Saturday, December 28, 2002

send in the clones

In other news, a company founded by the Raelians (a religious sect that believes in space aliens) announced that it has produced the world's first cloned baby, Eve, according to Brigitte Boisselier, chief executive of Clonaid and Raelian bishop. Full story.

Hoax or truth? Truth would be more controversial. Some people have been quick to call human cloning "evil". Is it?

best girls

Puerile Man-Thing Warning

During a pit stop last night at Evita's (a PX-goods store that sells everything from wine to canned meat and other sundries), a delivery man told me that next week would indeed be a cause for celebration. Not because of the New Year that everyone would celebrate anyway, but because FHM would be releasing a special issue featuring the "best" girls of the past two years (well, it has only been in publication here for the past two years).

So, this means more pictures of the likes of Diana Zubiri, Maui Taylor and all the fleshpot fantasy makers that graced their magazine.

And why do I write about it?

Ah, because I want this issue!

Because it caters to my deepest basest instincts and turns me into a slobbering silly thing that makes my wife roll her eyes up as if to say "Boys."

One of my New Year's resolutions is to somehow engineer a pictorial with Diana Zubiri for whatever client via Pipeline.

<cheesie grin>

twin celebrations

Today my sisters Reb and Joe celebrate their 25th birthday.

25 years. Gah. I can't believe it.

When we were all much much younger, I would take them out to museums and parks and other places on my odd free Saturdays. We would watch a movie or end up eating somewhere. It's amazing to me how much more they remember than I do, but it does gladden my heart to hear them talk about those times.

And now everyone is older and soon I know they'll have their own families. I'll probably take their kids out with Sage.

I've tried to pinpoint the time when they ceased to be my little sisters and grew up to be wonderful people on their own terms - but I can't. Time is like that, I guess. Some changes are so subtle that the entire drama hits you full-force when you stop moving and just look.

Reb, a chef, may move to Australia to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant (which I committed to help manage as her Maitre d' - I'll probably guzzle all her red wine before she makes a profit though) and Joe will be a doctor soon (she already keeps tabs on Sage as well as Nikki and myself).

Where did all the time go?

And on January 2, in 5 days, I'll turn 34.


comic book shelf

I periodically bully my best friend Vin (love ya, man!) into giving me discounts at his comic store. Apart from the regular issues I get, I am prone to shelling out blood to get trade paperback compilations or original graphic novels to add to my growing collection. My shelves are getting thicker and I'm the point where I actually need a new one to store all TPBs I've been getting. The tragic thing this is that all other real books have been migrated to inside our room, leaving the privilege of being displayed for the comics alone.

My most recent additions include:

Supreme: The Story of the Year (Moore)
New X-Men: e is for extinction (Morrison)
New X-Men: new worlds (Morrison)
Bone: Treasure Hunters (Smith)
Invisibles: Invisible Kingdom (Morrison)
Ultimate Spiderman Vol. 4 (Bendis)
JSA: Return of Hawkman (Goyer)
Forge Vol. 7 & 8 (various)

Moore's run on Supreme is a hoot (the $27 price tag, however, is not). Morrison's run of New X-Men is worth it for the occassional moment of "Huh?" (besides, I like the way he insults all of us old-time X-Men readers by spinning the old characters into sudden new orbits); but the final volume of Invisibles just all-out sucked. The penultimate volume of Bone tried to relive it's earlier charm but failed, leaving the impression of sullen incompleteness - but still Smith's art is just so dear. Bendis continues to write great dialogue in Ultimate Spiderman, making the price of admission an easy expense. The old-time JSA fan in me would keel over if I did not buy the Return of Hawkman story arc (and of course I have all the original issues). And I picked up the two volumes of Forge at the comic convention at a massive discount, so was able to catch up with what's going on at CrossGen (Route 666 is an interesting read).

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

christmas eve

dinner at shangri-la

This year, Nikki, Sage and I joined my family for Christmas Eve dinner at the Garden Restaurant at the Shangri-la Plaza Hotel. The food was worth the stunning price (P1300++ per head), and all my immediate family in Manila was there: Rebecca, Joe, Maureen, Johnny, my Mom and my step-Dad. The dazzling array of choices included lamb, prime rib, sea food, various types of sushi and sashimi and a truly creative dessert selection.

Normally, this time of the year is very stressful for my family, as the pressure of the holidays and the enforced togetherness wreak havoc on the familial political spectrum. We were already for an evening of outbursts, tears and frustration and exposed varying degrees of shock when NOTHING happened. Frankly, it was stunning to have dinner without anyone saying anything untoward. Instead, we had happy conversations, talking about everything: the man in Thailand who bit a crocodile to save his life, the absurb inanities of Filipino gameshows and how pesto is prepared.

