Wednesday, August 31, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Jamie/Jayme/Jaime
No matter how distant, it's just not distant enough with you.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 A.D.
Fancy a Guide to Cocks Guv'nor?
An interesting article I found lists the 100 rudest names for places in the UK:

Local Names Make Rude Britain

My favorites:
1.) Titty Ho, Northamptonshire (33)
2.) Cumloden Court, Dumfries and Galloway (80)
3.) Fingringhoe, Essex (7)
4.) Cockshoot Close, Oxfordshire (14)
5.) Dicks Mount, Suffolk (63)

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Friday, August 26, 2005 A.D.
As the World Turns
The sad truth is that I often keep finding that the world around me has changed without me hardly even noticing. The sadder truth is that this complacence - nay, ignorance - often comes at a consequence. The saddest truth however, is that this consequence usually involves money.

The world changed in that a simple right bend that I have been familiar with since I first grew teeth has been replaced by a wall of hollow blocks that, from my view on the driver's seat, stretched indefinitely. The dearly departed right bend is supposed to work like an expressway exit in that what it essentially did was to get you to the opposite lane in the same way that a u-turn would.

The reason that it worked like an expressway exit is that technically, it is. It used to be something like the last exit before the toll gates, which were still a couple of kilometers away. I figured that since all I needed to make was a u-turn, then I should just keep on going forward and find the next u-turn slot, taking in consideration the indiscriminate proliferation of u-turn slots in the metro. There should be one coming along soon, I though.

I realized that my supposition was flawed when I saw a line of no less than fifteen toll booths coming up. Knowing that I would be needlessly paying toll to take a simple u-turn, I started hearing a clicking noise in the back of my head, which usually happens when I'm beginning to involuntarily channel a rather unfriendly Visigoth who visits me in my nightmares. I was prepared to put on my Visigoth face, never mind my lack of facial hair or the advantageous sanitary disposition that I have over the regular Visigoth (thanks to several centuries of racial evolution). I was furious. I was psychically geared up to invade, pillage and occupy a peaceful French-speaking settlement (the closest one would be a Delifrance branch at a gas station stopover). I was also intent that someone should know just how furious I was. With no one else around, I nominated for the position of Unlucky-Morning-Emotional-Punching-Bag the innocent toll booth attendant. I thought that she couldn't be all that innocent to work for bosses who, though a complicated governmental chain of command, hired the engineers who worked out the rerouting that removed my beloved right turn from the map. With a little bit of luck, she could even be remotely French.

I was, however, at a dilemma. On one hand, I could scream at her in tongues (Visigoth-speak included) about the devious diversion I was forced to take. On the other, I was afraid that doing so would only underscore the reality of the situation: I was an idiot. It was a tricky balance to maintain because I had to lash out at the world in the random manner of a berserker and at the same time retain a considerable amount of self-respect by not calling too much attention to myself (i.e. please casually notice that I'm a pissed off self-respecting non-idiot).

Toll booth lady: Good morning sir! Forty-two pesos please!
Pissed-off self-respecting non-idiot: WHERE CAN I MAKE A U-TURN!?!
Toll booth lady: That will be the Valenzuela exit sir. Here's your change. Thanks and have a safe trip!

Please note that the conversation lasted about twenty seconds, with the toll booth lady putting on a sunny demeanor which a lesser organism would have failed at and a smile that didn't look forced so much as it looked implanted. The government must have put her in a governmental equivalent of charm school in the hope that motorists wouldn't find the ridiculous toll too ridiculous. It worked, in a manner of speaking... A for effort.

Luckily, despite the rains, I was able to drive through that portion of the North Luzon Expressway quite easily. It was, I have to say, the farthest north I've ever driven so far. The Valenzuela exit wasn't as jammed as I remembered it to be, but it still was a good six kilometers from where I should have made a simple right turn.

We've gone one way so far, so here's the math for both ways (please forgive the lack of details for the equally painful return trip): six kilometers times two equals twelve kilometers, while forty-two pesos times two is eighty-four pesos. Noting that I get six to eight kilometers on a thirty-three peso liter of gas, the gas I spent would be around forty-nine fifty to sixty-six pesos.

Toll (both ways): 84 pesos
Gas (both ways): 66 pesos
Government legally robbing you with a smile: Priceless

I spent around a hundred and fifty pesos to make a u-turn that took more than twenty minutes... definitely more than a pissed-off self-respecting non-idiot should. I wonder how a Visigoth would feel about that.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 A.D.
Plural Arrangements
I finally understood several years back what LOL means, but can someone please explain to me what LOLS means? Worse, what is LOLZ?

I often wonder why some people are under the delusion that adding an 's' after a word can make the word cooler. It doesn't. What I do know however, based on what my English teachers told me in elementary, is that the added 's' is usually used to pluralize a nouns or give a verbs its singular forms. It's all about the subjects-verbs agreements, and it is imperative for peoples to make subjects and verbs agrees because subjects-verbs disagreements usually ends up in very emotional episodes prone to subjective points of view and verbal abuses (very sad).

Anyways, the needless pluralizations can get somewhat annoying, as in the case of anyways, which isn't even a plural version of anyway (adverbs do not have plural forms). It's not really a fancier version of anyway anyway, even if we like to think it is, but means very much the same as anyway. The archaic form is anywise, but we don't use that word much anywise.

