Nostalgia on the Second Month Part Two

>> Saturday, January 27, 2007

I was already reminiscing when my mom caught me on YM. She told me to expect my cousin Roni online. Wow, I thought, I ordered for a plate of nostalgia and the gods gave me a bucket.

I haven't heard from Roni for quite some time now. She (and her family) is one of the best relatives that I have.

In no time I found myself chatting with my cuz. We exchanged blasts from the past as if we haven't seen each other for decades (which is, by the way, true). I told her that my greatest influence for my chosen career was her family and their video shop biz White House.

I remember spending summers or Christmases at their house when I was not more than ten or twelve. One Christmas they let me taste wine. It was my first time and boy was it a classy selection, Dom Pérignon! Back then I would envy my cousins' rather rich lifestyle. I also wanted to have a house with a lawn so I can also raise a golden labrador. I also wanted to have a swimming pool so I can swim all day long, heck, all week if I wanted to. Most of all, I wanted to have a brand new Betamax Player and a color television so I can borrow movies for free and watch to my heart's content.

My early exposure to movies probably stirred my imagination and I owe it all to Roni and Mylo who bumped the Looney Tunes for
Zapped! But it wasn't just the movies. They also introduced me to fiction. Thanks to them I discovered the Choose Your Own Adventure series. The pocket books blew me away because of their unique structure, you get to decide which path in the story to take thus giving you control of the turn of events because after all, it's your own adventure. Soon after, I bought my own CYOA books and found out that even with the freedom to choose I still found it limiting. And that's how I was inspired to really write. I think.

I miss my cuz and I miss the innocence of our youth (I can remember though we were little devils really!) In any case, I'm glad that even if I haven't seen her for ages I can still feel the warmth. It must be because Roni, Mylo and I just clicked. Or it could be because of a special bond.

Until now I still wish to own a house with a pool and a lawn where I can teach my golden retriever new tricks. And every Christmas or New Year, family and relatives will all get together as our parents did when we were small and this time, we will not just taste the Dom Pérignon but we will get drunk on it.

I can still taste the wine. It was my first. Bitter but sweet, a kiss from an angel. I can still taste it on my lips. OUT.


Nostalgia on the Second Month Part One

It was bound to happen. The sleepless nights, stressful work days, irritability, longingness, regret and wonderment--it can all be summed up in one word: menstruation.

Got you there! Seriously, it's homesickness. I admit it. Today I feel homesick.

Two months. The fun's over. I've exhausted all there is to see in my guide book and tourist mode just doesn't work anymore. For the past few weeks I started to feel more and more local each day. And each day the chats with my friends became less and less. Now, I just feel empty.

So I thought I'd feed my misery by listing some things that I miss most. And it starts with...

  • You, yes you. I miss you.
  • I miss waking up late in my own room and knowing that even if it's already 10AM it doesn't matter because I am my own boss and I won't have to make up lame excuses why I'm late.
  • I miss waking up early and cooking breakfast.
  • I miss singing in videoke bars.
  • I miss singing in the bathroom.
  • I miss dancing when I'm alone in my room.
  • I miss Coffee Crumble at Bo's.
  • I miss driving.
  • I miss cruising.
  • I miss my CDs, VCDs, DVDs....and VDs (hahaha I'm kidding!)
  • I miss piracy.
  • I miss Spike and Tiny.
  • I miss the fact that I can go where I want to go at any time without worrying of getting lost.
  • I never thought I'd say this but I miss doing big cart groceries and yes, every week.
  • I miss the food. Oh the food.
  • I miss Bacolod, my friends there and the food. Oh the food.
  • I miss seeing regularly dressed people.
  • I miss wearing shorts to work.
  • I miss my computer and all the necessities that I have already installed.
  • I miss editing videos.
  • I miss video production work.
  • I miss the creative rush.
  • I miss my nephew.
  • I miss meeting my friends and talking over coffee.
  • I miss durian.
  • I miss turo-turo or point point.
  • I miss each little aspect of my life in Davao, from my favorite Pink Panther to my loved ones, because all these make up one thing I miss most...
  • I miss my home.

Enough. I can go on forever and if I don't stop soon it's really going to fall and if you can still remember before I left Davao, I promised not to cry again. OUT.


Night of "Coincidences"

>> Monday, January 22, 2007

There comes a time when you realize that everything falls into place.
And maybe there is somthing you can do about it, but maybe no
matter what you do, you still end up doing what has already been
set for you the day you were born.

I was sitting silently at the back of my boss' Pajero when I noticed
the digital clock on the dashboard as it added a minute more to the
already late hour. It's officially 2:01 am.