Sage was wonderful throughout the mealm social creature that she is. She was dressed in her Christmas attire, matching red and green dress and shoes. She enjoyed the different kinds of cheese we offered her and guzzled away at the mango juice her nanny, Diovine, kept giving her. She even sat by herself in her kiddie seat, which, for this little whirling dervish, is quite a feat.

I don't know, maybe she was just delighted to have everyone coo and fawn over her.

A funny thing happened later when the table next to ours was occupied by another family with a baby girl of roughly Sage's age - who was wearing the exact Oshkosh B'Gosh ensemble! If she were older, it would be a social faux pax (her aunts were laughing) and oddly enough, it made me want to flush the other little girl down the toilet. I mean, how dare she?! Sage, of course, was oblivious to the entire thing, but I realize that buying off the shelf baby clothes gets you situations exactly like this one.

What struck me though was how beautful all the ladies in my family looked - which explains why Sage looks the way she does. Oh, I know she'll be heartbreaker. Thank God she looks more like Nikki than me! In this picture, we have Maureen (my sister, who works for me in Pipeline as Chief Accounts), Princess Monjierra Alonto-Disini (my Mom, who gets questioned when she tries to use her senior citizen card because no one believes she anywhere near old), Nikki (my wife, whose Degas-inspired look fueled many an indecent thought in my head during an otherwise wholesome evening), and Joe (my sister, whose stunning backless dress was enough to shock me into accepting that she and her twin Reb are turning 25 in a few days).

Afterwards, we retired to the house for some wine and partial gift-opening (more gifts will be opened a few hours from now). Sage was sound asleep as we tore into our little expressions of love. I got a Rolex from my Mom and a brand name tie, both of which made me raise my eyebrows because of the startling extravagance. Good thing Nikki and I gave her several items headlined by a lovely leather bag!

I was touched by the twin's gift to me: a belen (nativity scene) because they recalled my mentioning I didn't have one. Mau also added a black shirt to my monohue wardrobe.

When we got home, we opened our gifts to each other and we mutually surprised by the Playstation 2 left behind by Santa for us!

I can't wait for Sage to wake up and open her gifts!

Ah, Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2002

christmas weekend

pipeline party

Our office Christmas party was was divided into 2 parts: afternoon and evening.

In the afternoon, the Survivor afficionados among us (Nikki and myself included) caught the finale of the Thailand series. When Pipe wasn't terribly busy, we used to shut down at 1PM every Friday to watch the live feed of Survivor (in the days when it was really interesting, like Survivor: Africa). Anyway, with a nigh-unlimited supply of chips & salsa, peanuts, wine and beer, we saw Brian win the game. Deep in my heart, I was rooting for Helen, but it was not meant to be. Sigh.

At least it wasn't as bad as the ending of The Amazing Race 3, where Zach and his partner, Ms. Emotional Baggage, won despite all the negativism and all-out whining. I seriously thought of starting a letterwriting campaign to tell Flo that she didn't deserve a single cent. What a bitch.

Later that evening, the extended Pipe family played multiple rounds of everyone's new fave game - Cranium!

My God, that was fun! Highlights include Joseph's stunning rendition of a mermaid (plus his nascent psychic powers), Ajie's minimalist gestures, Maureen's humdingers and the times when all teams had to compete. What a blast! Thanks to everyone who came: Marc, Teret, Pando, Bing, Ajie, Bok, Joseph, Maureen, Jolet, Noel, Kris, Rex, Mandy and Nikki.

After we exchanged gifts, Marc and I announced a round of raises for everyone - much deserved! As I told my crew, Pipe is the sum of its parts. Without their hard work, faith and perserverance, it would have been over long ago. Thanks, guys!

comic convention

The next day, Nikki and I met up with the rest of our little gang and helped man the booth at the C3 Comics Convention. It was a wild anime-themed convention, hence the startling number of people in costume. We were there to give away Ab Ovo and informally launch Carl's Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah book.

We were delighted to see Arnold and Ate Cyn who had the most delightful announcement to make. I'll let them tell it themselves, but it really put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. These are two of most thoughtful, honest, caring and creative people I have the pleasure of calling friends, and the new status quo they've created is cause for celebration!

I also traded comic talk with Ramon (hi, Neva!) and finally met Alia, whose blog I've been following. I experienced a moment of object envy when she whipped out her Sony mini digicam - looking like the perfect accessory for a Sony Vaio. It was like an unexpected eyeball, so we talked about blogs and how we end up reporting eveyday's events (like this).

Back at ComicQuest, copies of The Lost and Ab Ovo made their way into the hands of new readers, much to my happiness, and I got a fistful of new Magic cards from JP.

questventures party

Then off to Le Gran for the group party. We had a lot of food (crispy pata, lengua, barbeque, grilled chicken) and ended up talking films and playing psychoanalytical games with Vin, Flim, Marco, Carl, Dino Yu, Nikki, Mike L and his girlfriend, and Emrys and Rio. Much missed were Arnold and Ate Cyn (who had to do something of related to their happy announcement), Jason (celebrating the holidays in Davao), and Camille (expected back home in a few days time).

