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Thursday, April 21, 2016


Dear Beloved,

It's odd that as we celebrate our 19 years of togetherness this day, all we can think of discussing are the utterances of political candidates, on the ride to work. We are in the midst of the election season, and my thoughts now go into how the political and the personal intertwine.

Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel despair. Not just for this country, but for how we are seen in this country. I despair because we have no legal standing in this country. We are not recognized by law, not a single piece of legislation acknowledging the life we have built together, the bills that we jointly pay, the troubles we jointly shoulder, weather and solve as best we can. If a couple's life is measured as the sum of all the small details, then we are worth nothing under the eyes of our laws.

Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel hopelessness. Hopeless that I will be "allowed" to see you if you become hospitalized. Hopeless that even if we desire to be each other's beneficiary when a future but certain event comes to pass, our wishes will be discarded as hogwash, with the full strength of our laws. Hopeless at the possibility that everything we have worked for - together - may go into the hands of those who have actively and publicly declared us as abominable, who have openly announced their disgust for our life together,

Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel ambivalent. I have come to accept that full equality will never be achieved in our lifetime. This is a country that has no problem thinking women are weaker, that sexual minorities deserve to be stoned to death, that anyone that deviates from the norm, or the expected, deserves to be scrutinized, ridiculed or shamed.

Wala ka paring asawa???
Tagal na ninyong't wala pa kayong anak???
Ano nangyari? Ang taba taba mo na!!!
Sayang, ang ganda niya dati...losyang na losyang na siya!
Ang tanda tanda mo center lang ang na-achieve mo???

This is our backdrop. This is where we frame our lives against, a culture that prides itself in being conservatively cloistered, unceasingly unchanging, petulantly pious.


Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel strange. Strangely hopeful, that despite the best efforts of those that disapprove of us, we have not only thrived, but we celebrate our togetherness, each and every day. With each text message, asking the other "Musta ang bb?" With each greeting, before we close our eyes, of "sweet dreams, my love." With each question, at the end of our work day, of "are we having our mini-date at home or outside?"

Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel kilig. And odd. Odd for couples we know who seem to not have that feeling, what Carrie Bradshaw once described as the zsa zsa zu. Let me reiterate her very question, isn't that what gets you through the years? We will be the first to admit that a relationship is work. But it's work we love because of who we love. Which - was it Gates or Jobs who said it - makes it non-work.

Today, on our 19th anniversary, I feel comforted. Knowing that each squabble, each misstep, each roadblock, all of them have formed a patchwork spanning 19 years, with each achievement, each celebration, and each joyous event as the other bookend. Comfort in being comfortable with each other, and comfortably uncomfortable seeing the uncertainty of the horizon, but knowing - comfortably knowing - we will always get through it, together.

Do we have a perfect life? Far from it. But for each eye roll, sarcastic remark, copious shedding of tears, and hysterical ROTF laughter we constantly and consistently share, we become less enamored with perfection, knowing it really is all about the journey.

Happy 19th anniversary, my Beloved. The journey continues.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bills That Senator Manny Can File Once Elected

We've all heard what senatorial candidate and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao had to say about same sex marriage, his now (in)famous "masahol pa sa hayop" (more disgusting than animals) comment getting the mileage it no doubt was intended to engender. After the online backlash, he's apologized, he's had dinner with some LGBT kids, but he stands equally firm in his beliefs, because as Manny implied, his holy book trumps everything else.

Here's my reaction: Go for it, Manny. Go all the way.


And given his standing in most surveys, Manny will have no problem calling himself - and forcing everyone else, even those who don't like him - a senator in a few months. He's placed in the middle of the pack consistently, a comfortable almost-guarantee he will add "senator" to his long list of career choices, as if boxer, singer, wannabe evangelist, product endorser, sometime TV host, basketball player, basketball coach, philanthropist, and 4-day legislator aren't enough.

Future Senator Manny, I propose that you hit the ground running once you earn your Senate seat. And in the hopes of seeing you succeed, and taking into account your personal beliefs, kindly consider the following suggestions for bills to sponsor and push for in the Senate.

An Act To Declare Women's Participation In Politics As Illegal

We will, of course, need to have basis for all of these bills, and for this particular bill, you have your holy book firmly on your side. 1st Timothy 2:12 makes it rather clear: "I do not permit a woman to teach, or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."

A blanket statement, the best admonition any holy book can give: women must be quiet. There is no if in that. Since women are not to exert authority over any man, she is therefore barred from running for any public office, or being assigned to one, lest she exert some kind of influence on a single male.

It also prevents her from getting a vote, since that would constitute "making my female voice heard" and since your holy book says (altogether now) "women must be quiet" you have the perfect justification for pushing this bill.

Moreover, almost all religions already practice this exclusion of women in positions of power, all we need to do is to follow their lead.

