Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shit Hole

It's been a while since I found the time, the energy and the mood to write in this blog. Thanks to the tropical storm SANTI, most households in Metro Manila have no electricity, which means no TV, no air-conditioning, no computer and for some, no internet. These factors force people, like myself, to go to malls and do a couple of errands like charge phones and stay online. As for my family, they all went out. My dad and brother went to the mall while my sister and mother went to visit some friends and to the wake of someone I don't know. So just the way I like it, I am on my own. I would've stayed at home with Harvey, slept the whole day and just drown in silence while my not-so-pleasant thoughts bug me, but I know I would be wasting my time, wasting my energy and wasting whatever sanity I have left. So, I too went out.

Now here I am, in a dim corner of Figaro in Greenbelt, with my Cafe Mocha and full blast internet. I still have no concrete plans, but to write and just kill time here. But I admit my situation's been better for at least an hour, except of course whenever I receive another uneventful phone call, unwillingly snatch a thread of unpleasant thought and reluctantly face any reminder of soured relationships. I guess I would eventually face them when I go home. I'm just regaining strength here, recharging. I have to escape for a while, to think, to release. I couldn't possibly do it at home. With the silence and haunting appearance there, I fear I might go crazy.

So there are no special stories and updates in this post. This post is full of lamentation. So for those who have impatient and cynical hearts I suggest you to skip this. I would have to save the happy and other useful posts in the future entries when things look brighter or when I have the heart and mind to write it, because now I'm just beaten. Also because as far as I'm concerned the past week has been pretty much a shit hole for me.

Again if you have the patience and heart to read...bear with me. For those who have enough drama in their lives... skip this.

Let's start with my work.

My work in general suits me. I like the nature, the mode of independence and accountability it brings. Mywork, I've learned after some time, develops into a routine which loses its luster of challenge. That's quite all right. I am still enjoying the perks and in retrospect, there are still times when I am faced with erratic schedules, unreasonable email correspondence, immediate workload demands and operational glitches. So far, I'm still not complaining. Although the ongoing imbalance of extreme workload to extreme boredom might piss me off one of these days. And when I get pissed off hard, I do what I do best and that is not something I want to think about right now.

My problem with work is not work itself, but the reminder of my desired career growth. Don't get me wrong. In my perspective, I've had a blessed work life. I'm not doing my dream job yet, but I think I paved a path for a certain career. I've experienced progress and challenges. It may not be monetarily rewarding, but judging what I have right now, I know I should still give thanks . Here's where the problem comes in. I can't help but feel slighted so I aim for more. Just indulge me because this is the time of year that I am sensitive with my ambitions and my current standing. Probably this has been brought up by the seasonal year end discussions I've had with my colleagues. So far, I am hearing stories and realizations of other people, my peers, regarding their standings with the company; and it somehow affects me. Their woes and organizational analysis made me realize salient things that probably I shouldn't have. Their certain demands magnify my own, and for almost a year now, I've been repressing these thoughts. Inequality in positions, money and value in the organization are always tough things that plague a corporate junkie, well especially someone like me. Believe it or not, these factors are the ones that slowly gnaw the spirit than meeting deadlines and facing unreasonable demands of our beloved bosses. I just can't help but feel slighted and duped in a way. I can't help but feel that my exposure to my peers' corporate "sufferings" is a blessing in disguise to make me realize my situation, which I'm mediocre about. And that's what I didn't want to happen in the first place. This whole thing makes me feel a little bit frustrated. This is where the pressure comes in, the pressure to act fast and think about my future based on my professional goals and ambitions still unmet. This is a larger chunk that drains me. Mind you, I'm not just being sucked in negativity. I know I'm just facing the repressed truth of my situation, a truth which I'm not really happy about.

Second, how about crumpling all the drama of my personal life? My personal relationships with my family and loved one are not in tip top shape. If I'm not an outcast, I'm the enemy. It's not the undesirable social position that drains me; it's the whole drama and emotional attack that come with it. My threshold for emotional and social problems are very low. If I were to compare myself to a computer memory, the continuous emotional turmoils, disappointments, arguments and drama in all aspects of my life would require my system to have a 2-gig ram, but frankly I only have 512 MB ram. I easily fail and freeze. Naturally, the only way to survive in more challenging times is to upgrade. But I guess I haven't. Now I'm just trying my best to keep afloat. How I handle relationships is unremarkable to pathetic.

Third, I'm still struggling with my creative pursuits. I'm still starting, naive and inexperienced, which makes it all harder and discouraging. The only comfort I have is thinking that most people who have seriously started to delve into a form of art started hard and shaky. Realizing the desire and dream is easy. Releasing it, making something out of it, is the hard part. It will drive you nuts. Lucky for those who have the means, have that innate distinct talent and unwavering courage and discipline. I must admit that I have a problem moving forward. Sure I move, but I stop in the middle because of my own demons that discourage me, but then I find myself starting again until it evolves into a draining cycle. I would've just given up, but the desire is still there, which makes it extra painful. I just comfort myself with the fact that some artists, musicians, and writers may have started hard. Ultimately others push through and succeed while others just simply go crazy and give up. Surprisingly, no matter how hard it is right now I still find myself here. Even though I'm still struggling and getting frustrated, I don't ever want to give up because I know the dream is still there.

Fourth, how about my crippling finances that hinder me to do the things that I badly need to do. For example, I want to move out and I should've already, but I am still financially crippled. I should've traveled the world and reside in a place that I choose, but I couldn't. I don't know whatever happened to me in this department. I used to be so good and focused with this even with meager sources of income. I know I need to regroup and settle things in priority. There is no other way but to continue working on this. But in this regard, I'm not entirely hopeless. With careful planning, saving and prioritizing, this could be fixed and all my other goals could be achieved. I just hate it that it adds up to the bigger shit hole.

