Sunday, November 30, 2003

I just arrived from a very cool mini (and extremely awesome Christian) concert in Bagaberde Bar in Pasig with my friend Az. The concert was a fund raiser for a churchmate Gina Gonzales who's sick with a faulty valve in her heart. The operation had already performed for a measly sum of P400,000.00 (the operation originally cost P2 million some years before and it was really a miracle the way the price was brought way, way down to that amount). Victory Christian Fellowship already donated half the amount needed to facilitate the badly needed operation and this fund raising concert is meant to raise up the other half. My dad originally bought the ticket from my cousin last week and I was hesitant to use it at first. At the time I wasn't in the mood to watch any live performance. But I thought what the hey and asked Az to go with me. Given his busy schedule it was a good thing I asked almost a week ahead for him to answer in the positive.

We met up in Starbucks in Shangri-la mall and we ate dinner first to catch up on the things that's been happening. Then we proceeded right to the place a little before the scheduled start of the show. Unfortunately there were not much people when we got there. Raymond, my churchmate and the husband of the sick woman was manning the gate but since I didn't know what to say I just bought another ticket for Az. Then we checked out the place, it's cozy and has a nice ambience. The cityscape view from the veranda is something to behold too. Show started around 8:45 p.m. with a couple of fine amateur comediennes who explained and updated us with the situation and the present condition of Raymond's wife.

Gen Sound and Burning Bush

They introduced the first band to come onstage, an accoustic duo called Gen Sound. They played a set of original compositions that reminded me a lot of the songs by local alternative band Sugar Hiccups. Things started picking up when the band Burning Bush came onstage. Raymond fronts this band with an alternate female vocalist covering songs by No Doubt and Creed.

Pigs With Pearls and Moonstar88

Up next was one of my favorite local alternative band Pigs With Pearls. They only released one album some five years ago and had laid low after the release. They played some fave songs of mine and conveniently flashing the lyrics on the screen behind them. Then came Az's favorite Moonstar 88, who's enjoying a string of best selling albums in the pop market. Btw, this is just the second time they performed for a cause for free (Bagaberde offered the venue for free for the 2nd time too). They sang most of their old hits and one new song titled "Laugh and Cry."

Wiseguys and U Turn

The group Wiseguys was the biggest surprise for me. I've been hearing their group being promoted over and over the radio and TV so they're well known. But there were two things I didn't know about them at all: first that they're Christians, and second, they were better than good! They're one of the best acapella groups I've heard so far! Well they didn't completely sing in acapella since they were accompanied by some low-key instrumentations. They sung R&B favorites and some classic ballads. Then last but not the least group to perform for the evening was the group U Turn. Composed of two guitarists (one sings too) and former Vanna Vanna singer Teri. They sang re-arranged favorites like TLC's Waterfall and James Ingram's How Do You Keep The Music Playing?

All throughout the evening and in between sets the hostesses kept thanking everyone who came and supported the cause for raising up payment for hospital expenses. They also called for further support through either continued prayers for the Gonzales family or, if so moved, any additional amount that we can spare. Since I was so moved by everything I've seen and heard I did hand over additional financial support to Raymond after the show. Then Az and I walked to the jeepney stop on our way home. I have no idea if he enjoyed the concert as much as me but it doesn't matter, that concert went way beyond everything I've expected. Oh yeah, good thing I didn't pass this opportunity up.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

(Back row, l-r) Lee "El Thommo" Thompson (sax), Carl "Chas Smash" Smyth (vocals), Graham "Suggs" McPherson (lead vocals), and Mike "Monsieur Barso" Barson (piano/keyboards).
(Front row, l-r) Mark "Bedders" Bedford (bass guitar), Daniel "Woody" Woodgate (drums), and Chris "Chrissy Boy" Foreman (lead guitar)

AWRIGHT!!! I FINALLY GOT MADNESS' THE LOT the enhanced compilation CD I ordered today! Six digitally remastered albums with 24 videos of awesomeness! I've already watched about a third of the videos and I still can't get over all of it. They are the coolest band ever, and if you get to hear their songs and watch their videos you wouldn't be surprised to read the fact that at their peak they were England's "best loved group since The Beatles." Sleeve notes as follows:
Madness were the outstanding British pop act of the Eighties and, at their peak, the country's best loved group since The Beatles. But, while many fans remember them for a string of great singles and the ensuing hits compilations, fewer people identify Madness as a great albums band.

But many of the Madness songs -- Bed & Breakfast man, Disappear, Promises Promises, Primrose Hill, Prospects and Time -- were album tracks rather than singles. The band's six studio albums give the best insights into the musical and lyrical character of a group who rose on the back of 1979's ska revival - launched by the 2-Tone label -- but broadened their sound to embrace Motown, sixties pop, vaudeville and classic English humour.

These six albums tell the story of seven young musicians who grew up in public. The discs also wryly catalogue some of the changes which took place in Britain during the Eighties. As Carl Smyth says: "the madness in the band was portrayed as nuttiness, but there was a darker side to it too."

Madness - the 'Nutty Boys' at the start -- grew tired of wearing red noses and took themselves more seriously as they got older. The wacky, playful songs of their first two albums were gradually superseded by a more melancholy worldview. As they developed, however, Madness made some of the most poignant music of their generation:

They're the ska band best known for their single Our House during the 80s. They're hilarious in most of their videos and they're credited for being the first band ever to make 'narrative videos' in MTV history. To those who aren't in the know, they're like the 80s version of Parokya ni Edgar. While the latter is fun, the former was an epitome for the word 'funny' with a clean image. The image that Madness had is the same image that I wanted to project even after all these years. From the baggy pants partly inspired by one of their songs, the sunglasses (both the present one and the oval one-way-mirror type I had back then), almost flat-top haircut, the jovial attitude, and even my comic characters. Another reason I like them a lot is that they remind me a lot of the ideal barkada that I wished I had back in high school. A lot of my favorite groups either started out as friends or became fast friends along the way. That's the underlying issue why I like them so much.

