Monday, October 31, 2005 A.D.
Canto-boy Diaries
With the holiday traffic, the airport was only an hour away. We had a three hour allowance before departure until we learned that, thanks to technical glitches, the plane left London late and that we were now looking at a five hour wait. It looked as if we could finally use the waiting lounge for what it was designed for: waiting. Waiting meant, in this case, sitting uncomfortably to pass the time and staring zombie-like at wherever one's unsupported neck led one's eyes to. As the mood saw fit, I merely observed other people and thought about the one thing that people shouldn't think about on or before a flight (but always do anyway) - I thought about plane crashes. In particular, I thought about Alive. A local two rows in front of me had dozed off in a rather awkward position, neck bent at an acute angle. He had the fashion sense of a Japanese metrosexual who was trying to look blonde and Western. Several seats away sat a Caucasian male with a graying ponytail and a muscle shirt. I hated him that very instant because he reminded me of Super Macho Man. I never could defeat him at Punch Out and he never failed to taunt me with his pixelated man-boobs. If we were to crash in the Andes, I realized that I was going to either eat bad sushi or super macho beef.

The airline must have felt guilty for the delay because they started serving refreshments before noon. There was no bad sushi or super macho beef for me, however, but an airport ham and cheese sandwich (school cafeteria standard sans mayonnaise). I was thankful for this because I wouldn't have paid for that overpriced sandwich in any currency.

I watched the multilingual airplane safety demonstration video after takeoff, which demonstrated exactly how passengers would not act in an emergency. The in-flight entertainment had back-to-back Simpsons episodes, and I watched those while the cabin crew served me my second ham and cheese sandwich for the day (coffee shop standard with warm crusty bread) and a plate of fruit. I thought back to the days when airlines served actual airplane food, with soggy vegetables, an aluminum cover, and more cups on your tray than you would actually need.

Clearing immigration, we were met by our travel agent who told us that we missed our hotel transfer due to the delay. Instead, he booked us a free limo service to the hotel (something good from the delay, finally). I sat shotgun and pondered the miracles of German engineering, specifically how the sedan appeared larger from the inside. I also saw my life flashing several times before I had to consciously remind myself that I was riding a right-hand-drive vehicle (and therefore not going against traffic) and that I didn't need a steering wheel because I wasn't in reality driving the thing.

We reached our hotel in less than an hour, to be served by a doorman wearing a top hat (a sight that could be appreciated further with sleep deprivation). The funny thing about the hotel was that the lobby wasn't situated on the ground level. The ground level was practically empty save for an elevator lobby and a giant sculpture resembling a Lego Man. The lobby itself was on the fourth level (designated the 'lobby level') which was connected to the mall next door and thus making the ground level redundant.

Langham Place hotel in Mong Kok was only about a year into its operations and everything was fairly new, including the room furnishings, which included a wall-mounted flatscreen and a region-free multi-system DVD player. The audio-visual experience actually extended into the bathroom. A volume control knob was placed above the toilet bowl, right next to a phone extension. While there wasn't anything new with these, the hotel saw to it that you could actually watch the wall-mounted TV wherever you were inside the bathroom, having walls that were lined with mirrors except the one wall dividing the bedroom from the bathroom, which was made of glass. Of course, having a glass wall meant that you could very well be putting on a show from the bathroom, but thanks to a well-meaning vinyl curtain, your roommate could be spared the sorry spectacle of you going through your big brother bathroom rituals with your exposed little brother. The mirrored arrangement posed one problem though, and that had to do with reading reversed subtitles.

Being Halloween, the shopping complex hired several guys to dress up, including the Filipino house band. With this, I basically met a bunch of Cantonese people doing cosplay and four Draculas singing Hotel California with a telltale accent. I listened to their standard videoke repertoire as I went up the express escalator to check out a curious shopping section called 'The Spiral.' I eventually found out why it was called so... it was configured in such a way that if one were to keep strolling counter-clockwise through the complex, one would eventually end up at the top floor. It was quite ingenious, really, except that it was also tiring because the express escalators were designed to skip several floors. I was more than halfway up The Spiral before I realized that I had to go all the way to the top just to get back to the lobby level.

