Token Pinoy

>> Saturday, November 17, 2007

I have never partied with a multi-racial, multi-national, multi-cultural group before so when Nasser invited me to join a bunch of Qatar Living regulars I was a bit hesitant but I knew I would never pass on the chance.

Nasser was already at the bar, an Indian band was playing songs that didn't quite fit Qatar--covers of animal sounding bands anthems like Scorpions, Eagles, and Def Leppard. After introductions I was sure Nasser didn't pick the place (one flawless Oprah impression did the trick!).

I thought I'd feel out of place but the group was as warm as a freshly baked pie. There was an American, a Canadian, a couple of French guys, a Greek, a couple of Flips, and Nasser, the only Qatari. A few other fellows came and went, at some point there was an Indian and two Iranians (yes, there are gays in Iran). When the other Flips hopped to the hipper bar I instantly became the token Pinoy.

As the token Pinoy I played my part well, I asked a lot of questions, although shyly at first, then I eased up and talked to my neighbors. As the token Pinoy, I tried to crack a punchline every now and then. As the token Pinoy, I drank faster than everyone else--I keep forgetting that the tagay system did not apply there.

When the night ended, Nasser was so wasted but decided that shaving and having been compared to a Persian (cat, that is), were all worth it. He asked me if I was alright because he thought I seemed 'different' from the 'blogger' that he read and the 'blogger' in person. I could've showed him the first two minutes of The WineKone's Launch Party Afterthoughts had it been on Youtube already. He asked me if I had fun. I said I did.

I did. And I found out that being the token Pinoy wasn't such a big deal after all. It was just like having Nasser as the token Qatari, or Erin as the token Canadian, etc. In the end we were just a bunch of guys that probably didn't have anything in common except for a unified mission of having a good time.

By the next weekend, I was already working my way up as part of the regular cast and meeting other regulars as well, including a token Indian, a token Australian, a token Moroccan, a token Brazilian, a token...OUT

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Old Haunts

>> Thursday, November 1, 2007

It was a little over 3PM when we got to the cemetery, all ten of us, dressed in black and searching for a place to do a photo shoot. It was almost the end of the semester and the last of the Major subjects before some of us would go on to internship. Van's Advance Advertising group--composed entirely of our barkada--was named Witches and Wizards and we're doing the shoot for their company profile. Why I wasn't part of the group was because of my own idea. Our instructor wanted 9 members per group. I suggested we draw lots. My suggestion bit me.

By that time at the cemetery, we were already inseparable. People either loved or hated us but we didn't care. We made so much noise in Masscom, upped the department's standards (we believe that, but don't take my word for it) and shook the competition between ourselves and our classmates. Each of us had our own abilities to contribute to our growing group. Our backgrounds made us unique but our group moved as one.


Counterclockwise from right to left: Jasbabe the Diva, Anthony the Performer, Ruby Jane the Beauty, Jap the Writer, Haguia the Brain, Arnold the DJ, Gio the Rockstar, Carole the VJ, Van the Model, and Mae Ann the Politician.


Our group broke stereotypes at school, we aspired for innovation in our work and never settled for anything less. What was impossible was achievable as long as we helped each other. It was almost hard to believe that a group of friends could be intelligent, talented, creative, popular, beautiful, spiritual and still know how to party.

It wasn't always fun. We had our share of fights, misunderstandings, debates, stand-offs and cold bouts but we'd always kiss and make-up no matter how short or long it took.

A year after the cemetery pictorial, our group grew bigger as more people joined us--Bien the Diplomat, Don the Partymeister, and Derf the Joker but he's a TV personality now so all respect should be given to him. There are several other people but the ones I mentioned are essentially the heart and soul of our barkada, our second family, at least that's how I saw it.



One blog post is not enough to summarize our group's colorful history so I'll just end it with a video from the Jologs archives. We are not dead but in this season of remembrance the departed are not the only ones worth remembering.OUT

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12 Things I've Learned in Qatar: #12 - Walk, Ride and Drive at Your Own Risk

>> Sunday, October 28, 2007

In a month I'll be a year old in Doha. I thought I'd look back and list the things I have learned the past twelve months in what I wittingly call: 12 Things I've Learned in Qatar.


#12 - Walk, Ride and Drive at Your Own Risk

A confession: the first time I rode a taxi in Doha, the driver charged me QR50 for a trip that, I later found out, would've cost only 15 bucks. It was one of those old yellow taxis. The good thing is that they're all phased out now.

After that incident, I began walking. City Center to Suoq: an hour and a half. Al Sadd to Bin Omran: 45 minutes. Al Rayyan to TV Roundabout: one hour. TV Roundabout to Corniche: 35 minutes. At first I tortured my feet but it didn't take long to build up my endurance. I've walked during the winter at 15 degrees, and midday summer at 45 degrees. The two main reasons would either be lack of money or lack of taxis.

As the months passed I realized that some private cars would double as cabs. It's tricky though; you have to know the usual fare to a particular destination because some of these guys overcharge if they smell tourist. Fortunately or unfortunately, there were some instances that the driver wanted a different fee. A kind brush-off usually does the trick and you get a free ride. There were also good samaritans, but I always get cynical when I think about those people.

I thought that with all the walking and ranting about Qatar's public transportation system I'd be begging for a car. Nah. At least once a week (and I'm being kind here) there's an accident in the city streets and chances are it's a major one. Hummers flying, Land Cruisers in total wreck, and smaller cars reduced to a tin can ready for recycling. The body count is constantly ticking despite the strong campaign on road safety (further reading on Qatar Traffic Accidents at Qatar Visitor). I've only driven once in Doha and it was a weird mix of freedom and certain death with SUVs impatiently beaming their headlights behind you, ready and perhaps eager to crush you unless you get out of the fast lane in three seconds. Once in a while, road-related statistics headline the papers, begging really, telling everyone to SLOW DOWN. That's not all. At the end of the day, you go online, run your plate number on the government's e-Service site and find out you've accumulated fines way past your monthly salary (of course I'm talking about my measly pay). Ouch. So, no thanks, I'll walk or take a crowded bus instead.

Qatar is a fast-developing country but maybe some drivers misunderstood the 'fast' part. The roads here are generally wide and well-paved but it seems that accidents are waiting to happen just around the corner. Those with vehicles should be luckier than us commuters, but somehow I feel safer walking than driving. If only Doha has a better public transportation system--LRTs, more taxis and buses, and better pedestrian walkways and shaded bus stops--going around the city would be more fascinating.