An Act Forbidding Tattoos, Haircuts, And All Kinds Of Shellfish

Leviticus 19:28 says "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourself; I am The Lord."

Leviticus 19:27, meanwhile, makes visits to the local barber shop a waste of time and money. "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head, or clip off the edges of your beard." I guess this means no private company can also enforce the "clean shaven" look on their employees.

And anyone who pushes crabs or lobsters on their menu can be aptly described as "unclean" - hey, don't blame Manny, he isn't being offensive, silly, because Leviticus 11:12 states that very word: "anything living in the water that does not have fins or scales is to be regarded as unclean by you."

Manny, I have no doubt, will stand by his beliefs, which makes clear stances on these three items. And anyone who wants to begin pointing at Manny's body covered in tattoos should know that that is a matter between him and his God.

An Act Declaring Boxing Illegal

"Do not envy a man of violence, and do not choose any of his ways." So says Proverbs 3:31, and because Manny stands by his holy book, he will have no recourse but to make the "sport" of boxing illegal, as it is not a way that his holy book would have chosen. If anything, this verse makes it clear that anyone engaged in violence or violent acts is never considered a good example.

It would be fair to also include sports like Mixed Martial Arts under this broad definition, as it results in bloodied faces and broken bones, which can be summarily described as the result of violent acts, and done for sport, and not in defense of one's life.

Broadening the scope of this Act, we may go down its logical conclusion and ban all weapons and materials like guns, knives, and scissors, from public circulation, as these could - unwittingly - be used for violent purposes. But that will be for another day in the Senate.

You are planning to make at least 2 visits to the Senate Hall, yes, Manny?

An Act Declaring Lechon Illegal

Now, this truly saddens me, and all bacon lovers, but as a devout follower of your holy book, who will no doubt introduce and try to enact laws based on this unchanging book, you have to declare the porcine creature as abominable - after all, Deuteronomy 14:8 says we are "not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses" - which basically eliminates lechon skin from the national diet and all fiestas.

An Act To Reinstate Slavery

Colossians 4:1 is an interesting read because it does not tell us not to have slaves, but rather it specifies how to treat slaves...listen: "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing you also have a Master in heaven."

In short, Manny, your holy book approves of having slaves, as long as they are treated in a certain way. We should be proud to have slaves, then, and must ensure that legal measures are put in place to continue the practice of owning people - that is the definition of slavery, yes? - since this is sanctioned and approved by your holy book.

Can you not feel the wave of righteousness that Manny will bring once he is elected to the Senate?

Can you not hear the cries of people who wish to ban boxing matches and to make owning people fashionable again, on top of being approved by Manny's holy book?

With just a smattering of verses, Manny can come up with so many bills, it would make Miriam envious.

Of course, Manny would have to declare Catholicism illegal, since he has changed religions himself. I suppose that would be another bill - what to do with Catholic churches once the practice of this particular faith is banned.

But given how Manny is being supported online over his "masahol" comment as being "true to his faith" and "standing up for his beliefs, and why he is being persecuted" we should take Manny's lead as this country's greatest religious and moral arbiter - how dare you question Manny, he who has brought honor to our country by punching his bloodied opponents senseless!

No wonder Manny's fans taunted Mayweather as "Gayweather". Compared to masahol, Gayweather is just a blip in the pantheon of insults, and as the online comments show, there is supposedly nothing more shameful in life than to be called bakla or tomboy.

I look forward to the momentous bills you will undoubtedly sponsor, Future Senator Manny.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Bothersome Credit Card Ad

Well, technically, it was an "advertorial" as stated in the news item itself.


The news article that disturbed me to no end is entitled Why It Pays To Have A Credit Card, which appeared on the website of ABS-CBN News. The link to the article itself labels it as an advertorial, and it also gives you a link to the BDO Credit Card site.

It is a short article (only three paragraphs), but from the get go, being a financial adviser, I could not let my frown go, after just the very first paragraph, which reads:

"Short on cash? No problem! In times like these -- when spending is inevitable -- having a credit card comes in handy."

The article mentioned "times like these," so I checked the date of posting, which was December 28, 2015. Add to that the phrase "when spending is inevitable" and one gets a certain understanding: this credit card ad was being positioned as your "back up cash" because, well, the season compels you to spend. And spend some more, even if you are "short on cash."

All of which are red flags, from a financial advising perspective.

First off, let me say that credit cards per se are not bad (or as my friend calls it, evil). The caveat being, if you use it wisely, deliberately, and pay the amount due in full. (Or have zero percent installments, though even that can be troublesome, but that is for a later discussion.) Credit cards also happen to have a lot of perks: most have a point system, some deals in hotels and restaurants can only be taken advantage of with a certain card company, and it definitely saves you the burden of having to carry wads of cash when you're purchasing a big ticket item like a household appliance.

