December 07, 2006

Our Doctor

Our Doctor
by: julsitos

Our doctor
who art in his clinic
hallowed be his name,
his bill shall come
his will be done
on my chart
as it is in my body.

Give us this day
our daily meds
and forgive us all our complaints
as we forgive his advices against us,
and lead us not into infection
but deliver us from sickness.

December 02, 2006

Siquijor Retroactìf

Here are some posts from friends pertaining to our nice Siquijor vacation! (A good excuse to pass writing the same things again! hahaha!)

Links courtesy of Ms. Garinungkadol:
1st day (Ratsada)
2nd day (Tampisaw)
3rd day (Putikan)
Last day (Kebab)

November 30, 2006

Enter the Dragon

The Siquijor machine will take a backseat as I tune up my PC here in Bacolod. Ahhh... Bacolod! How lovely is your name! So, all the beach experiences are halfway through and will be interspersed during the next updates.

As for now, I applied (and have been accepted) as a 1st year resident at the PGH-equivalent hospital in this fair province. So far things are, as they would say, predestined. All things fall to their own rightful places- from the board exams, to the slot at the hospital, etc. Some may scoff at predestination but a part of me wants to believe that the universe is controlled by order. There is no randomness in the world. Everything is destined to happened in ways we cannot comprehend or even accept. But in my current situation, I'll try to accept that this training would be for the best. It may not be apparent now, but it will be soon.

Tomorrow, I shall start my first day in the hospital. It will be full of challenges and horror stories to which I shall recount in this space. It will be a world unlike the hallways of House MD or the clinics of Greys Anatomy. It shall be a battle zone, a war zone, a fight for wits and sanity for this is no hospital where one takes cases and relays the results to the consultants via phone but this is where I shall have the first and last say. Because of that, I will bring a rosary in my pocket.

This is my first report. Over and out.

November 09, 2006

Start the Siquijor Machine

This is our mockumentary of our trip to Siquijor dated November 2006 where we discovered the immense beauty and hospitality of this enchanted isle. It's one of the most undiscovered jewels of the Visayan sea and it deserves more tourists than it gets. Only the stupidest, most ignorant, most backward, most prejudicial and most superstitious Pinoys believe all those exaggerated mumbo-jumbo about being hexed and enchanted by witches. They're the ones who would give any unfounded reason not to visit the island. Well, more of us then. Anyway, I hope this video will help change your mind.

This shall be the introduction of our fateful trip to Siqujor in which I shall post our lunacies and experiences in the upcoming days. C'est la ciel!

November 08, 2006

Beneath My Feet

Beneath My Feet
by: Julsitos

There you are
beneath my feet
where the sky cannot
touch you
where the darkness
forever be,
and while I stand
above you
to embrace nothing
but empty air
I always
the days when
you stood beside me,
when you held my hand
Now, only empty air remains.

October 28, 2006

Jollibee Scandal

If people think it's only the Disney characters in Paris who do the most inappropriate things backstage, they should watch Jollibee in action. Ahh, the beauty of Pinoy humor.

Jollibee Gets Lucky:

Jollibee After Getting Laid:

October 27, 2006


I can't wait to watch this uber-hilarious film!

F*@%! So funny!

October 17, 2006

Pizza All I Can

Whew! I just had to try Greenwich's promo, the Pizza All You Can. Simply put, you pay P99 VAT-inclusive as price for gorging oneself to all the Primo pizzas one can eat. Yum! Yum! The Primo pizzas regularly cost P240 for the double size and P390 for their family size. Ergo, a P99 meal can easily triple its value which I gladly abused to the hilt. Right now, my mind is reeling from all the pepperoni, salami and mozarella cheese I ate. Glutton or no glutton, it was a deal too precious not to take. Besides, probably 80% of the customers in that branch ordered the same promo meal. Imagine employees, OFWs and students gorging on slices of unlimited pizzas as if there was famine here instead of North Korea. The funny thing was that as soon as the slice of their premium pizza arrived, it was immediately consumed and people began to wait for their next serving. And some would even pester the waiters to refill their plates ASAP. I think I lost count on my part. After that meal, I don't think I can anymore eat a slice of pizza until next month.

October 15, 2006

Dance the "Hi-Hello" Song

Before going back to Greenbelt to watch the Chilean film Machuca (P50) as part of the Spanish Film Festival, T and I first ate dinner the G4 foodcourt. As usual, I ordered at Cucina because for just over P114, you can already enjoy a cup of java rice, calamares, chorizo bilbao, soup and diet coke. It was cheap but satisfying. T on the other hand, bought this corn-lettuce-chicken-italian salad for the same price. She wasn't too happy.

But apart from grabbing a bite, T and her ubiquitous radar spotted one of our high school classmates, C. Her radar is fool-proof. She can spot anyone a mile away whereas I only can recognize someone in front of me like a horse with blinders on each eye.

She told me, "Hey, there's C!"

I craned my neck to look, not believing her at first. What looked like an exhumed vegetable was in fact my long lost classmate. I was surprised as to how small the world can be. So if one thinks one can make hanky-panky inside the mall, better think again for if one will base one's probability on Murphy's laws, then that dreaded possibility can and will happen.

C did not see me but it would be rude not to say the obligatory niceties. I recalled back memories during the cusp of my Elementary school years where I still hanged out with their barkada, a motley group of underdeveloped Parokya Ni Edgar wannabes. Unfortunately, I diverged from them during High School and settled with people who could finally understand the definition of sarcasm. But I had fun times with them and I had good memories, albeit impermanent. Most of the barkada back then I could relate with- many were and probably still are down to earth and friendly, but when C is concerned, there was something in him that was unnerving. We avoid talking to each other because there was nothing to talk about, and there were times when we nearly fought against one another because of some childish contentions like sitting on an already occupied seat. If we do talk, it was like hitting the Great Wall of China. And perhaps because he reminded me of a Martian from a 1981 movie, that's why I have misgivings about him. That was very unfair for him, but hey, we were kids then and kids are supposed to be cruel.

Our table still has plates of its previous connoisseur, so I had no choice but to alert the garbage guy who was milling around near C's table. I went to the garbage trolley with imaginary eye blinders hoping for the Ostrich effect. But suddenly I heard my name being called. I looked around and feigned recognition on C. Ha-ha-ha. We exchanged opening remarks, followed by the perfunctory occupational updates and a brief rundown of future plans- all well under a minute. I was surprised he knew mine for I didn't have a horse's ass as to which company he is working now. Oh well. T also went there to dance the "hi-hello" song and she was even faster than I. I was tempted to point it out to her but I decided to keep quiet.

This got me thinking, why is it that after we graduate High School, our perceptions of the people we left behind still resonates to the present day? It is as if their characters cannot be changed, their personalities cannot be made better. It is as if your picture of them got stuck during the time you received your diplomas and it has stagnated at that way ever since. The farther is the distance of your friendship, the more pronounced is your prejudice towards the person. Your mind is forced to dig up his/her dossier inside the deep recesses of your brain in order to paint a mental picture of how he/she looks like, his/her mannerisms, his/her stupidities and virtues. Even if your mental "file" is already a decade old, you still base your assumptions on it. Or initial assumptions, rather.

The cruel thing is that the stereotypes I have about my high school classmate stays with me until now. I know it's bad, but it's true. There was one classmate of ours whom God gave large breasts, and until now, each time we talk about her, it's the fucking same topic. There was one who was humiliated to death during his freshman year because he was suspected to be very "excessively touchy" during basketball matches that even though today he has already two kids, we still have an animated discussion about the past. We had a classmate who steals stuff from the CAT room that until now, we still have a kick talking about her kleptomanic episodes. Unfortunately for her, she had a hypoglycemic attack along the corridor and was publicly disrobed before being brought to the hospital. There was this coño rich yet academically deficient friend who has an eccentric family and spends each night drinking with friends and we were taken aback that he became a freaking chef. How do you like your eggs? I like them very much, thank you. We really wondered if he was able to boil an egg. He has a friend also who during the course of High School was an uncontrollable storehouse of methane and hydrogen sulfide that until now, he's the prime suspect for every fart we find. There was one who because of his small structure and Gollum-like expressions, people call him the Leprechaun and in his yearbook, there was the line dedicated in his space: "where is my pot of gold?" I couldn't believe how cruel we were during those years but it's good to note that once you get to know that person, your perceptions do change, your prejudices are erased. In this case, that person has become a trustworthy friend. That's true for my friend, Lepr... I mean R. As for C, I guess another encounter is needed to establish rapport between us. Or maybe not.