Friday, November 28, 2003

I never knew badminton can be this fun. Or watching it actually. It was an unplanned outing really, originally Jorge invited me to have lunch with them in their office last night but I arrived there around 3 p.m. Jorge wasn't in the office and neither was his brother, Joel. Though the eldest, Joseph was there watching a Charlie Sheen comedy on TV. Then he went to the kitchen and urged me to eat, upon inspecting their fride he was aghast to discover more food than they could eat sitting there. He raised a ruckus against their helper (and second cousin) Roddy for hoarding it. He told him he was eating again and commanded him to fry and turn the remaining rice into garlic rice. After a few minutes we had a variety of viands served on the reception table. I had coffee after finishing all that food and since the door to their veranda was open I spent some their watching the world go by as the sun set. Joel arrived by this time and I asked him if he was still joining our December reunion. He laughed, embarrassed that he couldn't possibly do so without feeling out of place. A former high school batchmate and business associate of Joseph's came and discussed some project proposals with them. Still no sign of Jorge. Past 6 p.m. he sent a text message apologizing for the delay, he'd still be returning to the office so I should stay put. Joel's ex-girlfriend, Ivy after a while, fresh from attending the Advertising Congress in Baguio. An hour and a half later, they all went on ahead to Villamor since Joseph had a badminton tournament. After being left alone in the office I switched the TV to Disney channel, good thing Hercules was on. 8:30 p.m. Jorge and Sheila arrived from visiting his sister in the hospital. Jorge was all apologies for his tardiness and to make up for it he invited me to go with them and watch him play. After a quick change in attire we proceeded to the Villamor Airbase gym.

There were a lot of people watching and waiting their turn at the courts, these were all military and airforce men and their wives. Initially we took our places in whatever spaces were available in the bleachers behind the courts. Jorge was disappointed when he was informed that their game was cancelled since their opponents were a no-show. So we went out again to the canteen to eat and for them to have a smoke. We spent some time talking and laughing before going back in to watch Joseph's game.

Joseph (middle) waits for the opponent to serve.

Joseph's team was already warming up when we came in and it was a while before we found some vacant seats.

Jorge (in red) and Joel (bottom right) cheer for their kuya.

Our crowd was the most boisterous at the time since almost all the people that were with us were composed of friends and family. It was unfortunate that the team lost by 5 points. We went out again and had some drinks along with some of their military friends, a group formed out of those who lost the game that night. The canteen was all out of lite beer and since it was nearly midnight their weren't any available. They volunteered Jorge to buy another case. I was already tired from the previous night out so I went with them to catch a bus home. We had a great time swapping stories and bonding the way to the store. He even told me that I'm going to be one of the godfathers of their first kid. That is so cool! Who woulda thought we'd get this far in our friendship? I was a nobody in high school (I wasn't part of the nerds and geeks, I just tended to merge in the background) and he was the feared leader of the bullies. He never bullied me around himself though, it was more of his cohorts who did. Who would have thought that I'd be this close to the three brothers who were feared in school at the time? Hehehe... cool!
Had a meeting again with the guys last night regarding the December reunion, it was the last meeting for the year and for this reunion. The venue was changed early in the morning to Virgil's house since it was his birthday. I arrived around 9 p.m. thinking I was late and the meeting has started but nah, not a single soul was there yet. Well except for the birthday celebrator whose house it was. We didn't even actually get to start the meeting till it was past midnight. Can't believe some of my batchmates aren't familiar with MIRC. Does that make me an exception? Got home around 3 a.m. again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I've yet to be this creative in Friendster.

Would you still try to make friends with someone who posts pictures like these? Why or why not? What if he's "Interested in Meeting People for Dating and/or Serious Relationship" and he's filling your Inbox with getting-to-know-you-messages? Would you respond? Hehehe... I'm supposed to follow this strip with another joke about portrait photos but the punchline needs a wee bit more tweaking. Me thinks it will be ready around early next year.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
I want to heal
I want to feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I've held so long
(Erase all the pain 'til it's gone)
I want to heal
I want to feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

I will never know
Myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel
Anything else until my wounds are healed
I will never be
Anything 'til I break away from me
And I will break away

Linkin Park, "Somewhere I Belong"

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Dear future wifey,

Thoughts of you went through my mind again earlier tonight while walking through the mall. Were you thinking and praying for me too at that exact time? Cool! Here's part of the song I was singing to you earlier:
Although I may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome
But to your heart
I carry the key

Won't you please put on some speed?
(And this world would be like heaven)
And follow my lead...

Hoping the world will pardon my mush,

Your future hubby
Having Pepsi Blue for breakfast inspired me to create a series of Blue Period photographs using my phone. Good thing my Mom was a little understanding than most others, she didn't say anything about me taking pictures of the soda from the top of the glass.

Monday, November 24, 2003

5:41 p.m., Greenbelt 3. Do you feel like getting lost in the horizon?