Fifth, if I may add, my beloved pet Harvey Elizander is still slighly suffering from a self-induced accident. It added to digging up my shit hole for the past few days. He had a brawl with one of our bigger dogs and suffered an injury. His left front leg's was injured for a couple of days that left him limping. He had a fever at first, but recovered. For a couple of days his leg was painful with only gradual signs of recovery. If not for the storm, I would've taken him to the doctor this morning to perform a series of tests just to make sure. But based on my observation this morning though, his leg is getting better. God knows this is the last thing that I need right now.

Whew. Still here? Just to let you know, writing all of these stuff helped. I just can't find an accessible soul who could listen to this that's why I released it in a way I know how. It already felt like telling the soul, the universe. I'm always better writing than talking anyways.

As I look out the window, it's already dark. I see group of friends, families and lovers continually trickling in. Apparently, the storm did not alter their long weekend plans, or probably it there's still no electricity back home. I agree that it's more fruitful being elsewhere especially if you're trying to take a break from the shit hole of worries like mine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Travel Reading: Something Borrowed

I would always forget to post this. Hence.

Whenever I travel I always bring a book, preferably a pre-selected book. Not that I don't bring one everyday, but books meant to be taken while traveling are different. These are the books that I feel should be read in very special circumstances. It should positively contribute to the whole experience of traveling. It should have the capacity to either entertain me in lull moments or rescue my sanity in a foreign territory. It should have lots of promises and it should be interesting enough.

Traveling with a pre-selected book, I would tend to finish it. Until my last flight/trip back, you would catch me reading the last few pages. It's a pact that I have always respected. There were forgivable times that some books I brought were total mistakes, but I always try my best to read it in longer gaps, on the road or on the airport. I try to find that right time to have a correct mindset and mood to read it again. If all else fails and a dire need to read a book is there, I buy a new one.

On my most recent Cebu Trip, I scanned through my shelf and found unread books that are already pre-selected for important trips and travel. Since I was reading The Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears at that time, which I found interesting but very heavy, I decided to skip the heavy stuff and look for a lighter material. Going to Cebu, I wouldn't want to bombard myself with deep thoughts or sink through metaphors. I want in your face, superficial stuff. I thought Chick-flick materials would be perfect.

Good thing I have one remaining chick-flick which I bought online.Something Borrowed written by Emily Giffin. The book talks about modern women, facing modern personal issues and relationships. Perfect. Nothing new there.

It's about two bestfriends with extremely different personalities. One is a career-oriented, hardworking, "physically average" girl and one is the little miss perfect, with her perfect lucky charm, features and personality. They both have illustrious jobs. One a lawyer, and another as an events executive. Rachel, the lawyer, is to be maid of honor to the always-lucky Darcy until Rachel gets into an intimate affair with the "oh-so" perfect man Dex, who happens to be her law school friend and Darcy's fiance. They get it on at the first few chapters, right after Darcy threw a party for Dex. After that incident, Rachel's lame justifications about her insiduous affair took over the book as the adulterers try to keep their pseudo-relationship under wraps.

I read the whole thing, sure. It was easy. Relationships, pressure to get married, things that we already know. But I read it because I was so annoyed by the characters and was eager to find out how it would end. I hoped it would end in psychological carnage, but as always, it turned out fine in the end. I was so ready to call it crap.

Well, for one, I wasn't rooting for any character. I just wanted them all to have miserable lives and to disappear. Rachel, the obvious protagonist, is not saintly either. She had an affair with her best friend's fiance. To make it worse, they end up together. The whole book was about rationalizing how cheating is justified in her circumstances. She even had the nerve to plaster herself as a friend to Darcy. In fairness to Darcy, whose personality and demeanor I hate, Darcy was the wronged one. She is still, in a nutshell, considered a dear friend, someone who would never jeopardize one's future, probably only one's insecurities. That's why I felt for Darcy, the antagonist. Seriously, I hoped that Darcy would bomb her fiance and her best friend until they go absolutely blind for each other. I still believe that no girl deserves to be cheated like that. Also in this novel, everyone, including Darcy, is a sinner, which makes it more interesting and annoying at the same time.

I have no great reviews of this novel. It was just your expected chick-flick. It was just created to fill in the lull times at the airport, the grocery or hiding at your room while escaping relatives. It's not something that I would greatly ponder on and miss. Read this if you want to get annoyed. This only reminds me of one thing though. About cheating girls, no matter the circumstances, they suck.

And gosh, I heard they're already making this into a movie.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Leaf. New Rubber shoes

Rubber shoes are not my thing. Never knew what's good, what's hot and what's okay. That was the case because I definitely had no reason for using one. But whenever the need arose, which I had repressed and redirected as much as possible, I survived by just borrowing a pair from my sister who was once a gym addict. I would usually borrow her leftover rubber shoes with thinner soles, when the edges would start to peel off, and the rubber would slightly detach itself from the base.

But last 2006, I was forced to buy a pair for a month-long sporting exercise that I needed to attend. I tried to back off, but there was a slim possibility that I could lose my job due to being a professional brat with general lack of cooperation. I tried borrowing one from my sister, but her rubber shoes were beyond repair and some were already shipped to my father's province. She had no new ones I could borrow because at this time, she has completely given up the gym. I was left with a couple of sneakers that usually sacrifice the comfort for the style. I knew I had to buy one.