October 03, 2006

Kwentong Tambay

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This blogbook by Mr. David aka "Batjay" is a terrific accompaniment to your bathroom needs. It's funny, irreverent and replete with the greenest of jokes. Although it has been marketed as a joke book from the eyes of an OFW, for me it crosses the boundery into Pinoy 'Benny Hill' show. Each vignette and quip is very well written and always bring a smile to any reader. This is perfect for the beach, for parties, for defecating or even as treatment for somnolence.

Pros: Very earthy, bawdy and does not dumb down its audience. Excellent punchlines. Simple but effective cover- yellow always catches the eye. Fonts are large. . Reasonably priced.

Cons: Wished it could have been more organized rather than mix everything up.

Source: Filbars

Blogsite: Kwentong Tambay

September 29, 2006

Millenium Disaster

Typhoon Milenyo wrecked the apartment 36 hours ago. Meralco continued it.

2 hours ago:

I went to Robinson's Ermita to get some candles for the apartment since it has been two consecutive nights of blackout. Due to water conservation, I had dinner at KFC accompanied with a cardio book brushing on my readings on the effects of Lidocaine and Amiodarone on tachyarrhythmias. Robinson's was humid and hot inside, their airconditioning system was blowing warm stale air. My face was wet with sweat as I ate my dinner. While doing so, I cursed Meralco that all their callcenter employees and repair crew shall contract venereal diseases in the next week.

4 hours ago:

Nana banged on my door in sheer panic. When asked what was troubling her, she hurriedly told me she needed to buy ice. she did and when she came back, we hauled all our meat goods and perishables from the fridge and placed them into styrofoam ice boxes. I don't know how long the ice will last but I hope it will keep the goods fresh till the next day. I called Meralco earlier and accosted their call center whether the company will reimburse me for the value of my spoiled goods. Knowing that Meralco employs lemmings to take in calls, I got the usual pre-fabricated answer. They do not know when the power will be restored, they couldn't coordinate or even expedite the rescue crews or even verify if they are indeed on the field and not eating hopia all day long.

7 hours ago:

The firetruck of the Tondo Fire Brigade came to the alley beside our building to deliver water to the Chinese residents living nearby. I guess it was not only us who were affected by Meralco's slow and inept repair service. It was also a good thing that the faucet down at the garage was working, so we did not have a great need to haul water up from the street. Yet.

12 hours ago:

I went out to look for breakfast. The scene outside was pitiful. Trees were uprooted and lines fell down like black cobwebs. There was a scarcity of jeepneys plying the roads today, and many people were outside sweeping the debris, leaves and mud from the streets.

I spotted an open Jollibee which unfortunately had their airconditioning system set to a bare minimum. It was a cruel stituation whereby the heat of the kitchen plus the outside humidity created my breakfast into a bath-worthy event. Before venturing off that morning, Nana offered to cook oatmeal for me but I told her not to bother because we might not have enough water to wash the utensils later. She was placated and proceeded to "toast" her pan-de-sal on top of the wok!

24 hours ago:

It was our 2nd night to be bathed in the suffocating glow of seven votive candles and three candlesticks. The candles were losing their power as the wicks were busily siphoning the wax upward into oblivion. I became impatient. I hardly slept that night becuase I waited for the electricity to be restored. The street across us had their electricity restored already, so I thought ours would be next. After several fitful hours of waiting, I fell asleep.

36 hours ago:

The first day of the blackout was frustrating. Water has stopped flowing and we were forced to collect water into buckets. Mine was still full since the typhoon started, so I was able to bathe, albeit grudgingly. The heat of the sun was becoming quite unbearable, the air was still, making the afternoon stifling. Perishables inside the ref was still hard and cold, so we crossed our fingers that this will last until the end. Candles were prepared for the night, and it was fortunate that there were votive candles stored inside the pantry. That night the apartment looked like the nave of a cathedral with its candles placed everwhere making the mood into a reverential dungeon.

I called Meralco and gave them a piece of my mind. I think they blocked my number after that. hehehehe.... Still, what could these call center employees do? Nothing. And according to King Lear (in his famous rebuff to Cordelia), "from nothing shall come forth nothing." I guess all we can do is wait.

September 13, 2006

A Long Overdue Booktag

Dr. Emer tagged me weeks ago and initially, I was stumped on how to do this. So here goes:

Books that changed your life? - Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang- This small book from National opened my eyes to the forgotten Holocaust in Japanese-occupied China. It's full of harrowing details, photos of mutilated victims and atrocities of the worst kind. It made me realize that man is capable of inflicting the worst evil towards his brethren.; One Hundred Years of Solitude by G. G. Marquez opened the doors for me in discovering the wonders of the modern Classics. Because of him, I was encouraged to read Orwell, Maugham, Dostoyevsky, etc, where their works speak volumes of man's struggle against oppression, and whose words are blended so masterfully that you immediately swoon at each line. It made me see that there is life past Paolo Cuelho's The Alchemist & Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

Books you have read more than once? - Shogun by James Clavell (The best epic on feudal Japan! The characters simply jump right out of the book.)

Books you would want on a desert island? Perfume by Patrick Suskind

One book that made you laugh? The Decameron by Boccaccio (A very funny, irreverent and sexually charged compendium of medieval lore. Think: Benny Hill Show circa 1450), Short Stories of Saki by Hector Hugh Munro (Best way to sum it up is this: Fawlty Towers circa 1900.)

One book that made you cry? - Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Personal reasons. This book will become a classic in the next decade, just like To Kill A Mockingbird.)

One book you wish you had written? - Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

One book you wish had never been written? - Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Cuelho (Chick-lit for those who want to commit suicide.)

One book you are currently reading? - A Plague Upon Humanity by Daniel Barenblatt. (The hidden history of Japan's human experimentation camps called Unit 731 and how the U.S. absolved all those charged in the Tokyo Tribunals just so they can utilize the data gathered by those murderous Japanese scientists. FYI: The US used the same biowarfare against the Chinese & North Koreans in the Korean war- the same methods as those made by Unit 731.)

One book you have been meaning to read? -Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (This should be a required reading in High School!!)

Next people to tag: Pia, Terai, Jake, Cel

September 04, 2006

A Bank Manager Called Amanita

Usually, I think of bank managers as people who have reached that level of responsibility and maturity wherein they can think out of the box as opposed to other bank employees and security guards wherein their decisions are based solely on their Manual of Standard Operating Procedures. From past observations, bank managers are there to smoothen out transactions and make the daily grind more efficient. This is natural to many, but this afternoon I had the privilege to experience the most inept and inflexible of all managers.

1:30 p.m.

I went to PCIB bank at the Roxas Blvd.- Ermita branch for the procurement of my sister’s (Thank you!) remittance. This branch I really love because they are efficient in processing my cash, making the experience very agreeable. Unfortunately, they just had a computer upgrade so they could not process remittances but gave me a transaction form to fill up which I can give to other branches.

I remembered that there was another branch at Pedro Gil & Mabini, fronting the new Hyatt hotel, so I hurried there immediately.

2:00 p.m.

I was directed to the manager’s desk where upon I sat down holding my completed form. I was informed that the manager was out so I had to wait for a while. Fine. After five minutes, this lady with Chinese features appeared looking very harassed. Let us hide her name as Amanita Chewbacca. Amanita flitted here and there looking for a printer to finish her “urgent” transaction. Only after which she attended to our needs; “our” means me and a man with an elbow contracture who was withdrawing what seems to be a bundle of $100 bills. With such an amount, it was surprising to see the bank’s head honcho and Amanita verrrry deferential to this customer.