The grammar police, goode purveyors of the Queen's English, have since developed stringent counter-measures against this form of abuse, which, given their rather limited grammatical imagination, they have termed S-abuse. The professional moralist bloc objected to the term, as they believed the 'S' to actually be a veiled, exotic reference to a variety of S-words that they find offensive, such as spelunking. They believe spelunking to be an inappropriate euphemism for some dirty deed (done dirt cheap), and when told that it actually means the exploration of caves, they consequently objected to the improper usage of caves because it might rhyme with something tasteless that will corrupt the witless young.

The grammar police are right to be concerned with S-abuse, especially if they were to look at Friendster, particularly at people's varied musical interests. Invariably, they will see therein listed (in no particular order except perhaps the resulting degree of annoyance): acoustics, alternatives, and different musics.

(My dears, acoustics refers to the branch of physics that deals in sound and related phenomena (I would also like to refute the validity of the acoustic genre, but that is beside the point). Furthermore, alternatives simply means choices, and however eclectic you like to believe your musical taste to be, you cannot listen to different musics.)

Of late, S-abuse cases have grown much worse that an offshoot culture somehow developed from its twitching zombie corpus. Enter Z-abuse.

The grammar police still regard S-abuse cases with a certain amount of sympathy, as S-abuse is still considered a gateway practice. Z-abuse cases, however, are beyond rehabilitation. They're hardcore, like alphanumeric heroin users speaking the language of bees. Think: acousticz, alternativez, and different musicz. The letter Z, at itz career zenith, is secretly celebrating itz promotion from being one of the most uselezz letterz in the alphabet to being suffix du jour. On the other hand, X is still sulking, being comforted by Q.

After meeting with the grammar police, we have agreed to set into motion a counter-counterculture. In the new scheme, trailing S's and Z's will be banned from all usage. All instance will be properly removed by the authoritie, who will be going around carrying copie of unabridged Oxford dictionarie, the better to physically molest arrested violator with. First offender will get off with stern warning and with writing "acoustic, alternative, and different music" 9999 time on 3 sheet of A4 paper. Second time offender will receive a fine of 9999 peso and thirteen lashe of a Bamboo cane (i.e. a pretentiou cane singing "socially relevant" song). Third time offender (and subsequent repeat offender) will be hanged, drawn, quartered and re-quartered (i.e. sixteened) then put back together to be guillotined and disemboweled then resurrected as a bullfrog. Professional moralist have objected that these punishment are rather on the harsh side. If one look at it, however, they are not harsh at all, because for the longest time, these violator have been getting away with murder.


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Saturday, August 20, 2005 A.D.
Also Good for Deposed Presidents
I accompanied my mom to the hospital early tonight to visit my grandmother and we found a squad of police cars and motorbikes, several ambulances, as well as a couple of news vans waiting just outside the gates. Curious, I asked the guard what it was all about and he merely mouthed, "Erap." The former president apparently had a scheduled checkup there. It wouldn't be a particularly exciting celebrity sighting for me, I thought, so I paid little attention to it.

After parking, I went up the stairs and bumped into Mayor JV Ejercito before making it to the second floor landing. Looking left, I saw a gaggle of people, including several security-types, who were all bundled up at the end of a corridor. I then looked at the entrance leading to that corridor - two swinging glass doors - and saw a poster on the left that read, '10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.' On the other side, a corkboard was set up with the header 'Breasfeeding Bulletin,' beside which were two more posters. The first one read 'Successful Breastfeeding Starts with Correct Positioning,' while the other, 'Continue Breastfeeding While Working.' One door showed an illustration that almost resembled a breastfeeding mom with infant. Most importantly, the other door bore the almighty slogan - wait for it - 'Breastmilk is Still Best for Babies.'

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Friday, August 19, 2005 A.D.
Bleargh and the Hopia Factory
We call them horseshoes, literally translated from Chinese, even if they don't look anything at all like horseshoes, and they have been something of a staple in my family since the age of Betamax. It's a dry, almost hollow pastry (hopia, really) with the layered texture of light piaya, thicker but smaller than the average palm (i.e. the body part that palmists like to look at). Until recently, it's always been filled with a sticky peanut and sesame paste derived from molasses although not as sweet as it may sound. My family doesn't like the new butter filling as much, although my aunt loves them. There is, by the way, no means of telling apart the different hopia from their appearances (this is where the plot thickens... like molasses).

Yesterday, my mom called the hopia factory that makes them horseshoes to place an order and was informed that if she ordered in batches of 50, they could ensure that each of those batches would be special ('special' in what way, they never specified). My mom duly ordered a special hundred of the classic peanut and another special hundred of the new butter horseshoes for my aunt, which wasn't a staggering number since the pastries keep rather long in their individual packets and they should just be enough to sustain the family for a few weeks.

Receiving the hopia today, we found out that the factory lovingly labeled each of the boxes. It should be a good thing if not for the fact that whoever labeled them, labeled them all with 'butter.' Of course, having been labeled that way, all four boxes were effectively as good as being unlabeled. Luckily, the stacking order wasn't disturbed at all during transit, so our secretary called up the factory, just in case they remembered how they stacked the boxes.

After explaining the scenario (which took several minutes), the lady on the other end of the line simply had one foolproof piece of helpful advice for us, and that was that we should open up one packet each from the boxes and sort the whole thing out by eating them hopia.