Busy day today, coming from the house I had to run some errands and observe the right time for an appointment. Time came when I had to juggle the schedule around to make things fit a little better. So after paying some bills at the bank I road the MRT to Makati and meet up with my friend Jorge in his office. When I got there around 3 p.m. the Javier brothers were not in but his wife Sheila was there with a message for me from a client. I was bit surprised by this announcement and that's when I realized that it was about the shirt supplier we were talking to last Friday. This one's quite disappointing because even though we returned their call that very moment they still could not come up with any amount for the quotation we were asking. It would have been a whole lot better if they just said upfront that they would not be able to meet the demand instead of promising to return call and not doing it. Well who cares? We're already finalizing a deal with another one. Tito Wally was also there reading the paper. I hung around and poured myself a cup of coffee and watched the telly. My favorite Pinoy comedy movie was on Romeo Loves Juliet starring Rene Requiestas, Ai-ai Delas Alas, Panchito Alba, and some others. I couldn't get enough of it despite the fact that I already watched this a number of times in the big screen. It just gets me everytime. Joel came by first, after about forty-five minutes Jorge arrived and we ironed out the details for the shirt we will be making. Then we had more coffee and he ordered some pansit for merienda. Joseph arrived and later another friend of his, Mike also came by. With Joseph around, the conversation swung around to business and the ship that he was negotiating. Talks about business usually means that seriousness and something I equated to as a kid as "adult talks." I'm not really up to it but I hung around and listened to them. Then we got to eat, then Miked began randomly switching the TV channel looking for something to watch. We stopped him when we saw that "Tootsie" was on. Jorge said that Dustin Hoffman recently died of emphysema. This surprised me since it was the first time I heard of this announcement (a piece of news that turned out to be false). I left around 5:35 p.m. to attend to another errand. I also had another strip to do tonight and I've been tossing ideas to and fro, whether to a continuation of the Thanksgiving premise or do something for Christmas? On my way home I thought of doing something that pokes fun at those pictures posted online, like Friendster. It would be a lot easier to do and definitely faster.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

It used to be that Sunday afternoons are dreaded in the same way that Mondays are a groaner. Sunday afternoons usually meant "homework night and no TV." But this time on my way home from the mall the dread was gone and a certain assurance that everything's going to be all right was hanging in the air. Thanks Dad!
I attended one of the best EBs last night in Congo Grille. It was me who actually organized the whole thing and I'm happy that everyone enjoyed themselves and got to meet those whom they're interacting online, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The dinner eyeball was for the regular posters of PinoyExchange.com's Realm of Thought forum where the sciences, philosophy, and religion are discussed (and something I moderate). I'll say it was a huge success since first, most discussions about religion envariably gets heated and it was sort of a big deal to get them together under one roof and around one table, and second, having everyone to enjoy the time spent last night was a feat in itself. People coming from different backgrounds of beliefs: born-again Christian, Roman Catholics, agnostics, an atheist, a raelian, a wiccan, new ager, and a polytheist gathered around one table discussing about trivial stuff like the electoral processes, The Matrix, friendster, and ice cream. For once we were able to put off all doctrinal discussions and get to know the person behind the nicks. This time it was different, if you get to see and know the person behind the die-hard religionist you'd see their vulnerabilities, hear their dreams, and know the seeker behind all those beliefs. It makes praying for them all the more necessary and closer to the heart.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

We had another meeting last night, another one that had me going home around 3 a.m. earlier today. The meeting was planned at the same place and the same time in Rockwell, Makati. I finished mapping and printing out the design where Jorge's company logo is to be put in the reunion shirt (well of course since he was sponsoring the printing of the whole thing). When I got there around 9:30 p.m. the meeting hasn't started yet and there were only few of us in attendance: Jorge, Joel (though Jorge's brother was 3 batches lower we consider him as one of us), and Robin. We were joined later by Dexter, Edsel, and his friend whose name escapes right now. Before we started the meeting everyone was reminiscing and discussing our high school years, particularly those revolving around Jorge's uh... dalliances. Names came up again and just about everyone had a good laugh. About an hour later the meeting started and we updated the others about the contract signing in Ali's office the week before and the shirt design that I did, then the topic went back to our personal lives and those connected with us. Some of them had sad stories enough to melt your heart and how they dealt with it (one of them stories involved Jorge's older brother Joseph). What makes me admire them is the fact that even though they may at times exhibit juvenile behavior they still know where their priorities lie and the answer to my prayers may not be far.

Around 12:30 a.m. almost everyone has left (Jorge's wife has already been calling him on the phone many times now) leaving me and Robin to wait for Edwin to arrive. He was arriving in a while and we plan to drop by another place after this, since one of our batchmates is a resident DJ in one of the Makati clubs he was asking us to join him. After Edwin arrived, he settled down to browse through the 1989 yearbook that Robin brought with him. We left after a while and the club we were supposed to go to was closed for the night, quite unusual for a Friday night outing. Even our friend, Jojo (the resident DJ) couldn't figure out why the people left early. Edwin took his leave to go home and tend to his kids and the three of us was left to search for another appropriate place where we could chill and kill a few hours. Jojo suggested we try this bar, BG's in Pasay Road. The place wasn't that crowded and most of the people who hung around the place looked like they were still in College. Contrary to what I expected, I couldn't help but sympathize with the people who hang around in these places. I mean why else would they hang around in a place where loud electronic music was played, with friends huddled around the tables nursing their bottles of beer, to what? Just talk? If they want to talk they could hang around somewhere more sober and quiet. I guessed they wanted to forget some troubles and drown out their problems (hence the loud music and beer) and the dimmed lights afforded them some sort of "anonymity" from others. I have no idea how right or how wrong I was but that's what I came to mind while I was there. Around 1:30 a.m. the band came on stage even though they will be playing before a crowd of 8 people. But what the hey right? The show must go on. By this time I was already feeling drowsy and it didn't help that their set consisted of slow songs. Oh man... In one of the fast songs of their set they pulled one girl from the audience that turned out to be Jojo's niece. Imagine her utter embarrassment when she found out that her uncle was in the audience. The poor girl was in near tears (tears of both joy and emarrassment) as she hugged him. The band finished their set at 2:30 am and we left the place a few minutes after that. Robin was asking us to join him for a bite to eat but I wasn't up to it so he brought me home. Good thing my dad wasn't up at that hour unlike the last time.

Friday, November 21, 2003

One of the most useful advices that was given me was this: "Show your interest in the other person, don't be afraid to ask questions. That's how you make friends." Truth be told, I liked asking questions before just to coax the other person to talk about him or herself. But after all the frustrations and disappointments that came my way I sorta lost the drive to do so, but there's no better time to start than with old chums that I never got to know that much back then, right?