Now, if you're the kind of driver who has a death wish, please, kill yourself in the confines of your own home and help keep the roads of Doha safe.OUT

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Charge Me With DUI

>> Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thursday night. I'm down to my last hundred and last few ounces of sanity. Self-proclaimed fag hag Johanna called; said a girlfriend is celebrating her birthday at Qube and they need a bodyguard. I'm thinking Kevin Costner and she's thinking Jap. It didn't take long to persuade me. I'm broke but I've got a quarter bottle of cheap vodka sitting in my closet. I told Johanna I'll meet them at the club after I pre-party in my room.

Sugar-free Red Bull, 7-Up Free, and bottled water on my table. Not much of a choice. I took two generous shots of vodka 7-up, straight, barely mixed in a paper cup. I was smiling silly as I brushed my teeth and waved goodnight to Khalid. I crisscrossed my way to the bus stop and counted the amused knowing smiles of passersby. I waited for a taxi. I wished a private taxi would pick me up before I wore off my high. And just like a manipulative scene from the Ocean's 11 franchise a private taxi pulls up in front of me almost immediately.

10 minutes and 10 riyals later I'm standing outside Qube trying to figure out the new entrance. Enter through the hotel lobby, a voice from somewhere. I started to walk and caught a glimpse of another lost patron; told him to join me. Tall, chubby, buttoned-up Lebanese picked up my pace and handed me a Red. Thanks, but no. I took out my Lights and as I lit, I saw a tattoo on his arm--a sorry little "F". Nice tattoo, must stand for your name, huh? He misunderstood because he said it means 'I love my mother'. He moved closer and there it was, just below the "F", a faint line of Arabic script. When we got to security check, I unbuttoned F's shirt, told him to loosen up and wished him luck with the girls.

Johanna's troops weren't around yet so I decided to sustain tipsy, headed to the bar and had a beer in less than five minutes. Lights flashed and my smile widened. Who said I was lonely? No one could tell. The girls arrived, I counted four and I greeted happy birthday to two before I got the right one. Dance was their plan and with inhibition fading with each burp, I gladly strutted with them. We danced like a tribe, their big bags--in the middle of our circle--our bonfire. Almost an hour on the dance floor before the girls got drinks. They tabled me like a gigolo and gave me a beer, I'm losing it with each sip.

After another bottle of beer I was already laughing for no reason. Destination: dance floor, again, but I needed more fuel. I went to the bar and asked for Corona Extra. Loud music. Corona Extra. The bartender mouthed some words to confirm my drink. I said yes. I ended up with a big glass of vodka, some other alcohol and cola. Sweet! Back to the girls and go crazy.

Men from all over the world have already invaded my tribe and the girls kept chanting, brushing them off, the men got all the more challenged. This is where I come in, the reason why they asked me to go out with them in the first place--to protect them from men who won't leave Qube without pussy. Instead of pushing them out of our circle, I sexy-danced with each man who tried to score with my girls. They danced with me for a few seconds then moved away and decided to stalk another group instead. Lovely tactic, and everyone in my tribe is safe and happy. Everyone.

Lights on at 2:30 AM. The girls have left a little earlier. I barely made it to a cab, cursed every roundabout on the way home. Puke was threatening with each step to my room. I made it. Stripped, resigned to the spinning room, slept.

I woke up at 4PM, fresh, without the smell of alcohol (the wonders of vodka) and just minor cigarette stench. But I limped all the way to the bathroom. I probably tore a tendon from all the grinding, I didn't feel it while dancing under the influence.OUT

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I'm No Kurosawa But...

>> Saturday, October 20, 2007

I find myself in a room, standing, watching busy people moving furniture. I have a blanket wrapped around me, I think I'm naked, I think I'm sick. Someone calls me and asks for a hand with a bed. We lift the bed; its posts hit the ceiling. The girl at the headboard starts to recreate a scene from a horror movie, I'm thinking The Exorcist but for some reason she registers like Monique Wilson with gray, muddy eyes and seaweed hair. We laugh and start lifting again. Any time now the director will shoot the scene. We put the bed down. They look at me. They're waiting for the blanket. I think I'm naked.

I'm walking, orange pillow in hand. I think I'm headed to a club. I arrive at an old building made of wood. Pillows are not allowed not even orange ones. I fold the pillow and turn it into a nice gift box with nothing in it. I suddenly have the urge to pee. To my right, a restroom sign—that way. I go to it and find myself on a rusty roof. This is the way. The restroom is on a roof. A wire fence separates the roof from the toilet. Climb over it and pee. I touch the chicken wire and get electrocuted. I squirm in my bed. I pull my hand from the wire and hit the dog beside me. The dog bites my hand, starts to chew on it. I struggle to save my fingers, sharp pins pricking my thumb. I flinch in my bed.

I'm taking a shortcut back to the club. The street is depressing, dark, gloomy. Peddlers line the streets, selling hope. A man is walking towards me. He throws something, a fan in red and white. It has feathers, it has wings, it's a bird. The bird flies in slow motion, four furry balls in different colors orbit it. The man snaps his fingers and the balls drop to the ground and bounce back to the air and turn into birds. The place fills with color from a continuous magic bird multiplicity. I want to buy one of those. I ask the man, but I look around and I'm alone.

I need to go to the club but I don't think it's a club anymore but someplace safe.
The street I'm walking on is deserted. I look back and see a giant slob of a man in caveman loincloth holding a giant mortar and pestle combo instead of the usual mace. It's an ogre. I think he's after me so I walk faster. He grinds as he walks. I'm back at the wooden building; the ogre is closing in on me. I enter slowly. I'm safe.

I'm in the suburbs. Some kids on bikes breaking chocolate milk bottles. I find a park with some colorful but peculiar looking small statues. The statues look like alien blobs with hints of a face but not much of a body. They start to move and play then stop still again. Move and play and then keep still again. Statue dance, literally.

Near the park is a tall tree. It's almost like a balete but its ropes are thicker and they move like an octopus' tentacles—fluid, calculated movements. The tree is full of fruits that look like tennis balls but in dark green felt. There's a perfect hole on the ground beside the tree and the ground slopes down to that hole. A tentacle gently picks a fruit and softly rolls it on the smooth ground. The fruit rolls into the black hole. Silence. Then a rumble. The ground starts to shake and sea waves blast through the edge of the park and flood the alien statues.

Another tentacle grabs a fruit. I think I have to stop it from rolling into the hole. I run toward it, I fail. There's a cupboard full of toys beside me. The toys come to life as the ground shakes. I grab a garbage bag and wait for the toys to jump into it. I trap them. I think I need a huge amount of glue. When the toys are all in the bag, I'll fill it with glue, they'll stick together, I'll be safe.