As an aside, I ate a late breakfast of unflavored oatmeal and a banana, which I followed thirty-two seconds later by an early lunch. Following a strange and unexplainable urge, I also took a glass of fiber supplement to cap off the meal(s).

That meal was an hour ago at most, and taste testing packets of hopia wasn't the best situation to be in when one had stomach contents fortified by fiber and unflavored oatmeal.

I figured that at the most, I would only have to eat three hopia (and two at the least). The first round (yes, there will be a second round) yielded the following order: peanut, butter, peanut. It should be safe to deduce that the fourth box was butter but my brother saw a cracked hopia among its contents with what looked very much like peanut filling showing. He opened up another packet from that box and sure enough, it was peanut. Thus: peanut, butter, peanut, peanut... wrong! Finding no more suspicious cracks, we went to round two to settle the disparity.

Luckily, round two was finished after I tasted one more hopia from the first box that I categorically labeled 'peanut,' and found it to be butter. There we were - two and two finally. We could have tested the other boxes further but I feared that the boxes could have been packed at random. That would no doubt complicate the situation by a factor of x, with x being an unpronounceable number used only by hopia factory workers and drug addicts in formulating cosmological hypotheses. I also feared finding a hopia with neither peanut nor butter (or even peanut butter) filling. In my mind, I pictured a disgruntled hopia sorter wreaking vengeance on unsuspecting customers after learning that he would be replaced by a more efficient sorter in the form of a sorting hat.

The moral of the story is that life will always throw us an assortment of unsorted hopia: some will have peanut filling and others will invariably have butter, and even some with essences of digruntled vengeance. We really can't do nothing much about that. Life is really a mixed bag, and it's all up to us to sort things out with the fiber instilled in us. At the end of the day, we will look at all the hopia that we have sorted and think to ourselves: "I quit my job for this?"

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Monday, August 15, 2005 A.D.
The Requisite Goodbye Email
(Edited among other things, to protect the innocent, namely Dhude and my contact info.)

The difference between assume and presume is that presume implies assuming beforehand and is regarded as the more careless between the two words, while assume is used more for formulating hypotheses. The prevalent use of assuming, therefore, is wrong (i.e. Maria Cristina is assuming), because it is not even an adjective. A more correct word would be presumptuous (i.e. Maria Cristina is presumptuous). In any case, it is assumed that Maria Cristina really isn't easy to get along with and that one is better off not knowing her at all.

Assumption also means taking on (i.e. assuming a role). It's also a feast celebrated by Catholics (today, in fact - thanks mej!). There also exists a less popular holy day called The Feast of the Presumption, which commemorates a minor martyr's fatal presumption. St. Nhoddy's last words were, 'I presume that those centurions are wimps because they wear skirts.' It is assumed by scholars that he died horribly.

To expound, let's assume that a certain biped, who we will name RYC for the sake of argument, is on his last day on his current job. He can suppose that he will be receiving a parting gift, and that is presuming (rather, presumptuous). Being a noisy bugger who won't shut up during office hours, he can also suppose that his absence will be felt, and that is assuming. Again, let's assume that another departing biped, who shall only be called Joseph Lao, supposes that he will be receiving a parting gift and also that his absence will be felt. His suppositions count as neither assuming nor presuming, but rather wishful thinking. They also border on assumed dementia, but that's already going outside of grammar and rather presumptuously into psychiatry (I know psychiatry, you don't).

RYC has already made several things clear, and one is that he will be going into the family business. Most people assumed that he will be going into his family's business, which is not the case. Rather, he will be going into the business of families, which can be summed up by the words wholesale and orphanage. If you assumed that I will sell families to orphans, then you assumed right.

The two years I spent with the team were easily the most memorable in my recent memory. It's not saying much because I have a condition which doctors assume to be amnesia. I can only remember the last two years of my life and nothing beyond that (except past lives). I can't, for example, presume to remember a Brent Uy even if people tell me that he only left the team last year. Still, assuming that I were to remember only two years of my life, I assume that I'd still choose this period with presumably no regrets, if only for the people who have made it special, namely Mr. Noya and the guard downstairs, who I presume has advanced gigantism.

I like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, not including the aforementioned two, for keeping the floor area beautifully useful. I like to thank the floor area for presumably harboring dust mites that I assume have contributed to the onset of my allergy. I like to thank myself for many things, which I will fully elaborate on with another email addressed to myself then printed in triplicate (I'm that grateful). If I failed to mention anyone (because I didn't, except for Mr. Noya and the giant guard), please don't take it against me and assume that I forgot about you. I didn't actually forget, it's just that I don't see you as a friend at all. You are cute in your own way though.

You can presume that I will miss working in the office. You can also assume that I will miss working with you. You can however know, that most of all, I will miss just being with you, but please also know that the world has grown smaller with communications technology:

<insert email here>
<insert cell number here>

I presume that you will contact me, but don't assume I will reply when I'm busy selling families.

See you around.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005 A.D.
A Tale of Two Buildings
The machine at the Ortigas gym for working out the lower back is situated in a unique spot, I discovered. The gym itself is on the 35th floor of the building, right next door to the building where I used to work. The vantage that I'm given when seated at the machine is such that when I look to my right, I can easily see this building. To my 11 o'clock, I can see the familiar Makati skyline. The buildings are blanketed by a pale haze that renders a monotone to their proud arrangement. I can make out the sequence of the more dominant Ayala Ave. buildings, and to their extreme left, just a tiny finger among them, I can recognize the familiar greenish structure topped with a bowl - the building where I currently work, but only until Monday.