I wouldn't normally complain about taking the stairs, but I had already done the initial rounds of my usual haunts in Mong Kok before The Spiral and my shoes were starting to disagree with me. The first day rounds yielded a used Faith No More Live at Brixton Academy CD for PhP250, a widescreen DVD of The Who: The Kids are Alright for PhP350, as good as new (a personal holy grail at a third of what I expected to pay), and lastly, a sealed German issue AC/DC Family Jewels DVD for PhP700 which I would later discover to be PAL (idiot). At any rate, having already gotten a couple of DVDs, I figured that I would be able to watch something without subtitles for the night... from the comfort of the bathroom if needed. It's starting to look like an enjoyable trip.

[the rest of the trip included wife cakes, a Little Sheep that almost caused a bloody stool (thanks Claire), Curry in a Hurry, a couple of engrish shirts, an ex-boss who champions facial hair, a flirtong scholar (sic), synchronicity, a muscled suspect being hauled screaming into a police van, mochi ice cream, a previously mentioned Filipino house band, and various other stuff that you would doubtless find either so disappointing or so boring that I decided to just write about them on a single lumpia wrapper before I ate it on the flight back with a tuna sandwich]

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Meo
I'm wording this out carefully because I don't want to give you the impression that we're friends.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Anna
Your name read backwards is still your name, unlike mine. I don't like you for that. I also don't like Bob. Or Ana.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005 A.D.
Why I Love Cueshe
I don't. Their name alone sounds like an unwanted growth of skin (please cauterize my genital cueshe). Their songwriting, on the other hand, can be appreciated on a different level, with the level in particular being a mental age of three and a half. I do like their lyrics though... I like them as much as I like pissing broken glass. They 'write' melodies like Dr. Frankenstein does patchwork anatomy and their songs easily qualify as sonic sodomy. Incidentally, they deserve to be violated with a rolled-up sheet of 60 grit sandpaper, but - you know - musically. They did, after all, musically violate a good number of artists and it would only therefore qualify as a form of musical justice. Congratulations for becoming the best loved band to hate in the world.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 A.D.
Strange Fruit
I'm a morning person as much as I look like Jenna Jameson, but if there's one thing that could make me appreciate waking up early, it's a proper breakfast, and by 'proper' I mean heavy and greasy like standard diner fare.

Noting the different fastfood joints near the hospital where my dad was held for observation overnight, I decided on a Burger King despite it being the farthest for the simple reason that I hardly ever go to BK anymore.

While in line, I observed a normal-looking person, and the fact that I just used 'normal-looking' to describe him means that he was not at all normal, at least from my grumpy morning person perspective. He wasn't shabbily dressed but he did wear slippers, which he kept kicking around the place in the same jerky manner that characterized his movements. To top everything off, he kept mewing like a cat. He went about his routine for several minutes until he cut into the line I was on, wedging himself between the two guys in front who were at that moment paying for their food at the counter. He stayed there for a couple of minutes doing his feline impressions while earning stares from the other customers. His pussy routine didn't last long, however, because the security guard finally went over to him and dragged him outside by the collar. Like a cat, ironically.

With that over with, I got myself one of them fancy breakfast combos and just when I took a seat, I was approached by a smiling person who was palming a laminated card. I recognized him at once as a disciple of the popular Dried Mango Charities and turned him down at once without giving him a chance to utter anything beyond his 'Good Morning Sir.' He was left with no choice but to go back his seat and wait for his next victim. Morning grumpiness does come in handy sometimes.

It wasn't, of course, the first time for me to come across the Dried Mango Charities and their questionable solicitation practices. I've had my share of encounters, especially outside restaurants at night and gas stations, where they love to lurk. The DMC members usually hang around the said places patiently and discreetly, avoiding the watchful gaze of security guards to strike precisely when nobody expects them to, brandishing an 'official' letter of solicitation (a laminated card in my case this morning) and a pack of dried mangoes that is priced double or more the actual market value. It's not such a bad deal because you could send a kid to school or build a church this way and eat preserved tropical fruit at the same time, like going to heaven with dessert.