From Cubao I took the train to Makati to search for the cheapest, but durable rubber shoes in town. I knew the branded sporting apparel stores would kill my budget, so I took the department store route. In 15 minutes I found one to my liking. I bought a sale pair from LA Gear, a good comfortable pair of rubber shoes, that looked okay, comfortable and most especially, dirt cheap. I bought it in a heart beat, but only used it 3 times during the occasion. Then I kept it in the cabinet. I thought it was for good. But I had an opportunity to use it 7 times during a gym try out at the office. Then it was stacked once again in the dark.

In terms of Rubber Shoes maximization, mine was pampered to the extremes. My rubber shoes were never washed because of the lack of hardcore use. Therefore it has always been clean. For a pair of rubber shoes, it had its storage perks.

That was the case until I decided to become a new leaf and attend gym classes this year, roughtly after three years. This meant I have to have the proper gear, which primarily translates to rubber shoes. But I was confident. I knew that my old, semi-unused pair was just waiting for me back home begging to be used. As far as I'm concerned, I've got it all complete and I'm ready to roll.

A week in the gym and my pair of semi-unused rubber shoes fell apart. I was regularly doing whatever stretching my body could allow before classes. After the class would end, it seemed the cracks in the shoes increased and the sole was almost preparing to detach itself from the main body. A week in the gym, and I thought I would fall apart, it seemed my rubber shoes beat me up to it.

I did the usual quickie remedy. Put instant glue and pressed the sole and the body to kiss and make up. I used it after two days, but I think the feud is irreconcilable. I need to hand it to the shoe professionals. My trainer and gym colleagues said that it could still be fixed with massive shoe surgery, but given my available time and the time of the repair, I would eventually have to skip gym for a couple of days. That would have been a disastrous excuse. Apparently rubber shoes, according to friends who use theirs regularly, need to be used to prevent quick deterioration. I didn't know that. I thought stocking it for years would save its life.

So, my first ever need, Mitch bought me a decent and kick-ass pair last Friday. I wasn't particular with the model. I never was. The important thing for me is comfort then durability. I don't care much about the design, color or the model. I just want one that would work in years. It turned out, I got all my basic criteria and some. The color was a strong combination of pink and blue. It looked fantastic my mom said. It has the sturdiness and comfort of running shoes, but with cool flexibility of a cross-trainer. Err..don't ask me exactly what it is. Comfort factor was phenomenal and it was made for the new me who will take physical activities seriously. I was excited because turning a new leaf needs good pair of rubber shoes and I was able to find one in minutes.

I already used it yesterday during a cycling class. I felt like I was a kid in school showing off the new merchandise. I just felt good. I believe this pair of rubber shoes would bring good results...and hopefully consistent ones.

Friday: Highs and Lows

I had a pretty interesting weekend. There were highs and lows and it happened almost instantly that would leave a pretty decent mind and heart crazy. I'm not sure if I'm liking this weekend, anyways it's not yet over. The ride has yet to come to a full stop.

Last Friday, I had a toxic spillover at work running a datawarehouse. My lunch suffered because every minute was crunch time. I thought I was doing okay, missing out due to lack of focus once in a while, but I managed to finish on time with no fireworks and bomb threats. Until a colleague managed to see a lurking glitch with my signature on it. No choice but to study the damage and fix it with the remaining time. I had to stretch my work hours as I kept another person waiting in the dark. My schedule as well as his were made to adjust. There was an adrenalin high to finish, but it was met with a sudden low of glitch.

Meeting my dear date, surprisingly he kept quiet and was indeed merciful. I was even rewarded with a new merchandise, a pair of rubber shoes that I sorely needed. It was a timely reward and everything was going smoothly until I snapped at him. My reason: It was 9 pm, I was hungry and I was made to wait for him to attend his business for 15 minutes. Verdict: It is all my fault and I had no right to snap. Making him wait for an hour while I was crunching in the office, but was still rewarded with a pair of rubber shoes as a gift, were more than enough reasons to spare him from my unnecessary snapping. Naturally, my dear date snapped back and I was made to fight back tears caused by the surge of disappointment with myself. I ended up digging another grave. Another set of high moments to a very bad low.

Dinner was apparently the answer. Without reservations and as it was late, we settled for the ever reliable Friday's. I ordered my comfort food and surrendered to talking. During dinner, it was a pleasure to hear my significant other's realization about life that I never thought I'd be hearing from him. He puts all this credit to a newfound friend he just met from one of his business dealings. That new friend is in fact a professional life coach. I'm proud that my significant other is gradually trying to become a good leaf. He is doing it for himself. He is doing it to become better for me. And he was sharing this after I did the horrible snapping incident. Tsk Tsk to me.

I realized I've had too many high and low cycles for that day and during a rather calm and comforting dinner, I braced myself for the low.

But the low didn't come. It was apparently the last cycle for the day. Thank god we went home fine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Cravings: Casa Verde

Skipped the gym today to fully recuperate. My taste buds and appetite's coming back to me in full force. That's always a good sign, right? Actually I'm craving for something right now.

You know what I really want? A good tasty, fall-off-the-bone ribs and to drown it with hot Caramel Macchiato.

Getting that Caramel Macchiato is easy. There's always Starbucks. But the saucy, tasty and affordable ribs? A challenge. Where?

Tony Romas?

Quality is always a priority. But budget is always a big consideration.

Ugh. But only one restaurant popped in my mind and it's a damn plane ride away.

Those gigantic slabs of saucy, fall-off-the-bones tasty ribs at Casa Verde. You can't go wrong with this. Affordable, tasty and very generous! 200 bucks for the entire meal? Hell yeah!

I want!