It's a comforting sight, knowing that Manila isn't really that big a place, and that I can never really be inaccessibly distant from the many people who have constituted the last six years of my life. I settle into a more relaxed position just to breathe in the significance of my realization and see a biggish woman balled up in front of me, awkwardly attempting a difficult abdominal workout. I look at the two buildings again and think: "Does this count as an upskirt?"

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Friday, August 12, 2005 A.D.
Bleargh Survey: Candies We Love
This is a late update of sorts, particularly because it's supposed to be inspired by Willy Wonka and the movie has already been showing for more than a week. I plan to make this the first in what I hope will be a regular series (provided that I don't run out of interesting topics to cover).

It has often been said that the Filipino has a notoriously sweet tooth. Of course, it's a rather ironic term to use, as sweet teeth usually end up being extracted. With this, I like to revisit ten dentally destructive devils, which - having been around for some time - have given many a tooth to the tooth anito, and have as well made multi-generational diabetes a sad way of life for many Filipino families.

Selection was largely based on nostalgic value, with the consideration that the candies should be a throwback to a less sensitive age. Please note that the bigger brands have been omitted and most of these candies, therefore, are still being made in factories with probably no ISO or public health accreditation, and definitely without waterfalls and a workforce of singing little people.

Anyway, the list:

Nuts Caramel - All I could remember about this candy was its shape until I found a bag in the supermarket, and finding it was more difficult than can be imagined because I don't even have any recollection about a name... I just knew it as the peanut-shaped candy. The bag I got didn't look too fresh, but I couldn't care about the shape it was in because finding it was a big enough achievement for me.

This peanut-sized candy tastes like peanuts and caramel (surprise!). I do wonder why the guy who came up with the name didn't think up something more imaginative, like 'Caramel Nuts.' He must be a disciple of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach, or he can very well be a practicing pharmacist and 'Nuts Caramel' is something of a generic name for this type of candy. The caramel taste is a bit more on the milky side, which should be good news to most, except those who are lactose intolerant. It reminds me of a peanut butter sandwich dunked in milk, but sweeter (or course). Nuts Caramel is a bit soft to the bite, like moist candy, and bits of peanut can be felt if chewed thoroughly (almost like a softer, milkier version of peanut brittle). This cream-colored candy is ribbon-wrapped in yellow and brown wrapper with a picture of a happy peanut, which makes for an interesting philosophical question: what does happiness mean if one is a peanut? The answer, of course, is caramel.

At P19.50 for a bag of 50, it's priced rather cheap. There are no indications at all on the bag or on the wrapper as to what they have actually used to make the candy. It was then that I realized that 'Nuts Caramel' could have very well been the ingredient list. It could also work as a nickname that someone coined in the locker room, but that's another story.

Viva Caramel and Kendi Mint - I decided to discuss these two at the same time since they essentially have the same concept as well as the same manufacturer (being Candyman). These hard candies are hollow in the middle and have been filled with a sort of pasty chocolate.

Viva Caramel is essentially hard caramel-flavored candy wrapped around soft chocolate paste. The hard caramel has more of a buttery taste, while the soft inside has more of a rough cocoa taste to it. It has to be noted that the paste leaves a coarse sensation on the tongue. As a brand, it can work very well as a slogan (just don't forget the exclamation point at the end). The name brings images of the Mexican revolution, and I apologize for bringing up a piece of history that I know very little about. Viva Caramel!

Kendi Mint, on the other hand, has a hard outer shell of good old peppermint and a soft chocolate core. It's quite a good combination, really, like a reverse-logic peppermint patty (that is chocolate covered peppermint paste). The shell is somewhat fragile (like Viva Caramel), thanks to its hollow center. Again, the filling is of a grainy consistency (it must be made of the same stuff). The name, however, is rather blunt and could have been coined by an equally blunt speller who had too much kendi and not enough iodized salt as a kid.

Both candies are ribbon-wrapped, and as far as I can remember, their wrappers have remained the same ever since - Viva Caramel uses orange with black text, while Kendi Mint uses a dominantly green wrapper with red, white and black elements (I love the Eskimo). I read through the ingredients for both and was surprised that lard was listed among them. Then again, at only P23.25 each for a bag of 50 candies, we can't really expect them to use cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. I say, Viva Lard!

Lipps - The brand name can work in a porn flick title (Spread Those Lipps) or a pornstar screen name (Lisa Lipps). It's also the name of the group responsible for 'Funkytown,' but we'll always remember it as the strawberry candy that can cause magenta mouths. It's like merthiolate for the mouth (warning: merthiolate is not for the mouth; it contains mercury, and is therefore highly poisonous).

This hard candy has always tasted artificial to me, but that is beside the point, since I used to only eat this candy to color my tongue. I'm quite sure that many people purposely ate this candy only for that same effect, which makes me wonder why they named this candy 'Lipps' instead of 'Tongues' (maybe because it easier to exotically misspell 'lips'). This misnomer has probably led to many kids attempting to color their lips with Lipps (a difficult task when considering the limitations of the mouth), and many of those who did probably only dropped their candies in the attempt and cried to their yayas. On the other hand, those who succeeded probably ended up in the porn industry.

