Monday, September 30, 2002

a tough call

The situation: Nikki and I love musicals and this upcoming trip to New York allows us the chance to watch one. Why just one? Two reasons - tickets are expensive and we’re not staying in New York City but at ski lodge in Ellicotville upstate (closer to Buffalo), so we’ll actually be there only for an evening.

So which show to watch? Thanks to, we know what's showing, so here are the finalists:


A terrible water shortage has crippled the Gotham-like town that serves as the setting for Urinetown. In a mad attempt to regulate water consumption, the government has outlawed the use of private toilets. The citizenry must use public, pay-for-use amenities owned and operated by the corrupt and iron-fisted Caldwell B. Cladwell. The privilege to pee is expensive, draining and dangerous. Anyone who refuses to pay to pee is immediately and without question hauled off to Urinetown. What is Urinetown? Nobody knows, for those who are sent there are never heard from again. But it's really a love story and there's a revolution all before the end of Act I. Will the revolution succeed? Can true love be found in Urinetown? All these questions and more are answered in Urinetown.

Comment: Well, I was piqued by this show since last year when I downloaded the songs from it, and it did win the Tony for Best Musical, but compared to the competition it doesn’t hold much water.


"Murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery--all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts." So begins the musical Chicago--and creators John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse never back off from their bold and sinister promise. Chicago is the kiss-and-tell tale of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who kills her lover as a career move; Billy Flynn, a sharp lawyer who turns Roxie into a celebrity; and Velma Kelly, a dancing jailbird with an ear for headlines and an eye for talent. Chicago, winner of six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, is a loving look back at vaudeville, a timely satire of the justice system, and a reminder of what great theater can be.

Comment: Actually, this show would be a shoo-in if Bebe Neuwirth were still playing the lead. Nikki and I love the music so much and like the excerpts we’ve seen. But it isn’t Bebe anymore, so the chances of “All That Jazz” playing in our heads in NYC is dim.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods blends five of Grimms famous fairy tales with an original story of a childless Baker and his Wife, who attempt to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child. The show features the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack the Giant Killer as it explores what happens after the happily ever after. This won Best Revival of a Musical this year.

Comment: Love Sondheim, love the libretto, loved the video. We even watched Repertory Philippines’ little version years ago. We’re already bewitched so most likely, this is it.

Mamma Mia!

A musical with a disco beat, Mamma Mia! features the music of Swedish singing group ABBA. The setting is a Greek island where 20 year old Sophie is due to be married. Her mom, Donna (who happens to be a former singing star) is there. But Sophie's father is not present because she is not sure who he is. So, Sophie researches mom's diary and chooses three former lovers as likely candidates and invites them to the wedding, thinking she will figure it out when she sees them. Donna is a bit non-plussed to be visited by the gathering of old flames.Mamma Mia! by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, features the popular songs “The Winner Takes It All,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take A Chance on Me,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and more. British playwright Catherine Johnson penned the book.

Comment: My sister Reb saw this at West End and raved. How could you go wrong with a concept like this? We might take a chance on this.

The Lion King

The Lion King is the story of a young lion cub named Simba who struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destined role as king. To bring the classic 1994 film to life, Disney turned to the story's roots, its rich mythology, powerful human drama and primal African rhythms to create a fantastic new musical unlike anything Broadway has ever seen. Winner of 6 1998 Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, The Lion King is an adventure into another world.

Comment: Beautful staging and costumes, and Best Musical too. But really, the story of the Lion King was just blah. I’d rather see “Beauty & the Beast”.

The Verdict: Into the Woods

Why? Because we love fairy tales and Sondheim. I know, I know, it’s a safe choice, but we’re sure to love it. The back-up is Mamma Mia!, for all its curious ABBA goodness. Now to get tickets!

question (8 of 100)

Q: Okay, for some God-awful reason, you must decree the eradication of 3 animals on Earth (and not have to worry about the imbalance of food chains, biodiversity or protests from various NGOs). What 3 animals would go bye-bye forever?

A: Easy. All the snakes, cockroaches and centipedes in the world. (I'll have you know, Nikki, that I did not select sharks out of great love for you. You can condemn frogs on your own time.) Naturally, I approach my answers to this question based on ickiness factor, because a more rational answer would include malaria-bearing mosquitos and various viruses (if they can be considered animals). Snakes are not just icky, they're real bad news, with their bites and reticulated strangulations and creepy slithering. Cockroaches, especially flying ones, simply must go - I foresee no advocacy for their total annihilation. As for the centipedes, well, they're poisonous and they way they move is just too much for a fragile mind to bear.

Last week, I postponed for this week all the sickening moves I had to perform to keep my business on an even keel. This includes restructuring my complement of designers, writers, managers and other staff, and refocusing on certain business elements to retain our little advantages in the niche we’ve positioned ourselves in. The nausea I feel has to do with letting staff go because of the necessary changes I’m implementing. It’s one of things I most actively resent about being the boss, these moments of bitter power when a word from me spells termination in no uncertain terms. The last time I did this when I worked for another company in Hong Kong, I was literally in tears. I felt that the company had let me and my staff down, but ultimately I had to become the hatchet man – I was the GM of that office. Now that I have my own outfit, the pain has not lessened. In fact, I feel it even more magnified now because I have no other entity to blame but myself and how I run the show – despite the horrible market conditions and other extenuating circumstances. It boils down to a one-on-one with whoever and the unavoidable conclusion, like a car careening towards a concrete post – inevitable and sad.

Some of my peers I’ve spoken to (who own their own businesses or head the businesses of others) say that I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, regardless of my personal feelings. To keep up a professional mien. To not take it personally. I understand all of that, of course.

But it still makes me feel sick.
yes! it's stark raving mad

At last our friend Marco has his own blog! You can go there to check out his infectious zaniness and read up on his reviews on anime and thoughts on a variety of things. He's one hell of a funny guy. For more of his lovely flying girl, click this.

her name is lola (siony)

Remember the old woman who’d greet me every morning when I passed by her stall? Today I decided to take control of my stride and slowed my pace to leisurely stroll as I approached her area. Her eyes crinkled and lit up as she greeted me, then looked down as she usually did, expecting no more than an echo of the same sentiment on my part. Instead, I asked her what her name was. Surprised, she smiled and told me it was “Siony”. I told her my name, grinned and moved on.

While thinking what her proper name could be (possibly Asuncion or Poblacion or something like that), I realized that not only were my steps lighter, but that I had learned the mundane name of the most secret of common things – a stranger; and that if I continue to control the cadence of my morning walk, I could one day muster enough courage to ask her why she was crying on that one particular morning.

y sus videos también

When I got to the office, my partner surprised me copies of the films I’ve been pestering him for the longest time – Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Amores Perros” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien”. Of course, you’ve heard or read about these films like I have, but tonight Nikki and I get to indulge in a little español – after all, todo necesitamos son las astillas de papa, softdrinks y una mochila de cigarrillos de Marlboro.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

the price of words

Sometimes, a story or a play or a poem comes to my mind almost fully-formed – from the beginning to the end, with practically all the bells and whistles. When this happens, it simply a matter of typing fast enough before the vision flees, piling words upon scenes upon verses as my fingers struggle to catch up with the dictation from my brain. Then it becomes a matter of editing, judicious addition or subtraction of a little of this or that, a general spit-and-polish, and I’m done. Around 20% of my writing can be attributed to these circumstances, when inspiration arrives full-force and delivers a complete work.

Most of the time though, I begin (or end – because sometimes I write the endings first) something while in the rapture of a wonderful idea. I am excited, I am empowered, I am driven. Then the inspiration flees and I am left to my own devices. During those circumstances, eking out every word is like painful bleeding, and it feels like I'm pounding my head against unyielding stone in a vain attempt to dislodge wonder. I resort to techniques and tricks I’ve learned from reading authors I admire or developed on my own. Ways of selecting a more evocative word or phrasing a sentence in a sexier manner or constructing an elegant paragraph with no trace of the struts and boards that balance it; deliberately counting the meter of a poem or setting up an invisible sequence of metatextual references; writing dialogue that reads great and sounds even better spoken or adjudicating the traffic of characters in all the scenes of a play.

During these times, writing becomes less inspiration and more hard work. It becomes a matter of craft to be able to scale the white monitor wall imposed by fading inspiration, and filling up the black spaces with words that make sense, ring true and are aesthetically pleasing.

When I finish a piece of that sort, I am prouder of myself compared to how I feel when I put the finishing touches on something almost purely inspired – because I bled and trembled for every word on a work I had to build from scratch, rather than coasted on the inconsistent gifts on brilliance.

Right now, I have three items of fiction, restless and murmuring sordid gossip among themselves in my “unfinished stories” folder and a script translation from English to vernacular Filipino to complete. Soon, I must steel myself for the inevitable bloodbath as I use what I have to nail them down to precise words and imagery.

