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.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's the "positive" result most people would have heart attacks over.

It starts with that dreadful feeling of a missed period after an inappropriately timed unprotected action. You try to go on your routine ways but the thought haunts you. You delay the errand of buying a pregnancy test kit as long as your curiosity can withstand but then succumb to your neuroses a few hours later. You purchase the blue box as inconspicuously as possible but then the old holier-than-thou woman behind you on the counter notices and gives you the dirty eye. You come home feeling like your bag is armed with explosives. In the middle of the night, when everybody else is asleep, you brace yourself. You take a deep breath... and pee.

Minutes later, you find out that your life will never be the same again.

Of all the tests in your life, this is probably the only one you have prayed and begged to fail. But it seems like fate has a different plan for you or maybe the Powers That Be chose you as the reluctant center of their cruel game. Either way, the two red lines on that blasted stick stare back at you mockingly. Ha! This is what you get for pretending to be a star of a Nicholas Sparks novel turned movie, the urine-drenched lines taunt.

How could this happen? You're so young, with your whole life ahead of you and yet there's suddenly this parasite in your body feeding off of your blood, hopes and dreams. You still plan to do so much more with your supposedly carefree years. Spend the entire night drinking at Distillery until dawn breaks, go trekking at Mt. Pinatubo or island hopping in Anawangin, visit Boracay and flaunt that bikini so you can post lomofied version of the pictures to Facebook. How are you supposed to do all these when there's another human being that's supposed to come out of you nine months from now and demand things like milk, clothing and education for the rest of your life?

And how about your career? You're not yet successful. Or at least you don't feel like it. You don't feel like you've done anything substantial yet with your life especially since it's just starting to form into something meaningful. It's too early for you to settle down and be imprisoned in a life of diapers and responsibility. Add to that that just when you're starting to feel beautiful and attractive, it's either you'll have a episiotomized vagina or have a caesarian section scar to bear for the rest of your days. Oh, and the stretch marks, don't forget the stretch marks. 

And one last thing, your parents are going to kill you when they find out.

After the initial shock, you study your options. Do those herbal medicines in Quiapo work? Where the hell can you buy Cytotec that isn't fake these days? They say the black Cytotec works better, is that true? You scour the net and look for black market sellers. There are so many you don't even know where to start and yet all of them look untrustworthy. Your cousin knows a friend of a friend who had an abortion before, does she still have the guy's contact number?

You start to panic. You don't know what to do. The father of this thing inside you (which you like to refer simply as "blood clot" since it's still too tiny to be considered as a life form) is useless. He's ambivalent and says he will support whatever decision you make. It's a choice you have to bear on your own. 

You wish that this is all a dream and you'll wake up any minute now free from this nightmare. You bargain for a time machine that will take you even for just a second before you make the stupidest decision of your life. You're no Allie in The Notebook or Savannah in Dear John. Real life unprotected sex leads to real life babies. 

You think of the jeering stares and hushed gossip of your sudden predicament from the people who know you and start to opt for termination (so that everything may go back the way they were and you can pretend this catastrophe never happened) but then something feels wrong. A subconscious part of your brain fights off the thought of taking an unknown pill that could very well cause hemorrhage, a fatal trip to the E.R. and one less soul tethered to this earth even before it had the chance to live. 

Here it comes, the Safeguard-commercial conscience moment that wrenches your heart from the inside. It feels like the Virgin Mary Mother of God herself is standing transparently behind you, crying pools of blood in despair. You know deep in your gut that although it measures only roughly an inch right now, it will be so much more in a few months, more so in the years to come. A baby, a student, a journalist, a lawyer, an ambassador for a humanitarian council who knows?

The power of your body to create something, a life no less, out of nothing is unparalleled and feels extraordinary. Could you really give all that potential out for a cheap shot at momentary freedom and an illustrious chance at "success" (whatever that means)?

The fog in your brain clears up and the panic subsides. The drama-inclined may call it an epiphany, but you know it's just your heart talking to you.

You know what to do.


*Images taken from Google Images and http://fahdphotography.tumblr.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Burnham Park

The boaters kept reiterating that the lake was only 4 feet deep. I resisted the urge to argue, "I do not fear of drowning, I fear of dying from infection!" (not to mention humiliation).