I dropped by Jorge's office on his request that we discuss the shirts we will be distributing in the December reunion. He even insisted that I have lunch at their office (everyone in their office insists that I eat whenever they see me). His wife, Sheila, was there studying and waiting for the time before she goes to school (she's studying law in Manila). The first hour everybody was real busy doing their stuff and making calls so I made myself scarce by eating the lunch they served me in the conference room. It was little after two when Sheila left to go to school, Joel left the office to go somewhere and Jorge finished his phonecall. We got to discuss the what to do with the shirt and stuff that the supplier was proposing (P190.00 /shirt). We jumped around to other topics and his face lit up when I asked him about his badminton history (apparently while everyone's getting badminton crazy nowadays, he started with the sport at the age of 8). He also told me that he was also into soccer aside from playing basketball. I almost lost track of time and what was supposed to be a short visit lasting an hour stretched out to four hours of talking. It was all good. Kinda missed all these times of talks and hanging out.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Here's a question: if you were faced with a choice between letting your old friends know that there's going to be an upcoming reunion and having to pay an obscene amount of money just to send the invitations, will you still do it? That's an important lesson I learned today. What's up with the amount anyway? First class mail to long lost classmates that may or may not attend the reunion - P420.00. Finally seeing their mugs after more than a decade... priceless.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

"Baaaaaaaa! Baaaaaaaa! Meeeeeeeh!" (Translation: Needs salt)

I haven't eaten Kalderetang Kambing in my whole life and I definitely will not until the day I die. For one it's not appetizing and two it doesn't smell good. It doesn't matter to me if they ask how could I pass judgment on something I haven't even tasted, I'll hurl before I could even touch it (check out the recipe in case you want to try it for yourself). By the way, the clip art I used for the goat meat caused me to crave for spaghetti and meatballs because that's exactly what I used to achieve a certain realism in the texture.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Boring night. The promised gimik to Star City didn't materialize so I spent a good hour in Megamall. There's nothing good in the movies but at least the change of scenery did me good.

Monday, November 17, 2003

It's now official, we finally signed the contract with the luxury cruise company where our high school reunion will be held in December. We had the signing done in one of our batchmate's office in Manila. There were some provisions included with the contract that had to be strictly enforced like the names of and exact number of guests expected to attend, 50% downpayment five days before the event, matters regarding the parking of cars, rules and regulations, plus some last minute changes for the set up of tables and chairs. Good thing our batchmate, Ali (Manila Mayor's son), arranged and initially took care of everything prior to collecting the registration fees. After ironing out the details we left Ali's office to eat a late lunch. It was already past 3 in the afternoon and this small Chinese restaurant beside Malate Church called Wok Inn came highly recommended. We discussed some potential problems that might crop up and we agreed that we should take care of the money for the food first before the souvenirs.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Not willing to stay home and vegetate I headed straight to Glorietta in Makati earlier this afternoon after a quick nap. A meeting was called by the council of the Matrix Philippines to talk about the activities in the upcoming conventions and the like. The conversations and the exchange of ideas were fun as it was frequently interrupted by bursts of laughter and off-topic jokes (you can view our goodlooking mugs here). A big muchas gracias to Gabe for the pics (I never imagined girls could go crazy over people like me ). After the meeting, me, Ryan and Az stuck around to check the toys and comics in various stores around the mall. Some of those that we saw were really drool worthy and there were some that were so-so. There were plans to go to Star City on Tuesday to buy toy guns and other stuff (toys! toys! toys! mwahahahaha!!!) I should be hitting the sack right now.
I'm so exhausted I was practically sleeping through some parts of the service earlier today. I actually have this recurring nightmare where I would suddenly wake up screaming for no apparent reason and I would see everybody looking at me including the Pastor up front. That would be an über nightmare. The reason for this was that I came home earlier today around 3:30 the morning after attending a birthday party and it wasn't even a friend's birthday party, it was his nephew's party. We went there after a very short meeting with some high school batchmates of ours in Makati. Those in attendance were Robin, Edsel, Franco (who had to leave early to attend some party), Rico, Nicky, and myself. It was a little past 10 pm when we finished a round of updates and plans for the December reunion and since it was still a bit early for a Saturday night outing we decided to accept the invitation of Virgil, another batchmate of ours, to attend the party at his place (which was practically inside the village behind the bar/restaurant we were in).

