Sunday, December 16, 2012

They stand at the end of the line, near the foot of the bed, away from the action. While everyone is looking one way, a lone entity looks at another, fussing over a table littered with blood streaked instruments. They are the quiet ones often pushed at the end of the field while a handful of assists grapple with retractors and bang each other's heads for a good view of the action. 

They are the silent ones with roving eyes and reeling minds, mentally counting sponges and having that mini heart attack whenever one is nowhere to be found. They are consistently the first on the scene to set up the suite and the last one to go after the patient has been transferred to the recovery room. Then even after that, there are the myriad of instruments to be washed, dried and packed for sterilization. 

While surgeons battle their inflamed appendices, myomas, gallbladders, cysts and a variety of infected tissues, scrub nurses are in combat with a different kind of villains. Each and every one has his/her own share of "Kelly. KELLY!!!" scenario, unavailable sutures, deaf moments, missing sponges and unfamiliar instrument names of unknown origin and appearance. 

Truth is, no patient nor relative is going to thank a scrub nurse for a successful operation. In fact, they are rarely seen by those they serve. Hidden behind masks, the drowsiness of anesthetized patients, and commonly in the shadows of the operating theater lights and the egos of more important people, one could easily underestimate the utmost significance of that unassuming person scrubbed in at the end of the table, waiting to serve.

To assist selflessly as the heroes work their magic in battling the forces of internal anomalies is a trademark of all dedicated scrub nurses. Never mind the grumbling stomach, clogged nose, full bladders, aching feet and, by god, the varicose veins. Never mind the burn out of assisting in a 6-hour operation, doing post-op care to the patient and yet still have 2 trolleys full of used instruments to wash, dry and pack.

Because then, where would surgeons be without their scrub nurses? Where would Aladin be without his Genie? Bruce Wayne without his ever loyal Alfred? Frodo without Sam? Harry Potter without Ron and Hermione? Nemo without Dory? Edward Cullen without his hypoallergenic foundation and body glitter?

A successful major operation is achieved not by individual brilliance nor state of the art equipment. It is by teamwork that lives are saved and souls are once again tethered to this mortal coil. Heroes may swing and punch and flex their bulging muscles, but it is the keepers of the weapons, among others, who help them succeed in their sacred endeavor.

The clanging of swords in a mid-century war clashing for freedom or territory rings the same bell as the resounding clink of scattered steel instruments in a mayo table in battling stubborn bleeders and messed up anatomy. We are all fighting the same war, saving the same lives. And the scrub nurse plays a crucial role in the struggle, even without the spotlight. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blood. There is blood everywhere. On the floor, pooling in basins, dripping from sponges and coating once glimmering stainless steel instruments. Smoke lazily floats up the room as the smell of burning flesh lingers in the air, cloying, at times suffocating. A monitor is beeping incessantly at one corner of the room, wires and cables extending from its body like a robotic creature happily entangling its prey. 

The room is filled with aliens. Or maybe not, but they sure look like extraterrestrial beings. Or maybe those specialists who cater to ones. All suited up, capped and masked, with rubberized hands. They talk with invisible mouths, their eyes being the only windows to their souls. Assuming each of them has one.

And in the middle, a body. Lying down, immobile and strapped up. A tube protruding from its mouth, and its intestine poking out from its torso. A plastic suction tube held by one of those rubber hands slurps out excess fluid as a variety of metal clamps stick out from the abdominal hole like some grotesque part of a Saw torture chamber.

Buzz. Smoke. Clamp. Tie. Suture.

Stitch, stitch, stitch.

The scene may seem like an empty mechanical show of technical procedures, but behind every needle bite is a disease and behind every disease is a person, and behind every person is a story

These are the stories that I would never have witnessed anywhere else. 

This familiar shiny hallway and these tiled rooms have witnessed much of people's weaknesses, but also humanity's unwavering strength, more than any other places in the world. To be a spectator a midst all the action, suspense, drama and comedy have undoubtedly shaped me more than I can explain and have made me view things in a different lense. Things may not appear brighter nor more colorful, but they do extract sense and importance in this world governed by misplaced priorities and the pursuit of temporary bliss.

Future related posts in this series will tell stories not my own, but of life's complexities that only presents itself in the most trying of times. No paper-pushing routine job, even the highest paid ones, could mirror this front-seat view on the unadulterated, barefaced truths of our existence. And this is why I wouldn't exchange this experience for the glitz of a more glamorous job.

So, who am I?

I am an OR Nurse. And I have stories to tell.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It takes 43 muscles to frown. 17 muscles to smile. 14, 17, or 35 muscles to kiss. It takes much more muscles to make love. It takes a wink to be noticed. A note to make the moment memorable. Or, a drink and a bed to make the night less lonesome. It takes six words to a story. 14 lines and a meter to a sonnet, but you know that’s hard to find. It takes 3 words to express what you feel. 3 words and a slap to know you expected too much. It takes 100 words to express why we all need love and should bother reading this book.
And it takes a trip to the 33rd Manila International Book Fair to take home this one of a kind collection of stunning literary works "expressing kilig to kirot and all points in between."

In elementary or even in high school, writing a 100-word essay may feel like a painful chore of physically extracting words from your brain but when writing becomes a hobby, a hundred words may feel like jotting down a measly phrase. That is why I admire the format and the works from this literary goldmine I almost didn't purchase because the few remaining copies were hiding behind boring looking books.

And what better theme to give such a format than the still undefinable four-letter-word everyone could relate to. Add to that a sprinkle of unrequited yearnings, passion and the gory details of a broken heart combined with a candid dash of sex, lust, and all the things the CBCP warned teenagers not to do, this compilation is a perfect mix of sweet and complicated which addictingly delivers what makes up young love today.

