"Forget Prince Charming. I'll take the wolf." - Emily the Strange

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Through Hell and Back

Due to my grandparents going back to Manila for a vacation, everything at home has turned topsy turvy. That includes where we’re supposed to put away our stuff and that resulted into my not locating some of my stuff since last week. To make sure that I didn’t put it away and forgot about it, I rummaged through the possible places it could have been in in the hallway. I looked at my drawer and found some old credit card billing statements from two years ago and was surprised to see what was written in it.

I was surprised because there were some months wherein I didn’t use my credit card at all and my average monthly bill was only about less than Php2,000.00 per month. Well, that was also the time that I still gave my dad payment for my cell phone bill. I had mixed feelings about it. So, I haven’t always been this mindless, swipe-addicted consumer. What the hell then, happened between then and now? What triggered the dreadful shopaholic in me?

When I first started working, some people knew me as money-savvy, always the wisest when it comes to building up my savings account. Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost control and became known as a shopping fanatic. Maybe it was the emotional instability from events in my personal life but shopaholicism stayed long after the emotional turmoil was over. I, in fact, relished it and indulged in my excesses.

I could remember a time when I would look at my friend Chawdie in disbelief on how reckless she was with using her credit card swiping it left and right for goods, services and gadgets that cost twice or thrice as much as our salaries. Sadly, I’ve become not just a spitting image but exactly like her. I wish I could say it was beyond my control but that is just one big, fat lie. I was well aware of what I was doing to myself and did not do diddley squat about it.

Regrets, truly are, always towards the end of any situation. No matter how many times I wished I could have done differently, I cannot possibly go back in time to undo them all. I’ve hit rock bottom and that made my resolve to change the way things are even stronger. I still struggle every now and then but the path’s now clear to me. Sometimes you gotta go through hell and back for a lesson to hit home.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Something to Cringe About

My last blog entry got me thinking about my family more. I kept running scenarios in my head about what the possibilities are if my cousins in L.A. come across this blog and they get to read my very unflattering remarks about my grandmother. My Catholic schooled cousins Michelle (16ish), Melissa (tweenish) and Michael (10ish) are goody-two shoes. I don’t know how much in agreement they are with the reviled grandmother of mine but based on what I’ve seen every time I’m there, I think she’s pretty much in control of what their general world views are.

What makes it even more complicated is that they live right across my grandparent’s flat. It literally takes me about 3 minutes to go from my grandparent’s 2nd floor apartment, down the stairs, out the gate, cross Ardmore St. to my uncle and aunt’s 2-storey bungalow.

My aunt, my dad’s only female sibling, is as devout as my grandmother although she’s a little progressive – teensy weensy little. I remember a couple of years ago, my grandmother and I clashed just as I was about to leave for LAX for my return flight to Manila. She was forcing to recite one of her stupid novenas and being the hard headed pig that I am (I was born on 1983, ok?) I refused to budge until we came to a standstill. She wouldn’t let me out the door until I do the order that she barked but I was able to get out of the situation because my uncle was concerned about me missing my flight.

While in transit, my aunt was giving me a lecture about how Catholics are going to be saved first compared to people from other faiths. It was such bullshit that I wanted to snap back at her by saying how can they be saved first if the leader of the flock can’t keep their pants up around altar boys. This was around the time of the Catholic priests/child molesters/sex predators fiasco happened. I didn’t say anything of course but I certainly could’ve gone on and on using my grandmother’s idiosyncrasies as an example but I already look like the bad guy because of what happened earlier that evening so I just kept those thoughts in my mind.

Moving on, I don’t think that Michelle, Melissa or Michael are the type to get me into trouble but this is family that we’re talking about and they might feel that they have a right to say their piece to defend their dear, old grandma. The worst part would be if they’d show it to their parents and then transmit the information to my parents.

What if they read my old entries? A big part of my life is revealed to very few people – and by that I mean my sister Louise (and Angelee at times) – and well, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody gets a heart attack or I get booted out of the family tree by force.