If I survive the ordeal, then my Tiq’Barang detective will finally solve her case, the Thief of Hinirang will finally be given the directive to steal someone’s heart, L’eteronautas will finally breach the gate of the Indios’ heaven and battle the gods of the land and the heroes of TextMen will finally speak Tagalog.

But not yet, not now.

I’m hoping for inspiration.
food and song

Over dinner with with Mike, Jason and Marco last night, I told them that Nikki and I were bored to tears by Mamoru Oshii's Metropolis. We gave the film around 40 minutes and were very impressed by the sophisticated level of animation - I agree, in those terms it's up there with Akira. However, the writing was not sound, the dialogue almost always expository, the characters had the personality of a dial tone, and the pacing made my stubble grow. I concede to all its visual merits, but really, I'd take something like Laputa or My Neighbor Totoro any day. Talk went on to encompass tongue length, collaborative writing, and how we'd handle a sci-fi story featuring a robot that yearns to be free (and how, given the fact that story tropes like that are done to death, it falls to how the story is told that makes it worthwhile). After that, Carl joined Mike and myself until the wee hours of the morning at a videoke joint.

at great cost

Still on films: I first saw "Battle Royale" during its theatrical run in Hong Kong and distinctly remember feeling shock, revulsion, amusement, excitement, intellectual graitification and awe as I watched it. When the film ended, everyone in the theatre gave it a standing ovation. It immediately made the Top 10 Best Films for me. When I got back to Manila, I shared it with my friends who were similarly affected in various degrees. Later, it received a limited run in an independent series of film screenings and more people got to appreciate it. Anyway, Marco told me that there was going to be a sequel, but that the situation was both wonderful and tragic. Here's what I found:

The good is so good, but the bad is so bad that it out-shadows the good, what terrible news for director Kinji Fukasaku...........

Aint it Cool News reports, "BUNTA here with some very sad, yet still inspiring news, in the world of Japanese film. Nipponese news services are announcing today that during yesterday's press conference for BATTLE ROYALE 2 in Tokyo, Kinji Fukasaku (director of films as awesome and diverse as BATTLE ROYALE, FIGHT WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY, and BLACK LIZARD) announced that he is ill with cancer. "

"The 72 year old director was originally diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 1996 and quickly recovered. Now it has returned and has spread to his bones and spinal column. Facing a regime of radiation treatments, the doctors have advised him not to work on another film. "

"But Kinji says he is going to do BR2 any ways, saying words to the effect that he'd like to use up the rest of his remaining time making movies. "

"Kinji, as always, remains a fighter. Wish him and his family the best."

"Principal photography on BATTLE ROYALE 2 will begin in December and the film is slated for release in summer 2003."

as snow as blood

Over at the Hey Comics! Group, a question has been raised about the availability of Nikki's down-and-dirty fairy tale opus, "As Snow, As Blood". These seven or eight flash movies were work-for-hire for another entity, and are therefore no longer ours, per se (we retain owndership in terms of authorship). We do have copies of the episodes, but I think it would be inappropiate for us to make them available, except for very private viewing for friends and such. The corpus is very disturbing and not suitable for public viewing, after all - which is why it was made available via a pay site, for those individuals with certain...tastes. As for the Harem (who were the direct inspiration for the eponymous characters that appeared in The Lost), we have only a copy of the first episode, though I think a small number were also produced.

news on the lost#3

On the same list, a question was posted regarding the final issue of The Lost. I've decided, pending extenuating circumstances, to release The Lost#3 as a free PDF file for people who want it. The primary reason is financial, as the cost for printing a 56-page comic book has truly become out of reach, especially in the context of priorities. Rather than let the issue go to limbo because I want to wait to have enough extra disposable income to produce it, I'd rather give it away digitally this coming December, as a sort of Christmas gift for those our readers who liked the story. The entire issue has art by Arnold Arre, Toogy's story by Nikki and the main story by me. The way I constructed the final issue reveals my penchant for denial of closure - well, I guess you'll find out soon enough.

Speaking of comic-writing, Jason and I are working on something new and hopefully it will see the light of day - if not here, then in some other country. I'll leave it to him to fill you in on the details over at his blog, if he's in a good mood. This is in addition for a small number of other projects I'm working on with other creators, much of which I hope to show next year.


Still on the topic of local comics, I was informed that a new comicbook came out a couple of days ago - Choco Chips/Cinnamon Chips, a manga-esque little book by a group of young Filipinos, scheduled for a monthly release. The product is printed on high quality glossy paper and retails for P80. Once again, while I do support almost every little bit of effort by various entities or individuals to create local comics, my bias against a lack of national identity rears its ugly head. Gerry A. best voices most of my opinions in post on his blog called "Culture Crash and Me".

Ultimately, it will a partial matter of Erwartungshorizont or the application of literary criticism's "horizon of expectation" - a term used by Hans Robert Jauss to denote the criteria which readers use to judge literary texts in any given period. It is a crucial aspect of his aesthetics of reception (designating shared assumptions attributed to any given generation of readers), constituing judgements made in a trans-subjective way. What this means, simply put, is that the literature of one age is judged, valued and interpreted by its contemporaries, but the views of that age do not necessarily establish the value of text definitively. Neither meaning nor value is permanently fixed, because the horizons of expectation of each generation will change. What that means to me is that while this spate of manga-esque "Filipino" comics dominate the industry space, it will be the test of time (and future critics and readers) who will attribute value to it. Proponents of manga will naturally argue for its value, while people like me will categorically state that it isn't Filipino. Only the future will decide if the manga products of this age are truly Filipino, as the horizon changes after our generation. To me, the value of these "Filipino" manga is that more people are reading. The downside crux is that it isn't Filipino, in terms of art; it isn't Filipino in terms of being able to truthfully ascribe the notion of locality and national identity in its writing ( I don't think they are even aware that they are perpetuating the marginalization of the "Filipino" vis-a-vis extra-national influence); and the writing, in terms of sensibilities or even technique, is just either non-existent or simply lacking to the extent of being moronic.

Generally speaking, I honestly think a bunch of simians could write better.


return to might and magic

In the meantime, Nikki has reinstalled Heroes of Might & Magic IV and naturally I am envious. It's sad really, this envy of mine, because we both completed the game months ago (even downloaded new scenarios) and enjoyed it immensely, then moved on to other new games like Neverwinter Nights. But when I see her playing it, it's like it's completely new and I want to play too! I know it's a temporary feeling though - or is it? Sometimes I take a step back to observe what goes on in my head and I have to laugh. Gah.
think about it

"You are only as good as your last work," I told Mike when we got to talking about awards and if these continue to be personally relevant. I do not place too much importance in awards, or if I do, it is in some specific context (for example, if there is some proud bastard who flaunts his award or two around, I hit over the head with mine). Awards are good to have but you shouldn't believe your own press release. Look at the trophy, place it on your wall or mantle and create something new.

Mike then said that it was easy for Noel and I to talk that way, having won several ourselves (Noel's films have been awarded and much-lauded and were even shown in Berlin).

Well, maybe he's right. But really, to some people, winning an award or two can spell the end of an otherwise prolific creative career because they tend to focus on past glories.

Either that, or I'm still smarting over not winning a Palanca Award this year. Heh.

Saturday, September 28, 2002


At the recently concluded 19th Young Painters Annual, a prestigious national painting competition for artists 35 years and under mounted by the Metrobank Foundation Inc, art critic Emmanuel Torres noted that the theme most recurrent in the artworks was critical of our nation’s condition.

“[It] is by turns ironic, joyless, elegiac,” Torres says. “The dominant theme is one of perpetual sorrow in need of perpetual help in a postcolonial, postmodern, post-Asian bubble Philippines.”

The works of young people, one might have expected that the entries would be bursting with optimism, reinforcing mostly the positive or, at least, conveying a sense of youthful spunk. In general, however, what can be gleaned from the entries are images so disturbing and so depressing, one wonders if the youth themselves have become resigned to the reality that what lies ahead is a future as dim as that depicted in their artworks.

Is this so surprising? You should read the fiction.
biking with dogs

When I was in grade school, I used to ride my bicycle to school. I lived in Greenhills and my school, La Salle, was only a village and half away. I’d ride with one hand on the handles and the other on my green briefcase (a gift from my mother that I took inordinate pride in) while my black lunchbox swung behind me. The trick, of course, was balance. It wasn’t too hard when I was biking in a straight line, but it was murder when I had to make turns, necessitating shifting handle-hand, briefcase-hand and lunchbox from one side to the other. I used to wear leather shoes to school and once in a while one foot or the other would slip on the pedals, due to the texture, curvature and nature of leather shoes.

