I have not heard a single peep out of Jodi. And frankly, that makes the perception of the long-suffering legal wife even more potent.

Iwa has gone on this media blitz, challenging Jodi to file a libel case against her for supposedly revealing things in the (sordid) past. It is on this premise - that she holds the truth - that Iwa stands by her actions, that she is now having her "revenge" because Jodi allegedly carried on with her then-boyfriend.

One of her statements regarding Jodi was: Pwede kita idikdik pababa.


I don't know if Iwa is saying the truth (I'm so glad I'm not a judge who has to determine the veracity of everyone's statements), but it doesn't make her actions of airing dirty laundry less tacky or unseemly. Particularly since a minor is involved in all of this.

Isn't there some kind of legal provision that protects the child in situations like this?

Like an inkblot, the Iwa "thing" reveals where we are now.

It's depressing, to say the least.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do Yourself Proud

What's behind the pride?
(Courtesy of

On a day when we celebrate our Independence, I am overcome with amazement from two things.

My amazement at how our forebears fought all attempts to deny us our sovereignty. And my amazement at people who think being Filipino is supposed to be  the "source" of one's pride.

We do need to be reminded of how those who came before us sacrificed their very blood and lives so that we may be able to be "on our own". We should be grateful for their actions, which paved the way for the freedom we so wantonly desecrate and denigrate by repeatedly electing "leaders" who do not care about the country. At least not more than what riches and power they can amass with the goodwill of the people translated into votes.

But what boggles me is when people say "I was born a Filipino...Pinoy Pride!"

Being born into a particular country/culture/race is not a cause for pride. It is happenstance. You just so happened to be born in the Philippines. My definition of pride is always defined by a single parameter: Did you do anything to deserve feeling that pride? It has to be translated and measured in terms of something achievable.

Saying that you are proud being born a Filipino makes as much sense as being proud that you were born right-handed. Benign characteristics are just that until you do something about them - benign.

With that in mind, Happy Independence Day to all.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Manny Is Human

If he loses like a human, he must be a human.
(Courtesy of

That, to me, is the essential message from what people all over (to be fair, it's not just our countrymen who are doing it) are saying is an "unbelievable" loss for Manny Pacquiao when he faced off with still-unbeaten Timothy Bradley.

One can argue that it was "linuto" (rigged).

One can say the judges must be suffering from eye deficiencies.

One can shout whatever invectives they feel like to express their disbelief at what just transpired.

Carlos Celdran said it best: even Manny himself has accepted the decision, and he did so gracefully. We should all do the same. (Not me, specifically, since I have never considered getting paid astronomical sums for beating up another person bloody red and blackish blue as a "sport", but this is intended for everyone who has placed Manny on a pedestal.)

And for those who plan to "demand" a "recount", please don't. Just...don't.

Moving forward, may we be reminded that when our "heroes" end up disappointing us, or do not perform "to a certain standard", it is because they are, at the end of the day, just like the rest of us, just as capable of defeat and failure.

And that also means, we should never think that each of us may never be able to reach the heights of success - however this has been defined in our lives - that they have managed to.

Props to sports brand Adidas for capturing both sides of this situation succinctly with their slogan:

Nothing Is Impossible.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I See Rizal From My Bedroom Window

Why, hello there, Dr. Rizal.
(Photo courtesy of Carlos Celdran/Facebook)

If you plan to buy a condominium unit at Torre de Manila, DMCI Homes latest project, you could be saying that yourself.

You can quibble that technically, you'll only see a small portion of Rizal's back from your future property.

This sets a horrible precedent - yes, I went there and I said it out loud - if we allow every home developer, coffee chain and mega-mall to just park their butts wherever they please, who cares if the site they plan to build on is unmissable from a culturally significant one; or one that gives us our strongest ties to our past, colonial or otherwise.

I'm assuming that since DMCI Homes has a website and some "artist's rendition" mock-ups already online, the permits for this project have been approved and deemed "okay" by the city government of Manila. (See more at this address:

If this project pushes through, all tourism pictures of Luneta Park will now be inextricably inseparable from a glossy, new condominium from one of the largest developers of the country. The builders must be patting themselves on the back for such a marvelous coup, getting free publicity by way of Rizal himself.