Auntie Ging and Kuya Allan introduced me to Casa Verde in Cebu during my dark ages.

Since then, I became a loyal fan. So did Mitch and Je. :D

This was last May 2009 after the Sky attraction.

Casa Verde Branches:

1. Casa Verde
Lim Tian Teng Street Cebu City, Cebu

2. Lahug IT Park
(Just behind McDonald's)

3. Ayala Terraces

The thing with Floods

Floods. Is it a childhood fantasy of yours of finding one in your street to wade on? Because it's certainly not mine. I have a thing with floods. I find floods very disgusting and uncertain. It's not like taking a bath in the rain. Floods are totally nasty. It's disgusting and very unhygienic. I hate it when I was a kid and I definitely know why I hate it more now.

Watching the flood victims of Ondoy and Peping, they walk around their streets with umbrellas, but feet and thighs submerged in brown murky water. Some are even enjoying. More than their safety and their livelihood, I cringe as I fear for their health. To know that they're always exposed to flood water seeping through metropolitan's every ditch, canal and extremely dirty streets, would leave me heartbroken. All imaginable skin diseases and bacteria would be partying like a rockstar. Leptospirosis anyone? The color of the water is not even enticing. And can you honestly know what you're stepping on? All the feces of different animals are floating and mingling with earth, mud, dirt. Think.

Seeing some kids swim in it like a giant pool wants me to slap them all together. But not like they have any choice. But I would suggest minimal contact in it. Make a raft, have your local government supply the community with plastic boots. Share the boots. Wear plastic up on your thighs. I don't care. Just don't wade in it as much as possible.

Or if it can't be helped and as soon as help is near and the waters have subsided, check with your local clinics for skin tests. Disinfect. Cleanse. Don't wait for further complications. You owe that to your skin.

A reminder, the flood did not happen in a clean province. It happened in Manila, a polluted capital. Don't let it worsen your condition than it already is.

After tropical storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng left many areas in the country flooded, cases of leptospirosis—a disease—has increased significantly, officials said. The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday expressed concern over the situation as 383 cases were reported by only nine hospitals in the Metro Manila. (

Cebu October 2009: Post Vacay Sickness

Yesterday was hell in the office. I contacted a deadly colds virus and it left me slightly handicapped with work. My office mates were just concerned witnesses to my loud combo sneezing, my pale appearance and my bloodshot eyes. My nose already hurt from too much use of skin-unfriendly tissue paper. I was grouchy and I couldn't think. I tried going to the gym, but lasted for only 10 minutes that instead of releasing encouraging sweat, I released disgusting mucus. I ended up taking a cold shower and just drank strawberry shake at the lounge. When I got home, I couldn't even manage to type a single blog. I ended up drinking Pineapple Juice to sleep. That was yesterday.

Today I feel better and most importantly I can write, which means I can now organize my thoughts and I can think. There's still the dependency on tissue paper, but it's better than yesterday. Looking back, where did this sickness come from? It started last Monday afternoon, just when I picked up my CNT lechon and hung out one last time at Coffee Bean Ayala. It was at that moment that I knew that I'm finally going back home. I wasn't ready yet and I was suffering from too much food intake from that lunch buffet at Marco Polo. I never wanted to leave Cebu and probably my down morale contributed to my worsening physical scenario.

When I was ready to leave the airport, I was already on the road to doomsday. I began to consume rolls upon rolls of tissue. I began to sneeze combo sneezes, which holds my highest record of 7 loud consecutive sneezes. I began to chill and curse. It was that bad. But I went through the whole airport routine, checked in my baggage and just suffered stares from my co-passengers if I am a carrier of H1N1. I understand. I would've stared at myself too.

It also didn't help that I took the last flight back. I was dead tired, chilling at the plane and I swear I cursed so many times in my head. I told myself not to do the last flight out thing again. In fear of fainting, I clutched on my trolley while getting my check in baggage and called Mitch to pick me up immediately. Thank god he was already nearby. When I got home at 11 pm, it was an automatic rush to cleanse myself and get to bed. I didn't even bother to get all my clean stuff out the bag. I just slept. In the middle of the night, my mom woke me up and gave me medicine. She said I had fever, but for me all I was hearing was a distant mumble. I just thought that I need to rest to get to work. By 6 am sharp I woke up, wearing my gym attire, looking and feeling down as I began to unfold yesterday's hell.

It left me to thinking and also got people thinking. It seems that I always get terribly sick after a good vacation. Just like when I went to Roxas last July. I took a two day's leave because I had fever and the worse Swimmer's Itch ever. On my last trip last year, I also took a day's leave because of intense colds. And now this. People have began to notice it and they also know that I'm not faking, but damn if I could explain this. I always say to them that I always have a hard time transitioning coming from a good vacation back to my routine work, but it is a little bit exaggerated if I get deadly sick like this every single time. Joke is, I shouldn't go on vacations anymore. I should just work. It's a withdrawal from temporary happiness.

Psychologically it may have some contribution to my present state, but I'm sure it's not the core reason. I honestly believe it was pure coincidence. Last July, I waded in beach waters, which I initially thought I shouldn't have, and got swimmer's itch. Right now, I just contacted a virus going home, plain and simple. It's not rocket science and it wasn't planned. It was just unfortunate coincidences.

I might feel hell, but I know this wouldn't last and I feel slightly better now and ready to work. I've successfully transitioned and I could breathe and smell Manila again. Cebu is now just a happy memory that I'd relive whenever I get lonely. And I hope not to get sick, the nth time around.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cebu October 2009: The dramatic Me

Year after year, ever since I was a kid, I would get morally and physically down when I know I'm bound to leave Cebu and return home to the complex and stressful life in Manila. It never fails. As I type, I'm suffering from colds as I'm gulping Coffee Bean's ultra acidic orange juice. The colds just started this morning. As my aunt Debbie says, what the mind conceives, the body achieves. Great.

