Sunday, October 13, 2002

the 100 things meme (1 of several)
growing up

Okay, here we go. I’m chopping it up into bits because I don’t think I can sit down and just post 100 things about me in one go.

1. I am an only child, but have a total of 7 half-siblings and 7 step-siblings. I suppose my sheer personality compensated for the sudden explosion of brothers and sisters.

2. I’m closest to my half-siblings on my mother’s side and I do not consider them half-anything. The nomenclature, while exact, does not describe the fullness of our relationships.

3. I grew up partially in the US, and my earliest memory of being there is playing in a sandbox with a blond boy named “Frankie”.

4. When my parents divorced and my mother took me back to the Philippines, she had very little money. She was helped out by a near-stranger, a Korean lady who sold flowers.

5. One time, as a young child in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, I pushed a bit of sago (spherical concoction of tapioca, yam (?) and sugar) up in my nostrils and proceeded to suffocate. My lolo sucked it out of my nose. Icky but true.

6. My first onstage appearance was as “Bacteria#2” for an elementary school play at De La Salle University (back when that institution wasn’t just a college). My mother, bursting with pride, invited the entire neighborhood for my all too brief debut.

7. Around the same time, I’d go to the school chapel (St. Benilde’s) and pray to the Greek gods. I had read about them in the library and thought they were real. Zeus, of course, was the man. It was only after a shocked but kindly priest pointed out the error of my misplaced faith that I returned to the fold.

8. I’ve always loved books. The first thick book I remember reading completely was “The Great Train Robbery” by Michael Crichton. I was 9 or 10. Then I encountered Le Guin and Tolkien and the world changed.

9. The first play I wrote, in 2nd grade, starred myself as “Captain Deanie”. It was performed by my class and I remember thinking how neat it was.

10. The first comic book I ever had (not borrowed) was an issue of “Omega: The Unknown”, given to me by my mother. It went downhill from there and I wanted more and more and more.

11. The first competition I won, also in grade school, was an Extemporaneous Speech Content. We all stood on the stage and waited nervously for the judges to give each contestant a unique question. When my turn came, a bespectacled woman voiced this into the microphone: “If you were the scientist who built Skylab, how would you feel right now?” Skylab, at that point in time, was in a decaying orbit and there were concerns about where it would land. I recall launching into a little spiel about responsibility and scientific progress, in my squeaky pre-adolescent voice. Apparently, it was good enough to net me the gold medal. (Perhaps that was when I realized that there was a market for blah blah!)

12. I’ve always reviled sports. I’d feign illness when Phys Ed class came about, preferring to read a book. I almost had to repeat a grade, despite all my sterling academic marks. Hence my anomalous situation - a Filipino completely oblivious to whatever is happening in basketball.

13. When it was time for High School, I transferred to the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) and got the shock of my life. Compared to things at La Salle, this government-funded school looked like a farm. But unlike the spoon-feeding style of my previous school, we all had to work for knowledge – an attitude I’m very grateful for.

14. And it was coed. And my first daily exposure to girls of my age. I fell in love and had my heart broken numerous times with a certain kind of cruelty reserved for the young.

15. For my first love, I built…a diorama. Now is that weird or what.

16. I became a crazed fan of Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet, The Cure, The Smith, Tears for Fears, the Psychedelic Furs, OMD and Japan. When Duran Duran came to Manila, my barkada and I were there in force, singing “Save A Prayer” with closed eyes. I know, I know. And yes, I STILL unabashedly love that kind of music.

17. We had vinyl records then. And the Extended Play Singles or Remix Versions were rare. You can still buy old vinyl records at a store in Cubao, in front of Ali Mall (named for Muhammad Ali when they held “Thrilla in Manila” here).

18. I cannot stand cinnamon. Anything about it – smell, taste, looks - turns my stomach. My theory is that somewhere deep inside me is a traumatic memory. Maybe my mother force-fed it to me or something like that.

19. I wanted to be comic book letter hack, and partially succeeded, getting my letters published in books like Elfquest, Strikeforce: Morituri, Hellblazer and Doom Patrol.

20. I started role-playing then, running games as the DM (Dungeon Master). This gave my imagination free reign and gave me the confidence to tackle almost any situation in life – I just had to be “in character”. But I also learned that not every situation has a “saving throw”.


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