Just one question.

Surely, our supposed heroes and our cultural/national heritage deserve better treatment than this?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Does This Ad Campaign Convey?

Was the percentage rounded off?
(Courtesy of

This ad campaign from a local clothing store caught my attention yesterday from my Facebook News Feed. I have treated advertisements as a gauge of (what advertising companies think is) the pulse of consumers and what they find appealing, and this is no exception to the general conclusion I have observed for quite some time now: having foreign lineage assures you of a career in local advertising campaigns.

One can argue that there is no "pure race", but this campaign had an accompanying text that raised more uhhh... moments than made the intention clear.

 Eugenics, the ad version.
(Courtesy of

It starts out by asking what your mix is. Personally, I have been mistaken for Chinese and Japanese, but there is no doubt what my nationality is.

It then talks about "mixing and matching", with both nationalities and fashion pieces in the same category.

Most days I wear my black pair of jeans, but sometimes I will choose my white jogging pants for a day that will be "sporty". Is this what the ad agency had in mind for "mixing nationalities"? What if I wasn't happy with the "result"? Should one keep searching to find "the right blend"? Does this mean I also get to have a different "match" during the day and a completely different one for the night, the way I would change my getup based on the time of day?

The next statement was "mixing...with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class."

What would be the reverse statement for this then? That is if there is no "mix", if one was a 100% "pure" Filipino, the resulting equation is someone hideous and lacking "world class"?

The ad goes on to say that "Having Filipino lineage is definitely something to be proud of", without expounding on why this is supposed to be stated as a fact. And it runs counter to their extolling the virtues of "mixing" with "different nationalities" earlier.

The neurosis continues when they ask people to BUY FILIPINO, while having models who, by their own admission - with specific percentages to back it up - are anything but 100% Filipino.

I don't need a headache this early in the morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Should Miriam Become Chief Justice

Let's share her with the world.
(Courtesy of

(1) All Supreme Court proceedings will be televised.

How else will Miriam be able to parade her particular, er, accent? And the quotable quotes. Not to mention her kilometric knowledge of particular decisions or least used statutes to prop up her stance. And, of course, thanks to the recent impeachment trial, she has added a new moniker: as a good friend said it best "ayan, kamukha nya nanaman si Marge Simpson!" (she is looking like Marge Simpson again) when she gets into her "moods".

(2) There will be no objections. From anyone.

Remember when people she disliked would be given a tongue lashing? Not even the Ombudsman was spared. Should the title of this post come to pass and you were gutsy enough to raise any kind of "I would like to state an objection", you would be supremely rebuffed with "HOW DARE YOU DEBATE WITH THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THIS COUNTRY!!!" I'm not sure how long her ego - or blood vessels - will be able to contain the pride of knowing that her very words would be how this country interprets its laws.

(3) Law students will be saddled with an additional four years of studying.

When Miriam makes a decision, it will take the court reader three days to finish announcing it. Each of her decisions will outweigh the combined opinions of the other SC Justices in terms of length. Assuming that Miriam re-hires Midas to be the court spokesperson, no one would ever make the mistake of hinting him to be "questionable". At 50, Midas will begin to look like an octogenarian, basking in the ultraviolet verbiage from the most verbose Chief Justice ever to sit in our Supreme Court. Midas also begins to advertise for memory capsules and nerve stimulators, seeing as both of those will be atrophied from severe use.

(4) Everyone who appears before the Supreme Court will observe "particular" decorum.

There will be no "provocative looks" from either lawyers or anyone else, lest she summon a page to take the offending party out to scrape out your facial features to prevent it from happening again.

She may call you "Mushroom Face!", "Cretinous Vermin!", "Gene Pool Disgrace!" and so much more, but you are not allowed to show or register any emotion or facial expression. You are, however, encouraged to contribute to the "Miriam Lexicon Fund".

All ears must be taped from the top part of the ear to the mid-lateral portion of your cranium to prevent any actions of "covering your ears". As well, hands will be cuffed to your chairs to prevent any action to do the same.