We were parked outside a convenience store in a district that was
at least 45 minutes away from Doha proper and the three of us in
the car were patiently waiting for the guy who sat beside me as he
bought some bread and milk.

I was lost in thought while observing the fog outside build up
across the vast expanse of the industrial area. It's the closest to
a desert I have ever been to in Qatar and the night was almost
perfect. The dim district made the stars look brighter, illuminating
the fog as it crept through the darkness. Just then, the empty seat
beside me caught my attention. There was a book, a thin one. I
read the note about the author on the back cover and was pleasantly
surprised. I have met the author a few weeks ago and he is by far
the most interesting adult I have met here. At first I thought he's
Sudanese but then he spoke excellent English. I didn't know then
that he wrote books, all I knew about Dr. Bilal Philips was that he
was passionate about Islam. My first encounter with him ended
with him giving me a book "Life of Mohammad" of which he said I
should take time to read. I did and in one sitting.

The guy who owned the book in the car finally came back. A few
minutes later we dropped him off at his house. It was only on our
way back home when the "coincidences" made sense to me. Could
this night be a sign? Then the questions started to come as if
answering each question with a question.

Why would the boss invite me to a late dinner with his friends when
I don't even speak Arabic? Why did it take us too long to finish dinner?
Why did we arrive just a minute after the bus left the station making
the boss' friend miss the last trip home? Why did the boss opt to drive
him home even it was already past 1am and the guy's house was way
out in the desert? Why didn't he just take a cab? Why did we have to
stop by the convenience store when we were already tired to make
stopovers? Why was boss' friend carrying a book and why did he leave
it when he went inside the store? Why did I read the cover? And why
did it have to be Dr. Bilal Philips, the same person who asked me to
know more about Islam? And more importantly, why am I connecting
all of these incidents as a sort of possibility that the events that occured
were "signs"?

Just as that last question filled my head, the boss turned on the radio.
Quran-reading filled the otherwise silent car. Now tell me if I'm just
overreacting. I smiled and looked at the window and as if the humor
won't stop, we passed by a mosque. That was then when I challenged
whatever or whoever was playing a trick on me. I said to myself that if
I see two more mosques before we reach the city proper, I would
definitely consider this "sign" as worth meditating over.

Not long after the first mosque, another mosque appeared. Only one more
mosque and I am going to blog about this, I thought then.

The city lights were drawing near and we're almost at the city proper
roundabout. And there it was to my left, a humble looking mosque standing
serenely beautiful in the starry night sky. Although you probably know
already because I'm blogging about it now.

(Al Wakra Mosque - Industrial District)

I lost the challenge. But to what or whom I don't know. I am more cautious
now because it's not fun when fate plays a practical joke on you. Or is it a joke
in the first place? Now I'm even beginning to wonder if I came here to Doha
to earn money or earn something else, dare I say it, a spirituality.

For now, that single night remains one of the most meaningful "coincidences"
that came my way. My eyes are open and my ears will listen.

Part of me calls it a bluff but there's also a part of me that wonders if the
last mosque I saw that night was also beautiful inside. OUT.


A Twist Off Orange

>> Thursday, January 18, 2007

Buzz. I would just like to inform you that I've added a new color to my palette. I love writing here in Orange but I needed another color for the more private stuff that only a select few are privileged to read. So if you feel you are one of the select few but whom I have forgoten to include in the invites, please leave in the comment field your name and email address.

I'm still maintaining this blog so keep on checking this spot for updates.

Thanks for reading. OUT.


They're Watching Us

>> Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The thing with our office (Al Ustaz Educ. Centre, see pic, click to enlarge) is that our internet connection is hooked up through LAN via the computer shop next door. So while the speed is fast, the internet connection also observes office hours. When the computer shop closes, all of my LimeWire downloads are put on hold. And that is why last night when the PCGuys decided to close early, I watched Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, one of the movies I have previously downloaded.

I have been excited about the movie since I heard about it last year mainly because of the animation (a style called Rotoscope ie A-ha's Take On Me Video where actual film footage is traced over to create an animated effect). It has been done before (like Linklater's Waking Life and even in some Disney movies) but I think it's the first time that big stars were cast in this kind of animation style.

I did not have great expectations for the movie because I had no idea what it was all about. So when the film bluntly gave the storyline in the first sequence I was all ready to be blown away. Drugs in future Los Angeles and in Rotoscope.

I was so glad the movie didn't become a Hollywood cliche, rather it stood its ground and just let the darkly funny narrative flow. It was so sarcastically witty and wildly comic that it's almost hard to tell whether you're supposed to laugh or genuinely feel sorry for the tragic characters.