There were already a small group of people chillin' in the garage. I forgot the names but they were cool and after a while the ice was broken between us and we all started telling stories and laughing. The guys were composed mostly of Bosconians and Agustinians supposed sworn enemies much like the high school version of La Salle and Ateneo. But like I mentioned earlier, time has a funny way of turning things round 90 degrees. Some of the guests included Randy, vocalist for the band Mutual Ground, an up and coming band making the rounds of bars in the Metro. The chosen topic for the night was anything and everything 80s. I forgot who started it but the topic started, I think, with the good 'ol days of PBA and then the World Wrestling Federation, the time when wrestlers sported colorful characters much like supeheroes do. We had fun reminiscing and updating each other regarding the present status of those wrestlers. Names like Jim Duggan, Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker, The Billion Dollar Man, British Bulldog, Jake the Snake, Dusty Rhodes, Mr. Perfect and the lot. Then the topic shifted to shoes and you won't believe how much some of those in the group could still remember the brands (much less still have them in their possession). Brands like Tretorn, Bla-bla, Penny Loafers, British Knights, Espadrille, and some others I forgot came up in the conversation. One of the gregarious ones who came up with the most memory in this impromptu 80s trivia game was Wendell. He was a tad younger than us but he could still name names, recite taglines, sing ad jingles with ease. Before this the three girls in the group had excused themselves for a smoke among themselves, actually their absence from the table triggered the start of our retro talks. We even talked about Sesame Street, its local counterpart Sesame and other kiddie shows like Saturday Fun Machine, Great Space Coaster, Electric Company, and some others making Edsel remark that it was rightfully turning out to be a kiddie party. Topics even moved to TV and movie actors (one cracker was the joke that Michael Keaton was related to Dolphy... Dolphy Keaton ) Us guys can thrive and seriously bond with topics like these, so much so the girls sat at a different table from ours. Later that time, Randy's dad joined our small gathering and he turned out to be much more game than his son (they were neighbors of Vergil). I really had a blast and we were all unwilling to go home even when it was getting later. Not even if Rico and Nicky had a soccer game earlier today and they had to be there around seven in the morning. We called it a night around 2:30 a.m. I knew I would regret this decision to stay up late. Later on Robin told me that the Wendell guy was Wendell Garcia the drummer for Barbie's Cradle! He was sporting a "semi-kalbo" look and he was talking about his groupmates earlier and all along I though he was the fourth member of the group! Oh man! Anyway Robin brought me home and we had a lot of talks along the way. I even got to talk about the magnitude of my gratitude for these guys and he also paid some compliments regarding the scope of work that I've been doing for the batch. All in all it was a very good way to end a wonderful time of bonding with friends both old and new.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Our high school batch reunion meeting was cancelled tonight since there is a storm raging outside right now. Good thing too since I had enough time to finish and submit next week's Thanksgiving Day strip. While before I thought that working on one comic strip for three hours was a record in itself, working almost eight hours on one comic strip takes the record a notch higher from Guinness Book of World Records to Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Two thirds into editing the strip I came up with a craving for Sbarro's spaghetti and meatballs (more on this when the strip is posted next week). The rain was pouring down as "all git' out" but that didn't stop me from going down to the mall with a book in hand. Some parts of the metropolis were flooded to the annoyance of some pedestrians (especially on that one pass near the mall). I was surprised to see the place was still almost full even though it was nearly closing time. Good thing I was still able to grab a seat (one of the advantages of going solo) and after an hour's worth of relaxation and unwinding I went home and finished the rest of the strip. Finally submitted the sucker by email just now. Can't wait to post it online and show it to you guys.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Eeeeeew! Eeeew! Baaaaaa!!!

I regret having to submit this for publication "half naked" (see link below). My pride as an artiste mourns this travesty due to mismanaged time. Anyway, I'm more than happy this version turned out better than I expected, I like how the background in panels 3 & 4 created depth. I even had a good laugh at the punchline (something that happened for the 2nd time in all my years as a comic strip creator).

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Chronicling daily events is what I aim to do ever since I read accounts about the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys. I read about him in the book Stories Behind Everyday Things by Reader's Digest. Under the entry "Diary" I read how he wrote about everyday things from the trivial and to the fascinating. back then having a diary was something that only girls did. The image of a girl writing down about her crush before she sleeps was the stuff that popular entertainment pushed down the throats of eager watchers. But even then I knew that what was happening was too good to be let go without being written down for posterity. Back then I composed the days' events on discarded notebooks and calendar diaries I received as a gift. Then as now I was obsessed with writing in almost every detail everything that happened from the time I got up from bed to the time before I got to bed. I remember writing mostly events rather than my thoughts and opinions since remembering events were much more interesting than remembering what went through my mind at that time.

These days though, almost everyone's in it and we've all gone out in public about it. I tried to maintain a private journal offline but writing entries manually became tedious so here I am. Maybe I will return to filling my private journal with thoughts that I and only I would see. But right now the point of keeping private thoughts doesn't appeal to me anymore. As it is I'm a private person and am not much of a talker. But given the long entries in a public journal like this betrays a need to still be heard effectively throwing out the "private" side right out the window. Quite a poser I know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Portrait paintings come alive to the horror of the old bookshop owner

A supposed meeting went pffft! tonight which suits me just fine since I got to experience watching a silent film in the big screen! Yeah baby! Unheimliche Geschichten wasn't just any silent film it's a previously lost German silent film from 1919 that was recently found and restored to a very good condition. I previously saw the ad in the paper tucked away in some corner of the entertainment page some days ago and it was a good thing that the meeting was cancelled too (though I have to feel bad it had to happen). The event happened in one cinema of the Podium mall and there was even cocktail served by Burgoo and the bohemian crowd were composed of foreigners, some old people, and art enthusiasts. I had two rounds of sausages, fish fillets, and chicken popcorn to go with the white wine which was recommended by the server.

Scene from Edgar Allan Poe's classic story "The Black Cat"

The film started around 7:30 with some short introductions by the director of the Goethe Institute along with veteran actress Boots Anson-Roa. The accompanying music was provided by a jazz band (which turned out to be a sleeper). The title of the film translates into "Horror Stories" and Director Richard Oswald was touted to be ahead of his time for introducing a horror genre in films inspired by the famous writers of that time like Edgar Allan Poe. The five stories in the film included some of Mr. Poe's work and some stories which have passed on to the present in the form of urban legends. One outstanding feature of the fim was that in all five stories the main characters were played by only three actors (those pictured above). The movie finished around 9 pm and some members of the audience stuck around in the cinema lobby along with their friends probably to talk about the film. All I could think of after finishing the movie was that the experiment of using jazz music to accompany a silent film was a failure. They should have stuck to piano and ragtime music. But it was a very good experience, one I would like to repeat if they showed those kinds of films in the big screen again.

Monday, November 10, 2003

I finally got to see Jorge in his office today after almost three weeks of not visiting. I sent him a text message first asking for confirmation if he was there. The three brothers were there and Jorge readily asked me to eat something, shoving lasagna, chicken afritada and a plate in my hands. I asked for coffee but it seemed like he wouldn't hear of it. Embarrassed by all the attention I caved in and took a small amount of rice from their kitchen. His older brother Joseph was talking to someone on the phone and their younger brother Joel was typing some reports and computations on the PC. Just as I was being led to the conference room, in walks Jorge's buddy and another classmate of ours, Dennis. He works next door and he drops by every now and then to unwind and chat. Being the only one who's been asked to eat I tried to make myself as small as possible, to try and escape the eyes of everyone in the office. But since everyone minded their own business I tried to eat fast. I wasn't even hungry but Jorge has this image of me being a voracious eater hence the hospitality. He left after ten minutes, called out on a meeting with a client. He promised to be back after a few hours so we could discuss the shirt design that I brough with me, one that would be used in our alumni homecoming next year. Dennis walked out with him leaving me with the two Javier brothers. This is the awkward stage since I'm not that acquainted with the two so to while the time away I wrote down the idea for a strip that I plan to submit tonight and laid out a rough sketch of the strip itself. Joseph came in and saw what I was doing. He's very imprssed with what he saw and asked some bit of details about my line of work.