Shoes will be clamped on the floor, and soles of the socks will be applied with Extra Strong Mightiest Glue, to prevent any form of walkout from a court session.

Once everyone is inside the Court, a firing squad is stationed at each exit to shoot anyone who dares to leave the court without the express permission of Miriam, duly authenticated by the Court Secretary.

Located OUTSIDE the actual court.

(5) She can overturn any and all of her own decisions because of one caveat.

Suppose that Miriam decides to take back all the lands she gave out to farmers under a land reform program.

Suppose that after freeing an innocent man incarcerated wrongly for a crime he didn't commit, she orders authorities to take him back in, this time for the electric chair.

Suppose that she reprimands "demolition" squads who "take out" shanties and slum dwellers, then calls them back to continue taking out other "squatters".

Suppose any other number of actions she has decided on "with finality" is inexplicably reversed.

Any appeals for the new decision will follow a new procedure:
- file an appeal, duly notarized and authenticated
- wait for your case to be called
- listen to "Best of Miriam Jokes" while waiting in Court
- all parties will be led to an audio-video screening room
- Miriam appears onscreen with these words: "I LIED!!!!!!!"
- to make another appeal, go back to step one

(6) If you find it, you're free and clear.

As long as you are able to point out the exact provision, law or legal precept that protects you, your decision and your action, Miriam will champion your cause.

Say you wish to exterminate the entire LGBT community. Say you are "offended" because LGBT people are guilty of "offending (your particular) religious feelings". And that your religion calls for the death of these "infidels". Just cite the particular provision, and Miriam will give a court order authorizing you (or your duly appointed representatives) the power to massacre an entire class of people. After all, it's provided for by law.

Rapists can now have their victims incarcerated for "slander" and destroying their reputation!

Murderers can sue the families of their victims for "moral damages": I didn't kill 547 people, I only butchered 523, how dare they claim that bloated figure!

Stall renters can now sue malls whenever they get a notice for their rental dues, as these mall adminstrators are guilty of "harassment"!

Welcome to the wonderful Court of Miriam, where law is "Supreme".

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Quick, Meaningful Tagaytay Jaunt

Sometimes, strangely, things go better when they proceed unplanned.

The place in service of the company.
(Courtesy of

Having had a fixation for certainty in almost all aspects in my life, as far back as I can remember, it always puts me on edge when things don't go as perfectly as planned. But having also experienced enough of life to know that it is the nature of the beast (life) to keep throwing you curveballs when you least expect or want them, the next best thing to do is to roll with the punches, and go along for the ride.

Our recent "dinner only" in Tagaytay with old friends (you can read "old" however you want it, haha) morphed into a sleepover, which transformed into an into-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning chatfest, and cascaded into a sleepy interlude to waking up to the beautiful Taal Volcano view and ended with a filling breakfast at an establishment best known for their raisin bread.

Having gotten a message that the group Arthur and I toured to Beijing with was fortunate enough to have a free overnight stay at a condominium (courtesy of one of the members of our tour group), we decided to go (as the group was adamant about making the group "complete") but only to have dinner and then drive back home late in the night. We figured a condominium unit, no matter the size, would be hard pressed to include 15 people in one go and fit all of us comfortably, much less have sleeping accommodations for that same number.

We had our rendezvous point at one of the gas stations along SLEX (South Luzon Expressway), which I could never forget, courtesy of a previous trip decades ago, when my uncle could not contain his incredulity when the cashier told him the price of his drink, and exclaimed, "Wow! This literally is a highway robbery!" We proceeded to purchase various snacks and drinks to take along for the trip, and when the group was complete, we were then prevailed upon by the most senior member to take a detour to a famous eatery reknowned for its bulalo (beef marrow) soup.

While the trip towards the place proved to be a little arduous (we made three wrong turns searching for the place), we were placated by the fulfillment of the place's reputation: the soup that made them famous was inherently rich and flavorful, devoid of "thickeners" and superbly seasoned. (No, Art and I did not partake of the marrow.) We also had what was possibly the largest bangus (milkfish) I have ever seen, boneless and fried to perfection, among a host of other dishes that were competing to be the standout.