Wake up, I think I hear me say. Lying on my bed, I open my eyes and see myself kneeling in front of me. I'm inches away from my own face. I switch views, I see myself on my bed, groggy, drunk; I'm the sober one. I switch views again and I see the sober one say something. I can't hear the words. I hope it's not something bad. I see myself smile at me. I wake up.OUT

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Out of Type

>> Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sometimes I tend to box a person into a certain character. Once in a while, a never-before-seen trait jumps out of that box and it's either pleasant or disgusting, but it's always a surprise.

Like how Mustafa insisted that I let him drive me to Villagio even if it's far and out of the way. I was ready to wait in the sunset and spend 15 QRs on a taxi fare when Mustafa saw me near the office. He told me to get in the car without even asking where I'm headed, which made him either genuinely generous or downright stupid. He didn't flinch when I told him I'm going to the mall--the far one--but I think I felt that we both braced ourselves for a long uncomfortable ride. The trip wasn't bad. The conversation we had was trivial but it wasn't forced.

He was leaving that evening for Saudi Arabia for a sort of pilgrimage. He may be an ass sometimes but you got to give him props for being religious. I was mildly interested with the topic and found that I had enough questions for him until we reached Villagio. At the entrance, and in between religious discussion, he asked me which gate I wanted to be dropped off, without blinking I told him "Virgin". He smiled as if he smelt instead of heard the word.

As I got off the car I thanked Mustafa and told him that his driving greatly improved from life-threatening to minor-injury levels. I wasn't kidding either because it was the first time I sincerely felt comfortable with him as the driver. He said it was his pleasure, and it felt like he sincerely meant it too.

Meanwhile, I've discovered something dangerous about Edmar's character. I thought he's just annoying sometimes with his brand of 'small talk' that blindsides you just when you were thinking how lovely your day was going. I do try to ignore that, err him, and I can live with it no matter how hard he tries to magnify the mundane into a catastrophic problem (ie no sleep = cancer, too short haircut = chemo therapy).

But to make up stories about people? I think he has crossed the line from boredom to insanity. He told me that Mustafa and Hosam, had a brawl in their room one evening. My journalist instincts started to ask him questions, and while he couldn't answer most of my questions to save his story from the trash--how he saw it, who told him about it, etc.--I still believed it enough to be worthy of tabloid space.

So I told the same story to Khalid and he told me that Edmar had told him the story already but claimed that it was only a joke, something he made up. Two things bothered me: 1. Why didn't Edmar retract the story when he told it to me, and 2. Why would he cook up something like that in the first place?

He knows that Mustafa and Hosam are two figures in the office who are least liked. Pitting them against each other would make an interesting fight on MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch. Still, a 27-year-old guy doesn't make up such bogus story in a supposedly formal office setting. Unless, he has an agenda. Could it be that he only wants me to smile? Could it be that he wants me to react and quote me on that for the Egyptians?

His motive is still vague. For all I know, he might be bored. But like I said, maybe he has crossed that line already. He does have a history of drug use and who knows how far gone his brain cells are now.

It's surprising how you discover more and more about a person even after several long months of being around them. I wonder if I also surprise them, too. I'm sure some readers have been surprised about my posts or comments in this blog.

Maybe it's too soon to put a person in a box. You never really know a person until you really know him. What I hear, see, and read about a person is only what he wants to reveal about himself. But what I should be in the lookout for are those unguarded moments when more good or bad traits spring out of the character. Nobody's perfect, but it does make a person interesting. I'm writing about two guys, and you're reading about them. Yep, interesting enough even when they're acting out of type.

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Desktopped

>> Sunday, October 14, 2007

I know I said that I'm not doing tag games anymore but what can I do? "So unimpressed but so in awe, such a saint but such a whore. So self-aware, so full of shit. So indecisive, so adamant." (Come Undone by Robbie Williams). Trust me, I sing that song with all my heart.

Gypsy tagged me. She said something like get a screenshot of your desktop and show and tell. Here is the show part:


Here is the tell part:
There's nothing much to say. It's a mess. I get a dozen emails a day for my boss and most of those emails have attachments. It's easier for me to locate the attachment on the desktop. The attachment stays there for a week before I move it to a "Desktop Items" folder which means it's been a month since I moved anything.

The wallpaper is quite obvious. I'm currently on the fifth season of Six Feet Under. I am such a fan when I'm into it. I'm not satisfied with my Six Feet Under theme ringtone; I need a visual.

One thing I like about my desktop is the Yahoo! Widgets toolbar. It's on auto-hide mode so you can barely see the black strip on the right side of the screen. It pops up when you hover the mouse on that area and you can get instant access to weather reports, horoscope, international time, and calendar among other things. My favorite is a comic strip widget that generates my daily dose of funnies.

That's how lame my desktop is and how messy, too with icons literally over the top. The tag game ends here, by the way. I'm burying it, six feet under ground.OUT

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A Mouse's Trap: Ramblings of a Domesticated Rodent

>> Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Hole New Beginning

The new hole rendered the room an entirely different view. I had to find my way again. New scents—citrus and mint—made it even harder for me to retrace my tracks. I made new ones, wary that there would still be booby traps on my old trail.


The human was smarter than we thought. Or maybe my cousins were just stupid. Mice can be stupid that way, giving in to urge rather than to reason. I have been raised well enough to know that I have to earn my meal. A piece of cheese doesn't just happen to stick out of nowhere. If life were that easy, then it's not life at all, it's quite the opposite actually and I have seen my relatives' insides splattered on walls because of this. And the cheese? It became the sole witness to the gruesome event. Another thing I hate about my breed is that, more often than not, we never learn.

That is probably why I found myself inside the human's room again. Uncle always reminded me that humans are the enemy. The curse of the middle-class mice. Rats in the ghetto have to watch out for cats, while we in the suburbs have a bigger enemy. I would've preferred cats myself because they're stupid. But humans are the thinking kind. Weaponry is essential in their home. BB guns, traps, glue, poison, flip flops, and basically anything they can get their hands on. No wonder our kind jumps with a mere snap of human fingers. But like I said, while humans are smart, it does not help us a bit that we are stupid. We smell cheese and we abandon all fear.

Forgive me if I speak lowly of my kind. I feel that I am above them. I'm educated and I found a way to control my urge. Every time I cruise the human's territory, I stick soap crumbs up my nose to sanitize whatever seductive smell that dares to entice my animal instincts.