Here are (hopefully) non-copyright infringement, cyber-crime-law-fearful copies of my favorite pieces:

Full of poetic quotes and relatable lines readers would be dying to post on Facebook, Twitter and upload a lomofied snapshot of in Instagram (I am guilty of this), it's a shame that the book is not available in most of the leading bookstores nationwide. However die hard fans may check out this site for more information on how to get a copy:

"Be a period, a stop. Be the end of my every sentence. Cut me into sentences, paragraphs: the better for me to understand myself. Because unlike a comma, you will not let me run on. You will be my brake; you will make me make sense. Give me meaning and open me up to the world. You will ground me, and I will love you for it."
- No. 87 by Isobel Yap

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The beauty of the Internet lies in the freedom to air opinions and expose truth without the fear of persecution. #notocybercrimelaw

Every once in a while, everyone (at least everyone who reads for pleasure) needs a good novel to curl up to during rainy evenings under the cozy warmth of a comforter surrounded by familiar it's-so-fluffy-I'm-gonna-die pillows

The kind of book that reminds one of the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the yellow lights of somewhere classy but also laid back where people can sit all day and talk or just mind their own emo sentimentalities. The class of literature that makes one think of the pleasure of people watching and conjuring stories based on the looks and body gestures of two connecting individuals or a lone entity sitting by the windowsill watching rain droplets slide through the glass like a physical weather-related manifestation for all the uncried tears humanity has been keeping inside.

This is exactly what Marla Miniano's novel, Table For Two, felt like. Uncannily similar to listening to a good friend tell her story in detail over a cup of overly expensive creamy latte with pretty boy baristas blending frappe just a few feet away.

Made up of five interconnecting short stories which happen to collide in a serendipitous yet unassuming coffee shop beside a Korean grocery store, the novel is a treasure box for romance, angst and everything in between, told in a witty yet thought-provoking manner. There may not be stand out one-liners that readers could post on Twitter and on Facebook in an attempt to sound well-read and deep, but then the narration flows effortlessly and engages readers right from the very first page.

It is worth mentioning the 4th short story of the book entitled "This Closure". It is a gripping piece no doubt everyone can relate to and will be in awe of the raw yet unedited, hauntingly delivered emotions beautifully put together by melancholy memory montages and candid thought monologues.

All in all, even though the stories' connections to each other can be wrapped up a bit more neatly, the book is a delicious mix of familiar stories to keep one occupied in an otherwise another cold and dreary rainy evening. All you will need is the book, a good light source to keep the migraines away (side effect of being an habitual ebook reader), a cup of your favorite caffeinated hot beverage and you will feel like you're in the company of good friends and greater stories, perfect to keep the loneliness at bay.

Orchestr-o-meter: B

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Consider me naive, or inexperienced, or too full of myself, too proud, maybe, or too feminist, possibly, but I could never understand the reasons and the thought process (if that even exists in situations like these) that goes on when people decide that, "This is it, I agree to be The Mistress."

The Kabit. The Number Two. The Third Party. The Home Wrecker.
The Glorified Whore.

I may be insulting a lot of people (even persons that I do know personally) but I honestly, sincerely, do not understand. I cannot grasp why men and women enter into these kinds of relationships when they know they are hurting and stepping on another human being's feelings and destroying a peaceful relationship, if not a family.

See, romance-wise, I live with this principle: "If he cheats WITH you, he will cheat ON you." Smack me with all the reasons in your artillery of excuses but this line really makes sense to me. It goes like this.

The fact that he is willing to be unfaithful to the woman he has said "I love you" to just that morning while he is preparing to meet up with you that night to make passionate coitus just goes to show what kind of person he is. A cheating liar. An untrustworthy lover. Do you really want to attach yourself with that kind of person? Really, now. Do you hate yourself that much?

And I'm not vilifying the men, it goes for both sexes. Just reverse the pronouns.

Maybe I'm being immature. Or possibly even too mature for today's Id-satisfying society. I just do not understand. If any of you can explain it to me, please feel free to do so.

Olivia M. Lamasan's masterpiece tackles this kind of conundrum our society knows too well. Unnervingly well, that this is bound to be a blockbuster (if it isn't already) and will no doubt pinch a nerve in a large percentage of movie-goers. Whether the benefactor, the legal wife, the lover or the mistress, everybody who has been in this kind of situation will be able to relate to the sharp piercing dialogue that says what people in those relationships desperately need to hear. 

What I liked the best about this film, aside from the flawless performances of all the lead actors and the stellar script, is the complexity of its characters. There is no black nor white, no evil antagonist nor holy protagonist. 

It shows Bea Alonzo's "Sari" as a lola-bathing-perfect-ate with a dark secret and John Lloyd's "JD" as a charismatic playboy with I'm-not-Dad's-favorite issue. Meanwhile, Ronaldo Valdez's "Rico Torres" is the slightly perverted (eww the bed scenes, wth) CEO of a multi-million family who apparently loves his family but cannot stop from taking in various mistresses. And lastly, Hilda Koronel's "Regina Torres" is the alcohol-friendly legal wife who just takes it all in.

The script is superb if not for the climax that I predicted 15 minutes into the movie. But then I can't remember the last time a local film's ending managed to completely surprise me so it's not a big deal. There was a couple of confrontation scenes that just stole the whole show and I was grateful that they didn't skirt around the things that needed to be said and images needed to be seen.

Try as hard as I might, however, I cannot feel sorry for The Mistress's character even in her most trying and humiliating times. I just feel like, a woman like that is not stupid, she definitely knew what she was getting into. Given, she got attached and developed real strong feelings for an old rich man who may or may not be using her just for sex and companionship but what made her enter that kind of agreement in the first place?
"Walang babaeng pinangarap maging kabit!" 
Then why are there so many of them stuck in the same circumstances over and over again? See, in the middle of the fire, one can simply blame uncontrollable feelings but I'm pretty sure in the beginning, the feelings weren't that hard to block, if only people were determined to do so.