Wisely, because you understand that a credit card is actually incurring debt. This is not a free-for-all gift certificate that you can swipe until the heavens fall down. This is something you need to pay back

Deliberately, because it means you have the means to pay it back on time, when it is due. You do not - or should I say, should not - use a credit card without knowing for certain how you are going to pay the bill once your SOA (Statement of Account) is mailed to you. By using the card, you should be essentially thinking of when you will be able to clean the slate.

And paying the amount due in full is the only way you can escape paying any late, finance or other charges. I remembered hearing a couple of young female professionals (they certainly looked nice) argue about getting a pair of shoes, and the one with the card rationalized aloud that "anyway, I just have to pay 5% daw (supposedly) of the amount swiped and I can still use the card!" That would mean that the interest levied would have the 95% as the base - there's no other word for that but foolish!

But that is exactly what the ad is perpetuating.

You don't have money, you are being pressured into buying things you can't afford, you don't want to look like a cheapskate in front of family and friends - ta-dah! Here's a credit card to "solve" your financial woes.

Frankly, I can't think of a worse time to avail of a credit card.

If you're short on cash, that already means you have some budgeting skills to brush up on. Adding debt to the equation can be the start of your downward financial spiral, since all you will be doing now is playing catch up.

If you still haven't bought them gifts by the 28th of December, I think it's clear to them that they're not on your Christmas list. Why fall for the marketing ploy and advertisements that portray you as inadequate or insensitive if you don't throw cash at your entire Facebook list this materialistic season?

Let me reiterate: credit cards can be useful. I've had to whip out my card because we had to make an emergency run to the emergency room, and the hospital needed a guarantee that someone would be able to pay. At tense moments like that, the last thing you need to be worrying about is where to find an ATM that will give you the amount of money being asked by the hospital. (And some banks have even lowered the amount you can withdraw daily, so this is a real concern when you need a larger amount ASAP.)

But completing your Christmas shopping list just to save face and appear generous - even at the expense of your financial wellness, who cares about the fact that you actually have no cash, I have to give them gifts, nakakahiya kaya (that would be embarrassing) - is recklessness that could cost you.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

One Off The Bucket List

They say an ending is only the gateway to a new beginning; if there's any truth to that, then how we ended 2015 is a great portent to how 2016 will be, taste wise.

Art and I have been living in Makati for a number of years, but we have not set foot at one of the "hidden gems" of the city, Gulliver's of San Francisco. I've read the reviews, as well as the food porn pictures of my Facebook friends who never fail to rave about it, and I suspect it's because I live nearby, that I have put it off for so long, thinking "we can go there anytime, anyway."

So when Art and I found ourselves "party-less" on the second to the last day of 2015 (finally, haha), he sprung the idea on me, to end our curiosity about what food bloggers and friends have been ooh-ing over.

It was a fortuitous decision because most of Makati was quiet (most probably because people have already gone home to welcome 2016), and we were able to get a nice spot. As soon as we sat down, Art was about to ask what I was having, and I immediately blurted "the Roast Prime Ribs of Beef, of course, that's what you come here for!" so he decided to have the Rib Eye just for the sake of variety.

We started off (like in most steakhouses) with complimentary bread with butter.

I have to admit being ravenous by that point, but because I didn't want to mar my 'virginal' experience, I just had one piece. As opposed to most posts I've seen 'complaining' about the decor of the restaurant being dated, Art and I found it rather charming, that such a place (that gives more than a nod to the past) still exists. Think Old World meets English pub, and you have a sense of what it's like being there. (We went at night so it wasn't that conducive to photographing the place.)

Before long, we were having our orders carted to our table.

When the waiter asked me what size I would like, I replied with no hesitation "Full Bone Cut, please!" (I mean, you're already there, why settle for a Petite Cut?!?)

One word: glorious.

The meat (done medium rare) was so soft, even Art had to marvel at how they were able to achieve this. The gravy that accompanied it went perfectly with the deep savory taste that was rolling in my mouth, which was busy masticating all this bovine glory. All I could think of was, why the hell did I wait so long to experience this?

Art had the Rib Eye, which, if he had not tried my order, he would have said was perfect. His gravy somehow tasted better, that I ended up getting most of it.

It was incredibly tasty, but lost to the Prime Rib in terms of softness. (Which sealed for Art what he would be ordering the next time we're back. And we will.) The sides that accompanied our meats deserve mention, because the creamed corn delighted us, and the creamed spinach was so flavorful, I almost asked for rice.

You can have your trendy places, modern interpretations and oh-so-hip-and-now steakhouses. But if what you're after is a serious hunk of meat that's worth splurging your calorie count for, without breaking the bank, then you've come to the right place.