After the rich customer left the bank, Ms. Amanita had the stupi… I meant, the “audacity” to persuade me not to pursue my transaction because according to her, it’s a Monday, so there are tons of transactions and it would be “verrrry difficult” to get through. What she means is that she’s not interested in entertaining me. She then suggested that if I will leave my form, I can get my cash the next day. WTF? She means to tell me that I just wasted my time waiting there for nothing? How impertinent of her to suggest that my time is not valuable. Of course, stubborn as I was I did not heed her suggestion and instead smiled at her and told her, “It’s fine. I can wait.”

I think she became exasperated because she proceeded then to call the PCIB call center. Fine. The quicker I can get out of this bank, the better. I thought we could connect immediately but no, the line just looped and looped with “Please hold on, our lines will be available soon” voice with no end in sight. She asked me to hold the phone and wait for an answer.

“Just press ‘2’ until someone answers you. Then you give it to me,” she said. I complied thinking at least this way I can increase her efficiency.

After several minutes, Amanita’s big honcho went to our desk and complained that the bank has only one line and that there might be transactions that can’t get through. In simpler terms, she wanted me to drop my queue, and wait for the sky to fall. I am not sure this is a bank’s SOP to cut-off transactions because it was difficult to reach their call center. So, we stalled perhaps ten minutes until the coast was clear. Then, she tried again to connect. Suffice to say that in the end, she was able to talk to a call center representative.

Here’s the kicker: After less than a minute on the phone, she told me that she cannot do my transaction. WTF? I waited here for nearly an hour and that’s all she can say? She told me that my name on the form did not match the name on the computer. For instance, if the name on my form was “Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus”, the call center told Amanita that the name on theirs was “Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Wolfgang.” Because of that clerical error, Amanita Chewbacca denied me of my remittance. I really wondered if she took (or even passed) Logic 101 in college for any college graduate would agree:

1. That a customer who holds a unique transaction number means that no two persons with different names can hold the same number;
2. That a customer who had a matched “secret word” means that he/she is privy to that transaction with the sender;
3. That my name was just repeated at the end means that it was near impossible that I was not the same person indicated in the computer.

But since Ms. Amanita has an IQ equal to that of a sea cucumber, she cannot fathom the logic. She may be right and strict with the name game, but any person can see that she was very inflexible and incorrigible. Usually, I do not complain with that rudimentary kind of logic in circumstances that needed my correct name, such as board exam applications, visa applications, or legal proceedings. But with a simple case of getting remittances, she had gone overboard.

In a stroke of utter brilliance, Ms. Amanita Chewbacca gave me these options: a) to produce another identification card showing I was “Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Wolfgang”, and b) to call the recipient to amend my name. The first choice was plain dumb. I don’t know how she was able to think of such a dumb idea. What you sow, you reap I guess. And her second option entails more wasted time and circumlocutory red tape. I do not have the patience for that.

This reflects badly on Ms. Amanita because her brain (which is presumably clogged with fat from her thighs) tells her that customers’ time is not a valuable commodity. It also shows that she’s so bereft of imagination that she can’t think of anymore ways to find a solution to such a logical problem. She’s like a frog that immediately stops jumping because a high wall is placed in front of her. It’s infuriating that someone in that position can be so narrow-sighted and unimaginative. I don’t think she deserves to be in that job.

She could just convince the call center that I was the same one on the latter’s computer and go ahead with the transaction. But no, she just reclined in her chair and repeatedly said, “I cannot do anything. You need to have that name amended.”

Sensing how futile this has become, I stood up, collected my things, and curtly thanked her for wasting my time and added that perhaps other PCIB managers have more imagination than her in conducting transactions like this.

3:00 p.m.

In a huff, I went out of that branch while cursing that poor excuse of a manager. Good thing the bank’s security guard heard my plight and directed me to another branch at Robinson’s mall. Full of trepidation, I entered the third branch thinking another mentally imbalanced manager will find ways not to do her job. I was wrong. I should have gone here instead of that awful Mabini branch.

I sat down again at the manager’s desk with my completed form in hand. She was a bit busy explaining to a MidEastern man something about his remittances not appearing on paper. After she had settled that, she took one look at my form and logged in into her computer. She punched in my name and in a matter of seconds, approved my transaction without reserve or suspicion. This cool manager took my identification cards and had it photocopied and subsequently I was directed to the teller where I can get my cash. Talk about efficiency! I noticed that in the printed form she attached to mine, the same "repeated name” was shown, but since she has an IQ befit of capable bank managers, she must have concluded that it was just clerical error. It was a clear sign that she was USING HER HEAD unlike the former manager. This was the way the 1st branch would deal with me. Seeing that it was next to impossible to have different persons having the same transaction number, my “suki” manager would go right ahead and approve the transaction. Perhaps, if I was a VIP client with wads of $100 bills, then such awful managers will do everything to have my remittance cleared.

Moral of the Story: Be kind to animals.

September 02, 2006

Pirate's Lair 2006

a=a=anime, m=music, s=software
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Two years fast forward from my last entry about the pirate's lair of Quiapo, an update is expectedly needed. There were lots of expansions up to the periphery of the original buildings. DVD quality is going to the rats. Why? They get from China and not from Malaysia. They get those 100-in-1 dvds which degrade the quality. I still prefer the 1 title = 1 dvd since they have the possibility of retaining all those wonderful special features.

The map above indicates the location (yellow) of the pirate stalls and the letters are as follows: a = anime, m = music, s = software.

Entrance Points:
1. From the Quiapo Church (and South-bound commutes), enter the Lacson underpass and cross the street to Hidalgo exit point. Use map indicated above.

Arlegui entrance point
2. From the North-bound commutes, jump off at the street where you see a green-tarpaulin signage saying "Hortaleza Vaciador," a local beauty supplies shop. This street perpendicular to Quezon boulevard is Arlegui street. Go straight and use the map above as indicated.

What to Bring:
* Cash - lots of it! Going back is a pain in the neck, so if you find a title that you've been dying to watch, get it!
* Messenger bag - backpacks are sitting ducks for pickpocketers, so having this will ensure the safety of your belongings
* Wear simple clothes. The stench of "Eau de Corps" (More like Eau de Corpse) compounded by the aroma of dried puke, expired cooking oil, mildew and piss is enough for you to wear only shorts and T-shirt.

What NOT to Bring:
* Credit cards - Everything is cash-only basis.
* Expensive cellphones - Snatchers abound. Still, it's an irony to see Muslim DVD traders owning phones more sophisticated than yours.

Most of the sellers are MUSLIMS! So, if you value your life, do not crack any Anti-Moslem jokes. But you can ask them why Allah chose Isa (Jesus) to come down here during the Day of Judgement and not their beloved Mohammed, and listen to their wonderful and defensive answers. Or you can ask them if whether they prostrate themselves five times a day towards Mekkah right there in the black-colored concrete alleyways with their heads bowed on the filthy floor.

*Caveat: It is unevitable that some touts will accost you along one of the DVD streets enticing you to buy their Adult dvds. You can see them standing on the street with nothing to do but harrass people with their sales pitch. My advice is: DON'T GO. They will lead you the the darkest recesses of this bungalow marketplace where they will trap you in buying their wares. They will "implicitly" threaten you with violence if you do not buy a single one of their overpriced dvds. They don't give discounts because they know you are at their mercy. A college friend of mine who frequented this Muslim quarter ended up running for his life when they forced him to buy their dvds. These shady sellers force you to buy so they can get a commision for leading you to their lair.

All sectors of Filipino society patronize the pirate's lair. From students from MLQU, to priests from San Sebastian Church, to nurses & doctors, to SM employees, to rich SOBs riding their FORD F150, to barong-clad personnel from Malacañang, to DVD resellers coming from the provinces, to Caucasian and Korean tourists in shorts and puka-shell necklaces. No one is exempted.

1. Malaysia - they provide the best quality DVDs with their shiny laminated insert and the golden hue of the discs. DVDs from this Truly Asian nation is truly fantastic.
2. China - they are characterized by their silver discs, the Chinese characters, the atrocious synopsis and their subtitles done in perfect pidgin English.
3. Philippines - they have golden discs with golden designs (unlike the malaysians) and their title inserts looked as if a high school dropout photoshopped the screenshots and voila! Also, other manufacturers burn films into blank dvd disks just like burning a vcd in your computer. In this case, it's a hit and miss.