I remember Lipps having a white/magenta ribbon wrap while the current updated version uses a pillow pack that still has familiar Lipps flowing script under 'New Improved!' Too bad about this update, I think the old ribbon wrapper made for a good improvised kazoo. The update in the look is probably consistent with the update in ingredients, because the new version doesn't stain the mouth as much (we're only left with a deep pink shade). It's probably an update that the Storck company undertook in line with the market's growing concern over some forms of artificial coloring. There are a lot more mouth-coloring candies available now anyway, and with wilder colors, so Lipps has sort of been relegated to being a legitimate candy, offering other flavors in addition to the popular strawberry. Legitimate, in this case, means magenta-free and boring. At P22.25 for a bag of 50, it's not so bad for a boring candy.

Starr - The candy formerly known as Storck. This is the candy that grownups kept wanting to give to kids. These good-intentioned adults probably wanted to come up with a friendly gesture but could only dig up Storcks from their pockets (with a pack of cigarettes that they bought from the same yosi boy). Because eucalyptus menthol isn't a very kid-oriented flavor, this resulted in many severely disappointed children who spat out the candy almost instantly. Grownups would keep finding this reaction cute and amusing, not realizing that they had already given the kids long-healing emotional scars via their tender tongues. The children would keep trying them out every time they were given Storcks, slowly conditioning their mouths, until they would one day realize that the mentholated sensation didn't bother them anymore. This didn't mean that they started liking the taste, of course; it just meant that they were finally doing an adult candy and that was good enough.

Despite the name change, Starr pretty much still tastes and looks like the old Storck. Starr is a catchier name than Storck anyhow, which a certain Ringo Storck thought as well before he changed his name and sold bajillions of records with three other chaps whose names escape me (the new name didn't sustain him through a solo career though). As with the candy's new name, the old ribbon-wrapped packaging has also been updated (like Lipps above), to the pillow pack, but still retains the familiar black-over-green look (again, with 'New Improved! written). The picture of the bald bearded doctor is still there, albeit cartoonized. It doesn't look like Ringo... is this the actual Dr. Starr? I always thought that his name was Dr. Storck or something, but I've always known that he was German (I also know that eucalyptus is a carnivorous plant created by Nazi genetic engineers for the war effort and that its dried leaves can be used as legal tender in selected German cities).

Further research revealed that the reason behind the updated wrapper was more than aesthetic, as the ink used to print the old wrapper apparently had a high lead content. Americans have banned Storck imports into the US for a time (possibly the reason for the change in the brand name), citing that the wrapper contained lead levels 80 times of that which is considered humanly safe. Filipinos then collectively ate Storck candy and said to them, "You see, in the Philippines, we do not eat the wrapper."

Starr is priced at P22.25 for a lead-free bag of 50.

Goya Chocolate Coins - These are children's party fixtures. Until now, they still figure in a fair majority of loot bags given away at parties. I think that this is the same all over the world, because chocolate coins are something of a universal human symbol (coins are symbolic of material achievement, but like most things, coins taste better when made of chocolate).

The chocolate that Goya uses is creamy, but not melt-in-your-mouth creamy, and the taste is not as rich as that of imported brands. It's basically a disc of kid-friendly chocolate sandwiched between two sheets of golden foil. Curiously, the graphic that Goya has embossed on the coin has remained consistent (a portrait of a Gene Wilder-ish Willy Wonka-ish character, I think). There are other brands of coins available, but Goya is the only brand I'm familiar with among them.

Goya Chocolate coins figure in a lot of people's fond childhood memories, such as discovering that your stash had melted in your pockets or that unforgettable moment when you first chewed aluminum foil. 25 pieces will cost P27.50, an amount that you can easily earn back by keeping the foil wrappers, which are made of gold leaf, as everyone knows.

Curly Tops - These chocolate cups should be familiar to most. They've been around since the 60s, if I am to believe my mother (she'd never lie to me, I think). The rather mod box packaging is indeed a throwback to the 60s, and one can still make out the dots on the box that are indicative of old offset printing technology. As can be seen, the box top displays a weird white whorl that looks like a stylized P, probably implying that Curly Tops have cute curlicues, like Superman's and Billy Haley's hair.

It's funny that Comfoods, under the Ricoa brand, still markets these as 'Curly Tops' in tandem with the sleeker looking 'Flat Tops,' when they are in essence the same. My mom goes on to say that Curly Tops actually had curly tops once, and that the chocolate actually went higher than the yellow paper cups, looking like soft-serve ice cream with a bit of a mushroom cap (the un-updated box art shows this more or less). My mom also says that she used to walk to school when she was a kid, but most moms say these things, making for endearing guilt-trips.

As with the packaging, Curly Tops have also pretty much tasted the same ever since, with hints of milk powder. It also has a crumbly texture and melts like grainy butter in the mouth. The chocolate sticks to the palate, the tongue, the teeth and gums, and to the walls of the mouth, making the experience something of a director's cut. It's far from being a gourmet blend, but this affordable candy is what many of us have grown to love. Serg's chocolates, popular during the 90s (thanks to an annoying song), were actually very similar to Curly Tops (and Flat Tops) in both taste and texture.

Curly Tops are available in boxes of varying quantities, with a box of 24 costing P22.90.