Feel free to establish how juvenile my views are if you must, that I have no credibility to say any of these things because I haven't been in these kinds of situation and felt the turmoil of such complexity. Maybe, maybe not.

I have been asked, multiple times, both jokingly and in semi-seriousness under the guise of innuendos, by very eligible in-a-relationship bachelors if I'd be willing to "be Number 2-3" and my answer was a resounding, without a second thought, no.

Personally, I think it all boils down to this. From Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being A Wallflower,  this quote said it best.

"...we accept the love we think we deserve."

Of half-baked promises, stolen hours in the dead of the evening, saved number and messages in "the other phone", whispered phone conversations, scheduled meetings at random faraway places, the secrecy and the deceit.

If you think that is all that you deserve, then, by all means, go and be someone's mistress.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

For someone who has consumed books like daily vitamins for the past 13 years, how ironic it is that this is the first time I've attended the MIBF when they've been doing this for 33 years. Stalls and rows after rows of shelves filled with countless books of all shapes, colors and genres. I felt like (and the cliche goes) a kid in a candy store.

I had 3 goals in coming to the book fair. Not all of them were met but I did have a great time browsing through expensive-looking glossy covers and gawking at rare local published works I wouldn't be able to find in any local friendly red and white logo-ed bookstore.

First goal was to meet and greet and have the typical fangirl book-signing-and-picture with the resident internet Pogi Guy and my current brain crush Mr. Ramon Bautista (search the hilarious Tales From The Friend Zone videos on youtube and you will be hooked!) who I knew will be there at the PSICOM booth promoting his new book "Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo" together with Stanley Chi and Tado. Of course, me and book buddy Epi (who blogs at ) arrived too late with already a bunch of other fans in line for autographs and picture taking and no more book copies available. I did get to take a picture of them having pictures with other people. I guess that's the closest thing I'll get to being a fangirl. Must photoshop these pics soon.

Looong line to Tado, Stanley Chi and Ramon Bautista's book signing table.

Second goal was to find some unique designs for bookmarks. Since I'm not fond of reading physical paper and ink books because I have to hold them with both hands and get up and switch off the lights before going to sleep as compared to just turning off the iPad (how lazy is that?) I was interested in getting my hands on some unique bookmarks design like those magnetic ones I found in National Bookstore a few years ago (yes, that’s how long I’ve been reading paperless). Disappointingly, for a huge international book fair, in grand SMX of all places, we only saw one stall selling them and I didn’t even like the designs available.

Third was to find and purchase unique contemporary Filipino works because, honestly, I can't find them anywhere online. ;) But, seriously, I've developed this interest in literature written in English but based on Philippine society etc. and, no doubt, the UP Publishing booth won this category, hands down.

It's not much and I know people who have bought a lot more but in my defense, there wasn't a lot to choose from based on my detailed specifications and with the amount of religion/gospel books taking up half of the space inside the convention center, well, let's just say those stalls were automatically out of my to-browse list. Anyway, here are the 3 books I managed to buy from my first ever book fair attendance.

MIBF Book Haul 2012:

100 by UP Writer's Club - 100 literary works by UP college students (I'm guessing), all within 100 words "expressing kilig to kirot and all points in between". What a word goldmine. Glad we went back to the UP stall or else I wouldn't be able to buy this precious thing.

Beautiful Accidents by Ian Rosales Casocot - Short stories about Filipino modern life written in free-flowing English. Exactly what I was looking for. And isn't that cover just plain gorgeous?

A Hundred and One Reasons by Bianca Salindog - A 20-something Registered Nurse who has managed to published her own novel. Sounds exactly my dream. :)

All in all, it was a thrilling and refreshing afternoon to be surrounded by printed words, glossy covers, star-striking authors but, most of all, by fellow book lovers roving the store like drug addicts  in need of their latest pharmacological fix. Why this is the very first time I went to an event like this is still a mystery to me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

7. Don't have a sense of humor. Or have a sense of humor of a 5-year-old, unless of course the girl you're courting share the same level of comedy appreciation. Girls generally gravitate towards people who can make them laugh because  who wouldn't want to be with a person who have the capacity to make one laugh-out-loud happy?

Second, the quality of a man's humor is a reflection of how his brain works. And, personally, nothing is sexier than wit and a complex mind. But then, if a girl really likes you from the beginning, she will probably laugh at your most pathetic attempts on trying to be the next stand up comedian. :)

6. Dump all your life problems on the girl 5 minutes after knowing her name. It's basically the same with No.7 Be Fun To Be With rule. If the girl you like is not your best friend / only confidante (I'm talking about real BFFs and not the I-just-met-you-but-I-don't-know-how-to-court-you-so-I'll-just-pretend-to-be-your-"best-friend"-that-way-I-get-to-be-close-to-you-until-I-figure-out-how-to-grow-some-balls-and-officially-ask-you-out) there is no need to tell her every detail of your sad, heart-breaking, MMK-story-of-the-year existence. 

In movies, this technique works infallibly inside gloomy bars  with advice-giving bartenders but I don't think it works that well with normal happy people who just want to live life without having a near stranger's problem weighing them down.

5. Equate every material thing you own as a primary component to your worth as a person. Yes, you have a car and it's very shiny. Your smartphone is the latest model there is and is worth a full year's tuition fee of an elementary student. You can buy branded everything but what you cannot buy with your money is a woman's love. Yes, it's an enormous plus to have the bucks to spend for a woman, but in the end, it's not the number of three-headed bills in your wallet that we look at. Also, in a guy's perspective, you wouldn't want to reel in a hot gold-digger who only cares about your money and the expensive gifts you can give her, would you?

4. Complain about the simplest of things on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites. Same goes with posting direct attacks or parinig to people who may be rubbing you the wrong way. Not only does it says "I'm a war freak, hear me roar!", it also implies that you will also be announcing to the world every misunderstanding and argument you may will potentially have in the future if you and her get into a relationship. 