One reason why I had the blog was to share my world. It is one thing for strangers to read, quite another for family members. I could stop writing about things that might get me into trouble but where’s the fun in that if I keep it to myself? Besides, I use my blog to update friends on how I’m doing. Especially friends that are so far away from my reach. Oh well, I’ll take my chances.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hatin' On Grandma

Two weeks into my grandparents’ four-week vacation here in Manila and I’m more than willing to shove my paternal grandmother on a plane back to L.A. at this point. We’ve had a long history of our opinions clashing and I’m highly volatile when I’m around her. That’s why it literally takes the Pacific Ocean to maintain peace and harmony in the family. One thing that I’ve managed to learn over the years is how to hold my tongue and release my very scathing tirades at a later time when I’m in the company of my sister Louise and her very sympathetic ear.

I am very lucky because I only get to see this particular grandmother once in a blue moon. At the same time, I feel pity for Louise because she’s had to live with our grandmother when she spent 5 months in L.A. For that, I view her with high regard in terms of her tolerance factor. I don’t know how she was able to withstand our grandmother’s very grating personality. Perhaps, I will never know.

What got me so worked up this time? As usual, it has everything to do with her being a devout Catholic. I know I’ve written about some of previous clashes but I just can’t remember when or what the post’s title is. Anyway, she again imposes her faith on us and forces us to attend mass. My dad, being the dutiful son, carries out her mandate.

Why the hell can’t she leave me alone? I’ve let her know for the longest time that I don’t consider myself Catholic and she still doesn’t get it. What would it take for her to get off my case? Burn the crucifix and her ever beloved statues? Nah, too dramatic. Wear my pentagram and my triquetra? She probably wouldn’t notice.

The only thing I could think of is to skip town during the weekends that they’re here. The question is – where would I go? Ramon and I have been planning to go to Subic. If his schedule wouldn’t permit it then there’s always Angel. But then again, she might do something with Jonee. Hmm, it might be a good idea to plan for another reunion with my high school and college cliques.

Anyways, I’m happy that for this week, my grandparents and my dad had a schedule to keep. They left the house before they were able to see us off to church. Angelee was okay with attending mass. Louise was willing to hear mass at first but lost interest quickly after she kept on nagging about how on-time we were for our jobs but not for church. She’d continue with how much of an obligation it is for Catholics since Sunday only comes around once a week. Fine, I get it but will you sink in your puny brain that I am no longer in the Catholic fold?!?

I find it pointless to go to church because you have to and not because you want to. It’s very hypocritical and I hate hypocrites and hypocrisy most of all. Wouldn’t her god be very offended by that?

Angelee and I played paper, scissors, stone to determine whose will will prevail – mine or hers. I won and everybody began to relax a bit. I went to our room to put on some clothes as I just got out of the shower with only my underwear on and my towel wrapped around me. I was picking out a shirt from my closet when Louise barged in and told me to get dressed as if I was going out of the house. My dad unexpectedly returned to check on his computer.

As soon as I finished dressing up, I went to the living room to check if my dad’s still there. Whew! We were all glad that we didn’t get busted but that was a pretty close call for us to be completely comfortable. We then decided to leave the house to make it appear that we really did what we were told. We ended up going to the fishball joint across the church for a quick snack, visited a couple of sari-sari stores as Angelee was hell bent on finding plastic balloons to play with and to the beauty salon for me and Louise to get our nails done.

Moral lesson of the story – never force your faith and belief systems on anyone. It’s always better for them to do something sincerely because it’s their choice. I believe that just as each one of is unique, we all have our own moral compass. What might work for you might not work for me. Second lesson would have to be tolerance for each person’s truths, belief systems and moral compass.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I was watching the first episode of E!’s ‘House of Carters’ over at YouTube Tuesday night and boy, what a guilty pleasure it was! I was a geeky teenybopper eons ago and I couldn’t believe just how gaga I was over Backstreet’s cutie Nick. I thought it was a cool thing to do what with a built-in support system in our all-girls high school but it’s only now that I’ve grown wiser and savvier did I realize how much of a source embarrassment it was.

