March 2005

Easter. Christ has risen from the dead and redeemed mankind. Men were freed from sins and began a new life.New life. It has a nice ring to it, like a reprieve for a man on deathrow.

I had a made over this week that harbingered an improved me come Easter. I had a haircut Monday; Gone with the old, long hair and hello to a short-cropped, wash-and-wear hairstyle. I confess, I hate having a haircut. It is a risky process with a relative outcome. Worst part is, one is compelled to give tips as if to abet malpractice among barbers. But Monday, I had no complains. After a 10-minute, 12-dollar (plus 3-dollar tip) process, I was driving home with a new look and a satisfied grin on my face.

Then came today. Early today I shaved my goatee off. It was a crucial decision, mind you. I kinda got the hang of the image I was trying to wear: dangerously gwapo (okay, modesty is a virtue I need to learn yet) with the goatee and all. Besides, I grew fond of the protruding goatee strands (heck, I even shampoo and comb 'em). But with my long hair cut short, the goatee seemed out of place and out of character already. Thus the shave off.

Standing in front of the mirror, I looked, well, different — in a good way, of course. The image was a 90s flashback and I liked what I saw (vanity aside).

For the Easter Mass, I opted to tuck my polo shirt. It has been years since the last time I tucked a shirt in a pair of pressed jeans, and today was a good time for a comeback. All was clean and simple.

However superficial the self-improvements are, in analysis, I was going back to basics; to things that were and things that are supposed to be. However hard I try, I'll never be able to shrug off my good-guy persona. No goatee or long hair or leather pants and boots on a Harley me can do so.

This Easter, I took the new out and brought the old in to begin a new me.


He is no Kareem Abdul Jabbar in career-high points or Michael Jordan in best game showmanship but Reggie Miller is one NBA player I respect. Sure, I did label him as a velociraptor look-a-like when I was rooting for LA Lakers to win the 2000 NBA Finals (with the Bryant-O'Neal duo, who wasn't?), but then he was the only scorer from the opposing team to watch out for.

I respect the guy for a number of reasons. I'll only name a couple, remarkable ones at best. First, he has an underdog character. I like the underdogs — simple and modest, no pretentions, nothing ostentatious in getting things done and eventually win good-natured girls in the end. And Reggie Miller's one of them. He was born with a deformity (I think it was his hip or leg) and had to wear leg braces until the age of 4. He pushed himself hard to make up for a slow and painful start and enabled his way through college at UCLA (as varsity, he was second in total score points next to Kareem's record).

Two, he is loyal. He hasn't changed jerseys as most players do since Indiana picked him back in '87. He was 11th draft pick overall with Bull's Scottie Pippen in 5th and Spur's David Robinson in 1st spots. Not bad. I mean, he's no Lebron James for a rookie but since then, he has played for the Pacers breaking Larry Bird's three point record as a rookie in the first season and averaged 24 points in the second. Three years after, he joined the NBA All Stars (beat that!). Although, yeah, Indiana never won an NBA crown, Reggie led the team to its first ever playoff series back in 1994. Now at age 39, his team mates share the same reverence to his leadership and love for the game, referring to him as "Uncle Reggie" (awwww!).

I'm not really a Reggie Miller fan but I like him, nonetheless. I guess he got my attention when he scored 25 points in one quarter against the Knicks in 1994 (or was it '95?). Either the roster of Pacers' players were really lame or Reggie Miller was just that driven. Since then, he was a player to watch out for in my book. In fact, I dread the times when "Miller Time" was on (especially against the Bulls in the '94 Eastern playoffs).

And today is not just a Miller Time but a Miller Day. Reggie hit the NBA league history books after scoring 25,000 career points, leading the Pacers past the Spurs. He joins 12 other players, including Kareem and Jordan, in the league's elite club. And his reaction to this recognition: "It's a nice accomplishment". Gee, how modest can the usual self-absorbed, cocky NBA players get?!?! Not like Reggie, for sure.

It won't be long until Reggie hangs his jersey for retirement — next season, when he turns 40, to be precise. Well, up until then, I suppose we'll see more of Miller Time!

How to ever even begin this entry? There is just too much to rant about. An overwhelming animosity has reached a personal sore point against this woman.

And to even belabor and chew out a mouthful of grudge on my blogspace is already burning the candle at both ends or, in Pinoy vernacular, OA. The adage "Hate must make a man productive. Otherwise one might as well love," is spoken true. This hate blog entry is me being productive.

C'mon, save for her mother, who doesn't hate Kris Aquino?!?!

How many moms have passed on the advice, "If you dislike something that is not good, avoid it"? Well, my mom did but Kris Aquino is just friggin' everywhere! She has splurgely personified pop culture with TV programs, movies, commercials, billboards, newspaper articles, gossip columns, product endorsements, websites, and host of other stuff that has her face or name on it. She is like a shirt stain that won't wash off or a misspelled tattooed word on a bare arm. She is Jolina Magdangal on a higher peeve degree.

I would've happily avoided her omnipresence overseas but no thanx to TFC.