These dubious solicitations have evolved through the years, with kakanin, Zesto and even prayer cards being past favorites. I recall first receiving solicitations in a manner similar to this during the late 90s at - surprise - a fastfood joint (a Wendy's, specifically). Back then, the solicitor wasn't as discreet as she went from table to table with a letter from an orphanage. My second encounter was again in a Wendy's branch, with the brazen bastard silently sitting across my seat (on a table seating only two, no less), laying down his 'official' letter on the table while I was midway through my lunch. He said nothing, not wanting to attract attention to himself lest he gets dragged out like a cat. Peeved but not wanting to pay him any undeserved attention, I merely put on a scowl that Charles Manson would have been proud of and gave him the satisfaction of watching me finish the rest of my lunch before leaving. He flinched not even once until I stood up to leave, at which point he merely transferred to another table to do the same thing to some other poor soul. I can't remember all the instances after that in which I was offered dried mangoes or some other overpriced product with the supposed premise of a charity contribution, although I remember that I kept turning them down appropriately.

If they are legitimate, then you can start calling me Jenna. You have to admire these people for their tenacity though. Their modus operandi requires for them to sit quietly in fastfood joints, stalk gas stations or wait outside late night restaurants for hours with veritably no promise of a sale. Tenacity or no tenacity, I do wonder how they come up with their uniform tactics, specifically why they all have to lug the same products at the same time. Are these guys working for the mob? If so, when did the mob get controlling shares in dried mango production?

There are, I think, many other creative ways to do this thing, and dried mangoes are so 2003. We'll just have to wait and see what conspiracy these enterprising ingenious individuals will think of next, although they should take a hint from the fastfood joints they frequent... they should think of the all-powerful solicitation combo meal (with upgrade preferences): kakanin, Zesto (upsize?) and dried mangoes for 199 pesos, with a prayer card and an anatomically accurate gummi representation of the Pope to boot (let it be known that I thought of this last bit first). It's simply an offer you can't refuse unless you invoke the revered tactic of kicking slippers and mewing randomly. This will attract attention to both you and the DMC disciple, and God willing, this will see both of you dragged out by the collars.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005 A.D.
Try the Last Place You'd Look
It started when I had the idea this morning. From out of nowhere, I decided to look for my seven year old Zoom 506 bass effects box... not that I wanted to use it, of course, because that would mean that I already had an amplifier for that purpose (I didn't). I just thought of it for some unexplainable reason and decided then and there to look for it. This little endeavor proved difficult for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I haven't used it at all since the president was wearing a pompadour (and a mustache, don't forget). Secondly, it was located somewhere inside my room.

My room is something of a sentient entity, obeying its own laws and occasionally disobeying universal ones. One of the existing laws is that whatever gets brought in has a close to nil possibility of ever making it out to the world outside. Being something of a packrat, the nine years or so that I've occupied the room directly translates to nine years of accumulated stuff - magazines, books, comics, toys, blisters, clothes, cds, dvds, tapes, unidentifiable electronic components, accessories, souvenirs, boxes, empty bottles, and other miscellany. This brings us to another existing law, or rather, an anti-law. My room has its own law of gravity. The varied stacks are all held up by forces unknown, possibly exerted by dust bunnies hiding in the many dark regions of my little asylum. Though they may appear to have been piled randomly, these stacks actually follow a complicated filing system comprehensible only to my frontal lobe (through frequent communication with the dust bunnies, I presume). Everything is in its place and, to my knowing eyes, in order.

I remember having my wonderful college English teacher, the late and beloved Doreen G. Fernandez, tell our class how she had a library of a few thousand books that she arranged alphabetically by the authors' last names. She went on a vacation one time and came back to find that her library had become rearranged by size, thanks to an overly eager housekeeper. From what I heard, she eventually ended up donating her entire collection to the Ateneo library.

