February 2005


So how did it finally feel to watch the Oscars from beginning to end without the dreaded commercials and delays courtesy of Channel 9? Ho-hum, highly overrated.

Where do I begin?!?! Argh! First off, the performances were a bore. Beyonce is, well, bootilicious on MTV, but in the Oscars? I'm no expert in fashion but without the hip-high slits, see-through fabrics, eye-popping bust lines and cleavages, and butt hugging clothes, I'd rather wait and see an NFL half time show where the likelihood of a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction is high than see stars in classy gowns and borrowed blings in Oscars. And why, oh why should Beyonce sing thrice? Don't they have anybody else? It was like watching those Sunday noontime variety shows seeing the same singers belting out songs for more than two hours. Pure overkill!

Next, the winners. Too predictable. No surprises. In a time when upsets were badly expected, the academy voted by the book. Hillary Swank, yet again? Manong Clint Eastwood over Martin Scorsese? Come on! What's wrong with you people?!?! They might as well let Leonardo DiCaprio win!

Then there was Chris Rock. This guy is funny but come Oscar night, he was reduced to a teleprompt reader delivering jokes as stiff as the Oscar statue itself. Good ol' Jeremy Irons took Chris' job more seriously when he delivered his impromptu "I hope they missed" line after a loud thud backstage. I vote for Jimmy Fallon as next year's host.

Ho-hum, really.

I should've opted to watch reruns instead. Or, if I were in Manila, Channel 9's commercials were probably more entertaining than the show itself…

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Snowtubing. Snow what? I hit the wall thinking what winter thrill snowtubing exactly brings. For me, it's difficult to pluck pleasure from any activity on ice since taking (and eventually dropping out from) ice skating as a PE course in UP back in '98. Man, my butt must've developed several calluses hitting the ice floor hard many times over. After that, I swore no more ice skating. Bowling was a lot more fun!

So, back to snow tubing. It's like skiing down an icy slope using a round rubber lifesaving raft. First try was a great plunge, like a dive from a rollercoaster without the straps. Second try was with G. Third and last was a solo plunge — not as thrilling as the first but still a heck of a gripping ride. A few hitches, though: One, like any lifesaver, there's a hole in the middle. One's butt thus pokes in the hole. The hitch is the plunge itself with the butt coursing through the icy slope (Yes, wet and chilled). Two, the long queues to get to the top of the hill. Waiting is a drag in any given time; Imagine waiting in freezing cold. Climbing the hill as alternative to waiting in line was not a good idea, either — not with rubbershoes instead of boots on and the 50lb lifesaver to pull up. It turned out like a drill in military school than a time-saving effort.

Three, the price. It's not a cheap thrill, mind you. US$16 for a couple of hours plus US$20 gas to and fro Long Island and food.

Four, unforseen instances (read: misfortunes). Getting caught overspeeding on the freeway, for one. Running 80kph on a 65kph minimum speed is not that bad. Unless, of course, a laser-equipped mobile patrol catches you. It's not entirely my fault; I was just tailing a friend's car — a convoy, if you will. Well, not good enough an excuse, though. Still, at least I got to prove the international driver's license I got from Manila wasn't fake or anything 😉

Overall, the weekend on ice experience was a welcome delight. Cool is an understatement; Fantastic is best to describe the trip. 

It’s a drag to read or watch anything about the Philippines these days. Almost everything is depressing and upsetting, ie the recent bombings, kidnappings, power grabbing, argh! downright ugly.

And the news about a population boom in the Philippines is all the more disquieting. All the talk against contraceptives to favor natural birth control and family planning are a plain bull. It’s one thing we pride ourselves as Asia’s only Catholic country and it’s another if we still base social policies in Jesus’ times.

Bah! Who am I to rant? All I can possibly do is bring out the best Pinoy in me: being wickedly optimistic.

And how to be optimistic with the influx of Pinoys but to find a kababayan in every nook and cranny of the globe and seeing them getting by pretty well, right? Right!

Jessica Zafra theorized a world domination of sorts of Pinay domestics and nannies soon. I agree, but more! I think we’re out to do what was done to us: Colonization (payback time!). If the Philippines produces 2-3% increase of its brown race and a quarter of the population move out to another country a year, Pinoys might just overtake the Indians and the Chinese in no time!

Now that I am in NY, it’s amazing how easy to spot a Pinoy that not even make up, bleached hair, and cosmetic surgery may mask. First, the high pitched voice in a public space, usually spoken on a mobile phone as if to suggest the person on the other end of the line is either deaf or, maybe, non existent (read: walang kausap). The voice is also accompanied by a brag or two with the pitch reaching its peak when a fellow Pinoy walks by.