Products Sold:
1. Unreleased Hollywood films
a. copied from a promotional disc
b. copied inside a theater
2. Released Hollywood films (copied from the original DVD)
3. Classics (Hitchcock, Kurosawa, war movies, etc.)
4. Arthouse films (infrequent, scarce supply, rare titles) ex. Criterion collection
5. Asian foreign films (Korean, Japanese)
6. Asian Telenovelas (Boxed sets)
7. Tagalog films - DVD burned
8. Sitcoms, US drama series, Documentaries (Boxed sets)
9. Adult Features

*MP3s & CDs - usually great copies and cheap at P25 a disc
1. Oldies
2. Jazz
3. Rock & Pop
4. OPMs

1. DVD copies
2. Videoke
3. Adult Features

1. Games
2. Installers
3. Anti-Virus Programs

There are lots of places to start. And you have to be discriminating with your choice of DVDs. Just don't take it as it is because if something is wrong with it, it can be very difficult to return it back for exchange. There are rows and rows of DVDs and with luck, you can stumble on rare titles (like the works of Kurosawa and Tinto Brass), or better copies of unreleased films. The DVDs are stack on shelves upon shelves extending from the floor to the ceiling. When they say DVD copy, it means it was copied from the original, but when they say "Clear copy," it means it's not worth buying the disc yet.
1. Check for the titles.
To know whether a title is copied from an original DVD:
* Check the quality of the DVD insert. If it looks like similar to the released DVD and not like a photoshopped title where the words are misspelled and the description is inaccurate, then it must be from an original copy.

* Check the spine. If there's a code like "DVD-349" or "MCD-582", most often than not, it's copied from an original disc.

2. Check for scratches and defects on the shiny side of the DVD.
* If there are scratches, it would be difficult to return.
* Make sure that the film can play in your player. Certain players do not accept PAL format, so be wary of European art films who have PAL stamped at the back.

3. Have you choice be tested on their DVD player.
* Don't take no for an answer! Threaten them that you'll buy from the next stall. If they will assure you that the title in hand is a DVD copy, then you either take their word for it or you ask them "nicely" if they have a blood-relative nearby who can test it for you.

* A P5-10 discount must be asked.
* Current Prices range from P35-55 nowadays.

5. Make sure they stamp/mark the DVD title insert, so if you return them, you can argue that it was from their store that you've bought the disk from because if not, they can play that Shylock argument that you "might have bought it from other stalls."

What to Do During Raids:
* Go onto the street & act non-chalantly
* Enter the nearest convenience store or fastfood joint and loiter inside
* Shout hysterically in Arabic that you have a bomb strapped inside your shirt.

* The Real Deal:

Today, raids are RARE in Quiapo. However, if Edu and his
cohorts have a scheduled raid, more or less, the sellers have already been
tipped off and are extremely vigilant during that particular day. You can see
them talking about the impending raid, having boxes readied, and their supplies
are not 100% displayed. Besides, if a raid ensues, the news spreads like
wildfire and within a span of five minutes, all of the shops are closed. Just
make sure to get out of the DVD alley lest you will be locked inside with the
Muslim traders.

August 27, 2006

Boycott Petron

It is ironic that at this point of time where there is still a slim window of opportunity to take that leaking oil tanker off from the waters of Guimaras, Petron is delaying its obligations to clean up its act. As a consumer, I am disgusted at the company's seeming insensitivity towards the environment, and how it washes its hands of any responsibility.

I wanted to help in letting Petron feel my displeasure, but I felt helpless in making a dent at the company. But then, I remembered how Gandhi evoked change through civil disobedience wherein he urged ordinary people to boycott English cotton which resulted in hurting of the sales of foreign business and the eventual attention of the British government.To evoke change is to provoke Petron where it hurts them the most: their pockets. In this regard, I urge all petrol-consuming Filipinos to BOYCOTT ALL PETRON PRODUCTS AND GAS STATIONS until they remove that ship from the Guimaras waters. I'm doing my share of protest in the hope that they will listen to the voice of its consumers.

August 24, 2006

Ugly Philippine Book Covers

  1. Philippine book publishers always complain of dismal sales of their books. Even if the authors themselves are luminaries in the field of fiction and self-help and the contents of their works are capable of churning into another Noli or Fili, the turnover for books remains slow, which makes one wonder: why? Besides the fact that many Filipinos do not read local fiction (in book form) for the sheer pleasure of it, another factor that scares away potential readers is the very ugly and uninspired covers that adorn perhaps 95% of local books.

    That poses a question: Who makes these very ugly covers? High school drop-outs? Elementary graduates? Three blind mice?

    Lot A:
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    Lot B:
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    Lot A showed the local fiction while B showed works by Filipino authors published in the US. Which of the two would you get? If you ask me, I’d choose the American ones for its nice and decent covers. If you are already a well known author, no matter how crappy and cheesy your covers are, people will still buy them because they know you write really well. Authors like Agatha Christie, their books sell despite the ugly covers. Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner was being passed by customers inside bookstores because of its lackluster cover, but because of word of mouth as to how well-written his story was, customers buy the book and catapulted it to Amazon’s top 10 list.

    Lualhati BautistaNick Joaquin
    However, here in the Philippines, having a name like Lualhati Bautista or Nick Joaquin will not automatically mean ka-ching of the cash registers. They have great stories that have been made into seminal movies, but ask anyone if they have read Dekada 70 or Tropical Gothic and they’ll give you the blank stare. Compounded with such patent ignorance is the crappiness of their covers and paper quality. Toilet paper has a better consistency than some of the Philippine publications I’ve seen. I know they are trying hard to keep costs down in order to reach to the masses, but the quality of the print is really a big insult to the masses. It shows this: poor quality for the poor masses.

    Huling Libro ni HudasStainless Longganisa
    There are also Filipino authors who, because of their popularity, can demand high-volume sales despite the ugliness of their covers. Such example is Bob Ong’s Libro ni Hudas- its front and back covers are soot-black with no endearing design whatsoever. Instead of connoting evil, it makes one think of a septic tank. Its paper quality is like coupon bond (the cheap type) and the binding has staple wires denoting the economy of its printing. And yet, teens and tweens lap up all Ong’s books including the recent release of his Stainless Longganisa. I bought one and I find it mediocre and self-flagellating. There are lucid moments of wittiness but the whole plot fell by the second half of the book. If not for the byword of its contents, I can not imagine how to retail such cra… umm… book. One the bright side, if this helps in making Pinoys read, then I’m all for it.

    As for first-time writers and struggling fictionists, having a timely and snazzy cover can entice curious customers to buy your book. People look for eye-catching fiction and publishers know this. I’m just appalled at the sheer stupidity of local printers why they cannot revamp their already crappy covers. It is an injustice and an insult to the sweat and tears of the authors who toiled for months just to type all those words. And the hack graphic artist can only come up with a half-baked second-rate cover art? Shame. So, if your book does not fly off the shelves because it looked like a survivor from Somalia, then it is the publisher’s fault. Why their fault? Consider the fact that books do not have a promodizer (just like grocery items where agents swarm you to buy their products), are not being advertised in the main broadsheets or TV commercials, and do not have a megaphone to lure customers in, these lonely pieces of literature depend only on four factors to make customers buy them: 1) price, 2) book reviews, 3) word of mouth, 4) book cover. This means that nearly all of the tricks to make us buy fall on the responsibility of the publisher.
    Khaled Hosseini
    Without these, even a book-signing event can’t pull it through. Khaled Hosseini in one of his first book signing lamented that there was only one customer who wanted to have his autograph. This was before word-of-mouth made his book the darling of the publishing industry.

    Also, I can't fathom why mediocrity is the dictum of the day for our graphic artists. I know there is no dearth of Filipino talent in the realm of arts and music, but looking at the annual crop of book covers make me cringe. If you exclude the crappy printing of local publishers, the art must stand on its own. A lousy uninspired art does not make readers want to open that book. Some might argue that printers want to economize on the ink, so they use only monochrome. Yet, many local book covers are printed in FULL color which means they have little reason to curtail on the artistic expression of a graphic artist. Hence, a crappy graphic artist can only make a crappy cover.