You have to consider then the complications that an overly eager housekeeper on her first week on the job would wreak on my still sanctuary, and then reassess the damages done by the fact that we have had two housekeeper replacements in the previous month alone. We're essentially looking at Where's Waldo here, except Waldo just happens to be a small dark gray box no bigger than a standard King James edition. No, I'm not about to donate all my stuff to anyone.

The search lasted for about an hour before I finally threw in the towel (more appropriately, I actually got a towel to wipe myself dry). I rediscovered a bunch of stuff from college and found some things that had no business being in my room. Of note were a box of cocoa mix from four Christmases ago (which still tastes like chocolate) and undisturbed bags containing Christmas gifts from particular years (an excellent reminder to get me cash instead). A good number of missing books turned up as well, including several which I haven't even opened since I bought them. I opened bags that contained bags and boxes that contained boxes. I would have been happy had I turned out money from many years ago that I had hidden and had completely forgotten about, but I would have been happiest had I actually found that little effects box. I dreaded that over time, it had somehow gotten transferred to the study room, which, far from being used for studying, was actually an annex to everybody's rooms (it's a refugee camp, a halfway house, and the afterlife combined). No way was I going to extend my operations to that room.

I recall lending the gizmo to someone just last year, also noting that he did return it to me. Already drenched and slightly showing allergic symptoms, I texted him, a rationalizing action more than a last resort. He responded in a couple of minutes and told me that he did return it to me, and not only that, I actually placed the effects box in the gig bag for my other guitar, along with my cables. I knew that of course, I just didn't remember. I didn't even bother checking to make sure because I'm that confident.

Having wasted an hour of my life, I decided to tell the world about my search, hoping that in doing so, I have also wasted several minutes of your sorry lives to make up for the sixty or so I have lost. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, October 03, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Gena
I think about you three times a day, incidentally also the number of times I visit the toilet for bowel reasons. I have a very loose personality.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005 A.D.
Toasty in Tagaytay
Having nothing interesting by my standards to write about and hoping to finally post a personal update, I will try to transcribe as best as I can my customary best man's toast to Dodge and Anna's wedding. For sure, it won't be written word for word, and although I won't be editing anything, I might remember things differently (spastic memory and bad nerves).

I already transferred most of my hand-written (i.e. written on my palm) notes onto paper and I think that, for the most part, they were still comprehensible. It proved to be no small feat, though, as the shorthand that I wrote it in didn't qualify as shorthand so much as squigglehand. After seven or so washings, the squigglehand outline was also already starting to look like something written in a dead dialect (this despite my best efforts to avoid visiting the men's room repeatedly).

It was hardly an impromptu speech, as I have been warned about this the moment I conceded to Dodge several months ago. I was, however, coming up with stuff to say until the last moment, not because I wanted to keep things updated to the very minute but because I kept changing my mind. I was unsure about all the ideas I had because while I had no problem with speeches, I had a big problem with public speaking. It did turn out ok though, thankfully. The nerves would have gotten me though had it not been for Crish and Jinno, the two shameless but able-bodied hosts and Noee, the designated wedding singer (whose song is the greatest gift of all).

Anyway, more than being a personal update, this entry celebrates Dodge and Anna's wedding. I'd say something here, but I'm hoping the following would be more appropriate.

Thanks, Jinno, for the introduction. I'd like to take this moment to introduce Jinno because he's been taking care of introductions all this evening and I think it's only fair for me to introduce him properly. Jinno's a pro. You can ask him about his going rate later. You can book his services and he's willing to do most functions [even those of the bodily kind]. He's a pro.

Anyway, good evening everyone. My name is Ronan and apparently, I'm the best man for this occasion. As best man, I'm tasked with two basic things and Dodge (as well as his dad) was pretty strict regarding the first one. He told me that as the best man, I'm supposed to try my best to look less interesting than the groom at all times. I am trying my best, but I'm really sorry because I think I'm failing miserably. Anna, on the other hand, was pretty straightforward about my second task. She told me that I'm supposed to come up with something to say in front of all you and finish what she called a 'toast.' It's something that I have been doing for the past minute or so, and I'm hoping that you guys have been noticing because I'm afraid that I'm also failing at this miserably.