Two, the familiar Pinoy twang on the all-pervasive American slang. Once let loose in an unfamiliar space, the adaptive Pinoy imbibes everything — from clothes to culture; lifestyle to language — to blend well in. And so if one is thirsty, buying ‘softdrinks’ (in sari-sari store no less) is strange while popping a ‘soda’ is cool; Friends aren’t pare or ‘tol or even berks anymore, they are now dude or bro (not brad!) with the yo! and wazzup! holler on the sides; Taking a pee doesn’t happen in a CR (comfort room) rather in a toilet or restroom; And ‘yes’ becomes ‘yeah’ or ‘uh-huh’, ‘no’ becomes ‘nope’ or ‘nah’, ‘Ay!‘ becomes ‘Ooops!’, and ‘siguro’ becomes ‘I guess’ or ‘whatever, duh!’ if it warrants sarcasm. Moreso, the perennial use of ‘something’ or ‘like…’ as sentence fillers and the konyo Taglish mix! argh. Few people can pull it off, especially the pretty ones (hehehe) but most are all Kris Aquino-like… dangerously annoying! Making worse things worst, the Tagalog words suddenly sound either like tongue twisters or as encrypted entries in Webster’s English Dictionary (eg “It’s okay for them to search my house but barging in to, like, uhm, make kalkal my stuff, it’s not nice!”).

Three, if you see a Caucasian incessantly looking at his or her watch in a station or anywhere, chances are, he or she is waiting for a Pinoy. Need I say more?

Four, when two or more Pinoys talking dead seriously in a corner and in a deep hush, it is highly probable they are either trading gossips or finding fault/ poking fun (eg appearance, clothing, makeup, hairdo, built) on others within proximity. Laitero (if a word exists) ang mga Pinoy. So it is imperative to look best when with a Pinoy. If only Pinoys will have their way, the 11th Commandment would read: Bawal ang pangit!

Perhaps related to #4, five is when one goes inside a Pinoy joint (be it a restaurant or a grocer’s deli), there appears to have a unspoken tension between Pinoys as to who is better off and who has best assimilated in society when, in truth, they eat the same adobo and/or buy the same chicharon.

Of course there are the givens. The tabo and panghilod in the bathroom; The nonverbal gestures (pointing a direction using one’s lips or shaping a rectangle in the air for a bill); The religious icons and school diplomas enshrined on walls; The baon for school or office lunch or snack; Anything long and beaded on the car’s rearview mirror; The stored used grocery bags for take homes and stock piled rolls of tissue for rainy days, and; A sat dish for TFC cable.

Well it’s not bad to have more Pinoys in the world. Fact is, it’s impossible not to, especially during brown, er, blackouts. It is just unmistakably Pinoy.

I'm not rooting for the Aviator come Oscar night. As in most biopics I watched, it proved to be a bit of a bore. Yes, there were the spectacular plane shots, crash scenes, and Hughes's eccentricities that might stir a delight or two from Tim Burton fans. It's not Scorsese's best. I miss the gore and fight scenes that thrilled me in Gangs of New York and Goodfellas. Still, I hope he wins the Best Director award. He deserves one. He is an underrated artist in an overrated industry.

Back to the Aviator. The casting sucked. Why pair Leonardo DiCaprio with Cate Blanchette? It's like watching Vilma Santos and Aga Muhlach in one of those 80s romance-drama Pinoy movies. Hiyaiks! And Leonardo? He'll always be Jack of Titanic — that teenaged bum who got to score an undersexed snob. Nothing more.

My vote goes for Johnny Depp on Finding Neverland and Kate Winslet on Eternal Sunshine. I root for the underdogs. Hilary Swank should run for Best Actor (Boys Don't Cry and now, a boxer in Million Dollar Baby? Something's really amiss!) instead.

Best Picture for Sideways in my book.

God I am turning lazier by the day.

Laid back is too kind, lethargic is so-so, indolent is a bit harsh, and sloth is an overkill a word to describe my state-of-being of late. Lazy is okay, albeit lethal if unchecked.

I wake up way late. Eleven is my clock's number and brunch is my menu in the morning. I lounge around in my peejays 'til about three, either surfing or glued on TV in between, and killing time on the internet to call my day busy.

And to think I am in New-happening-York!

Okay, so I am on vacation. I am licensed to be lazy. But duh! not to a brink of self destruction (eyes rolling here)!

I have my thesis and my grad school application to keep my ass busy with and so far, I have not made any progress at all in both endeavors.

And New York's weather is not of help these days either. Sun's almost a no-show and winter chill justifies my jetlag and bed heating (not warming) — I haven't even been to the city yet, can you imagine?!?!

To make matters worst, my diet's a wreck! My calorie and carb intake is on an all time high and my exercise routine is postponed and on a cob-webbed closet. I have ranted on this in my previous blog but I need to rant on it again like an incessant hammer bang on a non-budging nail.

Yes, I am Juan Tamad in the flesh!