And yes, there in the  far right of the picture is SM with its evil tree-cutting plans. Somebody please call Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Burnham Park, known for the man-made lake in the middle of a mountain. A trip to Baguio would not be complete without a 30-minute paddle around the murky waters that probably haven't been changed since its first construction.

I guess I'm a hygiene freak when it comes to non-sanitized elements from sources I do not trust, the same way I frown at people drinking from the "miraculous faucets" of Manaoag Church while thinking, "Is that thing even purified??". 

So, in fear of overturning and/or sinking like a wooden Titanic, we hired a paddler for our boat (additional 25 php), who turned out to be a seaman so we knew we were pretty much in good hands. He sure can handle a 5 foot non-motorized boat if he has studied extensively how to be Poseidon's adopted son.

A quick walk around the park after the boat ride. If not for the few degrees Celcius drop in the temperature, I would have thought we're in Luneta Park or Quezon City Circle. Where were the unparalleled green sloping lawns that I remembered back in high school when I first visited the place? And what are these ugly blue tents that just screams Divisoria? I want to speak to the manager!

The Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes

(a.k.a Stairway to Heaven)

Bring your anti-hypertensive meds, inhaler for the asthmatics and a coffin for the rheumatics.

I don't pretend to be Kuya Kim to know how many steps there are before you reach the Grotto which seemed to be just at arms length from St. Peter's pearly gates (especially if you have a heart disease), but I could confidently tell you that there are a LOT.

A friendly climbing-the-grotto cheat sheet:

If you want to cut the climbing time / effort / calorie consumption / risk of myocardial infarction in half, bring your own car and park it in the grotto's designated parking space.

Upon walking to the "stairway proper" you would realize that you've already climbed half you way to the Grotto, leaving you with only a measly 50 or more steps to the finish line. Great news for senior citizens!

End Note:

Unfortunately, the Baguio City that everybody knows and loves has succumbed to the pressure and lure of over-commercialism. There are stores everywhere, in areas where the untarnished beauty of nature should be reigning supreme. There are too many wanting to take a slice out of the profit cake in expense of the destruction of nature which is ironically the primary reason why people flock to the destination in the first place.

More than a few places already feels crowded and chaotic from all these people selling stuff from Baguio bonnets to overpriced sweet corn to pictures with fluffy dogs and neon-colored horses. The city has their climate to thank for the relentless tourists from all over the country looking for an escape from the humidity of summer city living, but will the interest still suffice if the pride and honor of the place is already overrun and destroyed by super mall giants and the locals themselves looking for some quick cash?

There is so much potential in this place. I just wish locals and officials learn how to harness that potential without stepping on the simplest of grass and plant-life that makes the destination spectacular in the first place. So that, in the years and decades to come, people will still say, "I want to go to Baguio", not because it's cold, but because it is a place of beauty.

Turns out, an unplanned trip on what felt like the ends of the earth while sitting on a moving vehicle for 8 whole hours was just what I needed to cap off an unbelievably boring vacation month of April. Welcome to Baguio City! Known to be the City of Pines (which SM is hell-bent on destroying) and City of 24-Hour Air-conditioning.

It was the middle of summer yet we were in our jackets. This. Is. So. Cool. Literally.

So hours (and 2,000 php worth of gas) later, after traversing the whole of NCLEX and SCTEX, the never ending one-lane roads of Tarlac (I get a mini-heart attack whenever we're about to overtake a slow moving vehicle) and going up the winding roads to the city proper of Baguio, we finally got our first whiff of fresh cool air.

We were tourists in every sense of the word, asking for directions at every encountered intersection. We went to all the touristy places and bought touristy Baguio key chains. Here's the experience told in the most mocking way possible (a.k.a. the way I normally write everything).

The Mansion / Wright Park

Pretty. There it is, the summer getaway palace of the president, demurely introduced to all by that inconspicuous sign in the middle of a lawn telling you that you are indeed outside "THE MANSION". What a joy for dyslexics. 

Some clicking of the camera. Okay, there's nothing really left to do. Let's move on.