The actors were so good you could almost forget they're animated. As usual, Keanu Reeves was at his best because his character only required so much from him so there were a lot of "whoas" and "hummms". Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson stole the show for the most part and Winona Ryder stole jewelry. Aw! She needed to work but had to disguise herself in an animated film so people won't recognize her from the wanted posters. Aw! Seriously, I'd say Winona already redeemed herself when she appeared as a flamed actress in Simone and with Darkly, she's off to win our hearts again or the Heart of the Ocean (jewelry again? Aw!). Ok enough Winona jokes.

Before this post turns into a full blown review allow me to change the subject. I only meant to say I watched A Scanner Darkly and I loved it. It made me wonder if the paranoia that the characters displayed in the movie were because of drugs or if close surveillance is bound to happen in the future. Wow, six paragraphs before we got to the topic of the post. Sorry I got carried away with Darkly.

Anyway, in the movie, Keanu Reeves played a cop who monitors junkies Big Brother style with people caught on cam trippin on a new drug called "D". I thought man if this was possible I'm already listing my channels now. Channel Cruise and Holmes. Channel Pitt and Jolie. Channel Oprah, oh wait, she's already on Star World.

The idea of people watching your every move is scary...and perhaps a little kinky (the exhibitionist in me! =) so today I tried to look for GPS thingies and the best one I could get my mouse on (freeware of course) was Google Earth ( It's not a live cam thing so don't run out of the house just yet and wave at the sky. Yes Google Earth shows pictures of the earth from space such that potholes from your street can be seen. It's a cool program and I've already located my places in Bacolod, Davao and Qatar. Aside from viewing an actual map of your locale you also get to see what kind of trash people keep on their rooftops, and yeah it brings nostalgia to the homesick OFW because you get to see your street back home.

I hope someday soon we could get live streams from around the world for free (or if it exists already would somebody please tell me how to do it?) that way we, people who are far from home, will still get to see our neighborhood in action.
Somebody out there is watching us. The junkies of A Scanner Darkly were not just being paranoid.
After pinning locations on Google Earth, I decided to take a quick walk. I stared at the night sky and tried to look for the camera among the stars. The world is so big. How did it become so small? Yes, somebody out there is watching us and He knows the answers to all our questions and He's not battery operated either.
But the answer did not come tonight so I decided to go back inside the office. Just when I was about to get in, the PCGuy from next door called me and asked if I had been downloading stuff from the internet because it was slowing their connection. I stared blankly and said "no". I thought to myself, Oh boy, looks like my LimeWire days are over. He smiled and said "Oh ok. Just as long as you're sure." and jokingly added "I'm watching you." I smiled, went inside and resumed my download for Saw 3. Watch me. OUT.


Leave Your Footprints

This is just a quick note to those who stumble across this spot and more especially to those who are kind enough to post comments.

Please sign your comments with your name.

Just include it in the message before you hit submit/publish. I can still play a guessing game for the first three who have already posted anonymously but the game could get harder in the future. So please, while I appreciate your comments such appreciation will be put to waste if I don't know who posted them. Thank you and hope you check on me once in a while.



Are We Racist?

>> Friday, January 5, 2007

"Davao is
a melting pot of cultures. "
I've written that line in several scripts and I'm officially taking it back now. Now, it's "Doha is a melting pot of cultures."

Only over a month and already I have met people from all over the world. It's hard to determine if it's a person's cultural background that forms his character or simply the handiwork of his parents like how he was brought up during childhood. But when you get to meet two or three guys coming from the same cultural background and who are not necessarily relatives it is easy to form a stereotype. I don't care, I'm human. And for whatever it's worth, one bad stereotype for Filipinos living in Doha is that they're gay.

I felt the urge to write about this after several funny events that occurred this week, thanks to my good friends, the Chinese from mainland China. One has to stress that they're from mainland China because you don't want to get the Hong Kong Chinese to get offended.

My boss employs around a dozen Chinese men and women. Most of them are above 30 years old so one would think that they're fairly intelligent. Not.

Case Number One: The "Have to Eat" Episode
I took a shift in my boss' internet cafe when the supervisor called in sick. I didn't mind taking the job for a day because I am familiar with how the inet cafe works anyway (remember Ventana?) and I already know the people working there including the Chinese cook Bin Chang. I don't want to explain why they serve Chinese food in an internet cafe so let's move on.
Bin Chang can't speak English. His English vocabulary consists of under 10 words including Hi, Oh and Haha. So when someone orders food from me I have to point at pictures from the menu and show them to Bin Chang so he'd know what to make. Yes, he's pretty smart when it comes to that. But lunchtime came and some people wanted to order. I told Bin Chang to make some tea for a couple of customers and he smiled and motioned something that seemed like "No way, Jose, it's lunchtime and I need to eat. Making tea for customers will take up 2 minutes of my time and I can't afford that delay for my lunch."
Oh my gawd. Is he stupid? If I were the boss I would have fired him already. Jeez. He's not making tea just cause it's his lunch hour. I mean I've heard of unions in the work force but this guy is just being inconsiderate. I think he's just stupid for saying that.