Especially trying would be the days when certain dogs would give chase. I hated having to pass through a particular street because the nasty dogs there, if they were of the mood, would start barking the moment I entered their line of sight. I would speed up in an effort to outrun them, aiming for the next corner – because for some reason, they refused to go beyond that point, as if an invisible barrier physically prevented them from crossing.

Inevitably, the day came when the stupid dogs gave chase, and with only a few meters to safety, my foot slipped on the pedal and I fell. I was in panic and expected to be savaged by the two dogs. Instead, they devoured the spilled contents of my lunchbox and growled at each other while I scurried to the safe corner. Moments later, their flustered owner came running, shooed them away, apologized to me and helped me pick up my briefcase and empty lunchbox. Instead of a horrible mauling, I had a scraped elbow and knee and no lunch.

I remember thinking how lucky I was to get out alive. Until lunch time came and I had nothing to eat.

career path
question (7 of 100)

Q: If you could choose the career for your child, would you? The conceit is that science has a way to guarantee that if, for example, you want your child to be a doctor or a poet, certain painless treatments can be performed in infancy to guarantee the necessary skills and interest required by the career path.

A: Absolutely not. I want my daughter to have the freedom to choose what she wants to be when she grows up, to be able to determine her own fate and find her own bliss. However, I’d be dishonest if I don’t say that I do wish her career choice would be something that allowed her financial independence – so she can have the comfort of money and not need to rely on lover or husband to provide for her. I also would be happy if her choice reflects a propensity towards the arts, something that is creative. But with that all said, should she decide to be an actuary, well that’s good too. As long as she chose it.

My angst here is that my initial career path was foisted upon me. I was to be a doctor or a lawyer (here in the Philippines, the generation of my parents thought that only the following professions were worth becoming: doctor, lawyer, engineer or owning your own business; anything else was spurious and a waste of time and effort, perhaps even implying an inability on their part to provide for educational opportunities). All I wanted to do was to write. So of course I rebelled, ultimately shifting courses in college without their knowledge and approval.

What about you?

(Neat graphic Victoriana.Com, A Victorian Antique Marketplace)

My little daughter has been feverish again and we discover that she has a total of 4 teeth coming out (two top front and two bottom front, whatever they're called). Incredible. Things are really moving so fast. This time, I'm not panicked at all since I'm told that majority of babies experience fever when they're teething. I can't wait to see her smile when she has these whites come out.

She has also conquered her chromophobia and now happily crawls on the interlocking rainbow alphabet mat (Nikki tells me that the technical term for what Sage is doing is actually "creeping" - which is moving more with your tummy that your limbs). While crawling (or creeping - it's really strange, when I think of "creeping" I think of domino-masked robbers skulking about) around her mat, she found a single black ant and tried to quash it with her hands. My reaction was first "oh, how wonderful", swiftly followed by "oh my god, why are there ants near the baby?!".

In related news, Sage's 3-year-old boyfriend Bren (who calls me "Daddy" and Nikki "Mommy") is revealed to be child on an unhappy and uncertain home, with his real daddy reportedly having a little extra-curricular activities. Normally I pay no attention to rumors such as this, but it just made me feel so bad for the little boy.

Friday, September 27, 2002

survivor 5.2

Sigh. Nowhere as exciting as I hoped but still, I find myself more intrigued by this bunch than the yoyos of Marquesas. One tribe is the underdog, and the physically stronger tribe are self-destructive. In a nutshell, Tanya was voted off the island, sick girl that she is. The next episode holds the promise of violence which would be a welcome respite from this episode’s tedium.

More interesting is this article from ABS-CBN. Is there really going to be a ‘Survivor’ in Siquijor? Our lady President seems to think so.

scene from "bone deep", a script in development

(EXT GRAVEYARD, EVE. Open on long shot of a GRAVEYARD, pockmarked almost haphazardly with gravestones. The moon is hidden by slow moving clouds and a fine mist is suspended in the air. The camera follows the movement of JAMES, a portly man in his forties, picking his way angrily through the markers. He is carrying a shovel in one hand and a lantern in the other. Behind him, floating in the air, is the SKULL.

SKULL: Fek if I’ll have ye swing yon attitude al’nite long wi’ me. D’hear me, James-me-boy? I kenna imagine any other scal’wag who’d’’ve the gumption to drag a soul out ona night li'this. Tisn't proper t'all, James-me-boy, not t'all.

JAMES: Shut up.

SKULL: Well fek me silly if'a'ye acts that way t'wards me.

JAMES: Shut up.

SKULL: Fek off.

JAMES: Shut up.

They reach a large GRAVESTONE. We cannot read the inscription. The SKULL floats around it, casting an eerie light.

JAMES: Stop that.

SKULL: A'jess tryin to be helpful. Corpse light, ye ken?

JAMES: Just stop it.

SKULL: Fek ye.

JAMES begins to dig. The SKULL bobs around. Rain. The SKULL sings.

SKULL (singing):
If ye loved me then ye'd show how deep a'went
down down down ta'yer bones
A boney bony bo-bo-boney loves li'that
It runs deep a'true beyond skin
an'vein an'is hard hard hard
li'love ought ta be

JAMES stops digging. ECU on JAMES face. His face struggles with some deep emotion. JAMES takes up the song.

JAMES (singing):
For our love cuts to the bone
trumps the heart and lodges deeper

JAMES and the SKULL (singing)
Deeper deeper deeper
Within the bones

JAMES continues digging.

SKULL: D'ye find her yet?

JAMES: Shut up.

SKULL: Ah, fek ye.


the tagalog word for wasp

Nikki and I had midnight coffee with Mike, Carl, Marco, Noel and as usual conversation took surreal twists and turns. We spoke about how Wasted the Movie was doing and our little part in it. Anyway, towards the end of the evening I asked what the tagalog word for wasp was.

Well," said Carl, "Bubuyog is honeybee and putakti is bumblebee."

"No, no," said Mike. "Putakti is the word for wasp."

"That's right," Marco agreed, sipping the dregs of his bottomless soda.

"No!" cried Noel. "The word for wasp is palaka!"

And so our night ended with visions of angry frogs buzzing away into the early morning rain.

question (6 of 100)

Q: You’ve just finished a project and are on your way to the bank to cash the check payment for P50,000 (US$1000). On your way there, you pass an old woman cradling a very sick child, her eyes closed, praying. You overhear her prayer – “Please God, send me enough money to take my child to the hospital”. You cash your check and walk back, pleased. It’s a tidy sum. You pass the woman again. You go one block further before you notice that you’ve dropped the envelope where you placed your newly received cash. You rush back and stop when you see the woman standing up, tears of joy rushing down her face, praising God for the exact amount of money she needed for her child. It is, of course, your money. The bills are still bound in the bank’s billslip and the envelope is on the ground hear her feet. What do you do?

A: I’d get the money and feel really bad – but it is MY money, after all. Then I’d talk to her and ask exactly how much she needs. If it’s less than 10% of what I have, I’ll give it. But I just can’t give everything no matter how compassionate or charitable I am. Sadly, I’ll probably even think that maybe she took it from my bag or something like that. The horrible thing about a scenario like this is that you have no escape. If you decline to help, you’re a BAD person.

My friend, Leah, just said that "Stupidity is not part of faith".

What do you think?
good to read

kushiel's dart

Last night, I picked up a novel Nikki had finished reading, "Kushiel's Dart" by Jacqueline Carey. Knowing my propensity for loathing new fantasy books (with the exception of work from Ursula Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Robert Silverberg and Guy Gavriel Kay), Nikki raised an eyebrow and told me I'd like it. I love it. How to describe... This is from the site:

"Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phèdre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she's trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure and above all, the ability to observe, remember and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy... and unlikely heroine. But when Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very existence of Terre d'Ange, she has no choice."

The best conceit is that the heroine is an anguissette - a masochist, in a world where pain is too easily given. Masterfully written, dark and challenging, this book won the Locus Award for Best First Novel

the golem's mighty swing

I also browsed through my little growing collection of comic trade paperbacks and reread what must have been one of the best comics of last year - The Golem's Mighty Swing by James Sturm. It is the story of Jewish baseball players and the season in which they introduce a golem in their team. The very simplicity of the artwork works with the razorsharp writing, producing a work of many textures.

true swamp

But my favorite mindbenders I that return to every once in a while are a couple of books by Jon Lewis - True Swamp: Underwoods and Overtime, and True Swamp: Stoneground and Hillbound. These are meditations on identity, life, death, love, friendship, loyalty, ambition, learning, belonging, fantasy, and so much more, seen through the eyes of animals. A funny animal story this is absolutely not.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

shave and a haircut

One of the little things I look forward to is my biweekly barbershop maintenance visit. I used to have long hair that I kept in a ponytail, but since last year I've favored this severely cropped look - the equivalent of setting number 1 on the electric razor. Around three days before my scheduled maintenance cut, I let my stubble grow out (normally, I shave every day or every other day if I want to impress a certain "artist" look upon a client for my business). My barber, Raul, is a master of the straight-edge razor and other assorted implements of his craft.