I'm not really familiar with toasting, and for all I know, a toast is just a speech where I get to hold a glass for its entire duration. Here's what I'll do though... I'll start with the really basic stuff: congratulations, good luck, more power, thanks for guesting me, etc. From there, I can go into a more personal angle and tell you guys just how I personally know Dodge and Anna, when and how I met them, etc. If time will allow for it, I will even get into the embarrassing stories and make the couple sorry for even choosing me as best man.

Anyway, congratulations Dodge and Anna. You've finally taken the next step in your relationship and formalized your union. As husband and wife, you're now recognized by God through His Church and also recognized by city hall, for what it's worth. You might be required to pay more taxes or less, I'm not sure, but congratulations nevertheless.

I like to thank you both for actually inviting me to this affair. Not only for making me a witness, but for letting me be involved by playing a part in this momentous occasion. I haven't really ever experienced being a best man in my life. Generally speaking, I haven't really ever experienced being the best at anything in my life. It's sad, really. Now however, I can actually say that in this entire room, I am THE best man. I have until the evening ends to relish the thought, so I'll say it once more: I am THE best man in this room.

I first met Dodge and Anna when I joined Headstrong more than two years ago. Actually, I have already left the company about a month ago, but I just want to give you guys a basic idea about my relationship with Dodge and Anna. With Dodge, I'm afraid it's rather complicated: he's my boy. Whenever I got the psychotic urge to get out of the office, it's usually Dodge who I went to. We'd go to Glorietta to check out the new toys. Weekly we'd go to our comic store to buy comics. Sometimes, we'd even go as far as Greenhills for toys and comics and shawarma. I realize that I shouldn't have just told you that because I can see my two bosses over there putting on their angry faces. I'm sorry, good sirs, but I'm not anymore answerable to the two of you and I already received my last paycheck. You can deal with Dodge next week, however, but please be nice to him. He did after all invite you to his wedding. With Anna, it's less complex. Given the unique hierarchy in the office when I left, I was actually working directly under her. In short, she was my boss. You'd have to appreciate the situation that I was in, conflict of interest and all that. It felt, for most of the time, like having Dodge whispering in my ear and Anna doing the same to my other ear. Dodge, my proverbial partner-in-crime, would go, "Greenhills... comics... toys..." while my boss Anna would be like, "Renen please don't be late for the meeting tomorrow. We have a new project starting." Figuratively speaking, it felt like having an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders. And what can I say, Anna's a heavenly creature. She's divine. She's an angel. Dodge, on the other hand... he's... eh... also an angel. You'll just have to look real hard, past the horns... and the tail... and the hooves... and leather wings... he's an angel.

I'm not really driving at anything here. I just want to point out that at first glance, especially to those who do not know them personally, Dodge and Anna may seem like a very unlikely couple. Some people might term it 'accidental,' while some will call it magical. Regardless, they do make an excellent and lovely couple. They're a beautiful couple, and hopefully this beautiful couple will have beautiful children, raise a beautiful family and have a beautiful life. Soon, we will be seeing little Dodges and little Annas and not so little Dodges and Annas... God willing, more little Annas (you know, angels).

I'm afraid that I've already used up most of my time, so please forgive me if I do not go into the embarrassing details anymore. After all, I think I've already embarrassed myself enough.

Let's just do this. Everyone, please raise your glasses, cups, goblets, catheters or whatever it is you drink out of. I'd like to come up with something as inspired and as inspiring as Fr. Jerry's homily but I just don't have enough pockets on my person. I also couldn't find a pair of oyster shells on such short notice, and I think tahong shells just wouldn't be as effective. They also wouldn't be as appropriate, so I'll just keep it short, simple and hopefully, sweet. Congratulations again, Dodge and Anna. May your lives be blessed, and more importantly, now that you're a married couple, may your life be blessed.

[Here's where I forget to say cheers, but you guys know the drill better than I do.]

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