That, however, did not stop me from wondering the obvious question of ‘Where is he now?’ and ‘Whatever happened to him long after his loyal fans like me grew up and grew out of our teenage phase?’ Sure, his group recently put out an album but sales were pretty dismal (well, at least in my imagination anyway) and the material itself was quite forgettable. A couple of months ago, there circulated a news report that the next time they’ll be putting out another record (the big question is ‘if’ given that they failed to create the same impact they did about a decade ago), there’d be one less member to look forward to. I wonder what he’s going to do doing now.

One day, I finally got an answer when I happen to browse upon E! News while I was channel surfing. Somebody peddled the idea of a reality show starring big brother Nick and his siblings Bobbie Jean (BJ for short), middle child Leslie and fraternal twins Aaron and Angel. Okay, so I know his family members by heart. I confess that I own and have probably read Jane Carter’s official bio on her “panganay” a million times during the apex of my naïveté.

My first reaction was to laugh hysterically. Is he that desperate to salvage what’s left of his career to agree to let cameras inside his crib? Sure, the premise looks good – that the five of them live under one roof after spending 11 years apart from each other -- but would that be enough to sustain viewership once the initial curiosity has been satisfied?

In an age where celebrities are constantly hounded by the paparazzi, why volunteer to live life in a fishbowl? I guess I’d be answering my own question if I say that it’d be to drum up interest in him or probably his siblings. Nobody notices him or his brother anymore so they, in the words of Dawson’s Creek’s chief villain Abby Morgan “create the drama.”

It was fun watching the first episode though. You just know that it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Let me count the ways – 1) BJ used to be hot. That was when she was the leading lady of German teenybopper singer Gil in his video “If You Only Knew.” What the hell happened to her? She looks pudgy and she’s gotten a whole lot meatier. 2) BJ seems to be following mom’s footsteps – lay off the sauce, will ya? 3) More family secrets unveiled – a lot went around with Aaron’s emancipation from Mom, the divorce and its aftermath. 4) Catfight between Leslie versus Angel and BJ. Calling each other bitch and slut? What the hell?!? Your parents really did screw up in raising kids who call each other horrible names. 5) The Nick, Paris Hilton and Aaron connection. Need I say more? 6) Aaron looks like a druggie with his suspiciously hollow cheeks (compared to Nick’s “fuller” physique) and his always being hyper.

Let’s see what happens in Episode 2 :)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Breaking the Record

The coming of Typhoon Milenio allowed the hastening of my third date with Ramon. We were supposed to meet Saturday night after Ramon’s class and my stint in the office but Mother Nature sabotaged our plans. Well, in a good way though.

After dillydallying for an hour on Friday morning if my meeting with a client would still push through, I decided to just stay at home. I rationalized to myself that it’s the day after the huge typhoon and the metro is still in shambles. We were lucky to have the power back on in Marikina Thursday night when the rest of Metro Manila and a couple more areas in Luzon, for that matter, powerless for more than 24 hours. Besides, when I was trying to call the person I was supposed to meet and her secretary, both their cellphones were dead. I figured that they probably weren’t in the mood to work as well since Malacanang has declared that all government offices would be closed for the day (except those agencies whose services would be needed for the recovery and relief efforts).

Right after much deliberation and consultation with my mom, I settled in on the couch and was watching the last couple of “House” Season 2 episodes that Angelee borrowed from her classmate when I received a call from my client. He was saying that I need to come right away for instructions from his boss. I was out of our house in no time and I was certainly thankful that I already took a bath. Despite having a hard time in getting a cab, I was able to get to my client’s office in Taguig. What irritated me was that my meeting lasted for no more than 5 minutes. Under my breath I kept muttering that they could’ve written a note or memo and had the documents sent by their messenger or picked up by our messenger.