Wright Park, on the same hand, feels completely, well, the same. Oh look, there's a tree, some flowers... oh joy, a shrub! I think you've noticed by now that I'm not a huge fan of plants. I mean, I appreciate their role in the ecosystem but to gaze at them with awe and admiration is something you would not catch me doing. 

Oh, and the fountain water looks funky.

Mine's View Park

I didn't know what to expect when we were finding our way to the famed park. I just knew there was going to be some spectacular view ala that Tagaytay picnic ground area I forgot the name of. Anyway, there were plenty to look at, alright.

Bags, sandals, endless key chains and ethnic-looking figurines. Flavored corn on a cup worth 30 freakin' pesosPink horses everywhere and a couple of huge St. Bernards in sunglasses. Adorable! Must find a way to smuggle that dog inside the car. Oh, and there's a "viewing deck" filled with people with cameras. Us included. Okay, it doesn't matter that people can die from the tumultuous trek down to the area if they can witness this kind of scenic view... a view so... so foggy you can almost feel like a goddess in the clouds looking down serenely at those foolish mortals in the metropolis baking under the heat of the sun and relentless humidity.

Camp John Hay / Butterfly Farm

Finally, a place in the City of Pines with actual unadulterated pine trees. The place is gorgeous but it lacks the excitement of more populated tourist destinations in the city. Aside from posh-looking conyo kids having overpriced coffee at Starbucks, there are only golfers in white looking all rich and mighty. I almost expected to see Chief Justice Renato Corona taking a swing or Pacquiao training in the distance.

The Butterfly Farm is another story. Nestled in the middle of a seemingly barren piece of wilderness, you have to brace yourself and pray for courage because it looks like a homeless person's house (if that makes sense to you).

You will be greeted by an enthusiastic caretaker/tour guide which will share nice-to-know facts about butterflies in an amusing accent and act as a professional photographer afterwards, putting butterflies in your hair and face for useful Facebook primary photo shots. Honestly, that man will single-handedly save the experience from being a boring 10-step tour around a greenhouse searching desperately for shivering butterflies hiding in corners (butterflies thrive in warm weather, so we're told).

Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad, Benguet

What would a trip to Baguio be without strawberries? So we went straight to the source of all the berry hype in La Trinidad, Benguet, half an hour ride away from Baguio town proper.

It was the most fun I've had surrounded by plants in a long time. This time, I didn't mind the endless strawberry stalls around the farm proper (vast fields of nothingness scares me). Young sister got to pick our own berries from kilometers of strawberry plants and I got to snap numerous shots of fields and of myself looking like a blue-blooded haciendera with over-sized sunglasses on worth 50 php straight from a mall stall and a designer umbrella. Notice the irony.

...to be continued.

Part II:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Avengers. Seven heroes from different parts of the universe and genres, including a recently thawed all-American superhero, a self-made iron flying machine, a Norse God of lightning with his mighty hammer and a bunch of other characters I'm too ignorant to describe.

Pardon me for not being well-versed in the whole Marvel comic world (what's the name of that Bow Guy again? A friend just called him Black Hawk and I was tempted to add the word "Down" but then that's another movie.) but if there's one thing I know, it's Joss Whedon's works and his absolute brilliance.

It is no secret that I'm a huge fan of everything in the Whedonverse (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse etc.) and watching The Avengers made me smile wistfully at all the little Joss-signiture quirks that I didn't know I was sorely missing. The whole movie was a trademark of his unparalleled wit and talent. I almost expected the whole gang to burst into song and dance number ala Buffy's Once More With Feeling and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Now, if there is one person who could pull a bunch of superheroes in costume do a sing-off, it would be this man.

The movie, besides the strong intelligent script and amusing dialogue, is also a visual masterpiece. I remember reading an article almost a decade back when Joss had to tweak a Buffy script because of budget restraints. This certainly wasn't a problem with this film because the eye-candy and non-stop action that the movie brings to hungry and expecting audience is nowhere near disappointing nor lacking.

I honestly don't know how to end this review, if it could be called a cohesive review in the first place because all I've managed to do is gush about Joss Whedon and all the marvelous neurons inside that balding head of his.

I guess the point of write-up is, the movie is great and you should all spend P200 to go watch it in cinemas because cam versions uploaded in streaming sites and torrent just won't cut it. 

Orchestr-o-meter: A
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