Technically I don't have any more important things to do. I've already packed, got my pasalubongs in order and dropped by CNT lechon to add up to my baggage weight. The only thing I'm left to do this afternoon is to chill out, have a last breather of Cebu and hope that it won't be too diffuicult when I start my work week this Tuesday, which I'm not really looking forward to. Well for one, god knows I have to work out double time...even triple, to burn out all the sinful things that I ate here. My trainer already texted me this afternoon to remind me, as if reading my mind, on not to skip tomorrow's session, which means I have to wake up super early even if I'm taking the last flight home. Tomorrow will be hell, I'm sure. Oh well, the price I have to pay for squeezing out every joy here in Cebu.

Second, I have colds and I've been sneezing combo sneezes since lunch. That can't be good. It would leave me in a grouchy state. With my clothes fitting tightly tomorrow and with the office stress, I think I'm ready to accept defeat right now.

With all the negative things coming my way, I know I am slightly over reacting. Going here I know, for now, is temporary. I'm bound to fly back home, that is the fact. There's no reason to whine and I have to deal with the usual transition blues. To cope, I'm just thinking of the people and things that I miss back home. Mitch. Harvey. My bed. My books. My routine.

Let my trip in Cebu be not in vain. I can do this. I can say goodbye to Cebu.

Bon Voyage Cebu. I'll be here again in January 2010.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cebu October 2009: Visions of Relocating

I know some readers might be so sick of me trying to build up Cebu in my posts as if I'm doing it for the very first time. But let them get sick, because for the next few posts, I'll be doing it again and again.


This is my first full day in Cebu, but my second visit for this year. I just arrived yesterday afternoon and so far, my premeditated determination of sticking to healthier food options deserted me, as soon as I saw my gregarious aunt at the airport. We had pizza as soon as she picked me up and after a few hours, we had an authentic dinner in one of her favorite Japanese restaurants. I had no room for dessert and I cursed myself for losing it on my very first night.

This morning, my determination fueled by intense guilt, made me decide to visit the gym in Ayala Center. I wanted to skip breakfast and sneak around hoping none of my relatives would see me, when I was pulled by my aunt's reliable household help to have breakfast. My mom would always say that it's very bad to decline the offer when they prepared something for you. Plus, it's seriously bad to ignore a creamy tomato-egg omelet and fried hotdogs glistening in...canola oil.

After breakfast, I skipped any other invitation for hot cocoa as I went to the garage to fetch my assigned car. I thought the coast was clear until my uncle was surprisingly at home and handed me the car keys. Giving me that weird look as I wore my over-sized blue jogging pants with matching backpack, I tried to distract him from asking THAT question by making overkill comments about his cute labrador pups. I understand the perplexity of my vision. They have never seen me wearing jogging pants before and leaving the house looking like a nomad. So curious, he finally asked me where I was going. I was about to tell them I'm going to my lola's house, a semi kind of white lie, when their trusted household help snuck up behind him and said, "Mag-gygym yan, noh. (She's going to the gym, you know)." A look of disbelief then amusement registered in my uncle's face and he snickered as he gave me the key. I smiled and did not deny.

I made a few phone calls to my aunt to tell her where I was going. I told her I'd meet her at my lola's house during merienda, which means another round of food session and which means I really have to sweat it out at the gym. I drove to Ayala Center with minimal traffic and parked at the Ayala Terraces side, which meant I had to walk to Fitness First. It didn't matter. I love the scenery so much that Ayala Terraces could give Greenbelt 5 or Trinoma a run for their money.

I arrived at Fitness First at 10 am and was amazed of how different and more spacious it is than the branch they have at Robinson's Summit in Makati where I regularly go to. The shower rooms have TV. It's more spacious and well lighted. The lounge is has its own world where you don't see machines and you really can get to relax after a grueling workout. The actual work-out area is like an open gymnasium with 2 1/2 levels with hanging TV and staircase. The cardio area has an army of treadmill, stationary bikes and Rotex assembled in a choir fashion, which reminded me of the high choir assembly I once saw at a sect's church (Iglesia ni Kristo). Fitness First Cebu has more equipment, bigger space, funkier interiors and more VCD selections. Yeah sure Fruit Magic's still there and the color and smell are still the same, but I'd trade the one in HP with this anytime. I was so impressed that I called gym enthusiasts at the office and promised to take sneaky pictures for them to see.

So, I did my Rotex routine, did the usual stretching my trainer taught me and visited the sauna. By 11:30 I was out and about ready to roam around one of the hippiest malls in the country and one of the best hang out places in Metro Cebu. Roaming around, I really feel I'm at home here. Every single time that I come here, I get engulfed in vacation spirit that I never miss anything back home. It is in this moment that I long to relocate.

There's nothing in Manila that I couldn't possibly find in Cebu. The upscale stores are here. The upscale and famous Manila restaurants are here with better interiors. Some of the yummiest restaurants here are not even in Manila. The ambiance and urban feel are way better than the congested and complicated I'm used to.

