Saturday, April 29, 2006 A.D.
Historical Figure
It's true - and I should be embarrassed to admit it - the only place I get to see outside of home and work these days is the gym (I call it that but it makes me feel more dignified to call it a 'health club' when I think of the monthly membership fees).

I should feel sorry for myself but the gym isn't so bad, really... there's the occasional celebrity sighting, the occasional girl to observe through one's trusty peripheral vision (albeit sometimes deceitful), the occasional males who have the dubious ability to gracefully prance about like spring lambs during group exercise... and don't even get me started on the locker room (there's a lot of material there for a another update). I like to observe people and I just say that because I'm socially inept - looking at people is just something I've grown to like because it's really all I can do sometimes.

There weren't any celebrities at the gym - ehh health club - this morning, nor were there any interesting members of the fair sex, and thankfully, no expertly trained male belly dancers (fairy sex?). There was this one person who caught my undue attention though, and he was very manly, mainly because he sported very manly facial hair. It wasn't merely a 70s porn 'stache because I think it almost qualified as a handlebar, with curled tips and everything. His hair was thinning, not unusual for someone who's easily past the mid-thirties, and he wore circular wire-rimmed glasses. Watching him do his shoulder presses, I started hearing the national anthem inside my head - God bless the Philippine islands... I was looking at a national hero.

It made me painfully insecure to look at his macho 'stache. The few attempts I tried growing a mustache, you see, only resulted in spotty growths of uneven bristles that made it almost seem that I had a rare skin disease on my snout (even worse, it made it appear that I had a snout). I found out that the longest I could go without shaving was three days... not shaving beyond that was already risking a trip to the leprosarium.

Moustaches do make men look more manly (women too, I discovered). However, it also make them look funny (women too, I discovered). One is often tempted to laugh at mustachioed men except one rarely dares doing so in fear of the mustache's manly emanations. I found myself in that situation earlier - to laugh or not to laugh. I thought about it very hard and noted that: 1.) he was lifting heavier dumbbells than those I usually did, 2.) he was gritting his teeth and was sporting a visible vein in his forehead from overly concentrating on his reps, and 3.) God bless the Philippine islands, he really looked like a national hero. Laughing at him would have amounted to high treason and could have seen me deported to a Chinese port.

That encounter made me feel proud to be a Filipino citizen, albeit one from the lower Chinese classes. It made me think of how far we have gotten as a people, and it also made me think that under their overcoats, our forefathers must really have well developed deltoids. Truly, not only was it enough for them travel the world and be educated in letters, arts, and sciences, they also had to culturally engage themselves in the fine art of bodybuilding, all to instill pride in our people and to help rid us of unwelcome Spanish involvements (I hear they're evil).

I was tempted to introduce myself to the guy because he probably saw me observing him after all that time, except I didn't know what to say. He was probably just a stage actor who takes part in historical reenactments or a model who poses for Bangko Sentral bank notes. He was also probably used to getting stared at, because who wouldn't, after all, get consistently stared at when wearing a handlebar moustache in this age (Freddie Mercury doesn't count because: 1.) he's a rock star, and 2.) he's dead). I left the area after my workout and hit the showers, thankful for the encounter. It was just like a field trip to Fort Santiago only with dreadful techno music and a juice bar. History is really everywhere. Like they say, the Filipino is worth developing firm pectorals for.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006 A.D.
Nasty Coinage
It is a sad fact of life that some regrettable occurrences can appear funny to people, only that it has to happen to some other poor character and not to oneself (on the top of my head, I can think of animal attacks, genital mutilation, and inelastic collisions that involve at least one living creature). It is with this knowledge that I will attempt to narrate exactly what happened to me this morning. Those who hate me can take joy in this account, although be forewarned that it doesn't involve my physical person (it's nothing as drastic as an animal attack, genital mutilation or an inelastic collision that I partook in, unfortunately for you). I hope you all find this funny, because I don't.

I volunteered to drive my family to church this morning using my car since it was readily blocking the driveway (since using the usual family van would require me to rearrange the vehicles, a task that I was too lazy to do, honestly). The church was about fifteen minutes away, and arriving there earlier than usual, we had the privilege of choosing a good parking space. Given the unforgiving heat, we eventually settled for a space with ample shade, right next to the entrance of the church multi-purpose hall. One of the purposes that the multi-purpose hall serves is that of becoming a free weekend clinic, apparently, as I found out earlier. The moment that I shut down the engine, a little boy with blond highlights who was not older than four ran up to the front bumper and found something to do that somewhat qualified as playing (something like walking his fingers along the bumper lines, I think). He was obviously enjoying himself and his mother was also amused at whatever he was doing.