Case Number Two: To Billiard or Not to Billiard
I share a room with two other Chinese men Yang and Chun Yang. Jimmy, our Chinese driver, came to the Education Center the other day and asked me, Yang and Chun Yang to go with him to the internet cafe because the boss apparently told him to move some computer tables upstairs and move the billiard table to make room for the computer tables. Sounds simple? You wish. And by the way, don't bother asking why, aside from serving Chinese food, they have billiard tables upstairs.
The second floor of the internet cafe is divided into two rooms. The billiard hall (that has two pro billiard tables) and the internet room. Basically, what the boss wanted was to move the computer tables to the billiard hall. They took me there for the extra hand. I just lifted whatever they wanted me to lift. I can't join in with their discussion because it's in Chinese (how did you guess?) So when they started taking apart the billiard table, I just said to myself "wow, what a waste." They wanted to destroy the billiard table, take it into bits and pieces so they could move the whole damn thing into the other room. But guess what. When we finished moving it, the boss called and asked for updates. I told him what we have done, I said we moved the billiard table to the next room. He asked how we did it granting that the door is too small for that massive thing. So I said we deconstructed it. And he said "WHAT?!" And I just thought "Oh my gawd the Chinese are in deep shit!". Whoever said three heads are better than one ought to make some exceptions.

Case Number Three: The Early Bird Catches What Exactly?
Last night Jimmy told me I have to wake up early today because I'm joining three other Chinese guys to go to the Criminal Evidence Department to verify our records and for fingerprinting (it's a Qatar ID thing). So I got up promptly today. I'm just following these guys because I'm new here and they should know better right? So we went there early as planned and when we got to the gate the guard told us to come back on Sunday because it's the freakin weekend (Thursdays and Fridays form the weekend in Doha)! Early for nothing because someone didn't stop to think what day it was. Yeah, including me. So I guess it rubs off. Arghhh.

Suffice to say that because of these latest events from the Great Wall, I have to say that the Chinese, well, particularly the ones I'm working with, are dim witted. I know I am wrong. I know that there are probably more smart people in China than there are stupid ones but I'm just talking about the guys in my backyard.

Am I racist then because I formed a stereotype based on what I have personally experienced? Is it only racist when it's a negative stereotype? If I said that the Chinese play Mahjong really well, am I not being racist then?

I'm spending the night at my boss' house because it's the weekend, and so I'm staying in my boss' son's room. Although tonight, I'm not sharing the room with his son, but with this black kid from South of Sudan (a guest). He's extremely black. And my boss' son and daughter freaked out. My boss daughter said she's not racist but the guy's just too black. Could one say that he's not racist and then remark that someone is too black all in one breath?

As I am writing this, the black kid is on the bed behind me. I don't mind being around him. He's black but I don't think it's abnormal. It's just how he is. He probably thinks I'm too pale. Anyway, I guess I'm not really racist, just someone with enough bad luck to be surrounded by stupid people. OUT.


Stifling and Stiff New Year

>> Thursday, January 4, 2007

Just like Davao City, Doha greeted the new year silently--making me feel like I'm home away from home.

We didn't have Christmas (surprise surprise, and for those who still don't know, Yes, Qatar is a Muslim state). No Christmas. And the Arab world probably thought "hey, since we're at it, let's
not celebrate the new year too".

The whole city was silent on new years day. Davao didn't have fireworks but people found ways to make noise. Here, it seems that every home has been stifling any sound that dared to escape the premises.

It's ok. We had a long holiday instead. Around five days of no work because of the Eid. So my amo thought it would be nice to give me a gift for Eid, two Jarabiyas (spell check please). You don't know what that is?

<--Here's me in one of these Jarabiya thingies. Damn, I look so stupid in this pic! Lol. Anyway. So I wore this during Eid as we went to two houses for breakfast and lunch. Amo says I almost look local but I refused to wear the head thing because I was afraid people might think I'm a poser when they find out I can't even speak Arabic. The Jarabiya is ok. I could wear it but it's not practical clothing at all. I can't imagine how the locals could wear this everyday! It's hard to walk up stairs, you have to watch your step cause the length of it could sweep mud or camel dung or whatever, but you can't nod down to watch your step either because your headdress will fall. If you want to practice modelling wear this and your runway walk will improve. Yeah, it can turn you stiff, not in an arousing way no. Just look at my pic, don't I look stiff? OUT.




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

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