Two hours passed and the remaining Javier brothers each have gone out for the day. I sent a text message to Jorge asking if he was still going back to the office, he said that the meeting still wasn't through and then he apologized. I took my leave and started on my way back home. On the way to the MRT, their helper walked with me and we got into a conversation where I found out a lot of things. I found out that he was their second cousin from their mother's side, he's been working in their office for two years now after being laid off from his old job, he was a childhood friend of Joseph, and that he stupidly got into a fight last Friday. He was walking near McDonald's Greenbelt when a 4x4 almost side swiped him, he cursed and ranted against the driver who took a U-turn and waited for him near their office. The driver truned out to be a burly man and against his dimunitive size, it seemed he didn't have a prayer but he wouldn't dream of backing down from what he thinks was his right. Good thing the security guards at their place saw what was happening and quickly brought a potential lopsided fight to a stop. That last part was really funny but the stunt was dangerous. Wish I could go back soon in the near future, I haven't been able to hang around with Jorge ever since he's been getting these job offers.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Take that! And that! And this too!

Given the period ever since Matrix Revolutions was first shown I assume it's safe to post some personal reviews with spoilers? Yes? Hokay, the movie on the surface was good. The action was great (the duel near the end drew comparisons to Dragonball Z, good thing I haven't watched any of it). How the story turned out was really good and when the trilogy is taken as a whole, the stuff is pure WOW. The Wachowski brothers are geniuses for coming up with such a complex labyrinthic story (the term exists, I checked the dictionary). Of course I had to read through various interpretations and theories that formed a photo mosaic of, surprise, surprise, the Oracle. Who would have thought that the moving force behind all the decisions and directions the characters will make were orchestrated by a seemingly harmless old woman? Read through Dragonfirexx's post Dumb critics versus Matrix Revolutions to make sense out of the whole story (actually I have to agree with the title. I don't get those critics anyway). It's actually ironic that those critics who were expecting to be disappointed weren't.

People are familiar with the allusions of the whole Matrix trilogy to Christianity, what they don't realize is how close it hews to the events written in the Bible. Hmmm... Ok let's discuss the things in the movie that parallels with the spiritual stuff. The catastrophic destruction of the earth as the result of the war between man and machines has its counterpart in the coming dark years called The Great Tribulation which is described to be so terrible that it will be "unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again." The concept of the Matrix which almost everyone treats as the real world also has its roots written in the Bible (2 Corinthians 4:18). Neil Anderson writes it succinctly in Crosswalk.com: "The ultimate reality is spiritual, not physical. . .Every physical thing we see is only temporal and passing away." Which explains a whole lot about "plugged" and "unplugged" people. Didn't Morpheus et al offer those who would be unplugged the choice to know the truth about what's out there? At the same time didn't Jesus say, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"? Which brings out a thought: Are there atheists in the Matrix? Are there people who scoff at the idea of an Architect creating a world and life outside their perceived reality? Makes one wonder doesn't it? I also have to point out an oversight, the story is set almost two hundred years into the future and it seems that people have stopped practicing religion of any kind, except for that Buddhist kid who doesn't believe in spoons, how come people still shout "Jesus Christ!" and "Oh my God!" at varying intervals? History dictates that expressions change and doesn't even stay within the same generation so doesn't that seem like an anomaly to them? That's something to think about. The last comparison I could make out in this movie, at least for now, is about the sacrifice of the One. The virus known as Agent Smith was threatening to take over everything and he will not stop until everything has been destroyed as the Oracle puts it. So in order for the enemy to be defeated Neo had to take another form and enter the enemy's territory. And to bring about complete victory he had to allow himself to be assimilated and then destroyed, this sacrifice brought about complete freedom for the Zionites, freedom for those who want out of the Matrix, brought in an agreement between the machines (via Deus Ex Machina) and men (represented by Neo) ushering in a Golden Age for both. At the same time, the celestial virus known as Satan was threatening to destroy everything and chances are he won't stop until everything is destroyed. So in order for the enemy to be defeated Jesus had to take another form and enter the enemy's territory. And to bring about complete victory He had to take all the sins of man on himself and then die, this sacrifice brought about complete freedom for those who believed , freedom for those who will believe, brought in an agreement between the divine (God) and men (represented by Jesus) that will ultimately usher in a Golden Age of Peace at the end of this age. The differences between the two is that one was resurrected to his identity and sacrificial destiny while the other already knew his identity and destiny and was resurrected after his sacrifice. And though Neo and Smith are equal in status, balancing the equation, Jesus and Satan are not. These are just part of the many comparisons between the movie and the deep spiritual truths found in the good book and it's more than interesting if you ask me.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
I spent time meeting with two groups of friends last night. The first one was with the group of artists in our weekly gatherings in Starbucks. Though the numbers of friends dwindle due to different reasons, the cause for gathering is still there. I enjoyed my time even in the short time that I have allotted for them. I wish I could have stayed longer and I do hope that we could all gather again next week. I do understand that some of us have already moved on but as long as there is a Friday then I guess there will always be reasons to meet up with them.