As expected, Ramon and every other student in the metro didn’t have classes. He and I made plans for the day and my sudden departure complicated things a little bit. After a couple of text messages going back and forth between the two of us, we agreed to meet up at Greenbelt and wing it from there. We had hoped to see each other the day before but the weather was that bad such that we had to postpone. It wasn’t so much the rain but the really powerful winds. We’re both thankful we didn’t go out because it was only during the aftermath that we were made aware of how tumultuous the typhoon’s path was.

When we finally rendezvoused at Greenbelt, we decided to have brunch since it was already lunchtime and we figured we could use the time to map out our itinerary. He was planning to drop by the Armscor firing range near my house but the traffic in C5 was so bad that we just rushed over to the indoor facilities that they have in the Makati Cinema Square. It was a blessing in disguise that I was such a bad navigator – our missing our exit to C5 from The Fort saved us at least 3 to 4 hours of sitting through the worst traffic jam ever. Along the way, we went sight seeing for weird, kitschy sights of a typhoon’s aftermath.

Forty to sixty minutes after missing our exit, we were now inside the Armscor indoor firing range. That was pretty interesting. Never mind that I looked funny with the big goggles and the stuffy ear muffs on. At first I was just watching him blow holes in the paper target but I eventually mustered enough courage to accept his offer to teach me how use it. It was fun and it wasn’t rocket science. It became even more fun when I found out that I don’t flinch and how easy it was for me to shoot a cluster. That was the first time I got to fire a gun and I got a hit on the head and two in the chest.

Shortly thereafter, we then went back to Greenbelt to catch the screening of “Flyboys.” We were having lunch when my sister Angelee texted. In her text message, she was asking me if Ramon and I would be doing anything because she and Louise would be going to Glorietta for the 8 pm screening of “First Day High.” Louise had work that night and wanted to be near her office because of the transportation problem in the typhoon’s aftermath. Besides, she apparently was on the hunt for a pair of sunglasses.

We got out of the theater early and just met up with my sisters in Music One. Ramon was really sweet, he offered to drive my sister to her building even though he didn’t have to. After dropping off Louie at the Citibank building, Ange and Ramon had a crazy idea – that they go all the way to AKIC (Angelo King International Center of CSB) just to check if they’d have classes the next day. They did and they triumphantly rejoiced when the security guard verified that they indeed had no classes the following day. Ramon then headed over to Malate to check out what the damage is to the area and to his family’s property.

Malate was completely dead; pitch black with red orange slithers of light from the power failure and the temporary source of light – candles. That scenario, however, did not stop people from drinking the night away. He maneuvered the car into seemingly winding streets with ease until we got to Skins, the bar owned and managed by his childhood friends.

We had fun hanging out as the conversation amongst ourselves was very lively. It also helped that our drinks are free. Mainly, what we’ve talked about are stories about what’s been happening lately with him and Ange in school, Ange and me as sisters and his anecdotes during the time that he lived in the area. It was past 3 when we decided to leave the area and head home. We dropped by Blue Wave for a quick pit stop for his car and our tummies. My mom, who I’m guessing was worried, called Angelee when we were about to finish our food. Soon right after, off we went to complete our journey home without any incident – except for the fact that our designated navigator, Angelee, fell asleep while sitting precariously behind the gap between the driver and the passenger seats. I should’ve taken a picture of her – maybe I could use it for blackmail or something ;p

Like the previous week, Ramon slept on our couch. At least, not before we’ve had our little snuggle time. He’s been up the whole day, he’s a wee bit inebriated and I am just not comfortable with the thought of him driving all alone to his pad halfway across Metro Manila.

I still had a buzz when I climbed into bed in my room and as such, I wasn’t able to sleep well. I woke up after less than 5 hours of sleep with a feeling of light-headedness. I kind of dreaded it as I thought it was a sign of aging. I’ve only had three bottles of San Mig Light and this was how my body was reacting when it would’ve taken me a lot more to drink to have a hangover only a couple of years ago.