One of best parts was the impromtu improv film we made. Flim brought his camera and Carl and I acted out a scenario, dogma-style. Flim will do the edits and we will hold the world-premiere of "It's Too Late" next month. This is the only group I know that can create an film just like that. Can't wait to see it.

Thanks for all the cool gifts I got - a Hinirang staff from Jason, copies of Zsa zsa from Carl, a PS2 mag from Marco, Grimm's Grimmest from Vin and a special CD from Arn and Ate Cyn (featuring Dmitri from Paris!)

sunday with family

At 6, Sage and I began our Sunday ritual of bonding over the videoke channel. Later, my mom and my sister Reb came by and took us to Club Filipino for breakfast, then for lunch at our Greenhills family home where we met up with the rest of family (and all the various show dogs, including the controversial Tofu and the award-winning whippet, Max).

I am always touched by the love my family showers Sage with. It's really different from my new perspective as a parent. It's all about love, baby!

I mentioned to Reb that I had a chef outfit and she immediately gave my a toque to wear (well, Sage decided it was hers, so here's the little chef herself).

It was great seeing all my sisters and my brother again, and we made general plans for Christmas Eve dinner.

Whew! Right now, I'm about to collapse. Having had only 3 hours of sleep does that.

But you know what? It doesn't matter because I'm on holiday! Yay!

Friday, December 20, 2002

damn you, marco!

Wah! Marco got to watch the special gala premiere of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers!

We hates him, we does. Oh, yes we does, my preciousss, we does.

Marco must pay!


Be sure to check out Pauline's spankin' new blog. This friend of ours in Las Vegas has a lot of interesting things to say (and she and Dino have the cutest little boy - Dylan!).

Now if only I can remember my password so I can add it to my blogroll (must.get.memory.overhauled.)

observing pegasus

On one of my last client calls for the year, I had brave the horrible traffic to Quezon City to look for the client's unfamiliar office. I found it all right, but what was more interesting was what was across it.

This area of QC is studded with dens of ill-repute - girly bars, sauna & spa places, massage parlors with extra service ("happy endings"), live shows and the like. Granted, it's a lot tamer now than when I used to frequent the place (the event to see was the toro or live sex show with multiple performers), but one particular club continues to attract attention - Pegasus.

You need to be disgusting rich (and horny) to enter the Club. An hour and a half would cost you around P20k (in a country where a starting monthly salary is around P8k). They say that the girls are very delectable, that the sauna inside is the bomb, and that the service and privacy is incredible.


Not having money of that sort to throw around, I talked to the security guards instead and learned a thing or two about Pegasus. About its very select clientele that includes A-list celebrities and congressmen, about the P2k entrance fee, about the back door protocols, about the new girl with the new Lancer, about how things actually get started at 3pm.

Now if I were taken over by my dark side, I'd fund/invest in a place like this and make a killing. Or a sex motel. Hah!

Anyway, the things I learned made for splendid small talk with the new client and we have a couple of new projects. I guess talking about sex is one of the great icebreakers, where appropriate.

office party

We've rented a room at the Discovery Suites, a nice hotel Nikki and I stay at when the rare power outage occurs, for the Pipeline Media Christmas Party. No theme, no costumes, just food, fun and games. We begin festivities tomorrow afternoon by watching the finale of Survivor:Thailand (my guess is Brian, but I think Helen can take it), taking a dip in the pool, and most likely, a visit to the Spa for me. It will be nice to unwind after this especially hectic week.

It's as if all the stressful things decided to jump out at us at the same time. Gah.

This yuletide break will be just what the doctor ordered.

are you type 1?

Yes, our apparel account is Levi's. So go and check out the nifty little website we crafted for them here. You'll find some cool stuff inside, including digital versions of the two publications we created: Ab Ovo and Stroke. Go, then come back!

Anyway, this is just the first salvo for our portion of the campaign. Coming obscenely early next year - new issues of Ab Ovo, Stroke and more freaky stuff.

Monday, December 16, 2002


Had a big pitch for the telco client today and I think I did well. Creative pitches against other agencies gets my blood rushing because of the fact that I am a very competitive person, and thus, my agency has a bit of that personality quirk as well. I threw myself into the presentation and did my best, so now I can rightfully hope for the best.

But you know, I enjoyed myself so much that I don't really mind if we're not selected at the bitter, bitter end. Why? Because although it would be great to win (and have more money in the collective coffer), sometimes it's not the winning that counts.

An odd sentiment coming from me, I know, but its true.