3. Have God-Awful Hygiene. Does this really have to be explained?

2. Feign confidence. I don't know about other girls but I can smell fake confidence the moment a guy opens his mouth. Every how-to in dating will say that one should have self-esteem, however, the problem with trying to imitate confidence when one doesn't really have much of it is that the person end up sounding arrogant instead of self-assured. Another quality no girl in the entire archipelago (and the world for that matter) is attracted to. 

1. Text or private message comments such as "Mwah mwah" or "Tabi tayo matulog" when it's NOT being  reciprocated. Same thing with touchy-feely akbays and hand-holding on first dates when the girl is obviously squirming away from you. 

I will tell you the truth. That diskarte exclusively works to the fortunate few men who can carry the brazenly direct, slightly perverted kind of flirting. And honestly speaking, if you don't look or act the part in real life, do NOT attempt this style of courtship. Ever. It's tacky, it's icky, and... just don't do it. 

But of course, if the girl looks interested, then landi away. :)


I don't really know why I did this post in the first place because, in the end, if a girl likes you, then every corny, perverted and/or disgusting atom in your body will probably be overlooked and  could be even found attractive. Some guys just have it good, I guess. I know some who just exudes charm and appeal effortlessly, even those who aren't as physically and aesthetically gifted as you would expect them to be. 

For those who are not as lucky... there are always girls who may be attracted to you, ironically however, these are the ones you are not attracted to.

And here, ladies and gents, revolves the cruel cycle of singledom.

Photo Credits: There is a love by fogke (from

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Marikina River 2 days post Habagat

Okay, so let's pretend it's still August and I haven't completely abandoned this blog for more than a month now. As you get your bearings on what month this is supposed to be, I will also pretend that I'm working on my beloved 14" Lenovo Ideapad laptop with his wonderful clicky keyboard and not on my sister's 11" netbook with horrible Asus cramped keys. See, my ever so loyal laptop have been struck down with a nasty bug that has rendered him useless especially for type-heavy functions like writing this post. No virus scan / anti-malware program have detected anything so I now have to wipe these sentimental tears off my face and reformat the entire thing and start from scratch. So help me God.

Anyway, back to the Great Flood that has yet again brought Metro Manila to a standstill. 


I was having my graveyard duty (10PM-6AM) at the hospital the night of August 6, 2012. There was already gutter deep flood on my way out of our subdivision but never did I expect the rain to continue like it was the biblical times all over again. Throughout the shift we could hear the relentless heavy downpour from outside and I already got the feeling that I won't be able to go home the next day since we admittedly live in the freaking flood capital of the East.


Come endorsement time, our main concern was that will there be nurses to endorse to. Amazingly almost all of them made it to the hospital, wet trousers and all. C'mon, a round of applause, people. These were the ones who have braved the floods just to see to it that patients are taken care of. Not all wards were that fortunate though. I know of some nurses who had to extend their shift to 16 straight hours. All in the name of health care, of course. 

All of the elective cases in the OR have been deferred because of the rains and flooding so it was a happy day for the morning shift. Us, night shift nurses, were a different story. Numerous calls later from home and a glance at local morning news (Marikina River drowning everything in sight!), it was obvious that there was no way any of us will be able to get home without being stranded somewhere. We then decided to just stay in the hospital until our next graveyard shift and try to get home the next day.

After spending some time in a local carinderia in front of the hospital for breakfast and some news-watching and shopping for toiletries and other essentials at the local market we went back to the hospital to get some much needed rest. Believe me when I say that the extra scrub suits in the hospital were life savers and having 2 uniforms (white and our own scrubs) were an unbelievable advantage that time. Without these extra clothes, we would be stuck with a single uniform all throughout our stranded period. Little did I know that for me, it would mean most of the rest of the week.


Another 10-6 shift has ended. Floods have subsided in most areas and rains have stopped in the metro. All my shift-mates / stranded-mates have decided that they will take the risk of acquiring Leptospirosis just to get home. I was no exception. I disregarded the warnings from home that the main roads and more importantly, subdivision entrances were still impassable. Lagpas Tao / Hanggang Dibdib type of impassable. But I persisted.

Needless to say, I got as far as the junction in the Sta. Lucia Mall / Tropical Hut intersection. All the roads from there on were flooded. The picture above was the entrance road to Marikina. And even those going to Antipolo/Cogeo area were knee deep in water. And do I even need to mention the Waterworld that is Cainta?

With nowhere to go, I waited near the entrance of Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall hoping to be able to crash in an air-conditioned restaurant while waiting for the floods to subside. Plus, I really needed to buy a contact lense case for my lenses which I've been wearing for more than 48 hours. I wasn't able to sleep at all in the hospital because of them. I managed to soak them in sterile water for a couple of hours but since I didn't have my glasses with me, I had to put them back on because I couldn't really see anything without them.

It was already past 11 AM and the mall was still closed. They opened it a few minutes later but when I entered, there was almost no customers and half of the shops were still locked up. Thank heavens Executive Optical opened that day.

Since I already have a case and solution for my contact lenses and could finally sleep without worrying of being forever blind upon waking up, after calling home and determining that the flood was not going down any time soon, we decided that it's better if I just checked-in in the friendly neighborhood hotel standing conspicuously in front of the mall in its red and yellow glory. The Sogo Hotel.

Any concern of mine regarding the, uhm, reputation of the said hotel chain evaporated the second I stepped inside the lobby. There were people, and surprisingly, kids everywhere. Throngs of families milled around the place watching the news on the large screen at the lobby, looking up at the sky for signs of more rain and talking on cellphones asking if they could already make their way home. It was like an Upper-Middle Class Evacuation Center. With entrance fees, of course.