    I still cannot fathom why American artists can churn up great book covers and not us. Read on the interview of Paul Buckley to learn about cover art and see the great book covers he has done. Read it here and here.

Dean Francis AlfarNeil Gaiman
For instance, on the left is Dean Alfar’s award-winning novel “Salamanca” while on the right is Gaiman’s “American Gods.” Both books have are mostly printed in green, yellow and black hues. Creativity wise, Alfar’s cover lacks inspiration and clarity and looks as if it was just made overnight. Gaiman’s cover looked enigmatic and eye-catching; its art sends a clear message of a coming storm.
Feast and Famine
Another great novel disgraced with an uninspired frontispiece is Rosario Lucero’s “Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros”. It looks as if the artist slept on it and rushed the work the next day. There is no come-on to open the book, and the theme does not encapsulate or even capture the rich essence of Negros life. For me, the only thing the brash of colors denote is the sweltering heat of the tropical sun. Had the author read the book, he or she may have done another concept rather than paint the whole piece as a tribute to drought and El Niño. The contents itself are masterpieces but with a cover like that, I dunno.

This is ironic because many of the books in the Anglophone nations use photos and paintings to create beautiful covers. Here, the artists are contented to post doodles of their friends and art projects done by their two-year old niece, and call it art. Many of them have “horror vacui” or the dread of leaving an empty space. It’s either that or too much minimalism that it already looks like an overnight project by a dropout. Others superimpose sour-looking ancestral photos of the authors in a bid for self-glorification of whatever bastardized family-tree the writer has. And the fonts used are either too cheesy like lightning bolt shaped vowels or too unprofessional by using passé fonts like Comic Sans and Copperplate Gothic for titles. It just shows how haphazard the job was done. And the spacing of letters is non-existent. These so-called artists use only standard spacing found in MS Word and whatever software they can get their hands on. The failure of not manipulating fonts and colors to balance your composition is indicative of the level of skill of the artist.

Can’t they think of anything else? Can’t they ask for shots from local photographers like the ones by Kieron Tan? Or at least use paintings by the current artists like Sanso or Luz. Or read up on foreign book designers like those of Chip Kidd? It’s saddening and disappointing. Why? Their mentality is parochial and insular. They live and thrive on their stupidity and ignorance which hinders their growth. Instead of looking for inspiration from the outside world or using foreign techniques, they are content to replicate their crappy covers.

I am not a graphic artist, but I can appreciate a well-made cover if I see one. And so can you. Why do you think Penguin always update new covers for old titles? Because they know people are suckers for good covers.
F.H. BatacanNoli me TangereEl FilibusterismoPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting
A caveat though. I’m not saying all book artists are like this. Some have great designs and should be applauded. The original covers of the Locsin versions of the Noli and Fili are great examples. What happened to the artist? That person should have more projects. The UP Student edition series of Pinoy literature like that of Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles is a good example how to make a simple, balanced and presentable book cover. Also, a lot of children's books have spectacular cover art, many of which are resplendent in the full spectrum of the palette. It's a wonder why they are not being hired to make good covers for adult fiction.
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Many coffee-table books have great covers but sadly most of these books have been designed and published by foreigners in Hong Kong (e.g. Periplus) or Singapore. Locally, only a handful of books can compare with their foreign counterparts.

Not all local books have been mutilated by crappy book designers but a lot of fiction still have mediocre covers. If publishers want to improve their sales, at least make their covers worth buying for. Why do you think many Filipinos patronize foreign authors if not for their covers alone?

August 22, 2006

Palparan's Song: "I've Got Them on the List"

Palparan, the Real Terrorist

I've Got Them on the List*

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There's the pestilential columnist who writes my epitaphs —
All people who have written me in acid paragraphs —
All students who are up-to-date, and say that I’m a rat —
All persons who in shaking heads, shake heads at me like that —
And all third persons who on spoiling all the fun insist —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!

He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed.

There's the village promenader who is walking out of place,
And the firebrand journalist — I've got them on the list!
And the people who sells fish and all who disappeared for days,
They never would be missed — they never would be missed!

Then the councillor who raises, with a condescending tone,
My terroristic bliss, but speaks silent of his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
Who thinks she has her civil rights. I’d like to see her try!;
And that singular anomaly, the lady activist —
I don't think she'd be missed — I'm sure she'd not he missed!

He's got her on the list — he's got her on the list;
And I don't think she'll be missed — I'm sure she'll not be missed!

And that red rebellion nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
The judicial moralist — I've got them on the list!
All witty fellows, comic men, and sleuths of public life —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed.

And leftist-leaning statesmen of a most tenacious kind,
Such as — What d'ye call him — Thing'em-bob, and likewise — Never-mind,
And 'St— 'st— 'st— and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who —
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!

You may put 'em on the list — you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed!

* Sing to the tune of The Mikado's "I've Got A Little List" by Gilbert & Sullivan. The Mikado is a light operetta done in the 1880s. The lyrics are exactly the same from the operetta save for some poetic liberty this author took.

August 21, 2006

August Book Hunt

The rainy month of August heralds the joint bargain sales of Powerbooks and National Bookstore to which I could not control myself but give in to temptation. As they say, the pleasure is in the hunt. How true. These are my recent acquisitions:

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Perfume (Patrick Suskind) [P245] – a scarce book that both stores do not carry. I found this sitting with other pricier editions inside Fullybooked and this Penguin Red Classics edition is the cheapest of the lot. Ever since Penguin Red Classics have been imported all the way from the UK, their cheap books are being highly sought after in Manila. Love in the Time of Cholera and Lolita were enjoying brisk sales because of its cheap prices and trendy covers, and now they’re gone. Suskind’s Perfume becomes that rare gem that juts out once in a blue moon. This promises a great engaging read especially that a German film of the same name is going to be released this year starring Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman.

Synopsis: “Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is abandoned on the filthy streets as a child, but grows up to discover he has an extraordinary gift: a sense of smell more powerful than any other human’s. Soon, he is creating the most sublime fragrances in Paris. Yet there is one odor he cannot capture. It is exquisite, magical: the scent of a young virgin. And to get it he must kill. And kill. And kill…”

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Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop (Emma Larkin) [P219] – I read last year a favorable review of Larkin’s Secret Histories in one of the weekly magazines, either Newsweek or Time. That made the title stuck into my head until I found the same book in a National bookstore bargain bin. The condition was not as pristine I wanted it to be, but the first chapter was enough for me to buy it. I am always a sucker for any oriental-themed literature especially the ones that touched upon western colonialism which is probably why I enjoyed the works of Orwell, Maugham (Collected Short Stories) and Clavell (Asian Saga.) Secret Histories is essentially a travelogue-cum-social-analysis of a westerner traveling Orwell’s routes inside Burma while observing how Orwell’s Animal Farm, 1984, and Burmese Days are mirrored in the present day Burmese. So far, I have read Burmese Days and Animal Farm and a bit of 1984, so reading this will be familiar. This one is for the beach!

Synopsis: “In search of the inspiration for George Orwell’s uncanny prophecies, Emma Larkin follows in his footsteps. She finds his terrifying visions shockingly realized, an unwitting legacy that permeates the land of Secret Histories like its scents of betel nut and freshly brewed tea, and the sticky breezes of the Irrawaddy delta.”

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Death and Restoration (Iain Pears) [P76] – While perusing the previously-owned book section of National Bookstore, I chanced upon Iain Pears’ mystery series. So far, I have only read his Instance of the Fingerpost and though it was a good historical novel, I was not really impressed. It was circumlocutory and redundant. But from the net, his other novels have netted good reviews because of their Dan Brownesque pace and mystery. Since I enjoy reading murder mysteries involving the finer things in life like art, religion and history, this may become an enjoyable read. I am keeping my fingers crossed, but for the price of a Jollibee meal, it’s worth it.