But what I really dread is to walk and see people gawk at me in disgust as if I have a large post-it on my forehead that says Loser! or Bum & Proud Of It like a twisted scene plucked from a Twilight Zone rerun. Just a while back, I drove to Dunkin Donuts and Wendys in a worn-out gym pants, a creased white shirt, and a pair of slippers. I could have been more creative with a gin bottle on one hand and a stolen grocery push cart on the other to pass as a homeless prick, but, nah! I won't push and make pun of myself. Not in New York! I still have a half bloated pride in tact.

Call this an excuse but I am just waiting for good ol' muse to push (no, shove is the word) me to write, and write more. Seriously, I need to get started on my thesis… and believe me, there's no room for anything lazy to beat its deadline soon.

But, for now, I need to take a shower. It's 4 pm. I itch. Now, if I could just lift my ass off this chair…. argh! God, I AM lazy!

When in Rome, do what the Romans do.

Well, in Long Island, NY, they do cardgames — in Filipino diasporas, at least.

The national pinoy cardgame, Tong-its, reigns in the Siton household. But since we dipped our amateur hands in the roundtable, another ubiquitous cardgame commenced:

Pekwa.

If connecting domino tiles (or dots) is for kids, playing pekwa is for adults. It's darn easy. Just throw in the sixes and drop the rest in numeric and type order. First to finish wins and gets to keep the pot of bets. A bet is worth a dollar. So, the more players, the bigger the cash pot. It's easy cash for the cash-strapped winner and a small-time gamble for the willing loser.

It is fun and kills time in an entertaining way.

Two things that bug me, though.

One, playing pekwa hits me with the realization that I am getting old. Yes, my nagging pet-peeve and frustration is in cardgames as well! I remember having Sunday lunches in our Don Antonio backyard with my cousins and immediate relatives. After every hearty lunch, me and my cousins would rent a video or play some silly backyard games while my mom and other adults play, well, pekwa for hours. At P10 per round, the winner rakes in moolah with a few pesos to spare for a half-gallon ice cream for after-dinner dessert. With money as bets and a curse or two flying in between games, we were off limits the pekwa roundtable. And with me now cozily seated in the roundtable, it's hard to dodge the age issue. I'm turning 27 this year (okay, 28!) and to hold and throw cards and be in the game are like rubbing salt in a gangrened wound (Ouch!).

But I think as long as we win, age becomes an oversight 🙂

The thing is, two, it's difficult to win. We're surrounded by cardgame hustlers! Yes, we win games but lose as much. It bugs me in a competitive way. Playing with the Sitons is a challenge, especially if we have limited bucks to bet with.

Well, we're new in the game. I suppose we'll play better and in a more gung-ho fashion in the long run… Mwahahaha (sinister laugh!) 

Oh yes, I'm getting a whole lot of lovin' since leaving Japan almost three weeks ago.

Love handles that is.

A fat and flab build up around my midsection is in progress. I shelved my exercise routine, as well as my low carb-high protein diet; I eat and sleep more, at least while in New York. I'm on vacation, for crying out loud! I can have an unrestrained and unchecked supply and dosage of calorie-rich soda, choclits, pasta, pastry, and pizza without the guilt and the obsessive-compulsive glance at any product's Nutrition Guide label.

Then the sight of love handles. Ugly. Why these bulges become love handles is beyond me. The feel of flab is not exactly something to excite one's sexual drive; Fat is more tasty and tempting within one's gastronomical pleasures, perhaps, but not a wattle to find arousal from.

G is not keeping mum about my lovehandles, either. She gets to drop a line or two (on best-timed occasions, at least) that I am packing in more fat than developing a 6-pack abs.

Browsing over fancy magazines and watching programs (from 900+ channels!) are not much help, too. Torture, even. I endure the sight of flat hard ab Calvin Klein type guys and end up either frustrated or challenged (the former more recurrently).

I miss my gym sessions in Japan. I used to visit thrice a week at least with 10reps, 2sets per machine and a full 30 min/12kph run. I took pride at staying fit and toned. Now, I dread to weigh or measure myself.

Okay, so I need not stay frustrated nor embarrassed.

I need to be challenged.

I've always wanted to try to jog around Central Park. I played this thought over and over while I was on the immobile treadmill in the gym in Japan. But given the proximity between Long Island and NYC, I thought of just running around the Jericho Turnpike block since arriving early this month. Still, with winter chill in linger, I yearn to opt and try the stationary bike beautifully decorated (as it is still unused) beside my bed, instead.

Three weeks after, none materialized (save for a visit in a local gym two weeks ago). Again, the word is frustrating.

Okay, challenge. I need to be challenged.

I'll start slow. Tomorrow, I'll hit the bike. Next week, I'll probably cut my carb intake.

Sounds good, you might say. Well, remind me! 

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