(I'm afraid to reveal the name of the establishment for fear that it will be descended upon by customers and we will no longer be able to get a seat there in the future, haha. As we were leaving (around 7pm), there were already 2 groups waiting, and one member of those groups speaking in a foreign langauge - which I understood - was lamenting that they would have to wait for 15 more minutes to be seated.)

We then headed to the place where the group was supposed to retire for the night - Art and I figured we would stay for only about an hour then bid our goodbyes along with a good friend who needed to go back to Manila also - but we were pleasantly surprised to learn that it was actually a townhouse located at the nucleus of Tagaytay and affording us a spectacular view of the lake and volcano, which would have to wait because it was raining. (Yes, it was cold. Lovely weather in my book, this being a tropical country.) There were four levels, including the garage, with four distinct rooms and areas, making it superbly comfortable even for a group as large as ours.

The entire group started egging the three of us "soon-leavers" to just stay for the night, given the weather and difficult visibility situation. What concerned us whas that we didn't have any clothes, nor did we bring any bedding paraphernalia, since we thought we would be ensconced at our homes an hour or two later.

Which made us consider the development of Tagaytay as a boon, at least for that night: since land developers have been continuous in placing high rise buildings one after the other, establishments that cater to these places also mushroomed, making it easy to score any forgotten items on a trip. We went to one such supermarket to get toiletries, face towels, as well as some drinks and goodies requested by other people in the group.

The weather hadn't let up, so we stayed indoors, regaling each other with anecdotes and funny experiences the way good friends can only do so. Snacks were passed around freely, I got to taste my first Mojito (which rather resembled mouthwash, just sweeter), and attitudes were relaxed and cares were free. Before we knew it, it past 2AM and we did make plans to partake of the breakfast buffet at Bag O' Beans, a longtime Tagaytay establishment more famous for its coffee and baked goodies like Raisin Bread.

Sleep took a while coming because we were behaving like children who continued our laughter and conversations, albeit separately into 4 areas, as if it was a giant slumber party.

And as expected, my internal clock woke me up at 630AM on the dot. This time, I was grateful for it as I fully intended to enjoy the stunning view denied to us the previous night. Art and I proceeded to the topmost floor where there was a shaded seating area facing Taal Volcano, and we were joined by a few more early birds. (Coffee is always essential in these types of settings.)

After the visual treat, we then prepared for the gustatory treat by the aforementioned breakfast. It would continue raining in an on-and-off pattern, which made the weather cooler than usual. We had a great breakfast with the usual Filipino breakfast suspects all present: tocino, tapa, longganisa, hotdog, sinangag, daing na bangus, champorado, and a oarticular dish that caught our fancy, sarsiadong itlog. It was capped off by a performance of the children of an orphanage, and we were only too glad to give them a little token for their efforts to end our get together on a (literal) high note.

And that is the story of how a "simple" dinner turned into something much, much more. It's always great to have friends who know that while we may not see each other on a daily basis, all we need do the next time we see each other is to pick up where we left off, paying no attention to the interlude in between.

Here's to good friends who know what truly matters.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Rose Among (Cyberspace) Thorns

Lucky to have found a gem of a rose.
(Courtesy of

Anyone still remember "ASL"?

Age. Sex. Location.

In those heady days when the internet meant a longish wait for a dial tone and some static noise, ASL was an instant way to introduce oneself as well as eliminate "leads" at an early stage. Most often used in chatrooms of a social/dating nature, it gave a little background into who you were talking to online, and afforded some a chance to be...playful. (A friend recalled that for Location, someone replied "soon, on top of you".)

In the years that followed, my view of online life (social and otherwise) changed from a variation of a dating service, to a one stop information hub, to a place to reacquaint with old friends and classmates (Facebook has made its mark in this arena), to a springboard for effecting meaningful social change, and now - unexpectedly - cultivating deep connections and even friendships with someone you haven't met in person.