We begin with the haircut. He uses an electric razor for the most part, shaving off the wild excess of hair that two weeks bring. Then he shifts to small scissors for the fine tuning and the straight edge for the patillas on the sides. Then he seeks any stray hairs that dare not conform to the pattern of his cut and trims them down to appropriate length.

Then the shave. He begins by applying some salve on my forehead, cheekbones, nosetip and chin and gives me a gentle massage. Then, he spreads a hot towel on my face, beginning with the area under my nose and chin then wrapping the steaming cloth in an "x" form over my eyes. The heat is striking at first, but the coolness swiftly sets in. He removes it and lathes my face with shaving foam, leaves it for a while to soften the stubble, and wipes it away with another hot towel. Then the shave starts.

The feel of a straight razor against my skin is almost a sinful pleasure. The imagined threat of my barber's hand slipping, the possibility of metal quickly cutting and silently slicing under my skin, the feel of the blade as it scrapes up my throat - these are part of the ritual almost every man goes through and silently enjoys. There is a freedom in submitting yourself to the skill of your barber. In those exquisite moments of exposure, of eyes-closed helplessness, there is a relaxing tension of what could be, what could happen - but doesn't.

The massage afterwards is a gentle dénouement, a whisper of endings, a return to the glare of light and noise.

After I pay at the counter, I head back and slip my barber a little tip, as thanks.

And I leave, shorn and refreshed, a little poorer - as if I left a house on the floating world...

The more you struggle
the deeper the rope cuts
(it’s a fact of life – like quicksand)
I only want to talk
Yes, just like this
You, on the floor
Me, kneeling in front of you
In adoration.

I’ve always liked your eyes
The fleck of color that
Is an accident of genes
(it’s a fact of science – like skin tones)
I just want to see you see me
Yes, just like this
You, staring in disbelief
Me, kneeling in front of you
In adoration.

Of course
It’s about love
Now you understand my helplessness
(it’s a fact of emotion – like rapture)
I want you to understand
Yes, just like this
You, knotted by metaphor
Me, kneeling in front of you
In adoration.

I’ll let you go
If you let me go
It’s funny like that
(it’s a fact of circumstance– like epiphany)
Yes, just like this
You, bargaining freedom
Me, kneeling in front of you
In adoration.

No, please don’t cry
Don't break my heart
I'm saving myself for you

question (4 of 100)

Q: Would you forgive your spouse/lover/life partner anything? Everything?

A: If the circumstances are within the range of the non-absurd, yes. By this I mean pretty standard stuff like variations on theft, lies, sloth, affairs, pride, etc. I will even go as far as if she murders a non-friend, non-family member. But if she kills our child or tries to kill me, well, things change. In an absurd context (which, believe me, is not that hard a scenario to spin, given the fact that strange, horrible and unbelievable things happen to normal people on a daily basis somewhere in the vast world), even my ideal notion of “love forgives all things” can be suddenly turned on its head.

Does it this mean I love my wife less? Of course not. But certain extreme circumstances have a way of provoking sudden change – in anyone’s heart and mind. It’s a question of the ideal versus the real.

What about you?

question (5 of 100)

Q: Two parts. First – you’re dining at an expensive hotel restaurant. When you look around, you notice a couple enjoying each other’s company at another table – an impossibly handsome and attractive man (fill in attributes that define attractive to you) eating with an impossibly ugly woman (fill in attributes that define wretched to you). Now honestly, what is the first assumption that enters your mind about the nature of that couple’s relationship, based on what you see?

Second – reverse it. You see a super-beautiful woman eating with a troll of a man. What’s your first assumption? Be honest.

A: Handsome guy/Ugly girl – She’s rich. My initial thought would be that this guy could get anyone he wanted. Then maybe I’d think she has a great personality, but still rich.

Ugly guy/Beautiful girl – He’s great in bed. And rich.

The sad truth exposed me by my initial assumptions is that I didn’t even consider the possibility of love. Sad because in the first question, I assume that the ugly girl has no intrinsic value. And in the second scenario, because I presume that it's just about sex (maybe he has a lightbulb schlong like our still-popular aging comedian).


Wednesday, September 25, 2002

fear of color

Tonight, Nikki set up Sage's new floorpads. These are interlocking square tiles with removable upper and lower case letters of the alphabet in happy happy colors. Sage freaked out and refused to set foot (or hand) on the mat. When I sat her down on it, she immediately clambered up my shoulder, crying. When Nikki covered the pads with one of our huge comforters, Sage happily went back to crawling along. I suppose it's the introduction of something so huge and colorful, so overwhelming. Or she has our aesthetic taste (and will be doomed to wear black, neutrals and earth tones for the rest of her life) and may have chromophobia.
the old woman

I live a short distance from the office, so every morning I walk to work. And every morning, I pass a sari-sari store incongruously located between two tall condominium buildings. There's an old woman there, broadfaced and hefty with very white hair and strangely twinkling eyes. Without fail, as I approach her area, she'd wave to me and loudly say "Sir! Good morning!" and I'd embarassedly mutter "Good morning" back. Day in, day out. I've never stopped to buy anything from her, but in the afternoons as I return home, she'd hold up a coke or bowl of lugaw and say "Sir! Kain na ta!" and I'd smile and shake my head "no" and hurry home to Sage and Nikki. She has become part of the rhythm of my day with her wide grin and odd eyes and raucous greeting.

This morning, as I approached, I saw her just staring at road in front of her. I walked nearer, expecting my morning greeting, but even as I passed directly in front of her, she gave no greeting. Instead, she looked up and gave a thin smile, and I noticed that her eyes were glistening with tears. For one starling instant, I felt naked and unfairly imposed upon by her sadness. Rendered helpless by the inevtiable inertia of my pace, I was far past her when I realized that the discomfort I felt in the pit of my stomach was something I could have perhaps prevented, if I had only stopped. Even if just for a while.

oh no, miss universe is fired!

For the first time in its 52-year history, the Miss Universe Organization has booted its queen, Russian law student Oxana Fedorova. Apparently, she stayed in her home country for a bit too long, shirking her worldwide smiling-and-waving duties. But tabloid reports claim the 24-year-old beauty queen was also secretly married and may have had children--a big violation of all things Miss Universe. Taking the place of the green-eyed Russian brunette will be first-runner-up Justine Pasek of Panama, who will be crowned Tuesday afternoon in New York by Donald Trump. Of course, last year’s pageant had its share of controversy, when reports flew wildly that--quelle horreur!--the contestant from France was really a monsieur! Believe it or not, pageant officials have had to deal with cross-dressing competitors before. When a man won a beauty contest in Asia a few years ago, Miss Universe added a rule stating that contestants must be natural-born women

kills and cleanses

In Jerusalem, a 91-year-old Israeli died when his Filipino caregiver spread a paste-like dishwashing detergent on his bread instead of humus. How, you ask, could a horrible thing like that happen? Well, the Pinoy could not read Hebrew. There you go.


My partner has come up with an elegant compromise to the nefarious scenario I presented to him yesterday. Hopefully things work out. The reason, by the way, that I am never quite direct when I write about work is because there's the possibility that it will reach my staff and wreak unnecessary stress. And Cosi-Cosi, the Jack Russel Terrier we keep in the office, agrees. Ay naku, I just want this week to be over so I can sit back and drink this nice bottle of Merlot on my desk I've been saving since we moved downstairs. Apart from all that, one of our bank clients is driving me crazy. So I phoned Nikki and gave her a project to chew on (because, man, my mind cannot handle banking bullshit copy right now).

wasted opportunity

Wow! Gerry asked if I wanted to be in his movie with Flim because I have the perfect face (whatever that means). If it's the scene I remember, then it's the part where Gerry ruins the wedding day of a bride and her groom. I'm saying yes, of course. Should be loads of fun.

under consideration

Just got email from the publisher I submitted a story to. They say that my story is still under consideration (not rejected - yet) and that they'll get back to me next month. Oh, the suspense. I'm one of the most impatient people in the universe and the suspense is kiling me. Why? Because I submitted not a play nor a comic, but fiction. Somehow, it's more real. And I didn't submit it to my coterie of friends or among the editors I personally know, but to strangers far away. Time is suddenly so slow and October 24 seems so far away. Gah. Must kill time.
question (3 of 100)

Q: If a genie gave you the power to create new Rules concerning love that would be implemented worldwide immediately and followed to the letter, what would your Rules be?

A: This kept our group up for hours. Instead of just my own answers, here, collectively, are our 6 Rules:

1. Dean: Color-coded Love – We set a default color, like blue, for the deepest truest love. People in love can then see exactly where they stand and vice versa. It may be painful to wake up everyday and see your lover’s hue shifting slowly away from blue, but at least you know. No need for lies. I’d write a story based on this premise about 2 completely white (non-blue) people staying together, with their children.