This is the last working week for the year and I still have things to do, pitches to make and plans to flesh out for the coming year. Looking back, I am struck dumb by the fact that my company is still around at all, given the rather extreme set of circumstances we had to fight through. But somehow we made it, with shiny stars on our portfolio list, a little cash in the bank and enough hope to bring us to tomorrow's challenges. Performance-wise, there are many things I would have done in a different way, but I realize that certain mistakes are better left as mistakes - I learned from them, enough never to repeat them. You have to get burned to know not to touch the hot stove.

Do I deserve accolades or a pat on the back? No, because I am still far from the ultimate goal I wanted. But we are alive and kicking, and that's all that matters - being able to carry on the good fight.

a printer worth loving

After my rant last week, I was convinced that all printers were scum of the earth.

After receiving the shipment of Ab Ovo from Made M, I was so happy and impressed that I called them up and told them what a great job they did. Not a single thing I am unhappy about - I can't believe it. Well, the only thing I'm unhappy about is completely my fault - I think it's too thin! So issue #2 will be a lot fatter.

Heaven is having a good printer.

I'm shifting all the work I can to these folk.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

zsa zsa lives!

One of the best parts of this weekend was seeing Carl's new book "Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah" in the flesh, so to speak. We met for late coffee at Chili's and I was so happy to get my paws on an actual copy of the beautiful squarebound book. It looks fantastic - all you need to do is to place Vertigo's imprimatur on the cover - it looks that great. Carl's cover image, with its in-your--face approach, is simply jaw-dropping. But the best part is the story inside. Let me tell you, I whizzed through the Tagalog language like there was no tomorrow, laughing at Carl's little moments and enjoyed myself perhaps a little too much!

With this, Carl has upped the ante for all of us again. Bravo, bravo! Can't wait for the concluding volume!

the alfar christmas gift

Thanks to Marco's earlier canvassing, I finally picked up a PS2 (the mutual gift between Nikki and myself), along with 2 controllers, a memory card, and all the wiring of course. Plus 15 games, which includes the very reason for getting this for us this Christmas - Suikoden III. It didn't hurt to get a ton of other games as well, like Wild Arms III and a lot more I don't remember. So the entire package is by my side right now, waiting to be giftwrapped so we have something to open on Christmas Day.

I must tell you though that my resolve to wait until then is weaking by the hour!

Yes, I feel like a kid again. Can't wait til Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2002

ghost story

A few days ago, Marco related an odd occurance in his office involving ghostly manipulation of their bathroom faucet.

Well, here''s my little anecdote.

Pipe's office is at a building named Atlanta Centre (yup, with the oh-so-precious British spelling). One of the other tenants is the MTRCB (the government agency that reviews films and TV shows for content). One of their chief officers was a beloved actress named Nida Blanca, quite famous for her comedies. One day, she was found brutally murdered in her car on the 6th floor parking lot. I remember that day vividly because I was irritated by the sudden number of people at the usually quiet building lobby. The murder investigation was at times farcical and truly sad but still unsolved (though her husband has fled the country).

Anyway, a few days after her murder, my staff and I entered the one of the elevators. We punched in our floor and the elevator began to smoothly take us up. It then stopped at the 6th floor despite the fact that no one pressed that floor. Thinking that someone from the outside had punched the button to call the elevator, we waited.

There was no one.

At this time, someone made a joke about Nida's ghost. Some of us made feeble attempts at laughter. Finally, someone pressed the "door close" button. Immediately, a warning beep resounded and the LED screen informed us that the elevator was suddenly overloaded.

Various people tried pressing the button to close the door but it refused to. No one was laughing.

Someone said "Nida, padaanin mo na kami" ("Nida, please let us through").

The beeps stopped, the doors closed and the anecdote ends.


Sorry, gentle reader, but things have been unbelievably hectic these past few days. As you know, Christmas is right around the corner and requirements from clients have my company going beyond the call of duty to accomplish things before the break. Extra business, of course, is always good, however when SNAFUs occur when everyone is running around busy, well, life becomes quite...interesting.

tow, tow, tow your car

For example: A couple of days ago, my partner Marc and I went to telco bid briefing (with incredibly complex requirements that made my head spin - but that's not the story). This company has their own huge building and parking is impossible. So we parked some distance away under a sign that clearly said "No Parking". We rationalized that since it was only a briefing, it wouldn't take us forever - besides, a number of other cars were parked in the same area. Anyway, our briefing went overlong due to the technical blahblahs and we ended up spending a little over wo hours there. When we got out at past 4pm, we walked to where we parked and it was gone. In it's place was a note held down by a rock telling us that the car was taken away by a wrecker (I don't even know why they can't call a tow-truck a tow-truck - wrecker sounds so ominous). So of course we were pissed. We ended up running around a la Amazing Race trying to beat the clock and the traffic while looking for where the car was taken (we had to make it before the end of office hours or go the next day). We ended up taking a bus, jumping out, consulting a map, asking direction, etc., and all the time my feet were killing me (had spiffy shoes on - looks great, but definitely not for extended ambulatory activity).