Synopsis: “General Bottando can’t believe his rotten luck. He’s just been promoted- to a position that’s heavy on bureaucratic duties but disturbingly light on investigative responsibilities. As if that wasn’t annoying enough, he’s received a distressing tip about a planned raid at a nearby monastery. He’s confident his colleague Flaviea di Stefano will be able to thwart the plot- but she and her fiancé, Jonathan Argyll, are beyond baffled. There’s nothing very valuable in the monastery’s art collection- except for a supposed Caravaggio that’s currently being restored. There are no solid suspects- unless you count the endearing art thief, the flagrantly flamboyant ‘Rotweiler of Restoration,’ and the strangely shady icon expert. And there’s really no reason to cause an unholy uproar- until someone commits an unconscionable crime…”

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American Gods (Neil Gaiman) [P99] – I found this tucked inside the bargain bin of a Powerbooks branch. Though I am not a fantasy aficionado, knowing the fanatical popularity of Gaiman here in the Philippines means his works have great appeal among the Filipino teens and tweens. With a price like that for a P750 book, this might be a good introduction for me into his genre, and it would be cool if I will end up enjoying American Gods. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Just like his Sandman series, his American Gods promises another engaging and thoughtful read.

Synopsis: “Released from prison, Shadow finds his world upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming- a battle for the very soul of America…and they are in its direct path.”

August 05, 2006

A House Burnt Asunder

From my journal:

"These past few weeks before the board exams, I could not help myself but weep in the privacy of my bathroom. No one's there to witness my breaking down. It is only now that I have felt the total loss of the death of my last remaining parent. It's a desperate emptiness, a hollow void, that pulls you down under wherein in every corner you try to hide and close your eyes, no magical change happens. The fact is this: the reality of their demise stays with you like a gut-twisting nightmare. Yes, it is a silent and personal nightmare where on the exterior all is well with the world, but upon introspection and reflection, the emptiness sucks you in. It is also a nightmare for no matter how much people sympathize with your plight, the truth is that they can't change your reality. No amount of words or promises can make the comfort of the past fill you up again. The emptiness clings, and it clings tenaciously.

I hate this feeling of the constant knowledge that my entire world has imploded on itself like a house of cards which I know there won't be any chance of making it whole again. Many of the things I hold dear are gone- the people before me, the security of hard-earned tangible assets, the family name I carry.

Now, the house my parents lived is but a shell of its former glory- much like the fall of the Buendia family in Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude." I know that there won't be Christmas parties at the front yard where the entire first floor is flooded with lights, the Christmas tunes being blared from a karaoke stereo and the tables filled with lots of fiesta food. There won't be afternoon meriendas on the balcony, or the sight of garden hoses cluttered on the lawn just before dusk. The comfort that one feels seeing that the rituals of the past are still being practiced, or that the people of your past (e.g. parents) are still alive makes the memory of home and family all the more important. When these are gone, the loss that we feel is devastating. For me, I can feel the palpable emptiness of knowing that they won't be with me in all my future milestones. I can't help but grieve at the thought they won't be around during my oath-taking.

Reality is cruel for it uproots you from your own self-designed delusion that a family is secured until everyone's hair turns white. But no, reality kills everyone off, and laughs at you telling you that the worst possible scenario can and will happen to you. It hacks you limb by limb until you feel you can't go on.

Rationalizing the situation does not solve anything, but only masks the emotional trauma by linguistic palliatives. At first you may say, "Hey that's right, I should not feel this way," but after searching your memory bank, every one of your reason flies out of the window leaving you groping in the dark with such emotional pain you can't ignore. For me, a lot of things has been stripped of hope and reason, but it's only faith in a higher being that's keeping me sane.

It's funny because days after mom's death, I could still joke and laugh fooling myself that she was just indisposed then, and that she'll come back sooner or later. The sense of loss is not felt right after the funeral, it strikes you when you feel most vulnerable. And it starts weeks, months, or even years after. That's why I do not believe that grief lasts for only a month.

Sometimes I just want to do a Gauguin, but that would be unfair to all their sacrifices that made it possible for me reach this far. Even it feels as if I want to chuck it all up, I have to go on for the sake of their memory."

Happy B-day Mom... even though you're up there looking down on us.

July 22, 2006

Amici di Estomago

Last tuesday, T and I bumped into an old friend from HS as we traversed the underpass along Paseo de Roxas in Makati. We thought it would be another duo food trip, but luckily, R. was there to liven up the dinner scene. We took a cab and headed towards this non-descript hole-in-a-school restaurant that people tout as Manila's best kept secret, the Amici di Don Bosco.

Amici is simple but people who go there do not mind the kitchy atmosphere and the canteen-like set-up because the main attraction there is the great authentic Italian pizzas and pastas and gelato. Most of its customers, we observed, are well-dressed moneyed citizens of Makati which is ironic because the place is located under the overpass along Arnaiz (Pasay) Avenue. I was expecting the SM food-court crowd but I was wrong, people really go out of their way just to order pizzas to go and gelatos for their hankering brood back home.

When we entered, T was ecstatic (read: jumping up and down)to see the varieties of gelato that she immediately dived into a chocolate scoop. I tried it and the I was blown away with the intensity of the flavor. It was rich, silky and soft, no ice bits clinging to the cream. I then chose mine Cheese flavor and the first scoop reminded me of the milky goodness of cheese with its sweet creamy texture spiked with tart pieces of cheddar cheese. Some might find it wierd to eat fromaggio gelato, but for me, this is the best- and no other ice cream brand can surpass Amici's in terms of quality and pricing. At P35 per scoop of quality gelato, who can resist? For those who have deeper pockets and only eat at Rockwell's Pazzo gelato, this is a great alternative.

We went back to our table and ordered our dinner. We decided on pasta. Not knowing what to get, we asked the cashier/clerk what are the recommended entrees. She ticked the Tagliatelle con Sici(something Sicilian), spaghetti ala don bosco and some other dish. We settled on the first one- home-made tagliatelle cooked in tomatoes, red wine, parmesan, and italian sausage. It was so satisfying that my tongue began to sing O sole mio, not! It was fantastic nevertheless. These are the pastas that are not found in commercialized knock-offs where their basic menu consists only of spaghetti bolognese and carbonara. Amici is the bomb! And the servings are good for two people. T barely finished hers, R was slow in his plate while I was feeling constricted after eating halfway.

We skipped on drinks, as usual, and settled on their fresh and priceless mineral water... yes, price-less meaning free. Because the place has that scholarly feel of being in a high school cafeteria, we were free to enjoy lounging about with nary a care towards our fellow foodlovers. Who cares about slouching in our seats and laughing to our hearts' content about high school faux pas? No ugly heads reared in our direction with their evil eye glaring at us. We had a great time catching up with old times.

After the meal, another round of gelato. T got some flavor which I forgot while I took away some cheese gelato. Just can't get enough. We egged R to try it but he passed saying he was too full to have a scoop of the cold delight. We stayed on for another 30 minutes before venturing out into the hell that is Manila. At least in Amici, the food will always be your friend, and that's their promise. And yes, with such food intake, I promised my porcelain bowl back home to meet another friend from Amici albeit in another form. Hah!

Other sites featuring this terrific discovery (w/ photos):

Molested By An Arab Donkey

No, it's not me. It's my friend R. She seemed to be a magnet for these sexually excited fellows everytime she ventures out at night. I'm not sure, but this time, it seemed serious enough that she pressed charges against this Arab donkey. (Sorry, that undesirable alien has no place in our country, and as such, he does not merit any respect from any Filipino- except from the refuse of society like those money-grubbing prostitutes in the throes of AIDS and naturally corrupt and lazy policemen who'll do anything to avoid doing anything.) There's one thing frustrating to see a foreigner abusing his way through Manila, and it's another to see your own fellowmen fawning over and accommodating this poor Arab-trash cum criminal.
This is his passport photo, so if you know him, please call GMA7 for a live interview.

Click on R's blog and read her harrowing experience of being molested by an Arab donkey (and how the stupid & corrupt police tried to cover it up):

R's Nightmare On Makati Avenue

July 03, 2006

Rizal on Penguin Classics

How cool can this be? Jose Rizal has now joined the pantheon of Classical author thanks to the Penguin Group of Publishers.

Elda Rotor, a Fil-American working at Penguin Books has this to say:

Monday June 19th is the birthday of Jose Rizal and I'm pleased to announce that NOLI ME TANGERE makes its debut as the first work of Filipino literature to be published in Penguin Classics. Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, wrote this new translation with an introduction and notes.