The human had every right to abduct my cousins anyway. I told them to take only what is due to us. Anything outside the bin was off limits. I knew that if we stuck with this, we would have had an unwritten understanding with the human. He might have gladly watched us feast on delicious green bread if we only followed the rules.

But my cousins were arrogant, uneducated, rat-bred monsters. They ate packed food, they left feces everywhere, and worse, they disturbed the human while he slept. That probably did it for him. I too would be annoyed if some ant decided to run up and down my tail.

The last time I saw my cousins, they were stuck on a piece of cardboard, trying to claw their way out of glue. They were shouting apologies to the human and while he heard, he didn't listen.

I hate to admit it, but now, I'm glad that my cousins are out of the way. I have a new hole and I am the only one who can enter the human's room. To be honest, the reason why I am here is not because of food. If I may be direct without being accused of being a hamster, I have a certain admiration for the human. I feel that we have a lot in common.

We both love to read. I'm no bookworm, but reading Nutrition Information excites me the way paperbacks excite the human. We both love films. Art house films to be exact. None of those crap that Mickey and Jerry star in, but films that depict rodent life truthfully. Flushed Away remains to be my favorite, it's so accurate I almost thought it was a documentary.

We also both love to eat. Needless to say, mice are walking digestive systems. It is our luck that humans have larger egos than stomachs. More often than not, they buy too much food that end up in the bin. They think they're hungry, but what they're really hungry for is attention.

And that's another thing that I have in common with the human. We're both lonely. We're lonely because our hunger for attention is never fed. There is no one to watch a movie with; share a bag of chips with; and at the end of the day you sleep alone and the pillow does not hug you back.

This new hole is a new beginning for me. I hope to introduce myself to the human. And to do that, I must first establish trust and understanding. I have to respect the limitations and take care of the room as if it were my own pad. It's possible to be friends with humans. My mother knows that, too. Why else would she name me Ben?

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Indian Invasion

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two cups of yogurt. Creamy, almost sour and cold. Layered with preserved blueberry and good bacteria. A minute of happiness when I eat it and 24 hours later, 30 seconds of blissful bowel movement. Two cups of yogurt were waiting for me inside a locked refrigerator to which only I held the key. Right after the Indian school dismissed their noisy students, I rushed to the peace and quiet of the second floor, unlocked the ref, peered inside, and found a light bulb and lots of chilled air.

I stood there and wondered what kind of monster devoured my precious. How am I supposed to defecate now? I looked at the bin and sure enough, the yogurt cups were there, along with my two cans of Pepsi Max and a bottle of milk all empty, cheap stuff I put in the ref to save me from a five-minute marathon to the store. I narrowed my suspects to the Indian school students (and / or teachers). The only other people who have access to the ref are Khalid and Edmar. It couldn't have been Khalid because our friendship has reached charity level. And Edmar doesn't like yogurt.

A quick experiment proved that the ref lock was as tight as Paris H
ilton's vagina. Anything that fit in it did the trick. And those rowdy students could have done it on a dare.

This isn't the first time that Indians made their presence felt. I get my laundry done at the shop next door. Kala
wrote about her experience with Indian laundry shops so I was already expecting their 'system' which is basically: dump your clothes and come back a day after tomorrow. No listing, no counting, no weighing. Just your name so they can bill you correctly. The rest of the business is put to good faith (and a couple misplaced socks every now and then). What I didn't expect though was that they'd label my clothes, not with my name, but with the name of the guy who handled my laundry. My wardrobe is now owned by a certain "VAN".

I can see it now, me spending extra time in the can because some Indian guy ate my ticket to a satisfying dump. So I sit there, longer than usual, staring at the seam of my pants and figuring out if Van is short for Vanesh, or Vanij, or Vanadev or Vanamalin.OUT

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Forget Her

>> Monday, October 1, 2007

I wasn't sure if it was a full moon already. The park seemed aglow in florescent light, almost like dawn in fact, quite unusual for a place that's notorious for its dark corners. I glanced at the moon to be certain. It's not a perfect circle, its halo also premature. Still it was fine enough for a walk along Corniche--an escape disguised as an exercise. I found a spot and decided to master the lyrics to a new fascination: Jeff Buckley's "Forget Her". His voice is like no other. Too bad he's singing with angels now. I sat there watching the faint waves of the sea, singing in a concert in my head but A capella to the world. I wondered who broke Jeff's heart when he wrote the song. Now that he's gone, I'll never know. But for me, the lady in question is none other than Qatar.

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Forget Her by Jeff Buckley

While this town is busy sleeping
all the noise has died away
i walk the streets to stop my weeping
‘cause she'll never change her ways

Don't fool yourself
she was heartache from the moment that you met her
my heart feels so still
as i try to find the will to forget her somehow
oh i think i've forgotten her now

Her love is a rose pale and dying
dropping her petals and men unknown
all full of wine the world before her
was sober with no place to go

Don't fool yourself
she was heartache from the moment that you met her
my heart is frozen still
cause i try to find the will to forget her somehow
she's somewhere out there now

Oh my tears are falling down as i try to forget
her love was a joke from the day that we met
all of the words all of the men
all of my pain when i think back to when
remember her hair as it shone in the sun
the smell of the bed when i knew what she'd done
tell yourself over and over you wont ever need her again

I have to be honest. As my Qatar anniversary approaches, I'm more confused than ever. After my vacation, I don't know whether I should come back or move on. Maybe I'm just "fooling myself" into thinking that I like it here. But maybe I do like it here. I think I do like it here. Maybe I don't want to go through another adjustment period. There are so many things to consider, all pointing to a way out. The only thing holding me back is of a selfish nature--I'm holding on to the familiar, the expected, the routine. A year is quite short to be starting all over again. Should I really forget her?OUT

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The Absence of Maps

>> Sunday, September 30, 2007

I arrived from school one afternoon and found my stand-in grandmother pedaling her sewing machine, piecing together random fabrics to make a quilt. My 8 or 9-year-old mind could not establish the connection between "Singer" and "sewing" and thought that maybe for some people, like my stand-in grandmother, the annoying clang-clang of the machine's wheel was music to their ears.

We called my stand-in grandmother "Nanay". She took on the responsibility of raising my mom (her niece) when my mom's mother went to the States. She was never married and never had children. I assumed that her vitiligo made it impossible for her to find a mate. She had white patches all over her body as if the melanin got confused whether she was Asian or Caucasian and it decided to give her the best of both worlds, except that she ended up looking like a freak. I always thought of her patches as continents--her skin a map--but I never mentioned it to her because she might not like the idea of me naming a patch of albino skin as some secret paradise island.