2. Mike: True Love Waits – Every body is guaranteed true love in their lifetime. You will not die until you find your ideal one who will love you for everything that you are.

3. Marco: The “Kiliti” Rule – Everyone will have a kiliti (weakness) that can be exploited if you know what it is. When the kiliti is used, the person will helplessly love you. The flaw, of course, is this scenario. Person A exploits Person B’s kiliti, so Person B loves Person A. Person C exploits Person A’s kiliti, so Person A loves Person C, and so forth in a possibly very long (daisy) chain.

4. Jason: True Love Allows Second Chances – At your deathbed, you can go back in time and correct one circumstance when you foolishly (or otherwise) let love pass you by.

5. Carl: It’s About Timing – People in a relationship fall out of love at exactly the same time. In this way, no one is left behind.

6. Nikki: Love Leaves No One Behind - In the case of true love, the death of one partner triggers the death of the remaining partner. Tragic. But when you combine it with Marco's Rule, it could spell the end of the world.

Bonus: Love Songs Are True – Every love song’s lyrics are true even when contradictory. Therefore, love is a many-splendored thing, but hurts; love makes the world go round (literally) but is a battlefield; love changes everything, but is evergreen and will tear us apart. And of course, to conserve energy, love lifts us up where we belong (hopefully to the office and back home).

flim comments

Flim called me to say how he enjoys reading my blog. What a nice thing to say. I’m glad you’re entertained, my friend. But the credit for the lovely design (in Kestrel’s purple motif) goes to Ate Cyn (and the odd little images are copyright by all their creators where apropos). Anyway, he also asked about Nikki’s wedding gown in the context of his filming of Gerry’s Wasted. We’ll see about that (the last thing I remember is that she threw it onto the roof or something like that, or maybe that happened before the wedding). I told him how much I enjoyed reading his blog, in an unabashed example of mutual masturbation.

singapore fears terrorist content

Or at least that’s the response Jason got from a Singaporean publisher when he pitched the idea of Machine Merlion X, because of a page or two with exploding buildings. While we cannot fault people for their opinions and sensitivies, don’t you think it’s hard to write a giant robot comic without collateral damage? More here (with his casting call for Baylans too). Anyway, we spent time thinking of new stuff to pitch and really, I must tell you how difficult it is for me to think of a happy series with no conflict, tragedy or dramatic build-up - even my reviled Evangelion had all of that, and the giant mecha. Over dinner at Basilica (or wasa it basilisque?) along Amber Drive, we threw ideas around with Dino happily offering the tropes of a the sports story as an alternative to perceived terrorism by giant robots. Poor Jason zoned out when conversation turned to space and space operas.


Sometimes I feel trapped by circumstances. The time has come for an unwanted decision to be made and executed and of course I’m the one to do it. But it boils down to determining why I’m in business – for myself or for others. Sadly, the answer is for myself and my partners. The market environment necessitates drastic measures and I’m not looking forward to when I make certain announcements. I wish I could just write a letter, but I can’t. Part of my responsibility is telling people exactly how things lie, what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it… and who does it with me. More when this is done.


We took Sage to the doctor’s today and found that even while she was sick, she gained some more weight (I thought the opposite was true). We’re discontinuing some of her medication, but will be using Ventolin nebulas (thank goodness for Jolet’s nebulizer on loan) for her. Hopefully, she’ll be fine when we need to return the thing or we go out and finally buy one of our own. Her scheduled shots were also delayed until next week when she’s better, in preparation for our trip abroad. Mike, one of her loving godfathers, bought her funky animal socks made by the people at Lamaze (apparently, they expanded beyond natural child bearing technique books and stuff), which I’m sure Sage will love. Nikki selected the kitty cat as Sage's icon henceforth, because she calls her "kitten". I call Sage, rather inexplicably, "banana girl". I have no idea why.

a promise fulfilled

Yes, we finally ate something at Chow King, to make good on a vow Nikki and I made last December. At the premiere showing of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” last year, Nikki and I were bored to tears by the long wait inside the theatre for the film to start. In addition, we were bombarded by the constant repetition of Chow King’s radio ad: “Dito kumakain ang masarap kumain”. So we pleaded with the gods for the ad to stop and the film to begin – in exchange we’d patronize the damn fast food. It took us 9 months, but today, we did at last. How was it? Blah. But our honor remains inviolate.

kestrel plans

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be positioning Kestrel Studios’ strength in content development, creating new products that I’ll market to government agencies, NGOs and corporate entities. Think custom chapbooks, cost-free magazines and you’ll get the idea.

stuff to read and view

Picked up some comics: the latest issues of JSA and Grendel: Red, Black & White, plus Morrison’s X-Men: Imperial TPB. Got to chat briefly with Ramon and told him about Mignola’s story in Happy Endings. When our talk got to Moore, he confessed that he hadn’t read Miracleman (to my shock, because Ramon is one of the self-professed devotes of God ), so I told him I’d lend him The Red King Syndrome (which was saved from the termites by Flim, and now shockingly retails for over US$200!).

Also, after chatting with Suvi, the guy who sells anime VCDs at CQ, he kindly gave me 4 Ranma OAVs – for free. Now that’s nice.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

the kindness of friends

Remember our need for a nebulizer for Sage? Well, Mike offered to go to Batangas to borrow one from his family, my mother offered to help defray the cost for a new one, and when I walked into the office yesterday, one of my designers, Jolet, had one sitting on my desk! I was speechless. As I mentioned before, I am really not used to having other people help me out with something like this, being the one usually who extends a helping hand. Jolet's father occassionaly has mild asthma attacks but when he heard about the baby, he wanted to help out (I hope nothing happens to him while we have his nebulizer). It's just amazing to know that people care - sounds cynical, yes, but I was really floored. And very thankful.

Also, yesterday, this blog just mysteriously went blank. I texted Ate Cyn for help and she immediately fixed it. Just like that. And she also tweaked that odd situation with my changing fonts, added a new counter and tweaked elements of what you see. Are Cyn, you're the best!


She's back to normal, squealing and laughing and crawling everywhere she can. We've laid down beddings and comforters and pillows on the living room floor so she can move around, but she tries to go beyond the barriers, wants to touch everything she sees, and insists on climbing the sofa, the rocking chair, the bed, everything, everywhere. She's trying to stand even before she can crawl properly. We're off to the doctor's today to see if she's fully recovered internally as well.


Last night, while I napped, Nikki wrote a clever story for Hinirang entitled "Asin (Salt)". She says that the idea came to her while she was sitting with Sage. You'll see it, along with my freshest work, next month.

Monday, September 23, 2002

good children’s books

One of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon (wonderful writer of Werewolves In Our Youth, Wonderboys, and of course my much-loved Adventures of Kavalier & Clay AND reportedly the writer for the sequel to “Spiderman”) is going to have a new children’s book soon, entitled Summerland. I’m adding this to my objects of desire list to get next month. I enjoy Chabon’s voice whether he’s writing long form or short form, so he goes into the list (he works his change of tone well in the last short story of his I read “The Laughter of Dark Gods”). Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, assuming I don’t get it here first, also goes into the list, as well as future children books from Isabel Allende (City of Beasts has two children finding a legendary animal) and Clive Barker (his book, Ararat, is about a girl who saves a group of islands). I used to feel that Allende was a copycat (of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez) but after reading almost everything she wrote, I was finally convinced otherwise by her novel Daughter of Fortune. As for Clive Barker, his best short story for me was “In the Hills, the Cities” from Books of Blood. I read his play and previous children’s book and find myself curious to see what he has to say. Great reading to look forward to.

ave maria

In the course of doing research for new Hinirang stories one cannot help but notice the incredible influence of Spanish Catholicism in this country. Indeed, it was Spain’s “good” reason to come over here (in actuality, my country served simply as a waystation for the Acapulco galleon trade). The clerics that came, from different orders, set up churches and chapels and vied among themselves for the indios’ souls, ultimately taking advantage of the ignorant rabble by acquiring huge tracts of lands in the name of the Church. In the meantime, the various taxation systems bled the people dry, while enforced labor broke their backs. And yet, over 300 years since the Spaniards first came, no one but dedicated historians and researchers know, remember or are particularly aware of how much the invaders changed the course of history. In the name of greed, in the name of influence, and in the name of the Virgin - rich, dark and multi-layered breeding grounds of Hinirang tales of all sorts.


One of the things we do when we go out and have dinner with friends is to engage in scenarios . Inevitably, this leads to interesting questions. So, giving in to the meme that seems to be running around (or has run around) blogs I visit, I'll be posting some questions, a couple at a time, and answering them. If you have a different answer, click on comment and give me an earful.

question (1 of 100)

Q: It's 3:00AM and you're walking down the street when suddenly, a bank nearby explodes. Thankfully, you're not hurt. In the ensuing aftermath, you spot P500k in thousand peso bills, nicely wrapped in the bank's billstrip. The thing is, it's held by a severed woman's hand. If you are alone, do you take it? If you see someone else looking at the same hand near you, do you take it? If you take it, what do you do with it?