The second was a sort of an impromptu meeting for the core group of our high school friends for the upcoming December batch reunion. It's understandable that the others didn't get to go and meet with us due to legit reasons (final count for the night amounted to four). We still got to enjoy each other's company reminiscing about the old times and the activities we've been in since then. Souls were bared and the past was dug up over bottles of lite booze. We enjoyed a lot of laughs and agreed about a lot of things again, though most of them may be trivial it meant a lot to us who were there. Tomorrow there will a larger gathering in the house of one of our classmates and I'm looking forward to that one.

I can't put into words how very fortunate I am to be living in an age as this. I am so very, very grateful to have been surrounded by friends such as these. Friends you share some laughs, where you can be yourself, and who thinks the way you do. One of my friends, John, said last night that one should be careful in dealing with people earlier on since time has a funny way of reversing roles. Who would have thought that those he ran in conflict with in the past would be the ones he's having the time of his life with right now? Robin agreed and told us how his best friend in elementary could be now be easily a stranger in the way he changed over time? The same goes for me, who would have thought that these people who came from the opposite end of the spectrum as me would turn out to be the company I'm now enjoying? I regret that it would just be a matter of time before we would all grow old and depart for the next life. It seems that this present life is just too short to enjoy the company of one's friends. I'm not going to wait to tell them how much I appreciate them and how much happier they've made me. I'm grateful for everything they've done and everything they're going to do. If one were to ask me now if there's anything in the past that I regret, I would tell them no, I don't have to regret anything because everything I have right now is making up for it. And I don't have to regret anything that's yet to happen in the future because it's all gonna be taken cared of.

Friday, November 07, 2003

This has been recently sent to the Matrix Philippines' mailing list by my ever nutty friend, Lyndon. Once again making us laugh out loud with his side-splitting humor. At least I get my revenge after that coffee incident.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Guess who's sleeping on the couch tonight?

The premise for this week's strip was a sort of last minute change, I have to take advantage of the first day of showing of the last of the Matrix trilogy. Can you also guess the surprise guest in this strip?

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
I was reminiscing over breakfast about a lot of things, particularly friends. The other night I dreamed it was the end of the world, the skies were dark, stars were falling like spent fireworks display and the moon was quickly turning red. I was scared but I wasn't scared for myself, I was scared for my friends. I thought that the chance to turn back and give their lives to God has come too late and I shuddered to think of the dire consequences this entailed. I sort of panicked and in turning around a corner I was bit shocked why there was a street party going on. It's the literal end of the world and people still get up the nerve to have a party to celebrate it? Well it was a dream and we know that most dreams are just the result of one day's activities and thoughts. But this dream got me thinking. I've been asking God about my friends and that one day they would be where I will be: free, ecstatic, safe and sound walking down streets of gold with the rest. That's the first and foremost priority in my talks with Him and the thing is if in a week's time I get to meet a new friend and that automatically qualifies him or her to be included in the list, would they all be saved in the end? I can't help worrying sometimes but to do so is an exercise in futility, one day I'll have all the answer I seek. Till then I'll continue to ask that they be taken good cared of in this life that even if our paths would diverge somewhere along the way we would still have a happy reunion beyond the bend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Oracle never said there would be days like this.

Only the first strip gets to see print in this month's issue of Fusion Magazine. I only did the second one because this was a twin joke. I'm off to watch the worldwide premiere of the Matrix Revolution tonight! Boo-yah!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

It occurred to me that it's been a really long time since I posted what's going on in my mind. Frankly there's nothing much too say since whenever I'm in front of the computer my mind has already used up most of those thoughts I've churning during my walks out in the mall. So in desperation I went through an old personal thread in PinoyExchange.com, a precursor of my old blog, and retrieved this old post dated June 22, 2002:
Do you like the taste of carrots dipped in cream cheese? I do. But I've been eating a lot of this stuff in an effort to combat the effects of eating too much meat everyday. I'm not going into some stupid crash diet now when I don't need one. To those who haven't seen me, I'm not out here to deceive you and make you think that I'm some overweight slob. Which I'm not. I'm actually a good looking fellow and I kid you not.

Anyway, I'd also like to announce that I have rediscovered another dairy product and after this I shall be going out to buy some more of it after finishing my first batch in three days. Here's a simple ode to that wonderful, wonderful product. Ahem...
(Sung to the tune of "O Christmas Tree")

O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese!
How are thy cheese so yummy!
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
How are thy cheese so yummy!

Served with apple, grape and other fruit,
Any argument to the contrary is moot.
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
How are thy cheese so yummy!

O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Much pleasure doth thou bring me!
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Much pleasure doth thou bring me!

For every year the Cottage cheese,
Whose taste always brings us to our knees.
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Much pleasure doth thou bring me!

O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Thy cheese bits shine out brightly!
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Thy cheese bits shine out brightly!

Each bit doth hold its creamy taste,
That makes each taste bud arise in haste.
O Cottage cheese, O Cottage cheese,
Thy cheese bits shine out brightly!

Ode to cottage cheese? I must be mad. All I can say right now is that it's downright cheesy!

Monday, November 03, 2003

I want that same popsicle in the first panel.

The original dialogue was much better than this one, I just forgot to take down notes. And also there was an article in yesterday's Philippine Daily Inquirer about the increase of vendors inside the cemeteries last Saturday. Who's to say that piracy can't invade those places? I'm doing a carnival inside the cemetery next.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Sweet Soul Revue
Pizzicato Five

Kesa hajimete
Kagami wo mite
Ki ga tsuita no
Anata ni koi shiteru no
Anata ni koi shiteru no

Omekashi shite
Doko e yuku no?
So anata ni
Ai ni yuku no yo
Baby machi wa itsumo parade
Baby dakara tsuite iko yo

Yo no naka ni wa
Sweet ya
Catchy ga ippai aru yo ne
Hoho hozuri shitakunaru desho

Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora okurenaide ne
Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora wasurenaide ne

Tabun kyo wa
Watashi wo mite
Ki ga tsuku hazu
Anata mo koi shiterutte
Watashi ni koi shiterutte