The rest of the neighborhood also called her "Nanay" because she was a retired nurse who became the midwife to all of the baranggay's pregnant women. This irony was last seen in the Star Cinema movie A Love Story. Nanay, however, didn't have her own Aga Mulach.

As soon as I entered her room I collapsed on the floor together with my big backpack filled with thick textbooks which could have been thinner and lighter if it weren't for the large elementary font. My teacher referred to those books as our future. Each day, I carried my future on my back, quite certain that the only future in store for me was a trip to the chiropractor.

I tried to look pained to get some sympathy in the form of Jellyace or Mallows, but a heavy bag could not compete with the troubles of war that Nanay had to endure as a little girl. She was also stingy. Either way, it was a lose-lose situation.

"We are going to write a letter," she told me that afternoon I arrived from school. A grimace from me. I was looking forward to cartoons on our black and white TV especially when rumors went around at school alleging that the Smurfs were blue! I had to see it for myself and letter writing would ruin the investigation I had planned.

We always wrote to her sister, my real grandmother, who lived in Chicago. Lola Chila, name derived from Kastila (Spanish), seemed to answer our letters in dollar cheques and this encouraged Nanay to write more often than she should. When Nanay ran out of sad stories to write, she turned to me.

Nanay put aside the unfinished quilt and converted the ugly sewing machine into a table. She took a couple of onion skin paper and told me to sit on her lap so that we could begin writing. Onion skin paper was invented for old, stingy, single women who went to great lengths to save on postage stamps. There was no clear use for it other than to reduce the weight of an already seemingly weightless mail. You'd think that with all the dollars her sister sends her she could at least buy some scented stationery but Nanay valued every centavo that not even Hello Kitty could sway her. She'd even use onion skin envelopes if they were available, or onion skin stamps for that matter.

"What am I going to write to her?" I asked Nanay although this question was just a formality since she'd do most of the writing anyway. I sat on her lap, she folded the paper in half, took my small hand, put the pen in my hand and began writing using my hand as if it were a large deformed pen. I don't know how she got away with it, saying to her sister that I wrote the letter when the handwriting looked a lot like hers only chunkier. I did not even dictate to her what I wanted to write and she did not even bother to choose words that a third-grader might use. The situation transcended any acceptable form of ghost-writing.

Towards the end of the letter she asked me if there was anything I wanted from Lola Chila. "Toys! Lego! Tonka trucks! Matchbox! GI Joes!" I exclaimed, finally feeling that I was part of this activity and not just a dummy. She hesitated for a bit and as she led my hand on the paper, I got confused because she spelled 'toys' as 'B-O-O-K-S'. My hand wanted to write a comma after 'books' but she already lifted my hand to a new paragraph. As early as 8, I already knew I had to fight for press freedom.

We ended with "I miss you" and "hope to see you again soon". I haven't met my Lola Chila. She left way before I was conceived. Still, we closed with those words and Nanay moved my hand to sign my name. Looking back at it, the letters that "I" sent to my Lola Chila when I was a kid were 50% Nanay's perception of me, and 50% fiction.

The only thing I looked forward to the letter writing was the mailing process. I liked lick-sealing the envelopes and the stamps. I liked dropping the envelopes at the post office mailbox. I liked our trip to the post office that ended with a quick snack of puto-cheese at the Central Market plus a take-home pack of pinipig. If I behaved, the pinipig would be the cold variety produced by Magnolia Ice Cream.

When we got home, I heard the only clang-clang sound that pleased my ears, one that came from a sorbetero. I asked Nanay if she could give me 50 cents so that I can grab a cone of the most delicious treat that came from a cart loaded with dry ice, salt, and a creamy blend of skimmed milk, sugar and traces of amoeba. She called it dirty ice cream but for me, dirty was a small price to pay for something so delectable.

She did not give me the measly 50 cents. I pleaded, negotiated, begged, cried, wailed. The fainter the bell sounded, the louder I cried, hoping that if Nanay wasn't about to give in, at least the ice cream man would hear an interested customer and turn back while I continued to convince her. She held her ground and I eventually accepted that she was the most inconsiderate stingy spinster in the city. I entertained the thought of her dognapping a hundred and one dalmatians but that might be a bit over the top.

Several months passed. After mailing yet another letter, Nanay flopped on the sofa as soon as we got home. She did not get up since. Her diabetes got worse in the following months. I wasn't at the hospital when she died but the people who were there said that she kept on asking for me and my brother during her last few hours.

Aside from the modest savings account, her quilts were the only possessions she passed on to us. Months following her death, I'd play with the sewing machine trying to recreate the clang-clang sound that I associated with Nanay. It wasn't music but I somehow found it comforting.

When I was 8, I regarded Nanay as a difficult person. But now, her ways seem sensible and fair. She had been difficult for the right reasons. Her guidance played a big part in shaping my mom into a strong-willed and independent woman. Her strictness towards me made me self-reliant instead of a whiny spoiled brat. She provided the map for our growth as a family and had she lived longer, I'm positive that she would've continued to guide us to the right path.

Nanay has moved on and there's no question as to where she is now. Her patches as white as an angel's wings; her destination etched like a map on her skin.

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Nan's Song by Robbie WilliamsOUT

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This Season at the Office

>> Friday, September 28, 2007

The cliffhanger (if there was any) for last summer's run of the office left my cult following at the edge of their rotating computer chairs. OK, sue me if I'm hyping my office like a TV series but I can't help it. And besides, things are heating up, ironically enough, just when the first mild chills of winter are in the air. Summer saw the entry of Edmar into the office. He provided the comic relief as Khalid and I stood our ground against the resident villain Mustafa. The season ended with Khalid flying off to Sudan, still uncertain of his return, while I was left to confront the newbie Hosam in an all out cubicle war.

This season, expect more twists: Edmar's character evolves and becomes more shady. He starts to befriend the dark side. Is he spying for the force? Is he a confidant of the villains? Or is he a bored freak who wants to see if we blend when he presses the pulse button?

Khalid returns this season. A bit of a spoiler since I already mentioned him in a previous post, and already, he and Mustafa are at it again. With Hosam and three other new Mustafa recruits strengthening the Egyptian team, it will be interesting to see whose dick has the most piss.


Office relationships will be stirred as Khalid will question Edmar's loyalty to the force, the boss will doubt which people are loyal to him, and a new Filipina secretary will be the object of desire for some of the men or man or Edmar.


Meanwhile, a new Indian driver, whose name is too hard to pronounce or spell, will provide the brief moments of laughter ie: "When wife and Edmar fight in street and mobile hit the head up and I am tension".