Since I couldn’t go back to sleep any longer, I got out of bed and started to pop the last couple of ‘House’ Season 2 episodes I haven’t seen yet. I was on my 2nd or 3rd disc when Ramon woke up. We didn’t really have anything planned for today so we spent the next couple of hours sitting beside each other on my spot on the couch until we got to ‘House’s’ season ender. We finished the entire thing after lunch.

With no plan in hand still, we were just chilling on the couch and we started fiddling with my sister Angelee’s cookbooks. All of a sudden we found ourselves in the kitchen busying ourselves with baking this Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie recipe from the Nestle Tollhouse cookbook. That, in turn, started the ball rolling for Angelee and Ramon to start cooking up a feast for dinner. Both of them had the ‘Philippine Cuisine’ class and right after going to the grocery for provisions, they were in a maddening frenzy for cooking some grub – Ilocos Bagnet, Ensaladang Talong, Adobong Kangkong with Bagoong (Fried Shrimp Paste) and Manggang Hilaw (Green Mangoes).

It sure was delicious and it would’ve been even better if both Louise and Angelee were in the mood for a little drink. Angelee was sure as hell excited when they thought about inviting one of their classmates named Yano to our house for an impromptu house party. I think her enthusiasm quickly faded away when he turned both Ramon and my sister down because his high school friends were hanging out in his house. Oh well, there’s always a next time.

For the second night in a row, Ramon slept on our couch. The only difference this time though is that I slept close to him. No snuggle time though as my mom was busy sorting out the mail on the adjacent room. I do, on the other hand, have a nagging suspicion that my mom was checking up on us to see if we’d be doing more than snuggling. I’ll expound on that on another entry but my weekend couldn’t have been more fun or more exciting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The 24-Hour Date

A week and a couple of days after my second date with Ramon, I still feel giddy when I think about it. For the most part, it had something to do with achieve a couple of ‘firsts’ milestones. 1) First time I was on a date for 24 hours; 2) first time I went on a date with my mom and my sister in tow; 3) first time I had a really long make out marathon; 4) first time that didn’t lead to shedding any article of clothing from both parties; 5) first time for my mom to see me engage in a PDA-esque mode with anybody.

A few nights before, we were talking over the phone about where to go and we both came up with our possible options. The place he suggested didn’t really pan out for some reason so he’s opted to go with the restaurant that I mentioned – Bellini’s. I told him how wonderful the place and how marvelous the food was and that really got his curiosity. I was surprised myself that he’s not familiar with the place because Bellini’s is all the rage with Italian food aficionados.

It was a Saturday night and we both agreed to rendezvous at Gateway Mall at around 8 pm. I got there an hour early as I came from the office. Cam was supposed to be the lone staff member to show up for work that day and I went to the office just to keep her company. I passed the time by going window shopping for stuff and when I was over at Folded and Hung on the third floor, I received a text message from him saying that he could just pick me up from Gateway and we could go to Bellini’s together. He asked around for anybody who could give him directions to the restaurant but nobody was able to answer his question. I couldn’t blame them because getting to the area where the restaurant is can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the Cubao area.

10 to 15 minutes later, I was on my way down to Bread Talk to meet Ramon. I saw him right away from a distance, kissed him on the cheek and promptly walked a couple of blocks to Marikina Shoe Expo. Bellini’s is located at the heart of the little compound and that gave me a chance to show him some of the stores that I love to look at. It was too bad though that this quaint antique shop was already closed for the day and the everything- anime store did a complete overhaul. They no longer sold anime trinkets and was instead operating as a hangout place for the artsy fartsy crowd and college students.