And so having to sit beside G yesterday watching the equally irksome showbiz program Buzz, there she was, in all her self-serving and snooty self, talking at length about how pretty and poised she still appeared despite being sick for two days and undergoing treatment in a local hospital a day prior (gee, how cute! too much lipo, perhaps).

Well, however popular she may get; however endless the endorphins she may derive from flaunting her IQ, Kris Aquino will always be that botoxed, liposucked, nose-lifted, boob-enlarged, balls-crushing, screaming, Carlo-J-Caparas bimbo-slash-bitch who falls for old, balding, and ugly men (dont quote me though. I cant afford lawyers).

What is more disturbing — heck, even perilous — are individuals glorifying Kris Aquino to a dangerous point of idolatry. Imagine young girls molding their lives as future Kris Aquinos in-waiting! Whatever happened to following the ideal pursuits of Salonga, Yorac, Nicolas-Lewis, Natori, Magsaysay-Ho, Rosales, Hagedorn, Pedrosa, or even the other Aquino? Come on, are we supposed to let someone whose best book ever read was Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline lord over our lives almost 24/7?

Let's raise the bar a little higher, please.

Am I right or am I right? Corrrreeeeeect!!! 

I was crushed.

My heart bleeds for Pacquiao and his recent defeat against Morales.

I was rooting heavily on Pacquiao to win not because I am a Pinoy (well, to a certain extent, yes) but because I believe in him. He is, as the HBO commentators attest, a warrior. A poor boy from the South who, yet according to the commentators (in digging up some facts as prep for the main event), peddled yosi in the streets of Manila to make both ends meet. He boxed to survive. His passion to box is for life itself. I suppose all boxers are. Mike Tyson was a lawbreaker and a high school kickout in the Bronx before he was plucked from a youth institution to box; Cassius Clay had to learn how to box to reclaim his stolen squeeky bike, which he used to pedal blocks away from his small house to school to become Muhammad Ali; Sugar Ray Leonard had to win boxing matches to defer rising medical bills incurred by his ailing dad; Joe Frazier worked his ass off working in a squalid slaughterhouse to support his own family after getting married at the age of 15! He boxed at nights after work in a local gym to earn bets for extra cash.

Pacquiao is no different. He was poor and used it as a motivation to win boxing matches. And despite his new found millions and fame, I saw on TV how he shares his money with the poor and remains rooted in his past, faith, and values. How can one not throw in all possible support to such character?

And so with every jab, punch, blow, hit, nudge, strike, and thrust on Pacquiao's cut, bruised, and bloodied face translated to a heavy wince, cringe, and recoil from Pinoys; And all offensives against Morales became moments of pride and respect to a poor guy from the South who shouldered and burdened upon himself the same pride and respect of an equally poor nation on a battle ground in a foreign land (how profound can I possibly get?).

Never mind if I stayed up late to catch the match. Never mind if it was a $50 pay-per-view TV special. Never mind if I stood witness to a 12-round gorefest (I grew up watching WWF, anyway). Never mind if I ended up with a hoarse voice (from shouting my lungs out) and in a depressed state-of-mind.

It was all worth it. I will sleep tonight as I did after Pacquiao's matches with Ledwaba, Barrera, Marquez, and Fahsan: Proud to be Pinoy!

Pacquiao is a true warrior; A source of pride. And in my book, he is a winner, a champion. 

We are starting fresh. A clean slate — the hamper, that is.

Today was laundry day.

After a late breakfast of cream cheese-smothered toast and a TV rerun, G and I went to a coin laundry station nearby, soiled clothes-stuffed duffel bags in tow. The bags numbered to four with clothes separated according to wash-type (eg whites, coloreds, knitted, etc.). G, the self-confessed laundry person (given the choice between washing or pressing clothes) had everything expertly sorted out. Yes, I admit, she does my laundry back in Japan. And save for a couple of white shirts turning pink, she has mastered the art of doing laundry. The washing machine back in our Japan apartment concurs. And if it were her slave, she would do her bidding without any feelings of remorse, discontent, displeasure, or even abuse.

Here in NY, the laundry expert in G endures. Too much of an expert in fact that she volunteers to do her sister's heap of laundry too! And so instead of washing one, we ended up washing four bags full of dirty clothes. No complains, though. We didn't have anything else to do anyway but to kill time in front of TV today.

At the coin laundry, the smell of detergent and softener blanket the air. There are five areas in the elongated space: (1) Rows of washing machines and (2) dryers, (3) two-layered boards for folding, (4) a laundry counter, where one can buy detergents, softeners, and other laundry paraphernalia. One can also store his washed clothes ready for pick-up later; (4) a waiting area where a row of seats and newspaper and magazines are located. TVs are also installed to kill boredom. And if you get hungry or thirsty, (5) vending machines are on standby. The coin laundry is an excellent social place as well to befriend neighbors and strangers who, like G, share passtime passion doing laundry. How many sitcoms can one think of with coin laundry as backdrops? Friends for one with Ross and Rachel flirting around in between wash and rinse and around clothes carts and baskets.