If you spend time online, it is inevitable that your interests will show. Instead of the ASL of years past (although I believe it is still used these days), the filter we now use to decide on whether to continue engaging with someone online is to see shared common interests. All those things people click on as "Like", or what groups and sites they comment most passionately on, are an indication (not foolproof, but a reasonably good one) of how a meeting of minds is probable and not just possible.

That is how I met Doc Wee.

She was a comrade, early on, when groups calling for the support of the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill were being put up. Her witty barbs as well as acerbic comebacks ensured that she would get your attention. I later found out that she was a (medical) doctor by profession, which explained how she was able to cite facts to state her case, but always delivered in an engaging manner. (One thing Doc Wee isn't is boring.)

Months later, I would find out that she also ran marathons. I confessed to her that while I never did find the sport itself appealing (ankle problem), I have admired runners for their endurance and dedication: you can't run a 42K without putting in serious time (logging in actual time running for months and possibly years on end) and earning your stripes with each foot strike on the pavement.

She is also a mountaineer. I thought, she goes great distances vertically and horizontally, is there any challenge she isn't up for? Which showcases her fortitude, really. While I have always enjoyed a mountain top view from an airplane seat, she assures me that there is nothing quite like making the trek oneself, finishing an oxygen-wrenching climb, that rewards you with a view that will remain etched in memory forever.

She is dedicated to her family, that much was clear. She never failed to include them in conversations, when the situation called for it, and even when they didn't. I can tell that she was exceedingly proud of her children, and from the little snippets they have shown when Doc Wee was battling with a homophobe who posted hateful, irrational messages on her (Facebook) Wall, she has every reason to be: her kids responded to the homophobe in clear, concise language that put his homophobia in place, showing him who were the adults in this situation. (And proof positive that it's an online jungle out there.) The fact that none of her children were over 20 made the exchange even more astounding, that they had so much insight and compassion at their ages, which can only be a testament to how they were brought up.

Doc Wee also paints, and as someone who was never gifted in the ways of the brush, I am in awe of someone who can say "I'm using both sides!" of their cranial activity. Learning of this fact gave me a sense of jealousy, I admit, because painting seems to be such a tactile, visceral and refreshingly raw way of conveying the inside for the outside world.

And in the many, many conversations we've had and her commentaries online, her passion for helping other women gain control and self confidence in their own lives was revealed to be more than just (online) lip service: she spends a considerable amount of time going to disadvantaged communities, offering advice and help to women who may feel powerlessness at their current situation.

Just recently, she came back from a trip where she also spent time with kids with special needs. She brought her kids along so that they could experience and know what it means to her to do this, and as she said "they give me more than what I can give them". And she did this without fanfare, just sharing pictures of the great time she had with these children. It is in stark contast to someone in the recent impeachment trial, who went online to one of the top blogs to profess her piety as well as her "work with the poor", parading and enumerating how many churches she goes to and how many prayer circles she has with the wealthy and powerful.

Doc Wee has shown me that sometimes, life in its unexpected form can yield marvelous, wondrous surprises. I never, never expected to be able to meet someone online who would enrich my life in a spectacular way. Our conversations run the gamut of why we, uhm, like Barack Obama, to the poetry of Walt Whitman, and dissecting the inanity of noontime variety show hosts.

We have a common inspiration of dreaming for a better country, and when I feel hopelessness and despair with what is happening politically, she is one of the few people who is able to frame things in perspective and to continue keeping the flame burning.

Doc Wee is a woman who thinks and feel with so much voraciousness for eating into life itself; who laughs and also despairs, who thinks the world of her family and friends. She makes this world and life better by striving to better herself and the lives of those around her. She minces no words but they all come from a core filled with compassion and understanding what comprises the human in the word humanity.

On your very, very special day, let me greet you a very happy birthday. One life isn't enough for all your adventures, but you make the rest of us feel that we aren't living our own lives to the fullest of potentials, with an appetite that will devour life in all of its joys and, yes, its pain. Thank you for the gift of knowing you.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Packets And Prada

No, this isn't the name of a cafe latching on to the renowned luxury brand.