For subplots, Edmar's wife is four months pregnant, the Indian classes resume, and I'm down to my last 4 Gigs of hard disk space.

As for me, I will have a minor role, one that will focus on a new sideline. But I'm telling you now, even with that small role this season, I will set the cliffhanger as the series closes--will I stay or will I go?
OUT

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Dusk

>> Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's exactly 6PM as I write this. I've pressed the play button on my walkman phone and it's now playing Paul Weller's "You Do Something To Me" off the playlist I entitled 'Dusk'. 'Dusk' was previously known as '6PM' but since I rearranged the tracks and added more to the list, I decided to rename it. And what's this fascination with this time of day? 6PM is not just a playlist, it's a realm of memories.

How I came up with a 6PM playlist was easy. I remember as a kid, I'd often walk home at dusk, because any minute later would mean an angry grandma. I'd pass by sari-sari stores or houses with men out on their front yard drinking Gold Eagle Beer or Tanduay Rum (you can tell by these drinks what kind of neighborhood I grew up in), and they'd always have a radio on. This was pre-videoke. What amazed me was the kind of songs these radio stations played. At 6PM, it was always classic slow rock and power ballads like those from bands like Styx or songs like Caravan. Jukebox music right in your own home. Since then, when dusk comes, I'd always crave for songs that have a distinct guitar riff or a lonely bar room feel with an affected lounge singer. A bit bluesy but not quite, more like dreamy. To give you a better idea, here's a portion of my playlist:

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Or better yet, here's a close enough clip of what I mean (the song is in the list too). It's a scene from Y Tu Mama Tambien, just before the threesome did the nasty. The song is called Si No Te Hubieras Ido by Marco Antonio Solis.



It was dusk when I met my first lover. We were both 15 and in love and nobody knew about it. It was a summer affair in which I learned how to drink beer, smoke, and dance. I didn't flip out when it ended. I considered it as my initiation to a mysterious world and I passed with remarkable colors, that I never knew existed. I remember writing an uplifting short story when we ended our relationship. I also remember that it was when I started to write about people without using pronouns.

It was dusk when Ryan, my best bud in high school, and I would go to Capitol Lagoon and talk the night through because none of us wanted to be home. We'd exchange mythologies of the doomed love affair of the two golden statues that marked each side of the Lagoon's pool. The lovers are so close yet forever parted because some artist thought it would be dramatic if the female statue would eternally wait for her hero.

It was one of those talks when I first came out. It was also the last of those talks. Years later, I'd disproved my own mythologies about those statues and instead thought of them as a haunting metaphor for all my relationships--whether it be family, friends, or lovers, we'd always be parted by bodies of water.

It was dusk when I'd drive the long highways of Davao and find myself in different cities in an hour. Aimless driving, aimless thoughts. I remember that the goal was to chase the horizon until it was time to go back. With only a good soundtrack on board, I'd make my way through towns that shrunk smaller and smaller with each mile away from the city. Seeing those towns, I thought I didn't want to go back to my life. Simple living meant simple problems. But then the tape runs out, the last stick of cigarette evaporates, and perhaps the last can of beer turns into burp, and I'd snap out of it, drive back home and try to catch Frasier on cable.

It's that lazy guitar riff that brings back a thousand memories. It doesn't matter now if it was happy or sad. It's just memory. Neither a positive or a negative. And the songs, they are notes that mark the sunset--the very moment when we stop to think: what have I learned today?OUT

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Two in One

>> Thursday, September 20, 2007

For lack of anything better to write, I'm going to bore you with two self-indulgent tag games (aren't they all? as if blogging in itself isn't egotistic enough =P). One's from Jay and the other from Joey. I'm not tagging anybody else after this because I'm a member of the Chain-mail Death Squad. I'm not a spoil sport that's why I'm doing this now, but, let this be an advisory, this is the last time I'm doing it. Tag games might be fun for some but it just isn't my thing, I don't dig it. And the only digging I'll give it is a grave. Anyway, thanks to Jay and Joey for thinking about me after they did the tag. I know it's not your fault, guys. It's a conspiracy, I know.

5 7 weird things about me:
1. I'm convinced that I go mad during full moon.
2. I am aware if and when I snore.
3. I count random things when I wait.
4. I tremble when I'm angry.
5. I often contradict myself.
6. Because I often get nosebleeds, I know the instance I get one even before the first drop of blood escapes my nose (I can actually hear my veins pop).
7. And probably because of my frequent nose-bleeding, I'm not grossed out by blood, in fact, I'm fascinated by it. A bleeding corpse by the side of the road, I can handle...but I don't have the guts to see a well made-up body inside a coffin.

Three things that scare me:
1. Spiders
2. Scorpions
3. The Exorcist

Three people who make me laugh:
1. Yeric
2. Pooh (not the bear)
3. Conan O'Brien

Three things I love:
1. Camera
2. Computer
3. An audience

Three things I hate:
1. Sugar (trying to avoid it)
2. Spyware, Adware etc
3. Organized Religion

Three things I don't understand:
1. Accounting
2. E=mc2
3. Jealousy

Three things on my desk:
1. Candles
2. Printer
3. Neck tie (yes, it's not on my neck!)

Three things I'm doing right now:
1. Talking to Khalid about a just-concluded stand-off between him and Mustafa
2. Tag 'game'
3. Holding pee.

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Write or direct a full-length film
2. Write a book
3. Fulfill at least one dream for each of my loved ones

Three things I can do:
1. Write
2. Sing
3. Swim

Three things I can't do:
1. Balance on a tightrope (or any circus act for that matter)
2. Part the red sea (or any miracle for that matter)
3. Suicide

Three things I think you should listen to:
1. Your conscience (not the Safeguard kind)
2. Your ancestors' spirits
3. Trip hop music

Three things you should never listen to:
1. Your ego
2. Your cool rebel friend (ie me)
3. Voices inside your head (except for your conscience)

Three things I would like to learn:
1. Mind-control
2. Taoism
3. Capoeira

Three favorite foods:
1. Baby Back Ribs at Bob's Bacolod (I gave up pork, but I'll eat this one!)
2. Chicken Inasal at Chicken Deli also in Bacolod
3. Triple Mousse at Calea in Bacolod (the City of Smiles should be renamed City of Great Food)

Three shows I watched as a kid:
1. Regal Shocker
2. John en Marsha
3. Todas

Three people I'm tagging:
1. Ryan Gosling
2. Ewan McGregor

3. Colin Farrell
OUT

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Riding with Strangers

>> Monday, September 17, 2007

A few weeks ago, I started to ride the bus. I avoided it for good enough reasons--I didn't know the routes and it didn't look comfortable since it was full most of the time. But my cash was depleting faster than the ozone layer so I swallowed my pride, marched to the long line which pretty much became an informal free-for-all wrestling match on desperate humid nights, and found out that riding Qatar's public transport wasn't as bad as I thought, especially if you have Elton John's Tiny Dancer on loop during the ride.