Orange Swits - These are orange-flavored jellies that are molded into orange slices and coated in varying amounts of white sugar. It's a common favorite among many people, and for a period of time, was prominently stapled by yosi boys onto their vending boxes (with the requisite hanging bag of Storck). It has to be noted that this particular candy is particularly sweet. It boggles the mind how a single jelly weighing a few grams could seemingly contain a plantation's worth of sugar. Each slice just detonates in the mouth, leaving any surviving taste buds shell shocked. The texture is a bit rubbery, like jellies should be, but with something of a starchy feel. Despite being meant to be chewed, I found that I could only suck on the Orange Swit, fearing that chewing will only release more sugar.

I still stand by my theory that too much confectioner's sugar can lead to exotic brand name misspellings, but in the case of Orange Swits the spelling is quite accurate. You see, I found that after eating a pack, I could only pronounce the short I when attempting the long E because my tongue had apparently contracted inside my mouth. Furthermore, the sugar isn't limited to being inside the package, as the tacky texture of the plastic packaging can attest. I was tempted to lick the sticky film to find out if it was really sugar, but decided not to, in case the film was actually some other substance that disgruntled factory workers secrete.

These candies are still sold in packs of 4 slices, and boxes are available containing either 20 or 40 packs (I bought a pack of 20 for P46.50). Recently, individually packed Orange Swits have also become available. Curiously, the box I bought contained 2 extra orange-flavored candy drops with a generic name that escapes my mind (like Orange Swits isn't generic). Not only that, the box even contained extra granules of leftover sugar (I didn't lick the box either). Doctors claim that touching the empty box can make diabetics go into systemic shock.

Peter's Butter Ball - If Peter, whoever he is, was the one who thought this candy up, then he should be given a medal then sentenced to a firing squad to secure his legend before naming a public holiday after him. Despite the fact that most of you have eaten butter in its pure form, creating a candy after a shortener defies common logic (it's like making olive oil candy). Caramels are pretty commonplace, even butter-caramels, but butter flavored candy? Butter balls are like caramels for the lactose intolerant, skipping the unnecessary ingredients and going straight for the good stuff.

Butterball is a popular brand of turkey (it's also illogical to name a candy after a turkey). The interesting thing is that this candy actually tastes nothing like turkey, but like melted butter and sugar and nothing else. The candy dissolves slowly in the mouth, like a proper ball of hardened sugar should, without much of a buttery sensation. I can't imagine actual unaltered butter being used (despite being listed in the ingredients), as that easily goes rancid. In a way, it's disturbing how they can come up with butter flavoring this accurate. Is there a chemical breakdown for butter that allows them to write away the dairy portions and just use its very essence? What other substance in the world can approximate the taste of this beloved bovine byproduct? The answer is: I don't care. It's still more socially acceptable than sucking on a stick of butter.

Peter's Butter Ball still retains the familiar canary yellow pillow pack, and the name can be made out in small black text. The bag, containing 50 candies, features an illustration of what I think is an elf, who can very well be the mysterious Peter (even if Peter is not exactly an elfin name). It is priced at P24.00, which is more or less equal to the price of a slab of margarine. People are advised that a slice of bread wrapped around a Butterball isn't recommended breakfast fare, however tempting it is, and can possibly lead to choking.

ChocNut - Like banana ketchup before it, ChocNut is essentially a cheap Filipino third-world alternative to more expensive, often imported food products (in this case, chocolates). Unlike cubic zirconia though, it can fare quite well against the thing it's supposed to be replacing. And who doesn't know ChocNut? The supermarket shelf I got this from was stacked with over twelve different brands of ChocNut ripoffs. Furthermore, this candy is recently enjoying something of a revival, inspiring, among other things, ice cream and donut flavors. It is jolog chic for the foodie crowd, a candy that crosses over classes.

This candy is crumbly but moist - not chalky - and tends to get stuck in the throat like peanut butter. It tastes mostly like ground peanuts and sugar, and it's funny that it's being marketed as 'milk chocolate.' It is definitely more 'nut' than 'choc' and is a bit on the sweet side (which still qualifies as normal by Filipino standards). The bite-sized ten-gram bars are wrapped in silver foil with the familiar striped white label. A pack of 24 costs P24.75 (approximately P1.00 per candy).

Looking closer, there is a little crown drawn over the ChocNut logo, with 'KING' written inside it in capital letters. There's also a logo with something like 'Risman' written. Curiously, the manufacturer's name doesn't have either 'King' or 'Risman' in it. These are actually hints that the brash manufacturers dropped regarding one of the ancient world's biggest conspiracies. If one were to cross reference the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Rosetta Stone, it can be found that King Risman was an actual ruler of a nomadic race of hardcore purists called Molmellesians who settled near the border of Egypt and Indonesia in 2475 BC (this was before the land masses drifted apart). Molmellesians believed in the purity of experiencing the world, and all of their things were only composed of strictly singular components. Not long after he founded his dynasty, King Risman was deposed by a wandering priest-king named Gheorge Ahck'fxn who convinced the Molmellesians that Risman was in congress with the devil and that he ate devil food (anything that contained more than one ingredient was considered evil for the purist Molmellesians). Under torture, King Risman confessed that his evil morsels contained not only two, but four scandalous ingredients, namely: chocolate, milk, sugar and peanuts. He was then promptly fed to purist lions who devoured him with neither his clothes nor condiments. ChocNut is actually pronounced 'k-hok'noot,' which is Molmellesian for 'devil food.'