I didn't pay any attention to any of that. He was a harmless little kid who wasn't older than four anyway, never mind that he had blond highlights (pray tell, why would a parent want to apply blond highlights to a toddler in the first place?). Anyhow, the kid's mother was beside him and the church guard was seated not five feet away - what could possibly go wrong with that? Just to keep things safe though, I hid my car's resident superheroes (an 18" Spider-man and a Hulk squeeze toy) under the car seat, the better to keep those pesky children away from my windows.

I only discovered the tragic consequences of being a good Catholic who went to church on Sundays when I got home. I should have been tipped off an hour earlier when I went out the church to take a trip to the garbage can and a group of kids, more or less as old as the blond imp who took a fixation with my bumper, approached me to ask for money (something they weren't allowed to do there). These were streetchildren, I realized, and they all have pockets jingling with their weekend stash. They were there for the free clinic, I suppose, but it would have been a waste of opportunity for them not to put their time to more productive use while they were waiting for their numbers to be called, so they begged. The clueless guard still sat where he was sitting since I parked the car, not knowing that these brats were already begging for change under his nose.

Here's the picture: on one side we had a streetkid armed with an active but undereducated imagination and coins that served as round metallic implements, while on the other side, we had my car with its front end that had a virginal titanium paint finish. I could tell you what happened but I'm still too flabbergasted by the aftermath of my chuch-going naivete. I just had to remind myself that there are worse things than a car hood repeatedly scratched from end to end (such as animal attacks, genital mutilation, or inelastic collisions involving at least one living creature), and besides, I should be thankful that the little blond imp was illiterate, otherwise I would have found an unwitting name for my car (like Boy Blondie QC).

I instantly thought about insurance, or specifically how to write this off as an accident, except no idiot would possibly buy whatever story I come up with ("Cats with metal claws fornicated on my hood..."). With a dim insurance case, I just thought of revenge except that the clinic had closed before we left church, so it was of no use to go back. I just entertained pleasurable revenge thoughts in my depraved mind. I figured that the blond imp's mom and the church guard were as much at fault as the imp was for their indifference, but nothing could possibly satisfy my desire for revenge than to physically assault that four-year old mite. I would have gladly made a tabloid situation by mapping out the physical trajectory of a blond body at rest that was made to collide with a foot in motion.

Then I thought - one shouldn't do that in church premises. One should reach inside for the heart and not outside for the flesh. The best thing to do, I thought, would be to talk to him like a knowledgeable person and explain the situation to him. To cap the conversation, I would take the boy to the dirty ice cream vendor, ask him his favorite flavor and buy a cone of ice cream... then I would stick the whole thing into his eye and smear ice cream from his eye onto his blond hair. He would be too surprised to cry at that moment just yet, making it the perfect opportunity for me to hold his mouth open while I push the empty cone down his gullet. Making sure that his eyes are wide open from shock, I would then look at him straight and tell him that he won't ever forget me in his entire lifetime (emotional scars are the best). With further luck, he'd probably develop a lifelong phobia for ice cream and be forced to hide under the bed whenever he hears an ice cream bell. It's too harsh, I know, but it's a fantasy I'm nurturing at the moment. I sometimes still get murderous urges when I see artificially blond children, but they're a rarity even in the metro, thankfully.

So I'm back to thinking about an insurance scam, but this doesn't mean that I didn't learn my lesson from this (it's not 'Don't go to church on Sundays,' just so you know). I learned that to avoid receiving that kind of 'harmless' car defacement I would just have to encourage it by tying a whiteboard marker to my front grill - at least then it would save me paint-over fees and the price of an ice cream cone.

God bless the little children.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006 A.D.
Project Lazarus
I didn't check into a house with 24-hour surveillance for the first quarter of this year, but I do have reasons for (seemingly) disappearing. The dark ages will get represented though (if not documented), but I'll need a bit of time to flesh them out as all I currently have are dates with outlines/notes from the past three months. Those months were nothing special, and it's almost a shame to admit that they were - blissfully or badly - boring at times. It's strange though how I hate to admit that they have been the most eventful ones in my recent memory.

Please check back soon for retro updates. Hopefully, up-to-date updates will soon actually follow.

Thanks for visiting.

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