Unlimited supply?
(Courtesy of

It is a tasteful way of regaling events that happened in the most untasteful way.

Taking my caffeine-seeking constitutional to one of my favorite haunts, I placed myself at a corner where there would be the least amount of customers passing by. The only downside was that the station where the cream and sugar packets were available was near it. It was a choice of either that, or staying where the people line up to place and get their orders. (It's a small place, but it has free wi-fi. Cost-benefit analysis. And the coffee is good.)

As with most coffee places, conversation was plentiful but hushed and huddled. There is the occassional loudmouth with their "look-at-me" disposition, and unfortunately for me, this would be one of those days.

A woman of almost 50 entered with her kids (two of them) in tow, as well as a couple of friends. She "casually" announced her new purchase - meaning with no subtelty at all - a bag from Prada. While parading across the entire coffee shop, she loudly mentions that she hates the seats of the only available table, "walang sandalan, mahihirapan ako!" (The chairs have no back rest, it will be difficult!)

As expected, they were a noisy group. She seemed to be the Alpha in this cluster, as they would wait for her to start a topic before giving their commentaries on any subject she tossed. (What a day to forget bringing my earphones.)

After a while, I noticed that she got up and excused herself from the group. She then went close to where I was seated, and started getting numerous packets of cream and sugar, enveloping them with her almost pudgy hands, then proceeds to place her loot into her by-now-well-introduced Prada bag.

The image of her earlier statements professing an air of sophistication was jarring to this recent action, to say the least. The act of trying to get these packets to "take home" when you've practically bragged how much you are spending for a bag is, to put it mildly, unseemly.

And, as is often the case with these kinds of individuals, they manage to eke out an even deeper level of incredulity in myself.

She proceeded to go back and forth to the same station four more times, getting more and more packets with each run, that I was tempted to give her a few pesos to ensure that she can buy an entire whole bag of sugar along with another bag of those individually wrapped creamers, which she obviously adores.

It's disconcerting to see this phenomenon. Unfortunately, it isn't isolated.

I once witnessed a guy of about 30, with his family in tow, in Burger King. This was when they still allowed public access to their vending machine, because they had a policy of "unlimited drinks", where you could just buy a plastic cup and refill your choice of softdrinks or apple juice all you want.

He proceeded to the vending machine with his Coleman container, and filled it up to the brim with softdrinks. He went back to where his baby's carriage was, proceeded to get another Coleman container, and this time, filled it up with artificial apple juice, much to the consternation of the restaurant manager, who did not lack in giving him the evil eye, but was rebuffed by feigned indifference.

Incidents like this must have prompted the management to change their policy on refillable drinks: they now place the machine behind the counter, and you have to ask a server to get you the drink of your choice. In the proper cup provided.

I've also witnessed people in Wendy's when they order the Make Your Own Salad item on the menu. You are normally given a plate for one person, go to the Salad Bar, and put as much items as you want. In this case, some people read it as "as much as you can", so this is what I've seen at least thrice: They get the provided plate, which they then place on a tray. The tray is them lined with lots of tissue paper, covering every available space.

They then proceed to get as much items from the Salad Bar and place these on the tray, not the plate.

Talk about getting more than your money's worth.

That's exactly what this is about: a combination of selfishness as well as nakaisa ako (I put one over you). I've noticed this pride - however misplaced - from these individuals who feel they are "beating the system": Who cares if others paid full price for a set deal, I'm going to fix it so that I "win"!

This extends into almost anything that can be considered "broken" with our culture.

I get paid in full, even if I report late and leave work early, the boss is too stupid to notice, anyway.

I'm in a hurry, who cares about this one way street sign, there are no cops and I have a party to go to!

Since my salary is so low, let me just get this office equipment, and write it off as a "fringe benefit"...what? No one uses this machine anyway!

If you add the "woe is me" view so prevalently ingrained in our culture, it is a potentially dangerous mix of people acting under the misguided assumption that life - everyone and everything else - owes them something because of their "situation" and trying to "beat the house" with a false sense of righteousness.

Yes, I got all that from the woman stuffing her Prada bag with packets of cream and sugar.