A: After my initial shock, I'd take the money and run (especially if there is someone else nearby who seems to want the damn money too). The hand, of course, would give me pause - I'd balk but get it anyway and then write about the wrenching experience. And no, I would not return the money to the bank. Does it make me a bad person? I don't think so (how warped is that?). Does it make me a thief? Well, given the fungibility of money, I don't think it belongs to any person in particular (so I'm not robbing a blind widow per se) but to an institution. The heartless necessity of kicking the severed hand away - that I'd have to live with, especially if it had a charm bracelet inscribed with the name "Thelma" or something.

Note: You should hear Cynthia's, Nikki's and Marco's answers.

question (2 of 100)

Q: You are offered US$1M, cash and tax free but on the following condition: you must go up to your mother, take a running leap and strike her face as hard as you can with your bare hand and NEVER explain why you did that to her, to her or to anyone who asks. Would you do it?

A: Gah. US$1M = P52M. A lot of money. Honestly, I'd wrestle with it but right now my answer is "no". I mean what if I hurt her really badly? Sure, the money can pay for her treatment, but man, she's my mother! Not being able to explain truly takes the cake. It's like selling your relationship for a million dollars. But... if my daughter is desperately ill and we need the money (and can't get it from any source, after having exhausted all means), sorry Ma. Gah.
kidnap capital

Despite what our Lady President would have you believe, the horrible kidnapping situation is hardly resolved. Those that are, are because the families of the kidnap victim couldn't pay. Recently, a gas station attendant was released because his family was unable to pay ransom. Over the weekend, a 10-month (!) baby was returned after the family balked at the P200k ransom. Sure, the recent Ledesma case was "resolved" via a "tried and tested method" (which smacks of simply paying the ransom - the rumored amount is P20M), but for all the non-politicos, the invisibles and unreported, the travesty goes on. No one feels safe. I don't know what our oleaginous senators and congressmen are doing in our versions of Cafe Landtmann or Cafe Mozart, apart from exchanging gossip and creating money for themselves. And sadly, life goes on.

perils of DIY

My business has reached that point in the year when suddenly, everything looks murky and time stretches thinly. With the developments elsewhere in the world and the general cutdown on advertising and PR expenses, getting new projects has become quite difficult, especially with these infuriating freelancers who will do projects for food - literally. Just buy them lunch and you get a brochure or something. Ah, I shouldn't really get their case, but still. Corporate, government and NGO budgets continue to grow smaller, and of course they can always opt to do things inhouse. In the meantime, my headache is keeping the company afloat and on an even keel, keeping overhead down, maintaining morale, etc. With the number of people who rely on me for their monthly income, it just gets to me. And I may find myself doing the unspeakable in the next couple of months. We managed to land two new accounts - an internation shipping company and a music project, but let's see what happens.

AE quote of the day

So we're at the office and conversation turned to things past. My AE contributes thus (I know it sounds like a joke, but it's true, swear to God):

AE: Oo nga, when I was in high school, gusto ko nakatago lang ako. I didn't want to be seen. I wanted to be, you know, invincible.

ME: (stunned silence)

pictures (thanks to Ate Cyn)

At the recent National Book Awards (Jason, Marco, Vinnie, Nikki, me, Ate Cyn and Arnold). Arnold has won the same award for year's for "Trip to Tagaytay", and his "Mythology Class" won the year before that.

Vinnie, Nikki and me at Sukhotai

bermuda triangle of cellphones

Go and read Flim's stolen cellphone experience. It's a blast.
thanks for reading

A quick thank you to my friends who dropped by and wrote me - Tzel and Deric, in particular. Feel free to use the comment link or the tag board too. And Tzel, yeah, that kryptonite-empowered-villains-thingie made me wince too, but what-the-hey.

Sunday, September 22, 2002


She's definitely doing better today and was wonderful when her grandmother, her aunts Jo and Maureen and her uncle Johnny visited her this morning (and to her actor-uncle Ricky yesterday afternoon). She still has a cough but is starting to regain her appetite. We'll visit her pedia tomorrow for a checkup again, just to be certain. There was a time in my life when I never even entertained the thought that I would be at my wit's end regarding a baby, much less mine. When you're young you never think about these things, I guess. You're more concerned about yourself and your next good time. I know it sounds cliched but having a child changes everything - how you think, how you plan, how you act. But I'm so happy to have Sage, our greatest joy. I understand, of course, that she will get some other illness in the future, probably hurt herself while learning to stand, and experience all the little pains of life. But I always want to be there for her, to help her and take care of her. Nikki and I are lucky to have family on both sides who are very loving and caring, and friends who are akin to family in the very best sense. We never have the feeling that we're doing this alone, and sometimes, that's all that matters.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

big on smallville

Nikki and I just finished watching the first 5 episodes of Smallville, thanks to Jason, and are brand new fans of the show. We both found the show well-cast and well-written. It's no mean feat to be able to write a good stories about Superman before he became a legend without being held hostage by established canon AND the angst of those teenaged years AND still manage to be fresh and interesting. It felt like I was watching Ultimate Superman (in the manner of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Spiderman). The dialogue worked, the rationale behind many things, including Kryptonite, was sound and the acting was more than I expected. In fact, I found myself smitten by Kristin Kruek That's her above, in case you're blind), who plays Lana Lang with a delightful understated maturity while still coming off as a "realistic" American teenager. Besides, she's really hot. Lex Luthor was also handled quite differently from what we expected, building a surprising friendship with Clark - though we assume that something will happen to sour their relationship. After all, what is Superman without his archenemy? The antagonists of the episodes we viewed seemed taken from the roster of the Legion of Superheroes - Lightning Lad, Insect Queen, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy and Polar Boy - which, of course, delighted the Legion fan in me. Though the series had nothing new to contribute to what has been written or pondered about the human condition (for fek's sake, it's just TV), we found it marvelously entertaining and wouldn't mind seeing more. Of Lana! This show, and Six Feet Under, are our current drama favorites.

Pop culture. You gotta love it.

Babycenter was a great resource for us last night, educating us on the various things we needed to know about what's happening with our baby girl. The good news is that Sage's fever broke and while she's not as active as she was prior to this bout of illness, she definitely looks better. Nikki gave her various medicines every 8 hours, as instructed by the pediatrician, and Sage has responded well. We hope she recovers completely by tomorrow or Monday. In the meantime, we discover that her first two teeth have grown some more, giving her a toothy smile (such as it is). Jo, Reb's twin, came over in the morning to check up her and told us that her breathing was okay (just a little distressed, given the circumstances). We had our blood pressures taken as well, and Nikki and I are both within the normal range. I was thinking of having an executive checkup, but balked at the cost - P30,000. I'll do it next year when we have cash to spare.

Thanks to everyone who has wished Sage well - Felix (whom we bumped into at CQ today), Rob and everyone who texted us yesterday and through the night. You warm our hearts and I'm glad Sage is surrounded by people like you.

convention planning

Jescie, Taga-Ilog and the creators of Culture Crash gave a lunch at Sukhotai and invited other Filipino comic people to participate in the convention they're holding come December at Megamall. Apart from us (Nikki, me, Mike, Marco, Jason, Arnold and ATE Cyn), the attendees included Lyndon Gregorio (Beerkada), Robert Magnuson (Shirley's Pets), and Pol Medina of Pugad Baboy fame, among several others.

While the convention will primarily be focused on anime and manga-inspired local comics, we all thought it was a good idea to have a presence there. We'll iron out the details among ourselves and get back to them. Mike will take charge of informing Budjette over at Alamat, the guys of Ground Zero and the other invitees unable to make it. We may take the opportunity to launch a couple of projects or books there. I almost broke a rib laughing when Taga-Ilog asked Nikki and me to do sketch for his sketchbook. Being the very drawing-impaired, we made do with a seal from her and tree branch from me with the inscription "Sorry, we're writers!".

evangelion summary for Arnold

Marco told Arnold that I could summarize why I don't like Evangelion very succintly. Well, the truth is this: I tried to watch some of it, but my patience gave out when the lead boy (Shinji) just laid down on a hospital bed, his feeble white arms outstretched and did absolutely nothing but look pathetic. For me, that was the extent of what Evangelion was - sorry to offend all the people who argue about its depth and artistic merit (if you enjoyed it good for you) but for me, it was simply...blah. Angst, wanting father to love him, mother figure found in teammate, etc. What a loser. Look at this (from an Evangelion guide):

"Shinji is for the most part of the time an extremely troubled individual, however, most of his ordeals are worsened, and often even caused, by his severe lack of self confidence. Shinji finds it incredibly hard to express his feelings towards others for the fear of being emotionally hurt, and is all too often unwilling to adapt to new situations."