We finally found the place with minutes to spare and I lent Marc money to redeem his car. While waiting for his paperwork to be processed, I looked around a found a bulletin board festooned with pictures of various vehicles and the towers, with a sign in pentel pen that said "Hung Hunks". Sheesh. Anyway, it cost us P1.2k, which wasn't so bad (we DID break the law willingly). At least the officers allowed Marc to get his car even without all the silly requirements like the original official receipt of purchase (who carries that?). On the way back to the office, we chose just to laugh at the entire thing. The moral, of course, is: wear sensible shoes. You never know when you have to run like mad.

death to printers

And today, after meeting up with another technology client (this one for really funky map services), we got a call that a printer defaulted on work we gave to them and expected to be delivered. To cut the long story short, the printer lied to us, misrepresenting themselves as a printer when in truth they were just color separators. Turns out that one of their marketing people owned her own little printing press and she gave the work to herself. Nepotist bitch! The worst was when we invaded her press and found out that she had only one machine and it was, get this, a one-color press (for those not in the know, most publications are four color, which means that Nepotist Bitch had run each page 4 times)! Our order was a 14-page desk calendar, back-to-back printing at 1200 copies. Her machine couldn't handle it. Why did she commit to us? She wanted our money! Gah!

We spent the rest of the day talking to another printer (whom I got upset at too at an earlier time, but at least I know they have real machines) and making sure that the everything was turned over (negatives, progressives, the works). Due to the restarted printing process, which begins with ordering the paper stock, it will be another week before the calendar sees the light of day. So of course our client is upset because the calendar is time-sensitive and had to be sent today to Europe. Since we couldn't make the deadline we committed too, we are going to have to shoulder the cost of shipping these things ourselves.

I have this thing at the office that resembles a miniature mannequin. We got it from Hong Kong and it's helpful when we need to visualize poses for shots or illustrations because of its mulitple articulated joints. I could not help but think about it because I have spent many an odd moment putting the little bugger through horrible contortions.

Like what I wanted to do to this printer!

What pissed me off was the fact that the stupid printer hid from me, refusing to take my calls. Ultimately, I threatened grave things and got the Nepotist and gave her a piece of my mind. Her excuse? She "miscalculated". Miscalutated my ass. Do the math, you moron. If everything completely falls apart, I'm charging them for lost business for the project plus damages. Our client's business to Pipe is valued in the millions of pesos. If we lose this client, I will become a monk. Well, no, not really, but something like that. After I do violent things. And swear colorfully.

Of course, what this does is freak me out about all the other projects we have in various stages of printing at our other suppliers: comic, magazine, cards, etc.

I hate, loathe and abhor being at the mercy of these printers!

If I had money I'd set up a printing press and I'd - no, no. I'd buy condo and office units and lease them out, be a landlord and get money doing nothing.

Or take out a series of full page ads and malign every printer I've ever fought, and that's really a lot (a light moment during my stress was trying to remember which printer I haven't fought = zero).

And that's just the tip of the iceberg for a week that has been nothing short of dramatic.

Gah, indeed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

o christmas tree

Familiar with the expression "surprised by joy"? That's how I felt yesterday. I was planning to get a tree for Sage, remember? Then my mother calls to tell me she's sending over a tree! When I got home, I saw it all set up, lovely and faux green. Then the doorbell rings and it's my mother's driver with Christmas ornaments for the tree and a wreath for our door. Nikki came home with more lovely ornaments and lights, and at last... it's beginning to feel like Christmas. She and Diovine, Sage's yaya, will put the finishing touches today, including installing Santa (holding a lit electric candle) on top.

Sage was delighted and intrigued by all the commotion, and of course tried to fell the tree. I soothed her by offering her a shiny red ball that she prompty tried to eat.

secret website

Our group's website project is all done, with just the tweaks needed before we upload it. I'm terribly excited about this because it's the first group effort online. Can't wait to announce it here and give the link. Nikki and I have fiction pieces there.

comic convention launches

On Dec 21-22, we will be launching a number of books. On the roster, pending an absurd act of fate, are:

Ang Kagila-gilalas Na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni ZsaZsa Zaturnnahby Carlo Vergara. From Carl's press release:

After his first comic book, the gay-themed “One Night In Purgatory”, garnered acclaim by landing a finalist slot in the recent Manila Critics' Circle National Book Awards and being mentioned in the Sanghaya Yearbook of the National Commission for Culture and Arts as the best comic book of 2001, Carlo Vergara is set to release his second book, ANG KAGILA-GILALAS NA PAKIKIPAGSAPALARAN NI ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH.