Terebi de mita
Furui eiga
Musical no
Revue mitai ne
Baby machi wa itsumo parade
Baby hora ne kikoeru desho

Yo no naka ni wa
Happy ya
Lucky ga ippai aru yo ne
Hoho hozuri
Shitakunaru desho

Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora okurenaide ne
Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora wasurenaide ne

Yo no naka ni wa
Sweet ya
Catchy ga
Ippai aru hazu
Parade ni
Ame nante furasenaide

Yo no naka ni
Happy mo
Lucky mo
Zenzen nakutemo
Anata to nara
Hoho hozuri shitakunaru desho
Hozuri shitakunaru desho

Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora okurenaide ne
Hora revue ga hajimaru
Hora wasurenaide ne

It was love at first hear with this song ever since I watched the Manoeuvres danced to it in 1994. I'm still searching for the extended version of this song and if anyone of you has a copy of it, please, please give me a buzz. Domo arigatou gozaimashita!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Ugh! My new nanny is a fashion victim!

Uptown Girls is one of those movies that bound to surprise you in ways you'd be totally unprepared for, this one was the movie we watched at the Rockwell Mall. The family outing was long overdue and we all deserved a rest from the stressful city life. We caught the first showing and at first we were torn between watching Identity, The Boss' Daughter, or this one. My Mom insisted we catch this one since it was the latest and we didn't have our luch yet at the time. Good thing she insisted that we see this one or else I would have missed a really great movie. The story starts like how fairy tales do: Once upon a time there was a rich orphan girl named Molly (Brittany Murphy) who lived like a spoiled princess off her parents' wealth. She's the only child of a rock and roll legend who died in a plane crash along with her mother when she was between 8 and 9 years old. She lived the way she wanted, waking up at nearly 10 in the evening just to attend parties along with her friends. She neither cared whether her house was in order nor does she worry what tomorrow might bring. She had everything she wanted in the whole wide world (powerful friends, established recording artists pandered to her left and right). On her twenty-second birthday God stepped into her life (ok, he wasn't mentioned anywhere in the movie). On her birthday celebration inside a posh club she crossed paths with Ray (brilliantly played by Dakota Fanning), a very serious 8 year old with the mind and disposition of a surly New Yorker adult. She's the daughter of an ultra-successful recording studio owner (think Tommy Mottola but looks a lot like Heather Locklear). Unfortunately for Molly, her trusted money manager ran off with her $10 million account to South America leaving her penniless. In the meantime she stays with her best friend and tries an assortment of jobs just to help her pay half of the rent. But since she didn't take her job seriously she was fired from it. Desperate for any kind of employment she went ahead and hired herself as a nanny to Ray. And that's where it all starts...

The movie is really, really fine and what we expected to be one ditzy movie turned out to be an instant classic in my book. Dakota Fanning has this knack for choosing roles in movies that is guaranteed to not only make you cry, but to impart some lessons as well. This time the movie imparts the important lesson of letting go. Molly had to go above each and every disappointment that came her way like the time she lost her money, then best friend, her loverboy betrayed her, she lost her apartment, and she had to let go of her Dad's guitars (her only link to the past) but for each disappointment she found the necessary strength to go and these same lessons she learned she imparted to her young ward. She was the first one that had to be broken in order for Rae to start the process of grieving. They found their redemption in the middle of their friendship and though the roads ahead where still bumpy and unpredictable they knew they could still count on each other to see them through. A guaranteed tear jerker, a great date and friends movie.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

We just arrived from our Tita's house a little outside the historic town of Malolos in Bulacan. We left the house around 8 am and we arrived there about an hour later. I slept through most of the way until my Dad buzzed me on the phone to ask where we were at the time (he went to Batangas much earlier with his sibs, my aunt and uncle). We grabbed a quick breakfast of goto (steaming rice gruel cooked with cow intestines and ginger root, it's actually more appetizing than it sounds), siomai, and softdrinks. We also bought some salted eggs and take home grubs for the folks. As we were continuing our trip to our Tita's house, I was looking on the road thinking I could be the one driving this time, except that I left my student's license back home.

We had a warm reunion at the house with everybody in attendance (it was a rare occasion when all my uncles and aunts from my mother's side are there at the same time). After eating a hearty lunch, me and my sister explored the rice fields at the back of the house. I even took photographs of the place (check out the photos with the carabao). The carabao was so tame he even let me pet his head, though at first I was wary it might be ferocious since he was showing me his teeth while chewing his cud. My sister was so disgusted with the fact that I was touching a carabao she was really cringing at the sight of it. Oh well, it only made me think that I want one for myself.
Last night's party was a blast! Got home around 4:30 earlier today and I have no idea why I'm awake at this time of day. Here are some pictures from the event:

Betcha didn't know the Star Trek crews had lightsaber trainings onboard their ship.

This is me and Rain feasting on our contribution to the pot luck. This was taken right
when the party was starting. They had a lot of fun tripping with those donuts.

Agent Hector meets a Zionite who has yet to decide on what his handle will be.

This is a secret preview of what you'll be seeing in the third and last installment of the Matrix trilogy.

Darth Maul and his Jedi opponent have an uneasy alliance over a banana.

Star Wars Philippines' Noel came in full regalia as the Sith Lord.
His was one of the coolest costumes in that party.

We're still undecided whether to crash Tim Yap's Halloween party in Greenbelt 3 or not.

We decide to go for it! Nyahahahaha!!!

We missed the event so we hung outside one of the bars and talked about the party.

The weather was so humid I felt like I was frying inside the suit.

Ryan's holding an exact replica of the lightsaber they used in the movie. Pretty cool, huh?

My friends (l-r) Lyndon, Ryan, Az, and Aids posing Sentai style in Greenbelt.
I was laughing so hard I couldn't cooperate with their pose.

You could see more of them pictures here at Az's blog and in my phlog. The much clearer pictures are taken from oneal's image station album.

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