The book is available at the end of June. It is the 60th anniversary year of Penguin Classics, and I have just started as the new Executive Editor for the imprint. As a Filipino-American, I'm excited about this new publication and wanted to share it with all of you. Look out for the book, check out Watch out for events in New York and San Francisco this summer and fall.

July 02, 2006

Personification of American Hegemony

Superman going around the globe from Manila to Italy to France saving people reeks of American Hegemony of global security. He is portrayed as the world's policeman, fireman, and one-man security force where everyone is beholden to him and utterly grateful to his Boy Scout acts. But still, it shows that an American Icon like Superman being on top of global affairs where he has influence over other sovereign nations makes me want to puke. Not only is he violating the air spaces of other countries, he is implying that other countries can't take care of themselves and are always in need of Superman.

Now, who the fuck asked Superman to save the world?
Who the fuck asked GWBush to save the planet?

These are the questions Superman must answer:
1. Why is he not classified as a Weapon of Mass Destruction?
2. Why did GWBush not tapped him in the Iraq-Afghanistan War?
3. May passport ba si Superman to go flying into other nations?
4. Why was Iraq or Palestine not mentioned in the areas where help is needed?

An Ubermenchen Review

We saw yesterday the brand new Superman movie at Glorietta 1. The place was packed to the gills with couples and families with restless children. Actually we sneaked into the adjacent cinema sans tickets because the first one was so jampacked and this was 10 minutes before the anointed schedule. So, like evil sneaks that we were, we changed cinemas and ended up with a couple of good positions in the center of the theatre.

The movie was good, the effects were superb, but Routh's acting was terrible to say the least. Strip him of everything that's heroic and you'll get an acting that's wooden and impassive. It was as if his entire face was injected with Botulinum toxin. Even Spacey's acting was disappointing for I was expecting more malevolence but all I saw was another Botulinum injected spiel. Bosworth was passable, wow, she has a large forehead, come to think of it. The only redeeming value of the movie was its deft atypical plot, the 21st century CGI effects and the heart-rending sound track. The music was fantastic, and really played to one's emotions. Acting aside, the whole flick was one hell of a ride!

Was the movie worth the P100 fee? Absolutely yes.
Is it good for repeat viewing? Damn yes.

Rating: 8/10

June 29, 2006

The Departure

The Departure
by: Julsitos
Let me kiss your cheeks one last time,
and feel the burning warmth of your shame,
for soon no one shall remember your crime,
the secret you bore in your name.

Let me embrace you one last time,
and forget the tears we shed before,
for soon none shall hear your song and rhyme,
when you're lying beneath the floor.

June 28, 2006

The Gasp

The Gasp
by: Julsitos

And I looked at her with awe and fear,
her lips, a gasping monotone,
for whether I love this creature here
is a conclusion now forgone.

June 23, 2006

SC Upholds "Live-In" Couples

I applaud at the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold "live-in" relationships depending on one's religion. With a vote of 9 pro-judges against 5 dissenters (with one abstaining), this reflects the high level of maturity of our Supreme Court system for it only upholds one's freedom of religion. It's only because our SC judges are wise enough to realize that a democracy like ours should never be retrofitted with narrow and baseless Christian mores. It should be "each unto his own beliefs" for one's marital practices may not apply to others. For instance, while Muslims are exempted from polygamy and concubinage, the rest will just have to tread Christian lines lest they want to go against the law. And what about Buddhists? Hindus? or Jehovah's Witnesses? Their beliefs cannot subserve to those of Catholics' but rather should be treated fairly and on a secular basis. I hope this will pave the way to more pro-choice decisions that will uphold man's basic and inalienable rights such as freedom of religion.

As as for SC Chief Justice Panganiban, shame on you for forcing your narrow Christian morals on others not of the same religion. Shame! But then again, that's why there was a need for a vote- so every decision will not be swayed by the opinion of one man.

June 04, 2006

The Taste of Youth

The famed foodblogger, MarketMan, has recently written in his website about the flavors of childhood. It is said that the foods enjoyed during our formative years carry itself the greatest memory. This is where your taste preferences were formed be it from your favorite ice cream flavor to your abhorrence to vegetables. Those tastes are carried well into adulthood, and each bite you take evokes the deep long memories that lay dormant inside the one’s brain just like a switch. While the connection between the faculty of language, memory and childhood has been scientifically studied, taste recall has not been well explored- and this is one field that might be of use to us in the future. For instance (this is just an anecdotal observation), children who were given vegetables during the early years will not be picky in their diet. Unfortunately, I was not one of those kids, so the foods that evoke deep passion within me are the sweets and those delicious junk foods. Well, too late to rewire, eh?

*steaming batchoy with 3 buttered toasts and cold coke with a straw, eating on the lanai looking afar to the lawn as the august rains poured…

*magnolia vanilla ice cream - i was forbidden to eat this brand of ice cream, but my grandma sneaks a pint into the fridge every now and then….

*butong-butong, kalamay-hati, hard caramel candies - my grandma usually buys them at the manug-libod (vendor) when she visits the downtown market

*inday-inday (palitaw with muscuvado dip), steaming pancit molo, pork bbq and rainbow-colored bread with cheese pimiento filling during childhood birthday parties…

*weird childhood food: toasted bread dunked in Coke!!! yum yum! Back then, i didn’t find it wierd. I do now.

Other junk foods...
*He-Man (orange colored cheeze puffs)
*Enteng the Dragon (yellow-colored chicken-flavored puffs)
*Sunrise green peas snack (yung nakabalot sa foil)
*yema (those hard candies w/ yema centers w/ a toothpick *sticking on top & covered with pink cellophane)
*white rabbit candies
*CHIKININI!!! - forerunner of the boy bawang…
*camote-q being sold by vendors outside school…
*Bobot (a weird candy: peanuts coated in an M&M-like shell)
*Rin-bee? yung cheese stick snacks… meron pa ba nun?
*fishballs that cost P0.15 each!
*Ice Scramble (gee, what was I eating back then?!)

June 02, 2006

Never Never Lend

Nowadays, there's one pet peeve that irks me more than anything else and that is retrieving books from my friends. It's a hassle, that's why. And it should not be my obligation in the first place.

I usually let some of my friends borrow a volume or two from my collection in the hope of widening their reading preference. Encouraging your friends to read books for the sheer pleasure of it is a rewarding experience. It makes me feel somewhat accomplished. But what I hate is that 1) it takes months for them to finish a single one, and 2) they don't read it at all. Filipinos generally dislike asking people to return things, that's why it's just logical and prudent for the borrowers to return it as soon as they have finished it. But no, here, people just chuck the tomes into their shelves and forget about it and you, the owner, wait and wait for its "second coming". It's a paradox but it's reality.

What's more irritating is when you've follow-upped your friend to return it, that person delays the transaction for reasons ranging from non-reply to the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon. It's not funny and I feel they're taking my book hostage. That person would say, "Oh, I haven't finished reading it. I'm still at the first chapter." And I thought, "For three months now?" During that time, I just wished that the book will run away from that person's room and head back to my shelf where it belongs. It just shows how indifferent and disinterested these people are in reading your book. I think it's only right that if such a person cannot sustain his/her interest in finishing it, the only recourse is to return the damn book read or unread. Sad to say, in this ningas cogon country of ours, it does not happen.

Here's some solutions whenever your friends start forgetting what they've borrowed:
1. Text/Call them every week asking them if they've finished the book.
2. Remind them that your third cousin twice removed wants to borrow it.
3. Tell them that a lot of people finished it in one to two sittings, and that it's a shock for you to see that they can't do the same.
4. Inform them that a lot of readers' lives were changed after finishing the volume, and you'll help them change their lives if they don't finish it.

How to stop your friend from kidnapping your books:
1. NEVER LEND a single one. Too late for me to realize it.
2. Only lend those ratty editions that you're trying to dispose.
3. Lend them only the titles that you don't want to see again.
4. If you still let them borrow, ask them when can you expect it to be returned.
5. Lock your books in your fire-proof cabinet or bookshelf.

But the best answer is still: NO! Nein! Nunca! Non! Nyet!
Oh... that reminds me, I need to text my friend to remind her to return my Kite Runner.