I'm sure there are corporate junkies here, but it feels they're not working at all. The only ace Manila holds are my loved ones. But if I could settle and bring them all here, I would. I would constantly play around with the scene of me receiving news that I'd be relocated here in Cebu for some indefinite project. Instead of crying and thinking about it, I'd end up too excited that I'll pack my bags in a heartbeat. Though I confess that I applied for a position here once. I just saw an ad online. The pay is competitive and I don't have any problem with the location. It's near all my relatives' houses. I'm all set and ready to go. I got through the first interview by phone and they invited me for a personal interview. But they finally found out that I'm actually residing in Manila. They asked me if I'm willing to be relocated in Cebu, and I said yes, but that entails them to assist me with the actual relocation. It did show in the application that Cebuanos are priority. I wanted to scream that I am a Cebuana and I can relocate in Cebu for free, but not wanting to sound so desperate, I didn't push my luck anymore and just registered the surprised disappointment in her voice. She never called me again.

I would say it once and I'll say it again. I can definitely relocate here in Cebu. IN terms of shops, recreation spots and nightouts, Manila has nothing new to offer that Cebu hasn't developed into their own version. The corporate scene may be busy and urban with a good mix of quiet and laid back life. Laid back, not provincial. The people here are very accommodating and very friendly. They have no pretention and hang ups in life. It's a place where you could run an empire without getting too stressed and raise a modern family on the side. If ever I decide on where to raise a family, Cebu will always be a top option. People don't get attached to the social sigma so much. Cebuanos have this classic pride and unparalleled confidence. They don't let other people boss them around and they have good command in English. People here are a good mix of understated flair and glamor, but not pretentious and very toxic like some crowds in Manila. Everytime I go here in Ayala Terraces and roam around the metro, it reminds me of Fort-slash-Westgate Alabang. Downtown reminds me of a better version of what Binondo should be like. There's traffic here, but manageable. And people here are more laid back.

My mom back home was very curious to know why I'm coming here again since I have no agenda and no important things to do here. As my relatives started to scramble for my itinerary, I just told them to stop. This is my itinerary: to just hang out and live a semi-charmed life as if I reside here. Convincing my mother, she forewarned her sisters not to make a big fuss over me. I had nothing important to do. Enjoying a cup of coffee in Metro Cebu, to enhale the relaxed spirit, going to my lola's house and hanging out with my relatives beat any loaded itinerary in the book. I am not a tourist. This is after all my second home, let me live it just the way I like it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cebu October 2009: Let the weight gain begin

I love traveling, minus the packing and unwanted expenses, it's perfect. Sometimes I love traveling alone. It makes me feel calmer and more independent. I don't have to be mindful about anyone. I call the shots as if I'm gliding. I realized that I miss traveling so much that I decided to make it a major goal of mine in 2010. I'm starting as early as now.

This early afternoon I flew to Cebu, my refuge from dried, stressed and uncreative moments. I chose the afternoon flight to have more time to prepare and not grapple at dawn and wake everyone up. In the morning, I had time to play SIMS, read the newspaper, randomly play with Harvey and do my last minute packing. By 12:00 I went to the airport.

Getting to the airport was a breeze. There was no heavy traffic just gloomy skies and drizzling. It hardly ever mattered. In fact, I sincerely love the weather. Upon reaching the airport, I faced the usual long cues and routine inspections, but was cut some slack when someone offered me to line up in the Puerto Princesa counter just to lessen the line in the Cebu counter. In less than 15 minutes, I was able to settle down in the lounge area. With my McDonald's take out, iced coffee and my chosen travel book, I relished the time alone at the airport, just reading while waiting to board the plane.

We left on time and arrived on time in an also gloomy Cebu. My aunt Ging fetched me, driving my self-claimed 4wd multi-utility vehicle, which I inaccurately dubbed as Tamiya. I recognize the same streets. I took in the usual Cebu aura and felt deeply calm and happy.

Clearly, we had no time to waste. We immediately went to the newly renovated and posh SM City Cebu with its upscale interior and stores just like what we have in Greenbelt. Basing it from the stores and recreation places, Manila has nothing new to offer. It was there that I felt that I could live in Cebu. I could actually relocate here. But my daydreaming was put to a halt when we decided to have Italian snacks at Sbarro before we fetched my cousin's psp download. At past 6 pm we went home to my aunt's grand residence.

By 7:30, together with her gracious family, we ate at an authentic Japanese restaurant near their place called Nonki. My sister raved about this restaurant when they took her there last May, and I now know why. From the interiors to the well played waitresses, the ingredients are high standard and one could taste the freshness of the dishes especially the raw delicacies popularized by Japan. The servings are generous and basing it from the special and fast treatment, I could say that their family is a regular customer. Oh, did I tell you that it has free wi-fi?

With a full McDonald's meal, Italian carbo-intensive snack and stuffed Japanese dinner, I knew I was in big trouble. Being in Cebu half a day already made me forget my psuedo-diet. It was reduced to a distant chant. I think I already gained 5 pounds today. I know I would have to sweat it off at the gym tomorrow, but I doubt if I could muster enough strength for something like that when I know I'm on vacation. It's as if typing would make it into a reality. Good luck to the dream of a physically fit lifestyle while I'm here. Mind you I still have four more full days of Cebu and I'm already guilt-bitching on my first day.

Only one day of Cebu and I feel like I'm in heaven. It has always been like this, no wonder that I don't miss home that much. (Except for a few loved ones of course)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cebu Bound: Oct 2009

With all my work behind me, I can finally relish the excitement of going back to Cebu tomorrow. Cebu is more than a place of vacation. It's like a second home to me. It's the place where I was born and a place that I fly to with an average of twice a year. I am quite familiar with the city and I have wonderful relatives whom I feel comfortable with day in and day out.