After a few minutes of waiting, I fortunately got the cheapest room available. To my handy dandy credit card, I'm sorry I ever doubted your usefulness. Without you I would be stuck in the streets like The Script's The Man that Can't Be Moved, although in a sleepier and less emo version. The room was not bad at all, fairly clean, although I would drop dead before I step inside the bathroom without slippers on. After 48 hours of no lasting sleep, the huge bed was heaven on earth.

I woke up at around 5PM, officially famished for being NPO (nurse's fancy way of saying no food nor drinks) since that morning's breakfast. After calling home and discovering that I had no choice but to extend my stay in the hotel to overnight since roads were still impassable, I decided to go back and shop for food and additional clothes at the mall. Good thing I went there early because minutes later, the sky was again in a grumpy mood and stores left and right were closing early in fear of another bout of heavy rains. 

I tried to look for restaurants that would accept credit card because I was already running low on cash but there was none so I had to spend my last remaining hundreds for a cheeseburger value meal and ate it back at my room. All in all, it was not a bad existence. It definitely could have been worse. I was all alone and couldn't get home but I was safely inside a hotel room with a dependable cable tv, bathroom with hot shower, a/c unit and that trademark red light which made me sleepy for some reason. This was being stranded in style.


Woke up to the sound of my cellphone ringing bearing the news that the roads were still flooded but can now be treaded without drowning even if one does not know how to swim. There were also jeepneys already who were having trips up to the flooded areas so people didn't have to walk all the way, just from those places where only the most enduring of legs and Islander slippers would survive. It was time to go home.

It was 3 days after the climax of the torrential rains but still the flood in our area was still this prevalent. I came prepared with my rolled up pajama-ish scrub suit bottom, black shirt and scrunched up hair ready for battle. We in the East were so used to floods like these it was like a kamot-ulo moment instead of a devastating terrifying one to be honest.

Posh executive subdivision submerged in water.
Start of our exodus back home.
Starting from this point, we needed to embrace the Leptospirosis and feel the muddy water and unidentified floating debris enveloping our legs. Being 5'5, the water reached just below buttocks area, still unbelievably high three days after the rain. And this was on the main roads. The subdivisions were no doubt much worse.

To make the long story short, after treading thigh deep flood, getting in a dump truck full of stranded residents looking for an easier way home, walking again a short distance to our subdivision  and riding a pedicab worth 40 php per person because of the still chest deep floods, at around 12:45PM, after 4 unbelievable days, I was home.

I, literally, hugged our gate. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Date a girl who rides the jeepney. Date a girl who leaves the house armored in comfortable clothes that won't draw attention from innocent bystanders. Heaven knows commuting in the metro may sometimes challenge not only a person's patience but also her flexibility and agility. Date a girl who has a dependable purse filled with coins to use at her disposal, may it be for filthy street children with dubious white envelopes or for early morning "Barya lang po sa umaga." fees.

Find a girl who rides the jeepney. You'll know who she is because she's always the one who strategically places herself in front of other commuters in order to hail a passing PUV and get on one before she loses her seat to another rushing student or employee. The one who will "accidentally" elbow another out of her way if the situation calls for it. You see that unassuming girl with fierceness and determination in her eyes? That's a bona fide commuter who will use her wits and everything in her arsenal to get to her destination on time.

She's the girl who can appear to be comfortable while sitting inside a bursting jeepney with only half or quarter of her butt in contact with the seat. In short, she is squatting, but she will make you believe that she is pleasantly sitting on a leather bench, even though her legs are slowly giving up on her.

Lean forward and let her squeeze in.

Look at her earphones. You can always tell an authentic jeepney rider by the way her earphones are loyally stuck to her ears even though there are eardrum shattering bass beats loud enough to wake up Andres Bonifacio from the grave emitting from the vehicle's speakers. You will wonder if she could hear what she's trying to listen to at all with the acoustic pandemonium drowning everyone within the 5 meter radius. Don't judge her. She only knows the inevitable chance and has experienced the horror of riding a jeepney and getting stuck listening to some wannabe street pop star murder her favorite song and convert it to a Tagalog Rap->Melodic Popular Song Chorus->Tagalog Rap ensemble. 

It's easy to date a girl who is used to riding a jeepney. Hand over her bayad to the driver and pass back her change and she will be forever grateful. Get to know her by making small talk about the matinding pangangailangan of the driver because he seems convinced that his vehicle could hold 50 passengers. When you two go out on a date, you will not be pressured to bring a car or hail a cab. Just get in line at the FX terminal and she will look upon you with thankful eyes. 

Don't hesitate to ride a jeepney with her and accompany her home especially in the late hours of the evening. Defend her against perverts and pickpockets that wander around the town at this time of the day. Drape your arm protectively over her legs or torso and show the world that she is yours and yours to protect. Keep her close because you don't want her sliding to the other end of the bench when the driver suddenly breaks. And he will. 

Disappoint her. Because a girl who rides jeepneys knows that some things are not given back. Like the two pesos change for her 10 peso coin. She will just look at you expectantly but will not say a thing. It will be up to you to decide to notice her and give back what is due.

Treat her well. Because a girl who rides jeepneys understands that someone like you will only come once in a long while. But like waiting for a ride and boarding one that she deems worthy, if at any point she decides to leave, there will always be a next one to come along. She may not know when the next vehicle will come or how long she may wait alone on that street curb, but she is certain that there will be someone to pick her up and take her home.

If you find a girl who rides these patched-up automobiles, never let her go. Because she will stay with you even though you yourself have stitches that have yet to heal and mismatched parts from breakdowns from long ago. She will not complain about your imperfections and will accept it wholeheartedly the way she has accepted the noisy engine and the teeth rattling shakes from the utility vehicle she's used to riding.