I'm for tragic heroes, but this guy is just a wuss.

"it takes light to make shadows, I guess..."

Tonight, Nikki and I will watch stuff from Jason, including Metropolis (which Marco said was up there with Akira in terms of animation technique). It takes a wonderful anime to get my blood going, since I am sadly predisposed to not like anything with mecha in it. It's a good thing Marco's around to remind us that there are many good ones around. He and Mike are raving about a new one whose title I can't recall. Let you know when I remember.


I liketrue porn clerk stories - an very insightful and well-written blog about a woman porn store clerk and her observations of the people who rent stuff from her - it's not offensive, give it a try. And while Slashdot answers my occassional odd need for tech-type info and news, the comic book fan boy in me isdelighted by Quarter Bin and The Comics Characters Database (far from comprehensive, but still a good resoruce if you're into this kind of thing). Have you seen Mark Sinclair's Post-it Theatre?

While you're there, give the Filthy Critic a read - his movie reviews (non-porn, don't mistake his moniker) are a blast. From his review of Swimfan: "It takes monster nuts to have absolutely nothing to say, write a whole movie to prove it, and find a director and studio who share your lack of vision. Then you must have the conviction and strength of belief to see your ass-ripping turd through to completion. You have to wake up every morning and be excited to think "Today's the first day of the rest of my life barfing up someone else's ideas." You have to know that your story is entirely implausible and laughably absurd, but not care for one second. You have to be willing to cave in to every studio demand to make sure that the final product is as compromised as possible. You have to pretend you care, yet put something on the screen that shows you don't."

Friday, September 20, 2002

survivor 5.1

Based on the previews and teasers, we thought that the tribe division would be along gender lines - which would have made for interesting, if not arguably unfair, situations during the challenges. Instead, the two eldest members of each sex alternated selecting their tribe members. Jake chose the younger and more physical people, ending up with a tribe that had youth and strength and a lot of attitude. Jan, of the other tribe, chose the older people, ending up with a tribe that seems weaker. It's funny how everyone wanted to be selected for the "younger" tribe. I don't blame them, if I were there I would have liked to be part of that tribe too. As one of members said, they had most of the sexy girls and all of strong guys.

Shii Ann, my bitch queen
While, as usual, my heart is with the underdogs, I find myself rooting for bitchy Shii Ann. Her aplomb, her unprettiness, her line "Mess with the She-devil, you get the horns", her don't-fuck-with-me attitude resonates with the GameMaster within me. Plus she's Asian. What a gal. Nikki's favorite is her 61 year-old crush Jake, who, according to her, is "pretty sexy for an old guy". She really likes older men, I guess. And she also likes the New York cop, not just because he's sexy too, but because, well, he's a New York cop. There you go.

John, the person who was first voted off the island, reminded me of an ex-friend who thought that being an asshole was perfectly fine. In life, as well as in this game, that kind of reasoning just doesn't cut it. And like John, many people including myself voted that person out of our lives. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

riding with reb

My little sister, Reb, (who's not so little now) came over to drive us to the hospital. Given the pedia's odd schedule, we had to go the hospital along Aurora Blvd where she was practicing. She said she'd only be there until noon. Before we left, Bren, Sage's 3 year-old paramour, came over to offer his girlfriend some company and more food. I thanked him and told him she was ill and that we'd be back soon. We set out and promptly got ensnared in traffic. While trapped in the unmoving sea of cars, Reb told us about her recent trip to Sweden, Denmark and Thailand. We also reminisced about the incident that prompted a teary-eyed phone call from her in London to me in Hong Kong. She was at an internet cafe and these bozos started throwing tissue paper at her, calling her "Asian Girl". She stood her ground and gave the group a piece of her mind. You'll see the entire tale when it gets published (yes, I used my sister's travails, to her amusement). Like many others of late, she's thinking about moving to Australia.


When noon came and we were nowhere near the hospital, we decided to head back to Clinica Manila in the Ortigas Center and consult with any available pediatrician. On the long trip there, Sage comported herself in a ladylike manner despite her discomfort - what a trooper. We got there and immediately they told us that Sage had to be nebulized. So, with the assistance of a kind nurse, she breathed in the fumes with a minimum of complaint. Nikki and I were praying she didn't have asthma (a distinct possibility since both of us are asthmatic). After Sage was checked again, the doctor gave her some medicine and told us that it was most likely that our little girl was suffering from bronchitis - either the viral one (that disappears after a few days) or the bacterial one (that requires antibiotics). At least now we know what ails her and can give her the proper care and medication. We hope of course that it's the viral kind. We got her medicines and funky fever patches.

nebulizer needed

We were also told to go get her a nebulizer to help her breathe better. The thing costs an arm and a leg, but what can you do, right? I am hoping someone can lend us one for a while. Someone? Anyone?

my sisters love me

On our way back, we stopped by the house of my youth and picked up the food my mother had prepared for us - the aforementioned sugpo, caldereta with chorizo, sauteed veggies and an additional surprise - apple, lychee and apricot fruit salad. So stocked, Reb brought us home. Then her twin, Jo (who's in med school), calls up and offers to drop by tomorrow with her equipment to check up on Sage. Maureen, of course, earlier offered anything within her ability to help. I was so touched by their actions and thanked them. Reb smiled and said, "Manong, it's okay. We're happy to help. First of all, you're our brother. Second, do you remember the times you used to drive us around? You'd pick us up from school or practice or swimming or parties in your Datsun. And on weekends, you'd take us out to museums or parks and treat us to merienda. We'll never forget all of that." I felt suddenly so old, so proud, so parental. I am so used to being the one who does everything for myself or for others, that acts of kindness truly catch me by surprise. The cynic in me is caught off-guard and rendered speechless. Ain't love grand? Thank you Reb, Jo and Maureen. And of course, thanks to my mother too. And Sage's wonderful nanny, Diovine, who goes beyond the call of duty in taking care of the baby.

no friday outing

We're staying home tonight with the baby, foregoing our usual Friday night with our creative friends. Mike and Dino, two of Sage's godparents, offered help and sympathy, which truly means a lot to us. Thank you also, Camille, for your prayers. What this means is that our nuclear family gets to watch the delayed telecast of Survivor: Thailand. It's true. We're unabashed addicts. And damn proud of it.

A little writing with no punctuations and a lot of anger.


standing on the balcony
with eric i watch the people at the garden below plates in hand plates filled with food threatening to topple don’t know why everybody pigs out on the birthdays as if they never knew what food was before as if they knew they’d never have food again just pile pile piling up up up towers of this and that and this and that with some more of that please yes thank you and not just birthdays but all the holidays people people please what am i doing here can’t believe i let myself be talked into coming as if i wouldn’t as if i could stay away from

eric holds a small bottle
one of those very expensive drinks named for a barn animal that everyone who’s anyone simply must have clenched in hand while the other holds a cigarette reds of course what else is there to smoke (push) which reminds me of those tv ads that actually try to make you believe that you can simply ask someone to put out snuff out their ciggie yeah just try it

he thinks he looks so cool
with his black shirt and levis and docs and kick-ass drink and supersmall take-your-picture cell yeah yeah yeah seen it all before buddy if you think branding makes you a better person(push) then fine fine fine

leaning over the balcony i see her
moving in the crowd greeting friends family driver caterer so perfect it makes me want to spit poetry and yes yes it hurts seeing her but i can’t stop must stop can’t stop myself she’s just perfect and what kills me is that i once upon a time in a land far far away cue the music john williams held her in my thin arms and told her i loved her more than anything anyone anywhere together forever and never to part stupid rick astley go away i’m in the middle of my memories here thank you very much i just want (push) to

“Hey, Jovy’s still coming, but he’s picking up Kim, so they’ll be late. Wanna read?”

eric is holding out his can't-you-see-how-expensive-this-is cell to me
as if i gave a fuck if or when jovy was coming or not and who the hell’s kim anyway but some flavor of the month courtesy of your friendly neighborhood blind date pimp duh all these people pretending(push) they care about strangers acquaintances friend of a friend’s cousin of my armpit’s nephew’s ex-lover’s officemate’s blockmate’s sister’s dalmatian for all i care


great can’t believe i said that
but then again anything just so i don’t have to (push) talk to you directly nothing more than a syllable in case you brain blows up from overload you faker you liar you scum of the earth judas traitor ass(push)hole think you’re so cool so smart and she’s still below us and whatshisname is in my brain feeding me words she walks in beauty like the night something or other but it’s just perfect for her she’s so beautiful she’s

“Do you have Marco’s number?”