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It turned out that I can get a bus from the office direct to the end of Corniche, where I frequently go to anyway, and save 12 QRs - just enough for cafe latte at nearby Costa Coffee.

Going home was a risk though. Since I usually go out late at night, there's no way I can get a bus back to the office because the last bus leaves at 11pm. This means I'll have to take the cab, but, for some reason, all Karwa taxis disappear after 2 or 3 am. There's another alternative: private cars that moonlight as cabs. But this is tricky because you never know who's the driver or the pervert.


At around 2:30 am last weekend, a guy, probably in his late 40s driving an old SUV stopped beside me and asked if he could give me a lift somewhere. Pervert, I thought. I was certain about this because his longing eyes were short of a wink to be officially flirtatious, more so because it was his second time to stop and I pretended I didn't see him the first time that he did.

But I looked at the time and I knew this was my chance to go home. I asked him how much he'll charge me for the fare just to make sure he understood that I needed a ride and not an orgasm. He laughed it off and told me it's free.

"Where are you from?" he asked "Philippines," I said "and you?"

"Lebanon."

"I've recently found out that pure Lebanese people are Catholic, is that true?"

He made the sign of the cross and smiled "Well, 50% of pure Lebanese, probably. What's your job?"

"I'm a secretary. You?"

"An engineer."

"I thought so. Engineers have a way of dressing up. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to ask your name. I'm Jake," I lied.

"I'm Basil," he probably lied.

After a few roundabouts, the conversation became interesting and sensible. Small talk about family, work and fate. Small talk but talk nonetheless. And how I missed talking.

When we were near my office, I told him if there's anything I can do to repay him. I was hinting at shawarma or cold drinks beside the office, anything to keep the good company and conversation longer. He said no as he would hope that somebody would give him a free ride in the future should the need arise. Good man. Great heart. And he believes in Karma, too.

I asked him to stop a block away from the office. I told him thank you again and found myself stalling as I put on my headphones, all the while looking at him, this time with my longing eyes, to which he softly replied: You're welcome, good luck on your journey. Now you might wanna get out now so I can go home. (And that's why I believe in Karma).OUT

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Monobully

>> Saturday, September 15, 2007

When I'm on the road or at a coffee shop I sometimes check on my Yahoo! Mail account using my mobile phone (since I'm poor and can't afford a laptop). Anyway, last week, I saw an ad on the newspaper about QTel offering premium services for Yahoo! and Gmail starting at QR50. I didn't understand what the fuss was all about since Yahoo! and Gmail emails are free. That was until I tried to check my email two days ago. To my surprise, Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger won't open.

The price of monopoly. It seems that QTel and its newly-launched Mozaic mobile internet service blocked access to these email giants in order to cash in on a service that's supposed to be free! And this is on top of the charges you get from opening these web pages on your mobile. Unbelievable.

The same is true for the taxi service. One ride could cost you up to QR20, almost equivalent to a car's full tank.

If this happened in the Philippines, expect to see mass demonstrations throughout the country the next day, or at least a flood of txt protests. But in rich Doha, the locals couldn't care less. What's another QR50 for the affluent anyway? Most of them have cars anyway. The underpaid expat is the one affected.

I can hear them say, 'then go home you silly expat, we don't need you here'. But I think they do. Who else would run out of the shops to get their orders when they honk? Who else would wash their clothes, making sure to separate the whites from the blacks? Who else would water the pathetic grass to make this place look less like a desert? Who else would answer their homework and take home exams? Who else would pour cement on their walls or detail their cars or pave their roads so they can effortlessly crash their cars?

That's right. Think about it. Without me, life will still go on for them because they are rich. But at least without me, that's one less customer for QTel.OUT

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Ba De Ya

>> Monday, September 10, 2007

I remember watching When the Wind Blows when I was younger and I remember imagining how peaceful and quiet the world can become after a nuclear bomb explosion--total destruction equals peace. Last month was crazy and I think it's all downhill from here. And while I struggle to fill this blank space on my screen, I say to myself that this is not a block but a sense of peace (or emptiness) and surely, I can write about that.

I remember November last year when I started this blog. We were trying a new coffee shop called Barista and I took a picture of Yeric and Ezer using my then new Walkman phone and bragged how I've instantly uploaded the photo to my blog. It was one of the last few nights I'd spend with them before leaving for Qatar and it was the start of Like Clockwork Orange.

I remember quitting smoking after breaking up with my lover. I figured that if I was going to quit one bad habit, I might as well quit smoking too. And eating pork. And taking sugar. I patched things up with my lover not long after the breakup but it was only a month ago, after effortlessly avoiding cigarettes for almost two years, that I started smoking again.

I remember my short-term plans and how my future seemed sad but bright at the same time. It's almost a year now and the bright part has somehow faded. I fear that I may have wasted a whole year for nothing--not even the simplest of targets achieved.

I remember thinking a few nights ago that maybe I am wrong--that there is no plan, there is no destiny, that life is, unfortunately, random and all of us are just waiting to win the lottery; while those who have already won might be so arrogant as to say that it is all their hard work and not luck.

I remember now that Jayclops commented in my last post that "(Office politics) sounds familiar". After he confirmed that he wasn't talking about himself, I began to think that maybe I'm repeating myself. My whole life is a déjà vu, constantly looping like an overused character in one too many Stephen King novels.

I remember realizing last night before going to sleep, that I don't have one thing that I am very good at.

I remember wanting to write a poem about my dreams and how I think these will never happen because maybe I'm part of the other half of the world's population that will serve as the example--the sin, the ugly, the lesson to be learned.

I remember how me and my friends loved to sing in videoke bars (or was it just me) and somebody may or may not sing one of the videoke anthems, Earth, Wind and Fire's September, and depending on our mood we'd either love or hate both the song and the guy who did the number.

I remember just now that I'm supposed to make up a moving excuse for not posting for so long when the truth is I was doing back to back marathons of Six Feet Under and Weeds.

I'll save some of my memories for future posts or for when the time comes for an inevitable montage like the my-whole-life-flashed-before-me kind of thing.