Whenever I'm there I'm not looking for die hard gimmicks and nightlife. I don't plan to replicate the stress and the usual activities I can do in Manila. The simple Cebuano food, steady vibe and being with wonderful relatives are more than enough for me. Cebu might be the closest modern Manila-Twin, but it's definitely cozier, laid back and vintage.

That being, I never run out of reasons of going to Cebu even if I practically don't do much or roam around there like a hungry tourist. Well for one, it's a good place to continue my writing. I need to write, but I also need a change of scenery. Manila is already getting on my nerves with work, with people and with the daily monotony. Somehow I feel that I need to recharge in a comforting place yet seldom that I go to. I need to eat, relax and think on a new kick of perspective. Cebu is the best place for it. Aside from that, one of my favorite aunts is celebrating her birthday this weekend and that means Cebuano food with important stress in lechon. Being on a "conscious" diet, I'm preparing myself for the inevitable, unconscious binging. Lastly, I had a good reason to travel because of the dirt cheap airfare I got from pop-up promotions on seat sales.I think everyone would agree that it would be a shame if I won't be able to maximize it.

After enduring the most excrutiating task of packing, I'm now finally making a list so that I won't be able to forget anything essential tomorrow. Since my flight is still at noon, I have more time to doodle and stay up late. Just like when I was a kid, knowing that I'd be going home to Cebu the next morning, sleep won't come in till dawn. Now it's more than mere excitement, it's a relief.

*Shot taken the Hilton Mactan Cebu last May 2009. An overnight getaway treat by my aunt, 15-20 mins away from the city. The Life. I can seriously live in Cebu.

Let me fly to Cebu

I hear rain. I feel wind. I see gloom.

Yikes. As much as I love these elements, I'm afraid I'm not loving it right now and most definitely not tomorrow. To give Philippines a break from massive rainfall and natural destruction, may this storm be not troublesome. Also, I have a flight to catch to Cebu tomorrow afternoon. I'd be utterly utterly disappointed if it would be canceled.

Cebu has always been my refuge. It is where I am comfortable and happy. It has always been my childhood place and whenever I'm there, I seem to forget the stress in Manila. Cool neighborhood, lechon morning noon and night, cheap ribs, good coffee shops, Postrio, good people. Ah, Cebu is my therapy and creative source of good things to come.

I need it now, so please....little storm, spare us.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sun Valley Pet Club 2009

Moving on with life, I had a busy day today. Instead of taking advantage of the weekend and sleeping my ass off, I woke up at 6 am to prepare for the 7 am mass that turned out to be actually a 6 am mass. Nevertheless, I got there before gospel and enjoyed the very looooong homily while standing. As soon as the mass ended, I quickly paid my early morning visit to the Bautista residence to urge Mitch to bring his dogs Berta and Rocky to the Sun Valley Pet Club Meeting. I didn't convince him, but at least I enjoyed a free breakfast of pancakes and sausages.

I ate and ran, which is usually the case, and I prepared Harvey for his first pet club meeting ever. Knowing his wild traits and energetic persona, it was a struggle going to the park because he missed going out. He was also so excited to see lots of people on the streets buying stuff as it is his first ever Sun Valley Fiesta. He observed, got excited and oggled at people until we finally reached the Pergola. There he saw a cool number of dogs and it was double the challenge for me since then.

Registering was hard. I had to let one kid hold the leash because Harvey was jumping up and down and he was trying to go towards the other dogs. He is not war-freak mind you. He is just super friendly. He is Mister Congeniality to dogs and he doesn't care if dogs are thrice his size. He just wants to play and sniff around. He is very friendly with both dogs and people, but his energy may be too much for a normal person. It didn't take long for my hair to look like a bird's nest and my face looked like a glistening pan of cooking oil. I just had to let him enjoy the moment as I could allow him to while trying to make sure he doesn't piss other dogs and piss at people. I thought I'd give him time to tire himself out, but I underestimated him. I got tired first.

But it was so cool to see different types of dogs and their owners making an effort to attend functions like these. Most dogs I saw there were the usual Shih Tzus, Daschunds, Spitz and Chihuahuas. But there was a large group of dogs there that were predominantly Golden Retrievers and Labradors. I saw a couple of Dalmatians, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Dobermans, St. Bernards and Spaniels. Harvey was the only breed of his kind there as far as Jack Russel Terriers are considered. Although there was one Parson Terrier female there, his closest kin. Nevertheless, he didn't mind. He was so excited to see other dogs and was damn eager to play with them. Sometimes he would look up to me and I could've sworn he was begging me to let him go. My brother JD actually asked me what would happen if I accidentally let go of the leash. I simply answered: "Total bloody unimaginable chaos."

In between his sniffing and trying to get closer to other dogs, some were stressed and couldn't take his energy. Whenever a dog barks at him, out of clear irritation, he just stares and backs off giving them room, but he forgets and tries to get close again. He is that persistent.

The club's program started with simple tete-a-tete plus registration. After which we were requested to view booths that were put up by leading neighborhood pet stores and pet enthusiasts. Animal House, some fish pet store, and Harvey's favorite store Doghouse, were there with the store's owners whom I've gotten a chance to speak with the night before while rushing to buy a leash for Harvey.

After "settling" down, the parish priest blessed the dogs much to the their restlessness and lack of "sacramental" respect. There was even a scene during the blessing that a huge Golden Retriever attacked a white Japanese Spitz. WE could only gasp and be horrified for the smaller dog, while the priest made the setting lighter by saying "Peace."

After the blessing, there were minor to major raffles being drawn, K9 Training exhibition and grooming demos by Dog House and Urban Doggies. In the raffle draws, Harvey won a Dish Bowl by Dog House and a 50% off on-call grooming by Urban Doggies, which I would have to give to Berta because she needs it more. I'm sure Harvey wouldn't mind. He's always been the wash and rinse kind of dog.