”Zsazsa Zaturnnah” tells about Ada, a gay man, who receives a mysterious stone that grants him the power to transform into a woman. As Zaturnnah, Ada defends his hometown from extraterrestrial amazons. Joining him in this light comedy adventure are his sidekick Didi and his secret crush Dodong. Written in Filipino, “Zsazsa Zaturnnah” is for mature readers due to suggestive content and strong language.

The 65-page first part will be available in mid-December at all ComicQuest branches (SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, Festival Mall Alabang) for only Php120. The second part will hit the shelves in late-February.

TXTMen #1 by Nikki Alfar (words), Armand Roy Canlas (art), Dean Alfar (Filipino translation), Jason Banico (editor/producer)

The power of Adepts and Portals are explored in this light-hearted romp by Dynatica Comics. 'nuff said!

Ab Ovo #1 by Dean Alfar (words), Carlo Vergara+Tony Bucu+Sidney Santos+Josef Garcia+Bok Jamlang (art), Nikki Alfar (editor)

Kestrel Studios presents thoughts on eggs, among other things.

With Arnold Arre's release this year of After Eden and Marco Dimaano's web comic Immacolata (part of aforementioned secret site), our circle of creators is well-represented.

And the plans for next year are nothing short of ambitious!

Monday, December 09, 2002


Ha! it's done! It's done! And it looks great! Will begin distribution over the weekend.

online stuff

Just came back from a morning meeting with the people responsible for creating the online bidding and procurement system for one of our government clients. Henceforth, all bids by suppliers like Pipeline will be done electronically - and it's about time! The system is huge and affords unexpected benefits for organizations like ours, primarily exposing us to other potential clients with a variety of requirements. For instance, when a body needs 18 new SUVs and they request for a public bid, we automatically get a notice (not that I have cars to sell, but you get the point). We can also put up the equivalent of an online storefront with Pipeline's services, allowing other buyers to find us.


Sage's grandmother came over for a visit, bringing vegetables and hilarious stories of her brief sojourn in Marawi City towards the end of Ramadan. My poor mother, dizzy from the rigors of the required fasting, came through the experience with aplomb. When I tried to fast, I felt so weak and eventually gave in to the temptation of food. I think it wouldn't have been so bad if I could smoke, but even that is not allowed.

I finished Abarat and was completely underwhelmed. Apparently, Disney has bought the film rights to this 3-part series of novels by Cliver Barker in the hope of finding the next big thing. I could be utterly mistaken but the book was just crap. Like I said earlier, there are some good ideas there, but overall it left me with an irritated raised eyebrow.

Saturday night, our we and our friends had very late dinner at North Park, gorging on Chinese food. What to have? Try the YangChow Rice, Sweet and Sour pork (very gweilo, I know, but it's quite good), asado, broccoli and their wanton/dim sum combination. According to Vin, the Chrysanthemum Juice is to die for (right, if you're a Spencerian fairy). We wanted to join them for coffee afterwards, but both needed to get some sleep for the next day with Sage.

Friday night, we had Nikki and I had oysters at Marina. We met with a young writer who wanted to get our services as teachers and editors for his upcoming novel. We read through his frist 8 chapters and accepted, based on 2 things: we wanted to help; and he has a clean, clear writing style. More on this as it develops.

After that, we went to Chili's with the guys and the topics of conversation were our upcoming publications and website, as well as the kooky things that only a group of close friends particularly care about.


I'm getting a tree for Sage today. Will tell you what happens later.

Friday, December 06, 2002


I probably sound like a broken record, but I can't get over how quickly time seems to fly.

I remember just a while back that Sage could fit comfortably in the span of space between my hand and inner elbow. If I tried to carry her that way now, I'd most likely break my arm. I also recall the times when she was the soul of silence (except when she was hungry or wet), looking up and watching her mobile spin round and round above her. Or when we'd fear she'd drown in the little blue bathtub that encompassed her entire tiny being.

She's getting bigger and stronger and faster and smarter (SFX: Six Million Dollar Man Theme).

I woke up late this morning to the sound her speech (like the language of elves - which really should not be surprising considering what "Alfar" means, and I'm still in awe that she is no changeling and is 100% ours), so I followed the sounds and found her on the floor, encircled by her books (several titles including ABC, Old McDonald, Counting to 10 and the incongruous "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" by Stephen King). She was looking at the pictures, pointing at animals and people with her forefingers and happily "talking" to them. (This is a big step, because previously, she would just smile and then try to eat any book we read to her.)

I stood there, just watching my little girl and I felt old and young at the same time, my heart filling up with the joy of being a father (her father!) and I thought of the day when I can take her to a bookstore and get her books of her choosing. I want to shower her with everything - the reward is the smile on her face and the trill of her tongue as she shapes laughter into music that never fails to bring me to the verge of tears.