Ba De Ya, it's September, do you remember?OUT

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Bitch in Heat

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today was a good day to kill someone. After the adrenaline rush in my last post, I thought I was ready to write something light. But this morning, I was faced with yet another pisser that goes by the name Hossam. He confirmed for me, that a pile of shit with a necktie is simply a gift-wrapped turd.

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I proceeded with my day as usual, although I was already a bit on the edge because I wasn't able to sleep the whole night on account that I walked from Costa Coffee to the office which was a good two hours from 2AM till 4AM. Add my pinoy pal scratching the surface of my crankiness with his usual annoyances. In between that were the boss and Mustafa passing work like they're feeding pulp in a paper mill, expecting me to churn out glossy pieces of A4 from the stinking crap they come up with. By noon, I was ready to explode.

Hossam is a newbie to the office. Three weeks old but already a hotshot since he is Mustafa's best buddy. Hossam and I never really got along well. He has issues and they extended to me.

For some reason, I feel that he hates my guts. I don't mind, you can't expect everybody to like you. And he's the last person I'd want to be friends with anyway. As long as we kept to ourselves though, there wouldn't be any problems. But this morning, Hossam decided to cross the line, invade my space and claim it as his own.

Here's the scenario: I was busy working when Hossam barged inside my office and asked, and not in a nice way, for some letterheads. I proceeded to print five. At the table in front of me, my officemate Abdalla asked for help on his computer so I went there, leaving my post empty while Hossam waited for the printing to finish. After a while, Hossam started tinkering with my PC without even asking for my permission. He was unaware that I was already giving him the WTF look. He then left the room. A little bit later, he was back again, and said that he needed eight more letterheads so he used my computer, without asking me again and that was the time when I snapped, calmly.

"Hossam. Please do NOT use my computer without asking permission," I said slowly so he would understand simple English. His arrogant reply got me trembling so bad I wanted to punch him in the face the way Shia LeBouf's character in Disturbia punched that Spanish teacher. "This is not your computer, this is the office's computer, this is not only for you, this is for everybody."

What. The. Fuck. Is he sick? Obviously, the concept of privacy is lost in this dimwit. So I told him and not so calmly this time, "Hossam, is it so hard to ask permission? I don't go to your computer and use it at whim! I'm not forbidding you to use my computer, all you need to do is ask, I'm right here in front of you!"

"Hey, the boss asked me to do something. This is for the boss I'm doing, if you have a problem, talk to him!" was his reply. "Oh, I definitely will!" I said. And that was the end of our spat.

I think I don't need to tell you how I almost unplugged the computer, bring it to Hossam's table, and throw it on his head. I talked to the boss though and told him that one of his golden boys was stinking the office with foul behavior.

Hossam and Mustafa always seem to get props from the boss. In fact, when I told the boss how a piss-off his favorite rookie was, I hinted that he tried to defend the twat by saying that he "did ask Hossam to do some things for him," to which I replied "But that doesn't give him any right to use my PC without my go signal because we both know what kind of sensitive information we have in there," then I gave him the wink wink and I'm not referring to my porn collection either. The boss has emails that only the two of us know of. "Please teach your boys some manners to go with their suit and tie," I told the boss and left his office. God knows what the boss said to Hossam after I left, but I bet it's something short of dealing with a naughty baby--there there now, don't be naughty again next time or papa will get angry, OK?

For the Nth time, I don't really care about office politics and these guys simply don't get it that I don't want their jobs nor have I aspirations like them to become a boss. I just want my peace and quiet and a little respect (how pink is that?).OUT

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Malu Fernandez is Not a Pig

>> Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thanks to my friend Martin who forwarded the email containing the now famous Malu Fernandez article entitled "From Boracay to Greece" (page 30 and page 31 of People Asia Magazine), I am in the mood for some ranting. Quite timely for my NC-17 Rating anyway. But I suppose I should say something, being in the Middle East and all, even if I'm one of the last people to know about this outrage.


Before I actually react to Malu's article, let me say that (even before you point it out to me) I am aware that, like Malu, I have written humorous posts at the expense of others. But, unlike Malu, I am not a paid writer (not even a pro blogger) so I don't answer to an editor or to sponsors.

It is not to say though that I am irresponsible. I have a good idea of what is acceptable and what is not--stick to the truth, avoid generalizations, minimize attacks. And one thing I always remember: when I point out the silliness of people in my posts, I make sure that they don't get to read it.

So what's the difference between this:
Edmar is the kind of Pinoy you don't want the other races to base their Flip stereotype on. It's not good to judge the book by its cover, but a couple of amateur tattoos can tell you a lot about the person. He hails from the northern part of Luzon. He's the kind of Filipino that Rex Navarette makes fun of in his routine--wer for where, soaf for soap, etc. Although Edmar is a blast to talk to in kanto-level conversations (ie "nakakain na ako ng tao" or "I have eaten a man" -- a statement that can only come from a post-fried brain), I'd avoid speaking to him when other officemates are within earshot for fear of being accused of racism.
-Jap@Like Clockwork Orange (a lousy blog)

and this:
The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them… On my way back, I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling of AXE and Charlie cologne while my Jo Malone evaporated into thin air.
-Malu Fernandez@People Asia (an International Magazine)

Admit it, the former is funny while the latter is simply insulting. Therefor, I claim my right to rant about Ms Malu Fernandez.

Malu is not a pig. A lot of
bloggers and vloggers have called her Ms Piggy or Oink Oink, but I refuse to call her a pig because even though she resembles one, she is still human. The issue here is not why this jet-setting socialite flies economy and cannot afford a much-needed liposuction so she can fit in a sardine-can airplane. The issue here is how she addressed millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and millions more of their families back in the Philippines.

I guess she has her reasons. But I don't get why she should be embarrassed to be trapped in the same space as OFWs. I'd be embarrassed to be trapped in the same space with Paris Hilton wannabes who think that Jo Malone EDTs and a few visa entries stamped on their passports can get them goddess status in Greece.

Before she made an apology, she had the audacity to justify her article:



In the end, Malu Fernandez 'resigned' from her jobs at Manila Standard and People Asia so we're supposed to feel sorry for her.

I actually feel sad for Malu, because no matter how much perfume she sprays on her body, no matter how many designer clothes she buys, and no matter how many air miles she flies around the world, she is still a Filipino--born in a third world country. If she wishes to be of another nationality, maybe we should gladly accept her renouncement of her citizenship.

I just hope that for Malu's sake, fate won't let us share a plane ride because I have a feeling I will accidentally spill hot soup (and the rest of my in-flight dinner) on her face.
OUT

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Abre Los Ojos

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Thirtysomething educator who holds the secret to the meaning of life. =P

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