May 18, 2006

Da Vinci Mode

The SM chain of malls is standing by their conviction of not showing Brown's Da Vinci Code movie in all of its outlets. They say, all R-18 movies (regardless of the merits of the film) will not be shown because it will "harm" the minds of the movie-going public on the basis of immorality and all those pharisaical inanities. From a businessman's point of view, this is not a very good strategy. Why? A highly anticipated movie since Harry Potter 5 + religious controversy + popularity of the novel = Box Office Hit.

Any self-respecting entrepreneur would milk Robert Langdon for all its worth just to spike up his/her flagging movie sales. But I guess the Sy's are more Pontius Pilate than St. Paul for they would rather show the world that their movie houses are "hands clean" from any vulgar immorality than to let the public decide for themselves as to what's good for them. Isn't that already the job of the stupid MTRCB- to play God with their "moralistic" index of forbidden movies criteria? It's a pity that for a thriller without any nudity or violence, it still garnered a severe rating of R-18 (the severest in the world.) I didn't realized that a movie which explores the origins of our Christian roots would be deemed as unsuitable for viewers under 18! This reeks quasi-censorship, is it not? However, in fairness to MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia, she is right in saying:
"Those groups, like the conservatives who want it banned, maybe they can tell
their friends, discourage their friends from watching it but it has to be shown.
Otherwise we will be the only country that will not show this film. Thirty-six
countries have already reviewed this film and they have not banned it. So are we
just out of the Stone Age?"
Yes, we're more advanced than the Stone Age, because we're definitely in the Medieval Age.

They felt the film would "confuse" the faith of many. Hey, if your faith is like the mustard seed that remains small and undeveloped (thanks to your parents and the church), then, it's not Dan Brown's fault is it? If you change your mind about Catholicism after watching Sophie Langdon, then there's no one to blame but yourself.

Why? If you're really concerned with your faith and salvation, then you'll try to seek answers from definitive sources, mainly the Church and common sense. The Church says that it's fictional and trivial. Common sense will tell you that by having facts derived from Merovingian legends and concepts contrived by conspiracist theorists, the novel is not a reliable source for straying away from the faith. Yes, it does asks questions, but no one yet (not even the book) has provided sufficient and credible answers- just mere speculations and suppositions. The Church did not address the origins of its Gospels or the persecution of Mary Magdalene, and the "Grail" theorists did not put up credible documentary evidence supporting the "sacred female" something-something. It's akin in saying that the Egyptian pyramids and the Mayan pyramids were built by the same group of aliens. It's the same as saying that hidden religious meanings in Da Vinci's painting are connected to some pagan ritual of the Heiros Gamos. Connect the invisible dots, I tell you. But what's funnier is that there are real groups of people trying to stop the showing of the movie. Geez. They're just a bunch of Bible-toting, holier-than-thou, pseudo-virginal, sexually-deprived sleazebags who try to bring attention to their miserable existence. I say to them: Get a life. As to Dan Brown, close but no cigar.

The Best Da Vinci Code Review:

May 16, 2006


by Julsitos

Now I realized your footsteps gone
the unbearable silence of your absence felt,
the bed turned cold, my grief untold
as I see the end of your journey done.
How long in despair have I dwelt?

But you're free, free at last
to sleep in the embraces of the Lord,
His love shall comfort you
our love nourished you,
the thorns that pricked you now in its past
for this day you have earned your reward.

From your love, we shall never forget
we cherish and yearn for more than this
for our joys and tears, our hopes and fears
not once did we regret
for the love we shared, eternal bliss.

*delivered during the burial mass last Mother's day.

May 10, 2006


by Julsitos

Grieve not for the love that has departed
for theirs are with the Lord,
where love is never thwarted,
neither sullied nor distorted,
basking in the summer of their reward.

Grieve your tears for those who are left behind
for they remain on this earth
to feel the loss from time unkind,
with tears flow from memories pined,
hearing now the abscence of mirth.

May 07, 2006


by Julsitos

At last you're free,
smile for the day is done,
where rest shall be your friend
with your journey at an end
the shackles of your heart now gone.

At last you're free,
free from the peering eyes of hate,
where the blossoms caress you
and the wind shall cleanse you
the smear that sullied you of late.

At last you're free
to think of lighter things
beneath the bluest sky
passed the clouds on high
where the joy of our Lord abundantly springs.

At last you're free
your eyes closed, you face at ease
with neither sadness nor pain
just sleep and sleep again
for where there's rest, eternal peace.

*poem for my mom who died April 25, 2006. painting by

April 25, 2006


Thanks to US-published manga artist Jennyson Rosero, this clip shows how NOT to do a field report. Funny as it is, it doesn't bode well for the state of journalistic professionalism here in the Philippines. Because GMA (and ABS-CBN) focuses more on human drama and sensationalism, it reaps the fruits of ill-researched and subjective field reporting. Nonetheless, enjoy.

April 21, 2006

Myleene Klass

This Fil-Brit sensation is the toast of the Classical world in 2005. Although she is more known for her gigs in the British pop arena, classically-trained Myleene Klass branched out into the more refined and rigid classical genre. Based in the UK, this Avril Lavigne lookalike has earned a cult following for her exotic Eurasian look and her virtuosity with classical piano. I think she has even grazed the pages of British FHM. If Maxim is the male version, Myleene is the female counterpart. She has recorded her first album, "Moving On" which has gone gold and was nominated for an award in the UK classical scene. I have yet to hear her Moving On album, but suffice to say that her MTV in Classic fM TV looks stunning. Why don't we have a classical channel here????

Be blown away with her classical MTV as she play Bach's Toccata & Fugue (a short variation actually):

At least now, we can have another half-Pinoy to be proud of. Yihee!

April 19, 2006

On Cutting In

A couple of days ago, I went to Handyman to get my dog some cheap dogfood. (Yeah, I know- dogfood in Handyman!) Since it was about 5 kg. heavy and the pushcarts were there for use, I placed the load in and went straight to the counter. There were about two customers lining up and it was taking the cashier forever to scan the prices. She must have forgotten the seminar on how to scan barcoded goods. In about five minutes of "happily" waiting for her to finish, a middle-age grey-shirted woman tried to cut in in front of me. Just because I give ample space between my cart and the next person doesn't mean it's her cue to cut in front of me. What I did next will surely light the torches of Abanse Pinay! (this women's lib group): I pushed my cart forward, thus, preventing her from sneaking her fat butt in!

Hey, I don't think it's misogynistic to assert your rightful place, is it? I waited in line, so I felt I deserve to be entertained first. It is logical albeit selfish. If I was not selfish, who will then look after me? No one. And besides, giving space for others, though altruisitic it may be, will not earn you brownie points in heaven. You can't say to St. Peter, "Though I murdered my entire family and spawned dozens of bastards during my lifetime, I made sure I gave up my seat to every beautiful lady I encounter." St. Peter will surely say, "Sorry, acts of pakitang-tao are not considered acts of charity. Try again!"

If I had let that woman cut-in in front, what good does it do to me? I don't think a warm fuzzy feeling of being a willing accomplice in aiding an injustice would suffice. Will I get that girl's number? No. Will I get a simple "thank you?" No. (She didn't ask in the first place.) Well, if she did ask nicely, I'd be rude not to let her in. So, if doing such an act cannot benefit the doer, then why bother doing it? Besides, she's fit as a cow to wait a few minutes more.

I realized that this can blow into a vitriolic discussion between chivalry vs. equal rights. I can hear hapless ladies yell, "How dare you, you arrogant prick to prevent us from using our charms to get our way!" Hahaha! All I can say is: "first come, first serve- unless you're in an emergency." And besides, it would seem unfair also for the rest of the customers who are waiting patiently behind me. By cutting in, you're being inconsiderate to others' time and patience. By cutting in, you are being self-serving and selfish and I hope you rot in hell.

The only persons I will give up my seat/place in line:
1. Old people
2. The Disabled
3. Pregnant women
4. Mothers with hellspawn children
5. Ladies with heavy bags

6. My family and friends

As for the rest, I can strongly suggest to use those two legs that God has given them. Else, they can whack them off and ride on a wheelchair, then, they can have my place.