At $2.50 per wash and a dollar per spin-dry load, we ended up spending 20 bucks to finish the entire laundry (did I mention we had two extra bags of towels and more whites?). I had to haul six bags back to the house and man! they were a heavy lot to carry.

After folding a heapful of clothes (that took hours to finish!) and neatly putting them in order and on the newly-washed-clothes basket, a sense of accomplishment commenced. It felt good to dirty my hands and carry the laundry load (literally, too!) that I had to give more respect and credit to G and her laundry fixation.

Now that the hamper's clean and empty, we're starting a virtually clean slate stay in NY.

Putting Morgan Spurlock's edifying docu Super Size Me aside, honestly, fast food is, and will always be, a part of everybody's life. It is convenient, always available, and affordable without the usual hassles of cooking, baking, or any activity inside a kitchen.

In one of those lazy afternoons, G and I ate snacks at a Burger King joint after spending long a time in a local Borders bookstore and came up with a list of fast food items that fit right in our pop culture-doused palate. Turns out we have our own preferences (save for a couple):

Favorite Cheeseburger
D & G: Tropical Hut cheeseburger. No other burger beats the classic.

Favorite Fries
D: KFC. I like my fries thick.
G: Twister Fries and Mc Shaker (McDee's) and Potato Fries

Favorite Chicken
D & G: Jollibee Chicken Joy and gravy overload!

Favorite Ice Cream
D: Wendy's Frosty or McFlurry Butterfinger (McDee's)
G: McFlurry M&Ms (McDee's)

Favorite Burger
D: Wendy's Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich or Burger King's Angus Ranch Double Beef Burger
G: McDee's McChicken Sandwich

Favorite Breakfast
D: McDee's Longganisa Meal. The egg is a bit overcooked but if you mash and mix it with the fried rice and put a squirt of ketchup… yumyum.
G: Jollibee's Longganisa Meal

Favorite Pizza and Pasta
D: Sbarro's Baked Ziti with white & meat sauces and chicken parmigiana or CPK's Fetuccini Alfredo (okay, that doesn't qualify as fast food)
G: Sbarro's white cheese pizza or Sbarro's Spaghetti with white sauce and chicken parmigiana

Favorite Dessert
D: Starbuck's Oreo cheesecake. It's a sin eating one (no sharing!).
G: Ube cake (Red Ribbon)

Favorite Drink Other Than Soda
D: Lemonade, preferrably bottomless.
G: Iced Tea and McFloat

Favorite Rice Meal Other Than Chicken
D: Salisbury Steak with mushroom gravy
G: Fried Bangus with vinegar (Red Ribbon)

Favorite Condiment Other Than Ketchup
D: Parmesan and Chili Powder
G: Mayonnaise (for my McDee's fries)

There ya go! Of course nothing is definite. Taste buds are a fickle lot and so, tomorrow we might have a new list (and another blog entry altogether)…

Current affairs hit an opinionated nerve again.

News about a day-long prison standoff in Manila ended in a shootout between prisoners and police, resulting to 23 dead and criticisms afire. The prison takeover started with a jailbreak attempt by some Abu Sayyaf leaders by overpowering guards and gaining control of ammos. How that happened is beyond me. My idea of prison guards is The Rock, Michael Duncan, or Shaq. But I reckon there aren't too many bouncer-type Pinoys out there. Prison guards probably took the Angelo Dela Cruz form — overworked, underpaid, haggard, malnourished, and poor; Or probably like Chief Clancy Wiggum (of the Simpsons fame) — overworked, underpaid, haggard, potbellied, corrupt, and incompetent.

In contrast, the Abu Sayyaf prisoners were driven by a motive (however evil that may be), prepared (intelligence reports say a breakout was planned as early as last year), and determined. Never mind if they are ill-fed, unfit, and undersexed (all the more reason to be driven to escape), what mattered was to carry out a mission, conviction, or any Dr. Evil-inspired plot.

Of course this may be reduced to good versus evil. Black or white. Right or wrong. The authorities being good and the prisoners as bad.

But all I can think of was the actual shootout. A batallion with assault firearms and weapons against 5 armed prisoners and 30 or less prison supporters. How many bullets did they fire before they were outshot by the police? It was probably a field day for the police to aimlessly pull triggers and get into the action. With busted lights and earsplitting gunshots and teargas afloat in the air, the situation was like a scene plucked from the 1994 Oliver Stone classic Natural Born Killers. And all that blood and gore! whoa! Carlo J. Caparas was probably not afar, busy conceptualizing a movie and his infamously long, inspiring-scornful-pity, God-calling titles. The Bicutan Shootout Tragedy: Lord, Our Father, Save Us! would be a good one.

The fact that it took 27 hours to negotiate and a bloodbath to end the crisis reflect the incompetence and inefficiency of the Philippine police. The prisoners were clearly outnumbered in men and ammo. It was pure overkill, plain and simple. Now, the unsolved criminal cases brought about by past or recent terrorist acts of the Abu Sayyaf prisoners are now good as, well, dead. 

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