What will she be when she grows up?

Anything and everything she wants.

Nikki and I will build her world until the time she constructs her own.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

weekend wonder

Because of the Eid'l Fitr holiday, we have a long weekend ahead. Time enough to get some rest (been fighting off malaise and general ill feeling for the past few days), read, do Christmas shopping, maybe some writing.

When I was younger and a three-day stretch appeared on the calendar, I remember being able to do a lot more things. I wouldn't mind driving around looking for old comics or going around new bars.

But now, all I want to do is stay home with Nikki and Sage.

A friend called it "nesting", but really, it's just that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else except with them (this does not negate dinner out though!). With a weekend, I can play and stay with Sage during the daytime, which I can't do during weekdays. She's growing up fast and has introduced new vowels and sounds to her repertoire. Just yesterday, she and Nikki surprised me at the entrance of the condo - and seeing my daughter's face light up dispelled the tiredness

Everyday, something big or small happens, as she stands, crawls, laughs, cries or tries to answer the phone.

I don't want to miss a thing.

Is a Filipino phrase derived from the Spanish, meaning "a deep sense of propriety". Apparently, our Lady President has no delicadeza because yet again she has performed an error of judgement which reflects badly on her integrity. A few days ago, she appointed her husband, the First Gentleman, as "special envoy for overseas Filipino workers". To soften the shock, she announced that he would not be paid a salary, instead she would pay him with "love".

Putting aside all thoughts of our country's leaders cavorting in bed (in lieu of an official salary), what she has done is clearly against the very first administrative order she signed when she came into power - prohibiting all public officials from transacting with spouses and relatives up to a certain degree.

So what now? The palace, responding to public criticism, stated that if the appointed is found to be unlawful, then they will remove the First Gentleman from the post.

Silly, silly.

Well, at least the royal family of Japan found our President "cute" during her state visit.

Imagine that.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

adventures in the snow

Yup, Nikki and I have finally gotten Icewind Dale II and it's loads of fun. As I must have mentioned before, we're suckers for these kinds of games. One of the cool features is being able to create up to 6 characters from a whole bunch of races, sub-races, classes, orders and such. Since it uses D&D's 3rd Edition Rules, you can customize like mad and try to min-max your party (or go the opposite route and create silly things like a Gnome Barbarian).

As usual, half my party are spellcasters of some sort (what can I say? I love magic!) with the balance being 2 Fighter-types and a Rogue. I'm resisting the temptation to keep restarting because in the midst of playing, I suddenly think of a cool new character set. Guess I'll finish the game first! With Baldur's Gate II, Neverwinter Nights and this game, we're happy campers.


With Marc (stylist), Maureen (lights) and Joseph (production assistant), I took the shots for one of our client's product catalogues that will appear online. There was a mad scramble at first to find an appropiate white surface (because I want to shoot the apparel flat and then just digitally place a background), but we found a huge piece of white something in the office. I set my camera to its maximum resolution and I was quite happy when I viewed my shots.

Still subjects are great to shoot because...they don't move. Sage, on the other hand, has to be caught unaware. If she sees me with the camera, she comes crawling like mad to eat it.

I really really really really need to take classes in lighting, though. My brain reels at the principles of lighting, sorta like...math.


I've decided to give the entire office a nice Christmas break. Last day for work is Dec. 20 and everyone reports back in on Jan. 3. This allows for travels around the country or just to recharge, get back in touch with loved ones or forget all about our regular daily stress. for our Christmas party, we'll all hie off to Dampa in Paranaque and gorge ourselves silly on seafood.

No programs, no speeches, just food. And fellowship.

My partners and I have been blessed with a great staff and crew who have stuck through thick and thin with us. There is only so much I can do by myself. The real hard work is done by this merry band. This is the least we can do for them.

art in the buff

Talk of the town is Diana Zubiri, again. She's posed completely in the nude for Philippine National Artists, repeating a situation that occurred before with Rosanna Roces and some other lovely ladies. Why the furor? Well, because every hot-blooded male I know suddenly wished they were National Artists, or the lucky photographer and cameraman who covered the unveiling. Zubiri, who struck several poses at 15 minutes each, complained that posing was moire difficult than expected, but gave it her naked best.

Of course, some observers asked why the militant church organizations create a ruckus when her sexy films are shown in theatres but admire her nubile form when it is presented as "art".

Me, I'd like to invite her to the Pipeline office for a special sketching session with my artists.

For art's sake, naturally.

Ah, who am I kidding? :)


Just came back from a party at Shiraz, a wine bar in Makati, hosted by our apparel client. It was small and cozy and red wine flowed like there was no tomorrow. I've also seen a curious object of desire - Levi's Red Loop Jeans, at around P3k each, limited to 2000 pieces for the entire country. Nikki and I went along with Marc and his wife Teret plus Dindo and chowed down on the great food. In a way, it was great to be back at Shiraz; after all, Pipeline designed their logo and menu, and Dindo's restaurant acts as a commissary for the bar.

