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Showing posts from February, 2015

All right stop

A neighbor is playing Ice Ice Baby really loud and suddenly I'm 12, in sixth grade again... and not wanting to go to school. I'm thinking how much I hated my English teacher back then, which was a pity because her subjects (Reading and Language) were my favorite and I was really good at them. She was in charge of the school paper too, but that didn't stop me from joining.

And suddenly, too, my reality becomes even more real. It is 25 years from grade 6, I have gout, and I wish I were getting ready for school instead.

When I first moved to the Eastwood office, and when I leave

When I first moved to the Eastwood office from Alabang in 2009, I stayed at my uncle's place in Serendra and took the taxi to work. Every day was a challenge because I'd had a bad experience during a cab ride in Manila and was still experiencing some form of post traumatic stress disorder.

Almost five years and a move to Project 4 later, I'm still a very careful cab rider and slow to trust, but I've also developed an appreciation of how hard honest taxi drivers work. I've had wonderful conversations with drivers; I've been on the receiving end of their kindness as they waited for me to enter my apartment before driving off with my fare.

Because of my many cab rides I know many of the taxi drivers work 24-hour shifts and often can't help but catch some sleep. I know that not every place is safe for them, so they have their favorite spots where they can get safety for themselves and the vehicles entrusted to them, security for the day's earnings, and some rest.

On my usual route, I see them parked in front of the Eastwood City police and fire station. They converge at eateries near the corner of 20th Avenue and Bonny Serrano. Many times, I walk past a few of them sleeping soundly along Rajah Matanda.

When I see a taxi driver grabbing a meal or taking a nap, my first thought is "God bless you." I silently thank the likes of them for their service, for bringing me home safe at all hours of the day, in the 1,500 days or so since I started working in Eastwood.

My post stress anxiety has given way to appreciation and a gratitude that is almost automatic.

I'm due to leave Eastwood and my place of work at the end of March. There's a six-week goodbye to people and places and friends and routines and things, six weeks that ought to end in what five years of daily cab rides led to. As I take that last cab ride home, I want to be saying thank you, I really want to.

Dream: Captured

Another Benedict Cumberbatch dream. But before he appears, I went to a small island called Nueva Ecija and had lunch at a cheap Thai buffet restaurant (P269).

Benedict was hanging out at our house with his closest friends, all in the film industry, and all in Manila for a really important festival. They were at our house because our house gave them privacy (pronounced with a short i).

I was playing with a younger Keona or an older Kiara. She had a phone with a voice recorder and she was recording our play.
"If you were a cat, how will you come inside the house?" she asked. "Show me!"

"If you were a kitten, how would you?" I countered. "Show me!"

"Okay," she said, running for the door.

Show me she did, and all the important men in the British film industry turned to look as the little girl bounced into the house on all fours.
"The kitten to my cat," I said.

"Good actress," one of the older guys said (Moffat? Gatiss?).

"Now it's your turn!" said the kitten. And all men continued to look.

I collapsed in giggles as I tried to be a cat with Benedict Cumberbatch watching. They laughed at my feeble attempt, all of us realizing how difficult the task was, as if it was that one acting challenge only the best actors could pass.

"That was terrible," he said to me. "You're torturing your aunt," he said to Keona/Kiara.

I couldn't breathe. Heart in mouth, I just smiled. But what I thought would have been a really great way to flirt was to refer to his motion capture scenes as Smaug.

The kitten giggled and he picked her up. She caught their banter on her voice recorder.

Later, my mom asked him to listen to the recording. Keona/Kiara had spoken in complete sentences. "I didn't hear this at all earlier," he said, "Wow."

Much later, in my room, I died when I realized Keona/Kiara had also caught me on record squealing about my undying love for Benedict and he had listened to the whole thing.

Happy travels


I finally had my US visa interview last week. I came prepared and also relaxed, since I'd been psyching myself up for months for this trip. Having missed a couple of important family moments in the US (an uncle's funeral, a cousin's wedding, being with an aunt for her treatments), I'd set my mind on making the time this time. Armed with my best intentions and some papers, I went to ask the US embassy to let me in their country for a while.

The wait was long, but the interview didn't last even five minutes. I got my visa today, two working days later. Thank you, U.S. of A. You will get some of my money in return.

Later, outside the embassy, I hailed a Ryo Aki cab, in competition with a family of five and a barker. They were ahead of me on Roxas Boulevard, but the driver ignored them, stopped in front of me, opened the passenger window, and told me to get in.

I beamed, congratulating myself on my luck. I had already opened the door when I heard the mother (I assumed) yelling at her adult son to tell me they'd flagged the cab first. I stepped aside.

The driver said to ignore them. I told him they were mad. He yelled at me to get in, because he wasn't going to let them ride anyway because he didn't want the barker to get a single centavo.

"Barkers are cheats," he said in angry Filipino, "They get money from both the driver and the passenger."
"Why? How much do you give them?" I asked.
"Nothing. A punch in the face."

I changed the subject and checked if I could open the locks. Just in case I would have to.

He had calmed down by the time we got to Taft Avenue.

I had lunch at a Wai Ying along Taft (beside DLSU!): hakao, siomai, buchi, and Binondo-style Hong Kong milk tea.

On the bus back to Las PiƱas, I brought out the book I had been reading at the embassy: Manila Noir. My reading was soon interrupted by the unmistakable scent of freshly fried bread. An empanada peddler had gotten on the bus, carrying a plastic box filled with pastry.

"Taste this," he told a lady passenger, "you won't be disappointed. My wife is a good cook."

The lady bought a piece, ate it, and bought one more later.

Though full, I bought four ham and cheese empanadas because I had heard the love in the peddler's voice when he mentioned his wife. And because the other option was chicken asado and I was more suspicious of that meat.

I'll see you soon, USA. I'll see you again soon, Manila, you crazy beautiful city you.