There are other candies that I wanted to write about, particularly Ovalteenies/Horlicks, Bazooka Gum, Tootsie Rolls, Choco-mallows, those brandless cigarette candies sold in school canteens, plastic balloons, and a bunch of other stuff which I can do next time, I think. Then again, having already overworked my pancreas and with my tongue already feeling like a piece of cardboard, I think I'll just review some less taxing things next time, like hallucinogenics or chicken feed.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005 A.D.
Dirty Debutante
Avid invited me today to put in a cameo appearance for his independent film. The film, 'Saving Sally,' is funded entirely by his own bank account and is just the sort of thing that artist types who, having sold themselves to devils in ties for years, eventually think of doing. It's a good thing that Avid is finally doing this, I think. It's an artistic undertaking, that's for sure, and possibly a means for him to channel ideas that otherwise wouldn't have worked in his more commercial projects. Understandably, being afflicted with severe ADHD, Avid has quite a handful of ideas that need channeling. It's also probably his way of showing the world that he's not a whore, or if he is, that he is a whore who can make monsters and robots. I love monsters and robots... whores, not so much (unless they can make monsters and robots).

One cool thing I experienced while shooting my film debut was that I got to watch Kuya Bodjie do some scenes. It wasn't exactly a fanboy moment for me, but I wanted so much to break into my Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing personas (being an overachiever, I learned how to do both at an early age).

Kuya Bodjie's character in the film is a Tamiya geek (I hope I didn't reveal too much), and I got to play one of the many race spectators in one scene. Avid, the wonderboy, decided to cast me as a crafty Chinese toy geek. In this case, I had an obsession for Tamiyas, particularly with betting on them. I got to do the character from a DOM angle, because my obsession with Tamiyas apparently bordered on bodily gratification. In short, Avid had me portray myself as a caricature, and I don't know if I should be elated or insulted. It doesn't matter either way, because I still don't like him much. I do love monsters and robots though.

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Monday, August 08, 2005 A.D.
I'm Only Sleeping
I remember closing my eyes and opening them an hour later without any memory of having slept at all. It seemed as if I slipped into some temporal sludge and blinked, taking all of one hour to do so.

I immediately set off to go to sleep at once.

The curious thing about going to sleep is that the harder you try, the least likely you are to succeed. To add to that, failing at your attempts will only push you to try even harder (which of course will only make you fail more miserably).

I tried and failed miserably for one entire night.

It started with me reading a book. I usually read but a few pages before I end up losing my reading comprehension skills. This means that I have to keep reading the same paragraphs twice or thrice to make sure I actually understand them, only to find out when I wake up the next day that I can only remember reading through them and hardly recalling any meaning whatsoever from my repeated readings. Last night, I read well over one hundred pages in one pass and clearly remembered everything. I actually finished the book but realized that I was already tired of reading to even attempt starting on a new one.

Plan B was for me to count sheep. See, I haven't attempted this sort of thing since grade school and, by cruel chance, I found that I couldn't even think up sheep jumping over a fence anymore (I didn't know this sort of skill could be lost). Frustrated, I told myself that I never really liked sheep anyway. If I were to count farm animals, I'd count cows. Cows are infinitely cooler than sheep.

I decided then to just think of the single most boring thing in the world and keep a vision of it in my mind until I fall asleep from boredom. It should be as simple as possible, and I thought: nothing. Nothing as in nothingness - an emptiness, a void, an absence of everything, not something, not anything. I realized that it's not possible to think particularly about that, because I'd end up with (ironically enough) nothing, so I settled for the next best thing: limitless black space (which could have been equivalent to nothingness, had I not been mucked up by Jesuit philosophy). I then had problems envisioning the 'limitless' part, so I decided: a black square. It was good... for about three seconds, that is. Black squares, easily the most boring geometric representations thought up by people who think up boring geometric representations, are so boring that my feeble human mind wouldn't even dwell on it for longer than three seconds before moving into more exciting stuff, like concentric fuchsia circles and mauve hexagons.

It's not the first time that this sort of freak blunder has ever happened to me. I discovered that staying awake all night does not necessarily entail a sleepless state, because a fair number of brain cells do go into hibernation. It's almost like being aware of having half a consciousness and not being able to figure out which half. The funny thing about this altered state of consciousness is that, until you get some proper sleep, you'll probably be walking around like a half-aware zombie.

Having half-efficient perception, your body usually decides to compensate for this by making you more sensitive to all sorts of stimuli. It's the human brain's way of using brute force, I guess, since it lacks the means to be precise. I found out earlier that I could hear every bit of sound brought about by rush hour traffic, but I could hardly figure out the bus engine drones from the morning deejay. It was like fishing with fine mesh but not knowing how to tell fishes and octopi apart from the catch. It was a screaming spectrum, and I could only make out the decibels. Likewise, my visual perception was also messed up. For the most part, I could merely look at things, and not see them.