Date a girl who rides jeepneys because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can take the heat, the humidity, the specks of rain and the claustrophobia of a relationship. She will accept these challenges if that's what it takes to get to the destination that you and her have agreed upon. And in times when you least expect it, she will take you on a ride. And believe me when I say that it will be the best ride of your life. No pun intended.


This is supposed to be a parody of all the "Date A Girl Who Reads/Writes/Talks/Walks" that seems to be floating all over the internet recently, or not so recently, I am apparently behind the times with these literary fads. I guess it turned out to be more serious than I intended but you get the drift. It's not to be taken seriously as with these other works of art but, hopefully, readers will get some sort of substance from me making fun of usual scenarios while commuting, specifically riding a Jeepney here in Metro Manila. If you are looking for more serious versions of this prose, by all means, visit the lovely works by these brilliant writers. I am but an imitator.

Date a Girl Who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a Girl Who Writes by Aura

You Should Date an Illiterate Girl by Charles Warnke

P.S. Reposts are encouraged but please include a link back to this original post, preferably with the author's name. Comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recent realizations have forced me to face this undeniable fact. This constant plateaued down stage of endless blahness is the worst of them all.

See, in the roller coaster of emotions directly proportional to specific vital events in our lives, we go through these stages. And since we don't want to start anything all brooding and suicidal, let's start with happy.

Happy as in blissful moment/s where everything is sparkly and bright. Think candies, baby's laughter and cuddly puppies in baskets looking for hugs. You see things in rainbow colored lenses, optimism overflowing in your veins and the world feels friendly somehow. It's the Start Of Something New phase reminiscent of that High School musical scene and everything's going great.

Then there's the happy plateau where you feel simply satisfied. If not about everything but at least in one aspect of your multi-faceted existence. May it be a dependable job, stable long term relationship or just an established closeness with friends and/or family. This phase may last years or just months but definitely, uncontrolled events, with or without the aid of human imperfection, will wreck havoc to this ideal period.

Enter the tears and the lamentations. The heartbreak and the sorrow. The grief and the longing. Pain was only a four letter word before this day! Okay, overkill. It might not be as bad as this, but there's definitely this heart-twisting feeling experienced in this phase that could only be categorized as such. You feel alone, lonely and oh so unfortunate, like everything in the world is conspiring against you like a grumpy superior who just hates your guts. Disappointments, breakups, getting fired, accidents, bad diagnosis and (knock on wood) death of someone dear will definitely trigger this what could be the worst days of your life.

Getting over this depends on how well your coping mechanisms work. You will never get anything done if you're forever stuck on the second "D" of DABDA e.g. locked up in a dark corner with Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" on loop or passed out in a bar after trying to forget your woes. This may also last for months or years and definitely, it's not a time to be remembered, nor taken photographs of and uploaded to Facebook.

And then here we are. The Blah Stage or what I like to call Oh My God I'm So Uninspired By Everything  Right Now And Will Undoubtedly Grow Old A Failure With Only Nine Cats As Life Companions Stage. 

Everything is in Shades of Gray (yes, capitalization is intended) minus the bondage and the Christian Grey erotic lure. Inspiration is nowhere to be found and the excitement that once filled the air has transformed into this thick mist of gloom and despair. Think Gotham City minus Christian Bale's buff bod. But why is this the worst stage when praise the heavens that the pain has now deteriorated (and somehow healed) into this dull ache that your body learned to get used to and even ignore over time?

Because friends, with pain there is poetry. Misery gives birth to timeless lyrics and with every heart broken echoes a definitive melody. With every tear, a manuscript is watered and helped flourish into a masterpiece. Believe it or not, there is inspiration within sorrow, strengthened by a need to express and share. Think Adele, the guys from The Script and their wrist-slashing lyrics, and all the "Take me out of the dark my Lord" gospel Kumbayas. We love their songs because we can relate to them but before than that, these songs undoubtedly could relate to the ones who wrote them.

She finds color in the darkest places

She finds beauty in the saddest of faces
"Walk Away" - The Script

Well then, what's the point of this rant, you ask? Nothing really. Now if lyrics were like mantras, I'd sure want to live by one that was written by The Script and find color in the darkest of places and recognize beauty in the saddest of faces, especially those who smile when someone's around.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Everybody gets robbed at least at one point in their lives. At least here in the country this figure is generally true. Whether you just found out that your cellphone is missing from your bag or you were held at gunpoint in some dark alley, I think it's safe to say that everybody has a story to tell by the time they're 80. Apparently, I was not an exception. 

For everybody's information and security (so that if you travel by the same route you'll know the strategy of these vile lowlife criminals), here's a detailed description of what happened to me yesterday as I was commuting from work.

So I was on my way back home, about 10:30PM to 11PM, traversing the Marcos Highway stretch from somewhere near Anonas to Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall. It was raining and there were more than a handful of commuters waiting for a ride. My iPod Touch was in my right pocket and Maroon 5 was crooning about being at a Payphone (Mistake #1). It's a fatal flaw, I know. I cannot be in a moving vehicle without music in my ears or else I'll go insane from boredom.

That said, I managed to hail a jeepney close to bursting with passengers and squeezed myself in the only space available, somewhere between the middle of the vehicle and the exit. At my right was some guy I didn't even got a good look at although he was 20-something-years-old by my estimate and at his other side was an unsuspecting couple. Across me were a bunch or random men with generic features I didn't bother to observe because they didn't look at all suspicious nor did they seem to know each other. 

As we passed the LRT2 Santolan station, the robbers declared a hold-up. At least that's what I think they did because I was practically deaf at that time from the pop music blaring in my ears (Mistake #2). All I knew was that pandemonium broke loose inside the jeepney as about 3 men across me began yelling and yanking people's bags and the guy at my right started grabbing for my iPod in my right pocket. I didn't try to stop him. He did this uncontested for about 5 long seconds before he finally got the device out because a) he was obviously an amateur and b) his other hand was holding a knife at my face as I was leaning away from him.