Ramon was telling me that his stars must’ve been aligned so well that night because everything was running smoothly so far – he found a parking space inside Gateway as soon as he entered the building, he was able to quickly find Bread Talk inside the mall, we were able to spot each other right away and we got seated fast at Bellini’s. The restaurant no longer accepts reservations during Saturday nights because of the sheer number of people who goes there during that time. True enough, people on the waiting list started piling up because Ramon and I got the last available table.

I just love everything about the restaurant – it’s an established hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurant that serves authentic Italian cuisine with a homey atmosphere. Ramon was amazed at how hands on the owners were and he was even more amazed when I randomly fired off little bits of trivia about the owner and the restaurant – that Roberto used to be a paparazzi (ergo the numerous picture frames adorning the walls) and that the blind musician they hired used to be a street musician who begs for alms.

Much has to be said about the service though because the place was packed and there weren’t enough waiters to wait on all the tables. One particular thing about CA (Culinary Arts) people is that they notice everything from the plating of the dish to the order on which they serve the food. The waiter’s faux pas was that he brought out the entrée before the hors d’oeuvre. Another thing that Ramon noticed was the improper way they stored their wine – upright instead of having them tilted. It was all good though because the position on which the bottles were stored didn’t seem to affect the taste of the wine itself. I normally prefer white wines due to it being light and fruity but I was surprised by how much I liked the Tuscan red that we had. I forgot the name of who made it but I’m definitely going back to buy a bottle of it.

Shortly after we dinner, we walked back to where his car was and we went to my place for a “House” marathon. We were able to watch about 7 or 8 episodes before falling asleep on the couch. I got up much earlier than Ramon and headed over to my parents’ room. I didn’t know that my two sisters slept there and the moment I got in, they started grilling me about my date since they were very much awake by that time.

Somebody asked my sister Angelee (I couldn’t remember if it was my mom or my other sister Louise who posited the question)– “Hindi ka ba na-wi-weirdohan na ang kaklase mo lumalabas kasama ng ate mo (Aren’t you weirded out that your classmate is going out with your sister)?”

Ange said no and added that’s the whole thing’s perfectly fine with her.

I quipped “Ma-weirdohan kayo kung mas bata yan (Be weirded out if I’m going out with somebody younger).”

They snickered at that remark, explained to my mom briefly that he wasn’t able to go home last because we both fell asleep watching “House” knowing how conservative she could get. With that done, I went back to the living room to watch some tv. Ramon woke up a short time after and we spent the rest of the morning in front of the boob tube switching between ETC’s Project Runway and Lifestyle Network’s Iron Chef America.

My mom, on the other hand, was busy making plans for that afternoon. She wanted to go to Alba’s in Eastwood to drop of the downpayment. We were renting the place for a family event on the 14th. The problem was that Alex, my sister Louise’s boyfriend/soon-to-be-husband, wasn’t available because he has to go with his parents in Greenhills. When Ramon got wind of the situation, he was nice enough to offer his help.

My mom, my sister Angelee, Ramon and I got to Eastwood around 1 and headed straight to Alba’s. Angelee, being the one who’s studying to be a chef, was in charge of selecting the menu and double-checking every detail to make sure everything will be in order when the time comes. Once we were done, we walked a couple of blocks to Teriyaki Boy for brunch. My mom, I think, took it as an opportunity to get to know him a little bit better.

We waited for the rain to stop and hopped back to Ramon’s car. We headed over to Megamall because Ange was in search of a digital camera. Ramon being a techie, was able to help my sister come to a decision about what she was going to buy. Ramon and I left Ange and mom inside Canon’s dealership and made our way through Pain and Rehab Clinic to look for a medical chair that Ramon’s mom wanted him to buy for his grandmother. They didn’t have what he was looking for so we just went around the entire mall for a couple of hours while we waited for my mom and my sister to finish shopping for things that they would need.

We met up at Powerbooks and had dinner at Mexicali before Ramon drove us home. Ramon left at around 8 and with his departure, set a new record for me – the longest time I’ve ever been in a date.