The brain also compensates for lack of sleep by giving you a compulsion to consume more food. The digestive system reacts differently, of course, in that it ensures you that the burst of flavors you experienced a while ago (thanks to an intense sense of taste) will be remembered for as long as you have gas, which is probably 80% of the time. The body just won't have enough digesting capabilities and the food you eat will most probably just sit in your stomach for a few hours, submerged in half-potent gastric juices... maybe even a few days. I recall breakfasting on eggs earlier this year after a one-night bout of insomnia and that I kept burping the same egg smell for the rest of the week. It gradually progressed to a balut-like smell by day five, and I'm probably remembering this inaccurately because I have never known how balut is supposed to smell. The moral of the story: eggs are bad, and bad eggs are particularly bad (which shouldn't be confused with devilled eggs, which are just plain evil). It's also not uncommon to feel an urge to throw up every so often after staying awake for more than twenty four hours (especially when burping noxious balut odors), and what I usually do to help relieve the urge is this: I think about boring geometrical representations.

Sleep deprivation, as I keep finding out, does not really result in a reduction in brain activity, but only in a reduction in the quality of brain activity. One of the first things to go, in my case, is usually the ability be grammatically correct. I sometimes cannot even complete sente

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Happy Birthday Jhed
You are. You are.

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Friday, August 05, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Pelpel
I like your name, but not as much I can like it if I were on drugs. Likewise you.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005 A.D.
Name That Planet
A tenth planet, farther than Pluto from the sun, was discovered a few days ago. A name for the new planet has been proposed, but until it's been approved by the International Astronomical Union (there is a union?), the name is being kept secret and this leaves a lot of people guessing.

My picks:
1. Cybertron
2. Bluto
3. Thundera
4. Nimoy
5. Remulak
7. Neo
8. Berger
9. Dumbledore
10. Urectum
11. Mogo
12. Krypton
13. Claire
14. Golgafrincham
15. Ron
16. Jeremy
17. Zoidberg
18. Jar Jar
19. Logan
20. Neverland
21. Ana Janina

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Happy Birthday Sheng
Having known you for some time, I have learned to treasure your many unique characteristics. I love that you have six toes on each foot, but I love it more that you have six toes on each hand. I will miss you and your twenty-four toes.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005 A.D.
Mr. T Sings About Your Mother
Mr. T is one of the biggest icons of the 80s. He's also a multimedia star long before the term was even coined, releasing, among other things, an inspirational video for kids, 'Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool.' You can check out one of his music videos here:

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Happy Birthday Pats
You were undoubtedly a bundle of joy when you came into this world. Now, you're just a bundle. A visit to the spa can help, I think.

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Monday, August 01, 2005 A.D.
Team Building and Religious Dogs
I learned today from someone who looked like Jon Lovitz that I am a visual person. That merely means that I don't like to talk to people, listen to them, or have any physical contact with them. I do like to observe people though, especially those who resemble Jon Lovitz.

I learned how to appreciate my appendages because it's disconcerting to watch someone eat seaweed salad using only toes.

I also learned, after being assessed further, that I am a C-person, characterized by precision, as opposed to being an achieving D, an extroverted I or a calm S. For those interested, this personality assessment system was formulated by American psychiatrist William Moulton Marston, the same guy credited with creating Wonder Woman. Incidentally, Wonder Woman would be more of an S-person, while Superman's personality would be more of a D, Batman's would be C, while Aquaman, as most fanboys have suspected, just doesn't have a personality to begin with.

I also learned that bowling is a game involving a heavy ball and ten clubs, with the object of the game being to knock the clubs down with the heavy ball by forcing the ball down an oiled stretch of wood paneling. After hurling the heavy ball several times, I realized that I didn't love my arms as much, because the repeated action pretty much left my left arm feeling like a gummi worm. I found out too that I wasn't a visually precise person after all, noting that I didn't have much coordination between my eyes and my arm. I do have very good hand-pancreas coordination, however, but until they come up with a game that requires that kind of dexterity, I won't be able to prove anything.

I only get to bowl every seven years or so, which is incidentally the average lifespan of dogs. This only corroborates my theory that I was a practicing dog Buddhist in my previous lifetimes, where bowling was not merely a game, but a ritual for sending beloved dogs into the canine afterlife (or canine resurrection, hence the recurring seven years). Buddhist dogs believe Nirvana to be a state of perfection, marked by successfully knocking down ten worldly obstacles at the end of an oiled stretch of wood paneling (the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel). It's also a state of smelling one's teen spirit, which in canine lingo, simply means sniffing one's own genitals during puberty. Sharply deviating from one's intended path can lead to canine hell, which I find weird considering that Buddhists do not have a concept of hell (it must be a dog thing). Being 'down in the gutters,' therefore, is a religious euphemism that religious dogs have been known to use, as only the Dalai Lassie is entitled to use the actual term. It is a little known fact that bowling actually originated from this ritual, back when humans in the general region of Tibet still haven't evolved out of understanding dog speech patterns. Bowling balls have since then been made out of ground dog bones out of respect to man's best friend and organized religion, with holes punched to resemble dog paw prints in prayer.

I sent more than twenty dogs to hell today and a single lucky soul to a state of Nirvana (and I have the sore body regions to prove it). My head feels about as heavy as a ball made of ground dog bones that's been used all afternoon to knock down worldly clubs at the end of an oiled stretch of wood paneling. A good day, all in all.

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Happy Birthday Crissie
I won't be able to greet you personally today because I have a lot of more important things to do, like looking at the sky and wondering why it is blue when orange can make it look so much better. Orange is the new pink.

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