We were later joined by my mother and two siblings who stayed for a bit to witness the festivities. My mother surprisingly knows most of the organizers there who are her aerobics buddies in the village (My mom has friends?!!) and I couldn't help saying that next year, she would learn that I'll be one of the club's top organizers.

It was fun to be involved in something like this. I think Harvey enjoyed much. As we plan to donate supplies and accessories to PAWS this December, this definitely helps put things in clearer perspective.

When we got home, we both took a bath, ate lunch and then surrendered to a much-deserved nap.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Locked N' Loaded

Yesterday I was anticipating for that dreadful storm Peping to hit Manila. Even though in the office we all came in full force, we were mindful about the rain and the weather updates since we all know there's a heavy typhoon looming the Philippine Territory. But as early as 3 pm yesterday, corporations started to send their employees home and naturally most of us panicked because of too much information. There were scary text circulations and frightening net images freely accessible. With the effects of Ondoy still fresh, most people panicked to park their cars somewhere safe, rushed to the nearest grocery shops and quickly went home to attend to the house. While going home, SKYWAY was jammed, good thing Mitch and I refueled ourselves back in Makati. I also heard groceries were quickly losing stocks. I think the grocery operators must be very happy with our panic-buying business and take note Christmas is just around the corner. Yesterday, we were all in a race against PEPING. Another battle that our poor country has yet to withstand.

When I got home, my mother bought take-out while my father, one of those panic buyers, bought groceries. My aunt went home early with some fruits, bread and cooked food while I picked up pizza. Our kitchen was busy that night with too much food and we slightly forgot we were supposed to be preparing for a storm.

We prepared candles, checked our house and made sure our cars were parked in a safe place considering all angles. Knowing that it's a strong typhoon, we prepared to endure brownouts and internet disconnection, so we all charged our phones, saved some numbers and did all the things that we had to do online like book tickets, update our Facebook accounts and play our favorite games. My sister had a DVD marathon as we all did our usual things silently, preparing for the inevitable.

But except for a few drizzle, the storm didn't come.

I woke up this morning with the usual gloom painted outside my window and was most certain that the storm didn't battle Manila. It changed its course and moved to Cagayan, where I hope the residents are already geared up and loaded. it might be our prayers or a natural weather change, but it's always good to know that we did every preparation in the book.

Funny that most of us became paranoid, following every precautionary detail to a tee, only to find out that we wouldn't use it after all. Some would call us overreacting, others would call us paranoid while others would call it preparedness. I don't know what you'd call it, but the important thing is we were not hit, Ondoy victims can now breathe, and we would know what to do once a typhoon hits us for the nth time. Paranoid or not, at least we are safe.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Exit Ondoy. Enter Parma.

This week is focused on giving full support for the Ondoy victims. It is also a week for recycling meaningful stories to share as a way of doing in depth reflection of our current situation as a nation and as an individual. It made us realize that our mistakes and shortcomings from the past are haunting us, but it also made us realize how strong we are to withstand it.

With what's been going on, the week has not been quite normal. The school's been canceled for the entire week and the professionals are still wary and involved in continuous relief operations. Helpful to scary information are scattered all over the net and more people tune in to news. We do all that we can to help and move on but seemingly a week is not enough. We need time to physically, psychological and socially recover. But as we feared, another storm, stronger and expected to be more violent will again test our lands. All we could do is anticipate.

As early as Thursday, international and local news were spreading the word. There's a stronger Typhoon coming and it would most probably hit the Philippines. They began spreading different kinds of things, worse scenarios to positive ones. It started to leave people anxious. Blogs, news sites, text messages and personal sentiments overflow because this is the second punch in a row. It's not funny anymore. Just when we were trying to move on from a devastating storm, another one threatens us.

When I got to work early today, the clouds were gloomy, but nothing like a good optimism to start the day. My officemates came in full force, although all of us were already informed of the "grand" possibilities. Doing quarter-end load of work, we bought clothes just in case we need to stay in a hotel nearby, but every minute or so we kept on checking the news, reading text messages and peeking at our office windows hoping we still could go home safely.

The news progressed and words used like "hazardous, disastrous and super" made us all feel anxious. Forecasts predict that the typhoon could develop into a super typhoon. As much as we are concerned for the safety of the people affected in Ondoy, we are now more concerned with ourselves and with our families. Fortunately, at around 3 in the afternoon, majority of the corporations advised their staff to go home.

Well everyone, it seems we're in for a ride again. Parma's already here in the Philippine area of responsibility and it is unfortunately gaining strength as I type. Let's all prepare and expect the worst. I pray for the Ondoy victims and I pray for the towns and provinces that will be directly affected by this storm. I also hope it doesn't go any more stronger...please and may the Philippines prove stronger than Parma.

Let's remember that as much as we would expect the worst, nothing could stop us to pray for guidance and mercy.

This is updated as of Friday, October 02, 2009 7:51 AM EST (7:51 pm MLA)

Powerful Typhoon Parma in the western Pacific Ocean is bearing down on the Philippines. Winds are sustained at about 120 mph with gusts to 145 mph. Early Thursday, winds briefly reached 150 mph, or super typhoon status. Parma, locally called Pepeng, could strengthen a bit more tonight, local time, as it slows and approaches land.

Parma is taking aim on northern Luzon, the large northern island province. Landfall is expected to occur Saturday afternoon, local time, but heavy rain, high winds, and dangerous surf will be impacting the eastern shore of Luzon tonight. (