One of the reasons we were there was to get final approval from the client as to the cover of Ab Ovo. They opted for a male version (too bad for the nice cover Carl designed), so Kestrel Studios' production manager, Tony Bucu, came up with a couple of studies using artwork from another story. Having to go through another color sep process does have an impact on our schedule, but I think we can still make it. I instructed the new printers to go ahead with all the interior pages anyway.


Peculiar developments in the world of food: Greece won the exclusive rights to the term "Feta". Immediately, only Greece and its regions can call ewe's milk "Feta" - and no one else in the world can! France won the right for "Roquefort" but lost "Champagne" when America went up in protest. Sheesh. Well, at least I know that the Philippines can lay claim to all the "Adobo" and "Bagoong" it wants.

Now let's play catch-up over the last few days.


I spent mostly at home, feeling ill. But I had to go and pay the electric bill so I had my head shaved as is my wont. Finished with the translation for the 2nd issue of "TXTMen", which Jason later edited. I think our new working arrangement is that we submit scripts already translated, instead of going the usual route. Tagalog is a pain to write. Everything seems longer and the repetitive nature of certain syllables wears me out. Additionally, I have to strike a balance between the formal and the vernacular, which really gets hairy at times. Still, it's good exercise for the brain and at the same time it keeps me in touch with the language of my country. I would hate to lose that.


Nikki and I spent our 7th wedding anniversary in bed.

No, not for the reasons you think, but because we were both ill. We caught the flu and poor Sage also had a fever (due to her 7th tooth coming out).

I had planned for us to have a romantic dinner and all that, but it was simply not meant to be. Seven years flew by and gave us incredible experiences, both good and bad. We had our share of happiness and tragedy, much like everyone else, and our togetherness makes us stronger. I love my wife tremendously and I would be lost without her.

Can you tell how happy we are in our wedding picture?

computer daze

But what really took the cake was when I tried to turn on my computer and all I got was a dead screen and an ominous beeping noise from its innards. Shocked, I lugged the damn PC and WALKED to Greenhills (feeling I would faint at any time because of my fever) only to find th shop where I bought it was closed. So I went to another shop and watched them connect my PC to their monitor - and it worked. I explained that I was certain it was not my monitor at all. They suggested perhaps it was my memory card. Anyway, I went back home with the PC, dumped it, and walked to my office to pick up a spare monitor. When I got back, the spare monitor had the same problem - power on, but a blue field stating in no uncertain terms that it was not getting a signal. So I manfully dismantled the entire thing and exposed my complete and utter ignorance of how a computer works. Desperate, I called my shop, found out that they were finally open, and had a technician come over to help me. They agreed (and they should, since I purchased 12 computers and 13 monitors from them last year) and I sat down with Sage to calm down. When the tech guy arrived, he proved that all my problems stemmed from the fact that the memory card was grounded - and he had to go back to shop for parts. Sigh. I told him to pick up some memory for my PC as well. Ultimately, it was fixed. The final cost? Much walking around carrying heavy things (those monitors are heavy sons-of-bitches), around P2.5k for service and memory card, and much stress.

What an anniversay, eh?


Sage attended the 2nd birthday of her cousin, J. Dean (yup, named after me) at Burger King. She was delighted to be in the company of other kids close to her age and made a fair go at climbing the slide like the big girls. I took this picture at the play area where they have this contraption that kids can climb, crawl into, hang on to and slide down from.

Isn't she just gorgeous?

I also took the opportunity to take pictures of other family members for the massive family tree I'm putting together. My aunt surprised me with old photos of me from birth to around 8 years-old for my collection.

I love old pictures and trying to identify all the people in them. Some I eventually recognize. Others remain a cipher I have to figure out. It seems that so many people played a role in my growing up, large and infinitesimial, in California, Palawan and Manila.


The guys and I went to a buffet and stuffed ourselves silly. Actually, it was three buffets you could choose from - Japanese, Spanish/American and Filipino. I opted for the Filipino foods, gorging myself without guilt on all the dishes available. Once in a while, you just have to say "fuck it" and chew the fat, literally. Just don't do it too often.

After that, we had coffee at Cibo and I took pictures of their cool bathroom with all the mirrors and the funky sink. Good enough for the mirror project?

We delighted ourselves with the incongrous thought of Jason as Spiderman (we would all look silly in spandex) swinging around the city.

After that, we tried to get a cab with our friends but it was jsut impossible. Then, feeling like a cell phone television commecial, I called the nearby hotel and told them to hold a car for my wife and I. The unexpected expense of renting a car was balanced by the fact that we at last got home before the sun rose.