I knew I should be terrified but all I could think about was how loud Katy Perry was wailing about rumbling thunder and crumbling castles in my left ear as one earphone fell off and I heard him frantically threatening me "Gusto mong masaksak?" and I remember thinking 1) Oh God, I'll be one of those Direct OR Stab Wound patients and wouldn't it be ironic if I get rushed in the very same hospital I work in, in the very same operating room I just scrubbed in earlier, 2) This  Katy Perry song definitely doesn't suit the situation and 3) Why is that knife not glinting from the (albeit, dim) jeepney lights?

Before I made up my mind that the knife being waved at my face was indeed fake and we were surrounded by a bunch of cowards who didn't even bother procuring real sharps, they started jumping off the (slowly) moving vehicle somewhere in the Ligaya area. I thought that was the end of it when the robber in front of me suddenly grabbed my bag which was still hooked on my shoulder. I managed to get a hold of the strap but not the actual bag itself (Mistake #3) and pulled as hard as I could as the robber did the same. Apparently, my bag decided it wanted to run away with the criminals and the strap that I was clutching heartbreakingly ripped off from its body. 

I watched helpless and kind of dumbfounded as the robbers sprinted away with everything that I had that night pursued only by a brave and terribly pissed off male passenger who was sitting beside me and managed to get out the window and run after his bag. The jeepney kept on moving the opposite direction without stopping and I remember feeling helpless, not knowing what to do, whether to: 

a) get off the vehicle and run after my bag, but then I knew I stood no chance of catching up and I'll look pretty stupid running in all white uniform in the pouring rain,

b) get off the vehicle and report it to the police, but then since the jeepney didn't stop nor even slowed down, we were then in a dead area between Ligaya and Robinson's Metro East and I didn't even know where to find an officer in that downpour, much less know what to report since, out of shock and my brain's inability to memorize faces, I didn't remember what the robbers looked like, and

c) stay inside, get home as fast as I can even though I have no money left and immediately call my banks' hotlines so that I could get my ATMs and credit card blocked as soon as possible.

Needless to say, I chose letter C. All in all, only my bag, the pissed off guy at my left who took pursuit and the couple-beside-the-exit's bags were stolen. All the passengers near the driver cowered together and formed this sort of Passenger Bond that prevented the robbers from attacking them. And since I was one of the chosen ones to have been surrounded by criminals both on the side and front, I was not as lucky.

There was a slight commotion after the robbing incident inside the jeepney where we, those who have been robbed insisted that the driver should have stopped the vehicle while those who escaped with all their things intact argued that if the driver stopped, the criminals might have come back, a reasoning which I thought was a very large pile of horse manure.

I arrived home with only my umbrella (which I was unknowingly holding the whole incident), my earphones (which managed to loyally stay stuck in my ear minus the iPod) and just the strap of my bag. It was a depressing sight, that strap. I would have gladly handed over my cellphone and other gadgets if I can keep the bag and all the non-resaleable but important stuff in there. 

So kids, what have we learned today? Right now, in my still catatonic state of mind, all I can think of are these things:
  • Keep cellphone inside pockets.
  • Sit close to the driver.
  • Do not use iPod when commuting at night. (Although I doubt not using the device would have made any difference since my whole bag was taken.)
  • Robbers operate after pay days and before important money-requiring events (i.e. first day of school).
  • Contact number and iPod backups are lifesavers. Don't forget to backup!
  • BPI customer support for lost / stolen cards B L O W S.
  • Changing of passwords is a must if cellphone/s and/or iPod/s linked to social networking sites and emails are stolen.
  • Wide Awake by Katy Perry is a crappy robbery background music.

UPDATE (06/02/12)

I've talked to somebody earlier when I was getting my Affidavit of Loss typed and notarized that there was a similar incident that happened not too long ago. Same strategy, four or five men declaring hold-up inside a jeepney on the Marcos Highway stretch, grabbing bags and taking off in the Ligaya area. I'm convinced they are the same persons and/or part of the same syndicate. None of the passengers in our jeepney went to the police because of the mentioned factors but hopefully, with this post, people will be more aware of these kinds of strategies and be more careful the next time they unsuspectingly board a public utility vehicle. I sure will.

UPDATE (06/06/12)

I remember now the PLATE NUMBER of the jeepney I rode at the night of the incident.

Red Jeepney with Plate Number DVL 183

Route: Cubao - Angono Hi-Way / Tikling
With Yellow Light at left side and Red Light at the right side of the exit doors.
With loose Pull The String To Stop cables on the ceiling.

Upon hindsight and talking with a co-passenger that night, I'm convinced that the driver and  conductor was a part of the whole robbery plan.

First, because he didn't stop the vehicle during or after the incident nor did anything to attract passing cars' attention. One of the reasons why we, victims, didn't have the chance to go to the police was that the driver didn't even stop when the criminals took off and before we even got the chance to gather our thoughts and decide on what to do, we were already in near Sta.Lucia and definitely farther from the robbers than ever.

Second, he was traversing the dead and dark area between LRT Santolan Station and Ligaya on the side of the street (where darkest and least likely to attract attention) in a consistently slow manner even as the criminals declared a holdup.

Third, the driver and the conductor didn't even seemed surprised by the incident nor at least shaken by having knife wielding robbers aboard their vehicle. It as like nothing happened and they continued their route like nothing at all happened.

So, how did I know / suddenly remembered the plate number of the jeep from 3 days ago? Because I boarded the same jeepney just yesterday, same time same place, and everything came back. The lights, the interior, the seats. I stared at the driver for about half of the whole trip and he seemed to recognize me, and I him. I was seated near the driver this time and he seemed fidgety the whole time staring left and right like he was uncomfortable as I was trying to stare into his soul. 