what the fuck (push) moron
do i look like i have marco’s number i don’t even have a funky cell like yours and if i did do i look like i’d tell you after all marco is my brother’s friend technically my friend first so why do yo(push)u want to call him bastard thief


damn right no
since you walked into the barkada from wherever the hell in the states you came from you’ve taken everything away from me i was the funny guy before i was the one they wanted to be with i had her (p(push)ush) but no you had to be taller better richer everything-er nice car nice clothes nice wallet nice shoes nice stubble nice nice nice nice and so they follow the man follow the man with his pockets full of the jam

“Hey, Tanie! Up here!”

she looks up at us
but doesn’t see me because my pale shadow is drowned by e (push)ric’s halogen brilliance she smiles and my heart breaks again and again and again and she’s frozen for a moment framed by her birthday crowd like royalty among the unwashed masses and it makes her even more perfect more beautiful oh oh tanie but now i’m all alone again nowhere to go no one to turn to feeling like epo(push)nine standing on the balcony with


“Happy birthday! I have your gift Look who’s with me!”

once i held you in my hairless arms
and we laughed together when i tried to lift you up and remember you said i should maybe go to the gym if i wanted but that you loved me just the way i was because of my mind because of my dreams because i made you laugh made (push) you feel more special that you already were and we talked until four in the morning on the front steps of your house and we said no o(push)ne would come bet(push)ween us

“What? No, no, sige, I’ll go down!”

i’m up here too you know
i’m not invisible remember me the guy who (push) once held you and told we shared something better than jean and scott’s psychic rapport

“O, ano, Mike? Shall we?”

then you ba(push)stard bamf into our lives
with your am-boy loo(push)ks and your dad’s harley and stupid jokes and nokia-of-the-month and money to pay for gimmicks and outings and dinner and coffee and conversation flexi(push)ng your thick arms and stu(push)dly chest and showing off your tattoo from wherever an(push)d listening to music from bands I’ve never heard of just stupid stu(push)pid senseless soun(push)ds she used to like my music you know especially elvis this sad burlesque costello and the older music the dee(push)per kind that says something ab(push)out like not your skanky

“Are you okay?”

you’d (push)probably type(push)that like r u k
why the hell are you even asking me as if you cared you thief deceiver because it’s not her fa(push)ult it’s all your fault drowning her in stuff suffocating her un(push)til the only breath she could take was you (push)bastard she doesn’t love love ne(push)ver has never will never never ever never it’s me it’s it’s me it’s me me me she loves loved will love no(push)w and forever jellicle cats a(push)nd stay the hell away from me you musc(pus(push)h)lebound oaf you don’t know me but you’ve always envied me so you take away everyth(push(push))ing everything and fine fine i let y(pu(push)sh)ou then you turn ar(push)ound and take her you took her and (push)you have the gall (push) to ask me if i’m okay where the hell do you co(push)me from i said stay away don’t you touch me (push)it’s so easy to leave me all alone with the memory stop(push) stop (push)stop it andrew lloyd not now this as(push)shole thinks he’s better than me well you

“Mike? What’s wrong?”

can’t (push) me around like(push) i’m nothi(push)ng
as if you were lor(push)d and king rolled into one you s(push)hit can’t believe i’m stan(push(push(push)))ding on the balc(push)ony with you bastard what are doing let m(push)e go just let me go stop stop what w(pus(pu(push)sh)h)hatwh(push)at stop let me go there go my glassesmy glasses don’t step on them eric (push)don’tdon’t(push) (push) let me go just let me go ever(push)yone is looking ano ka ba a(push)no ka ba let(push) (push) me go you no (push)nononono no(push) no just stay away ano ka ba(push) get awa(push)y from me don’t to(push)uch me do(push)n’(push)t don’t d(push)o(push)n’t don’t(push) i thi(push) (pus(push)h) (pu(push)sh)nk i’ll just(pu(push)sh) think i’ll but i can’t(push) ca(p(pus(push)h(pu(push)sh))ush)n’t can’t(push(push)) I will okayokay(push)ok(push)ay ok(p(p(pu(push)sh)us(pu(push)sh)h)us(push)h)ay here we(push)go(p(push)ush)onetwo




It's been several days and Sage is still sick. She last saw her doctor on Tuesday (its Friday) when she was diagnosed as having oral thrush. But since then, she's had a cold and here-today-gone-tomorrow fever. What's worse is that when seems to have a lot of mucus buildup because she's having a hard time breathing. I think she's lost some weight too, since the oral medicine that is wiped in the inside of her mouth is of an unpleasant taste, making all her food taste unappetizing to her. It's a terrible feeling watching a hungry baby unable to eat properly. I know I've said this before (why am I making apologies for writing it?) but I wish I could take her ailments unto myself instead of having her suffer through them. We'll be taking her to the hospital today, but hopefully a direct phone call to the pedia will be enough. I abominate my helplessness in this situation.Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I've heard enough stories of how something so innocuous could suddenly become something more terrible. (On a side note, I just recalled that the Bible says that to worry is a sin - because it shows how little faith and trust you have in God. Well.)

a visit from the princess

Sage's grandmother (my mother), Princess Monjierra Alonto-Disini (glam shot from the back cover of Ruin), visited to see how the poor baby was doing. She promised to send over sugpo and caldereta for lunch and is sending her driver to take Sage to the hospital, when we go. As my mother and I grow older, the nature of our relationship continues to evolve as well. There was a time I played the rebellious first son and she the aggrieved mother, usually resulting in telenovela style confrontations - stereotypical, well, at least for me (being the opinionated person that I am). But as time passed, we became friends able to share stories over dinner or just laugh about our common memories. During the time of her illness, when she was diagnosed as having systemic lupus and given 6 months to live, she decided that she wanted to live and fought the disease with a will that defied all sorrow. She got better and nowadays spends a lot of her time in socio-civic interests. She also continues to play one hell of a badminton game.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

piracy, or how I do it anyway

I actively resisted Napster - and when I finally gave in, I would only download one song at time, erasing it before I would download another. Then I gave in to my acquisitive nature and embarked on collecting every sound Ryuichi Sakamoto ever made. When Napster was shackled, AudioGalaxy took its place. When that service was restrained, I turned to Kazaa (the Lite version with no spyware). To my delight, it does everything i expect it to do and it can also get videos, pictures, documents and stuff.

So with my "always-on" connection, I instucted it to fetch the episodes of Six Feet Under that I haven't seen (love their grave humor), the PDF version of TSR's Epic Level Handbook which I refuse to pay P2,500 for, clips featuring the exotic stylings of Ms. Tera Patrick (don't click if you don't like nekid wimen) and a Big Mac Meal.

manila sound

Perhaps it's a sign of my age (which is odd, considering I was barely conscious when the Manila Sound was at its height), but I was delighted to note that the Aegis Band has regular gigs. These people are great performers and deserve more than their masa base. One of their singers (Mercy?), when her vocalizing reaches the truly high notes, collapses on the ground, writhing and kicking her legs in the air. Now that's showmanship (which reminds of me of Mystika, that other gyrating singer who had an inordinate fondness for hats).

it's over, tita glo

Until today I just let the various (and growing) criticism of our lady President in one ear and out the other, because I basically respected the fact that she was several magnitudes of intelligence ahead of her alcohol-befuddled predecessor. But when I saw her latest photo op on the front page of today's paper, something in me just snapped. In the foreground was the bloody corpse of a kidnapper, and there she is behind him, smiling and apparently chatting with the other gentlemen on the scene. It's not just inappropiate nor in poor taste. It's stupid. When will we, as a country, get a good leader? Or do we deserve exactly what we get?

a taste of Flim

From his site:

Go and have fun.


I've been feeling a bone-weariness these past couple of days. All I want to do is collapse and think of absolutely nothing at all. Taken in context, certain aspects of life in general are just stultifying. You work, you eat, you come home, you sleep, you read, you play, you create. You spend a lot of time talking and in transit, and not enough time just shutting up and sitting still - as if to stop moving is to die or concede defeat. You pursue money (that you swore in your youth would never influence your thoughts) in a variety of ways, always trying to have enough for your expenses and maybe a little more, just a little more. There's always something you need, something you want, something you wish for, for your wife, your child, yourself. Desire is high maintenance. I 'm tired.


half-asleep I watch you leave
my eyes half-open half-broken
goodbyes half-spoken
pneumatic half-closed rheumatic
releasing a hiss of air
a kiss of steam
(like the cracked safe in my dream
you told me was my heart)

It doesn’t matter what I see
or think I see
(if I hold my hand far or near, I
can still see only half of it, and if
I fold my hand, then only half of half);
what matters is the weight of my eyelids
half-suspended half-upended
its tonnage that threatens to shut away light
(slam the door or close it gently,
I can only see your back anyway,
only that half of you)
and movement and cigarette smoke;
a snapshot blink
that seems inevitable

(if I blink:
either I lose
or your shadow is