I know none of these information will hold in court that's why I'm posting it here in order to at least share awareness to commuters near the area. Be safe, everyone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So you're suddenly single. Or you've been single for a long time, maybe a few years or months, and at this time, you're probably wondering when you're going to find someone new. Someone that could elicit overly hyped up but undeniably true feelings only a special someone could. The pounding of the chest, the butterflies in the stomach, the anticipation of a brand new first kiss.

It's not that you're unhappy, there are definite perks in being as free as you can be, but it's also not like you're in heavenly bliss either. After the near suicidal physically-painful post-breakup era and the feeling of boundless freedom and excitement of meeting new acquaintances without the guilt of a jealous rage from your other half that comes afterwards, things have plateaued down into a consistent and stable blah. 

In a world of millions of lonely people, common sense would dictate that they should all just pair up and be happy. But there's nothing common nor sensical about love. In my experience (and probably everybody else's), it's either you don't like the person/persons who likes you or it's the other way around. Literature, theater, the film industry and lyric music are full of stories like these, and it's not without reason. For a feature film or a paperback novel, unrequited love is a goldmine that sucks everyone in but in reality, these circumstances just plain suck.

I've had my share of bad I-wish-I-didn't-agree-to-this dates that just made me miss the connection I had with someone from the past and really good ones that made me want to believe in freaking fairy tales and an assortment of Nicholas Sparks novels. But then, of course with my rotten luck and as with any tragic story that brings tears to the sentimental and joy to the sadists, things did not go the way I wished them to.

See, I probably am one of the few who jumped off the ship without having something to fall back on. Most people would make sure that they have another vessel to hop on to before they let go of a consistently reliable relationship. But that situation usually leads to deceit and overlapping of commitments and I'm really not the kind of woman who would finalize a board and pass to another without terminating an existing contract.

Okay, analogy overload. Forgive the hyperactive imagination.

It's like being stranded on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The motors are wrecked and you know you're going nowhere. The rooms are comfortable and it brings solace from the harsh waves of uncertainty but you know you'll be staying there for a looong time in the middle of vast nothingness if you don't leave now. What do you do?

Me? I foolishly wisely jumped off the ship with only a lifeboat, a paddle and my emergency kit of loyal friends and headed to a nearby island and learned how to make fire, eat alone and be friends with a volleyball named Wilson. Every once in a while a ship would pass through, manly honking their horns and blowing off steam in a macho way asking me to board their presented luxury liner but I refuse because it's either I see a band of pirates or their route is to somewhere I don't want to go to.

I'm not that paranoid, really. I almost boarded one, but then the ship sank before it even got the chance to sail so I just swam back to shore, wet and frustrated (wait, that didn't sound right), chopped a few trees just for kicks and went back to having meaningful and thought-provoking conversations with Wilson.

So, here we are. At the blah stage. In this island. Time has been good but circumstances have possessed me to build a great wall manned by an epic army of pellet-blasting plants and highly-armed midgets with a perpetual expression of I'm-surrounded-with-idiots on their faces to guard me and Wilson from pirates and passerby alike. Sometimes I spot a mighty ship float uncertainly near my area probably contemplating whether to risk the journey but then passes by just as quickly, intimidated by my midgets. Go figure.

Right now, the walls are higher and the guards are fiercer than ever. Picture all the armies of the different monarchies of The Seven Kingdoms, House Stark and Lannister together, with Khaleesi's full-grown fire-breathing dragons leading the pack and Tyrion Lannister (head midget) blasting out sarcastic quips (he wrote this post by the way) from a pedestal.

Not all hope is lost though. It may sound like I retreated to this impenetrable fortress and cursed all men into eternity of sexless pursuits and Gonorrhea but that's not the case. I still let visitors in, but it's not without my invisible dragons breathing on their back and sardonic imps carefully observing from their posts. 

I guess this is how it is to finally grow out of a fairy tale bubble.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I am disappointed with this blog. I feel like it has lost the free-spirited feel and purpose it was created for. I look at recent posts, and though they are still infested with acerbic humor and my trademark phrased adjectives that-look-like-this, I feel like I've lost my voice. 

Not only are the past articles just composed of book/movie/cellphone reviews and vacation recaps which nobody really cares about, the thoughts are dry and painfully robotic. Yes, there are still advocacy themed articles but they are less than before and far in between.

Where is the spontaneity? Where are the personal insights that I once wanted to share to the world? Where are the amusing observations about the roller coaster ride that is everyday life? The good, the bad, and the downright humiliatingly hilarious

I started this blog as a personal haven for all those little quirky impulses my neurons keep on emitting several times a day in the most inappropriate of times.  I guess my mistake these days is holding everything I write at arms length and watching it take form while devoid of actual passion and conviction, the kind of writing that comes out which reeks the impression of doing chores and things-that-you-just-had-to-do.

This personal blog has become less and less personal for a long time now, and I hope you're with me when I say that I think it's time to go back to the basics. And yes, that phrase just reminded me of underwear billboard ads.

So with that, I will shun the inner procrastinator in me that has long been reclining in the La-Z-Boy of my left cerebral hemisphere like she own the place. I don't blame her, she has been there forever and I oftentimes give her treats like when I spend hours on Facebook and Twitter just reading (and liking) random crap my friends and total strangers post on their walls and feeds, half of the time thinking "I wish I have her life" or "Waaay too much information. I'll just pretend I didn't see that."

And of course, there's always the lethal viral pet videos that's just Satan's way of telling you to waste your life for him, one adorable YouTube clip at a time.

But I'll be honest. My track record regarding resolutions doesn't exactly paint a picture of absolute adherence to said self-promises. But we'll see. I might be able to banish thy inner procrastinator permanently to the depths of Mordor or Tartarus, or wherever the heck it can stay and not bother me again.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with a photo of an adorable puppy sleeping on a cellphone straight from the 90's "I-have-a-flip-phone-I'm-so-cool" era. 

Just because.

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